The role of women in modern-day Japan is very multifaceted, complex, and is connected with the old traditions of life in the country of the rising sun. Traditional Japanese families have their own rules where men are still in charge of everything.
We at Bright Side often talk about the culture of Japan and today we want to discuss the role women have there.
1. From a very early age, women are convinced that they’re not completely equal as family members.
Buddhism (which is the most popular religion in Japan) teaches that women are lower than men, evil, and the cause of all trouble. In order to reach nirvana, a woman would need to transform into a man. The only way to achieve this is through suffering because this is the only way a woman can redeem her original sin.
This leads to the fact that from a very young age, girls already feel that they’re less important than men. Girls are treated differently from boys. More than that, when a woman gets older, she realizes that sooner or later, she has to get married and have even fewer rights, and her only job will be giving birth and raising sons.
The Japanese constitution that was adopted in 1947 states that women have equal rights with men. However, many families still have patriarchal traditions. This is shown in some fathers’ despotic behavior, women’s blind submission to their husbands, and the feeling of superiority that men have over women.
2. Relationships aren’t romantic.
Expressing your thoughts in public is not common among the Japanese. Dating is mostly about talking, going to the movies, and walking in the park (the guy won’t even hold hands with the girl in most cases). Japanese women are usually quite fast at accepting marriage proposals but it’s quite ordinary for a man to just sit in front of the TV and ask a girl if she will marry him. And when she says yes, he just continues to watch his film.
And these girls that were raised accordingly are very happy to become a wife as soon as possible, meaning that they’ll feel complete in the eyes of society.
3. There are so many prohibitions for women that there are several groups of rules.
Due to some cultural traditions in Japan, there are things that girls can’t do — and some are even considered to be shameful. A Japanese woman will never do something shameful even if she really wants to.
Japanese women feel ashamed when they’re seen chewing or showing their teeth when eating. Girls usually cover the lower part of their face with their fist when eating. Traditionally, if a date with a guy or a meeting with friends is happening at a cafe, girls were supposed to hide their stomach rumbling because they weren’t allowed to eat while guys were enjoying the meal. All they could do was drink. Besides, picking up food with the hands was only appropriate for men.
A Japanese woman can’t show any skin lower than her clavicles or higher than her waist. T-shirts and sweaters with cleavage are put on above other clothes. And the cleavage is supposed to show that there are some other good garments underneath the clothes that are visible.
If the tone of a Japanese woman is not “female” enough (which can often be portrayed as shy), she may come off as rude.
4. Men are respected and women are looked down upon.
There’s even an expression in the Japanese language which can be translated as “men are respected, women are looked down upon.” Men address their wives with a pronoun that is used with inferior people. And women, on the contrary, address their husbands with a superior pronoun.
A Japanese man is convinced that his duty is completed if he provides his wife with money and a place to live. In return, they require only one thing: being “convenient.”
Additionally, Japanese girls can’t win against men, no matter what it is. A Japanese girl would be hated just because she beat a man in judo.
5. The most popular “job” for a woman is a housewife.
In Japan, nobody makes women leave their jobs after they get married, they decide on their own whether or not they want to keep on building their careers. However, they can make this decision if they’re still able to take care of the family. But nowadays, more and more Japanese women prefer having careers over marriage and they try not to get married while they’re still too young.
All housework is done by women. Men come home from work only to rest and don’t have any house chores at all. Men require their wives to keep their homes perfectly clean.
6. Day schedules and requirements that would make even Cinderella feel sick
Every Japanese woman is supposed to get up before her husband to prepare breakfast and lunch for him to take to work. A Japanese man can work 12 or more hours a day and still look perfect, so doing the laundry and ironing clothes is the wife’s job.
Japanese men prefer eating different foods in small quantities, so the table should have a lot of small plates with something special on each of them. A Japanese woman can’t just cook one dish for several days. Instead, she cooks several different dishes every day and then she cleans the table and does the dishes.
Taking care of children is considered a woman’s job. A typical Japanese father works a lot, gets tired and only sees his wife and children on the weekends. In Japan, people don’t put their children in kindergarten, so a child younger than 5 is totally dependent on their mother. Japanese women are always with their children, no matter where they go. They even sleep in the same bed.
7. Women are no longer “women” when they become mothers.
The Japanese don’t care if the marriage is happy if there are children. So, even if a couple was happily married before having children, husbands start treating their wives not as women they love, but simply as the mothers of their children. Married women usually spend their evenings at home and Japanese men often go to bars with their colleagues. It’s also completely normal for men to go to prostitutes in Japan.
While the wife is at home cooking dinner and making the bed (most Japanese spouses sleep separately because men have to sleep well before a hard working day), the husband is doing something completely different. And wives don’t ask them any questions.
8. Very few Japanese women can get divorced.
Many married Japanese women have been abused at home. Showing up in the street with bruises on one’s face isn’t really surprising to anyone. But unlike in many other countries, women in Japan will never go to the police to complain about their husbands.
More than 50% of Japanese wives dream about getting divorced but very few of them actually do it. Divorce always means a division of property, and even though Japanese husbands don’t just abandon their wives without a home or money, women are still afraid of that happening. Besides, very few Japanese women are able to be housewives and employees at the same time which means it will be hard for them to provide enough money for themselves after a divorce.
What has changed in the relationships between men and women?
The generation of young Japanese people is more inclined to think that members of the family must have equal rights: nowadays, it’s not a rare thing to see a man in Japan cooking food and raising children. There are more and more men doing the shopping because their wives asked them to.
Under the influence of Western culture, modern families, especially in big cities, spouses have more mutual respect for each other. Many young families set up companies together and wives have equal rights with their husbands.
What do you think about the modern Japanese tendency to give up on the patriarchal family model?
Preview photo credit Kojach / commons.wikimedia