That said, someone would expect to watch such a story three, four or more decades ago and not in 2013. Japanese society is very traditional in a way that reeks rotten. The man is the breadwinner, women although in position to get a job are still dreaming of becoming housewives, marrying off to a rich man, and indulging or devoting themselves to their home. No specific career aspirations. And actually even if they work, they are expected to quit when they get married. In spite of things not being black and white and some women managing to find a combining solution, the mentality behind this housewife phenomenon is dreadful if not sick in my eyes.
“Girls here still seeks for that staying at home, being able to devote their time to husband/child in future. So, from the marriage, most of them seeks for income stability I think. There’s still a majority wanting to become a stay home mom or house wife. In their college years they go to these courses outside of university related to cooking and they call it “hanayome shugyoo” meaning “preparation to becoming a wife.” (source: Uttryck)
Why? Because firstly, I believe that an individual’s independence is indispensable and equality in a relationship is vital. For better or worse money makes the world turn and if you don’t have an income sufficient to help you support yourself, you’ll always have to tolerate the whims of the one(s) funding you. In case that your partner shows abusive behavior or deserts you or dies, and you don’t have anyone else to help you out, you’ll be at fortune’s sake. I also can’t understand how a woman does’t have enough pride to buy herself her panties and food. It’s more than shameful to be an adult and constantly beg for every little thing you need. The power balance in such a relationship is tipped towards the money-maker, and love and respect are most often than not cultivated between equals.
Secondly, if we take a look at Maslow’s hierachy of needs, there are very few that are actually fulfilled, if someone chooses such a lifestyle for her whole life. Even if we assume that a woman needn’t worry about a violent husband or a sudden break-up/death, what about the upper levels which concern esteem and self-actualization? One cannot develop social skills, if (s)he simply sits all day in the house or interacts only with a small clique of friends. You won’t gain respect by others by doing what is actually a very basic routine to take care of yourself and that isn’t supposed anymore to be done only by a gender – men have two hands, too; they can cook, iron, clean as well as women. Prejudice falls to pieces when you get wider experiences through further education and in the workplace.
We are human beings with high levels of intelligence. One may argue that cooking can be creative, but the other chores aren’t so ‘inspirational’. It’s certainly a waste of potential to be engaged in monotone activities which don’t provoke further thoughts and Arlekins may intrigue the fantasy, but surely not in the same way a good seminar does. Of course, nowadays thanks to internet multiple options are available to anyone with time on her/his hands, yet don’t we usually search what we know and thus confine ourselves to certain cultures? That’s especially true when one’s education is limited. And if a woman has gone through university to end up someone’s babysitter, it’s a total shame.
As for the effect that this might have to children, we get a glimpse in Not Somewhere But Here. A child, especially a girl, doesn’t want to see its mother being subjected to all kind of troubles or humiliations. A bright example of a woman is one who has a life of her own, who speaks her mind and doesn’t only sweep floors and gives food with no monetary return but contributes with her work to society. I’ve also known of mothers who have anchored on their children’s life making them feel suffocated or even worse manipulating them psychologically due to their own complexes.
Before closing this post, I’d like to pinpoint that at least in Japanese women’s case, pursuing a career is rarely rewarding and the sexist environment that prevails doen’t give enough motives to aspire for a respectable working future. I’d be unfair, if I didn’t mention their circumstances.
Nearly half of Japanese university graduates are female but only 67% of these women have jobs, many of which are part-time or involve serving tea. Japanese women with degrees are much more likely than Americans (74% to 31%) to quit their jobs voluntarily. Whereas most Western women who take time off do so to look after children, Japanese women are more likely to say that the strongest push came from employers who do not value them. A startling 49% of highly educated Japanese women who quit do so because they feel their careers have stalled.
The Japanese workplace is not quite as sexist as it used to be. Pictures of naked women, ubiquitous on salarymen’s desks in the 1990s, have been removed. Most companies have rules against sexual discrimination. But educated women are often shunted into dead-end jobs. Old-fashioned bosses see their role as prettifying the office and forming a pool of potential marriage partners for male employees. And a traditional white-collar working day makes it hard to pick up the kids from school. (read further in the Economist)
Women within the company perform the housekeeping chores of the office, continuing the traditional notion of a woman’s place within society, only this time within the workplace itself, the are the companies housewives.
[…] There are deep-rooted social and cultural ideas surrounding the role of women in Japanese society that create and re-create inequalities within the work force, and more generally within society itself. When young women graduates took to the streets of Tokyo in 1994 to protest against the discrimination of major corporations and companies, we saw a shocked society. Japanese people, including young men and women were shocked by the demonstrations and were worried about protestors ‘un-Japanese’ behavior, viewing it to have ruined their chances of being hired by any company (Renshaw, 1999:19). This example demonstrates how women are expected to conform to cultural norms and avoid confrontation, nowhere is there any thought of their reason for protesting, rather people immediately jump to the assumption that they are going against their own society and are therefore dangerous. (source: Illogicalzen)