Gender role/expectation that exists in contemporary Japanese society Discuss one gender role or expectation that exists in contemporary Japanese society, please talk about: 1. how/why this role emerged and 2. provide examples of how men and/or women are changing and resisting/subverting this gender role/expectation. In Japan, traditional gender roles are characterised by a strong sense of patriarchy in society, this is a male dominated country with a distinct separation of gender roles. In the family, this refers to the idea that the man is a breadwinner and the woman is a homemaker.
At the workplace, there is a strong male dominance in the company hierarchy. Generally, men have more career opportunities, often life-time job and good salary, and women are considered to be temporary employers, expected to stop working after the marriage or childbirth. Working women generally take on non leadership roles, so this reduces the possibility to climb on career steps. Childcare is regarded as the mother’s responsibility and the father’s domestic role is limited in helping to repair something and playing with children on weekends. Wives spend lot of time inside the house, and husbands – outside.
Today this situation is a little bit changing, but still, remains the idea that man stands few steps higher than women, especially at work places and at government institutions. Gender roles and attitudes towards these roles among young generation’s couples are changing in a good way – men spend more time with their children, and women have more opportunities in their career, especially in international context. Young people, travelling abroad and then coming back to Japan begin to be more flexible and more elastic in this strict Asian country.
They bring new waves, new feelings and new experiences, so it is natural, that little change towards the equality between man and woman is coming also. Then the old generation is less flexible than young Japanese people – attitudes are changing, but their behaviour is not. Nowadays, we can see optimistic alterations, for example, some sociologists claim that with the rising problems faced by the Japanese economy, there have been changes in the structured patterns of gender in both the family and the workplace. Economic recessions in this country have forced many women to enter the labour force in order to increase the level of income.
With an increasing number of women in the labour force, the existing gender ratios have been altered favouring increased gender equality. Changes in the family can be seen in the presence of omiai, the traditional arranged marriage. Women are also marrying later, with the average age of first marriage at 28-29 years in 2005, compared to 25 years in 1983. For increasing equality between gender roles, the government began to pass legislation such as a Gender Equality Law, which aimed to set broad new principles for Japanese society.
In addition, government legislation such as the Equal Employment Opportunity and Labour Standard Laws were set up to outlaw workplace discrimination and set up a definition for sexual harassment. These laws set the stage for a more equitable treatment of women and served as a positive step towards increased gender equality. (http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Japanese_law) Coming back to the discourse about marriage, in modern Japan, under the democratic constitution, marriage is supposed to be based on equal relations between man and woman. Polygamy is prohibited, and Japanese family is formed under the father as a head of household.
The contemporary Japanese family, however, is changing rapidly because of lower birth rates, longer life expectancies, an increase in the number of one-person households, and later age at marriage. Globalisation and cheaper travelling has also positive transformations in gender roles and equality. As an example, I would like to tell about one young Japanese couple, I was living in their neighbourhood for 4 months. I have noticed that the wife is not subordinated under her husband, as I have read before in some articles about traditional relations between married couple.
During my university classes I have read that traditionally husband and wife are expected to communicate as little as possible here in Japan. This situation is described as a domestic divorce. There is no conversation, communication and sexual relations between a husband and wife, but they do not divorce. Well, now I can say that not all the couples are like that. Wife’s and husband’s roles are changing in positive. This young couple, on my opinion, is really an ideal couple. They were dividing their house keeping roles without any dominating behaviour. I haven’t noticed more power on her or his behaviour.
They were acting as a normal, equal couple. Of course, one gender role – mother’s role, is noticeable, and, I think, is still resisting in Japan. Being a good mother sometimes could be even more important than being a good wife or lover. The concept of motherhood in Japan has deep cultural and historical roots, and today’s women still believe in the power of caring their children as well as they can. Another role, man as the main breadwinner of the family, is also resisting. The perception of the man as a main householder is common also in the rest of world, especially in South European countries.
On conclusion, we can see that young Japanese families are changing apparently. Men are more and more present in domestic activities and women are more and more able to combine work and house-keeping together. I am sure that now, in the 21st century, the Japanese family is becoming on gender-equality based family! 2 FOLLOWING QUESTIONS Depiction of gender in the Japanese media (advertising/ TV commercials) Researchers and sociologists recently are talking a lot about that the stereotypic portrayals of men and women found in mass media reinforce gender stereotypes in Japanese society.
A limited literature and research on Japanese media suggests that gender stereotypes may be present in Japan. Theoretically, we can argue about the existence or not, but practically, it’s true. Stereotypes exist, and fairly strong, especially during the after war period and the past three decades. We can see it on TV, magazines and newspapers. Media is a reflection of mass culture. So it’s normal to see these stereotypes depicted in media. Over the past decade gender stereotyping in television commercials has received particular attention.
Some studies have reported either modest (Schneider & Schneider, 1979) or substantial decrements (Bretl and Cantor, 1988; Ferrente et al. , 1988) in stereotyping while others have found no significant changes in the portrayals of men and women over time (Lovdal, 1989; Maklin & Kolbe 1984). Of course, there is always big difference between woman and man, their role in society, work and family has different meanings and different approaches. For example, „boys are encouraged to be aggressive, become leaders, engage in sports, and grow into ‘macho’ men.
Research by Sobieraj, 1998 (Children Now, Images of Men and Boys in Advertising, Spring, 2000), found in advertising for toys that these showed boys as “strong, independent, athletic, in control of their environments, adventurous, and aggressive. Girls are shown as giggling, gentle, affectionate, fixated on their physical appearance, and extremely well behaved. a (http://www. directessays. com/viewpaper/79101. html) I have watched some advertisements in TV, and noticed that women in these commercials are more likely to be young, beautiful, dependents, in the home and users of the products.
They also are recommending some products without specific explanation how to use it or without the support of factual arguments (Men are better in to weigh in with an argument, I think). Men, on the other hand, are older, often “salarymen”, somewhere outside of the home and authorities on the products. They are also often explaining why the products are good and recommending items soundly. Even though some stereotypes about the presentation of gender in commercials persist (for setting, product type, voice-over), the recent study found an equal number of males and females appearing as primary characters in commercials during prime time.
(„Changing Gender Roles in Prime-Time Commercials in Malaysia, Japan, Taiwan, and the United Statesa, Mary Jiang Bresnahan, Yasuhiro Inoue, Wen Ying Liu and Tsukasa Nishida). Talking about gender stereotypes in Japanese media, maybe somebody would talk about women position and how this position is objectified. Of course, Japanese women in past few decades felt discriminated politically and economically. This unsafeness made them feel weaker, and maybe unappreciated. But we can also see it from the opposite side. We can think about how men are objectified.
Especially, how the male ideal in Japanese media is becoming closer and closer to a woman (as I have mentioned about it in past sociology papers). Recent studies talk about some changes of stereotypic portrayals of men and women and also are investigating changes in gender stereotyping over time. As example, in one online magazine we can find that „although some indigenous gender stereotyping was evident, several traits previously associated with Japanese women (devoted, obliging, rattle-brained, superstitious) were associated with men.
Also, men were not linked with certain stereotypical male traits (autocratic, blustery, forgiving, generous, and severe). (http://www. jstor. org/pss/4189063). Other findings included women being shown in a positive way as often as men. This means that women are represented almost in the same way as men, for example, if advertisement is promoting a high-price product, there is an equal number of man and women shown in commercials. Otherwise, it is evident that gender, sex and advertising are „workinga for only one purpose- to make people desire specific product and to buy it.