I ended up skipping the May reader since I was busy with the edits for the cross-dressing in anime and manga series. However, the gender issue rightfully on everyone’s mind in May was Elliot Rodger and #YesAllWomen. I don’t have much to contribute that conversation other than a link to a list of well written articles below, but I do have some more articles to share about gender in Japan.
In this gender reader: the history of beauty in Japan and China, gendered pronouns in Japanese and English, a survey of LGBT students in Japan, a collection of essential articles about Isla Vista, and more.
Emily Matchar. “Should Paid ‘Menstrual Leave’ Be a Thing?” The Atlantic. 16 May 2014.
First, a translation issue: 生理休暇 does literally mean “physiological leave” but 生理 (seiri) is a euphemism for your period. You know, just like period is a euphemism for a menstrual cycle. This article is a history of menstrual leave in East Asia. Like most people, I’m not sure if it’s useful for people who do have debilitating conditions to spare them some of their sick leave or problematic because it’s typically seen women getting a “perk” for being “weak”–because a day spent in excruciating pain for which one must ask off in cultures in which having a simple, albeit crappy, biological function is shameful isn’t bad enough already.
“Japan: Bridal photo shoots for men an untapped market.” BBC News from Elsewhere. 25 April 2014.
Wedding photo shoots in which the couple rents fancy outfits are common in Japan and other parts of Asia. Dress-rental company Marry Mariee of Fukui offers special dresses made to fit men and tuxes and suits for women.
Cho Kyo, “The Search for Beautiful Women in China and Japan: Aesthetics and Power,” The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol 10, Issue 49, No. 1, December 3, 2012.
Cho discusses beauty as a cultural concept while examining the history of Japanese and Chinese beauty standards for women and the ways “outsiders” in various cultures are viewed through this lens of cultural beauty. I’ve just gotten the book from the library, and this seems to be a good summary of it.
“A beauty” is not merely “a beautiful-looking woman” but an indicator of culture that contains multiple meanings. From standards for beauty, we can not only observe the character of each culture but can also study intercultural relationships. Moreover, within the same culture, we note different images of the beautiful woman at different historical moments. From them we can glimpse transitions of customs and aesthetics from age to age. It is also possible to start out with changes in images of feminine beauty to explore intercultural crossings.
A new survey conducted by the NPO Respect Life – White Ribbon Campaign and Kanazawa University professor Dr. Iwamoto Takeyoshi on how many preteen and teenage students are sexual minorities (LGBTQQA), if and to whom they are out, if and how they are bullied.
If you’ve ever seen people complain about singular “they” or so-called generic “he” (for the record, I am 100% for singular they and 100% against “he” as a default pronoun), or if you’re just really not so keen on gender binaries, you may have wondered what life and language would be like without gender pronouns. If you haven’t, well, you’re about to find out anyway. So put your linguist slippers on and get comfy, because we’re about to take an epic voyage across time and space.
Casey Baseel. “Who am I? 14 ways to say ‘I’ in Japanese.” Japan Today. 6 May 2014.
A history of Japanese pronouns and who used/uses them.
#YesAllWomen and Isla Vista
This is the round-up I’d recommend: Alexandra Brodsky. “Roundup: Essential feminist writing on the Isla Vista shooting.” Feministing. 27 May 2014.
Beth Novey. “Do Female-Named Hurricanes Need To Lean In?” NPR. 3 June 2014.
Novey combines hilarious satire of how women’s so-called “lack of confidence” is the problem rather than the patriarchal society in which the workplace exists and how that same overarching sexism causes people to underestimate storms with feminine names. (Solution: Japan numbers their typhoons.)
Be confident: When you slam into a coast, do it like you mean it. Don’t end your sentences with question marks — if you tell your boss you’re going to erode a coastline, say, “I’m going to erode this coastline, PERIOD.”