There is a lot to cover since I did my last gender reader at the start of June. In this gender reader: Shiomura Ayaka and the harassment case at the Tokyo Assembly, updates to koseki (family registry) laws, Rokudenashiko, and more.
Shiomura Ayaka and The Tokyo Assembly
Here’s a few links worth reading on sexual harassment in Japan in light of Suzuki Akihiro’s harassment of Shiomura Ayaka. In case you missed it, Suzuki felt it was appropriate to yell at fellow assembly member Shiomura during a presentation on gender policy to “Get married before you say those kind of things!” and “Can’t you have kids?” (「そんなこと言う前に、おまえが早く結婚しないのか！」「子供は産めないのか！」) because he was “concerned” for her “well being.” Sure.
Oyabu Nobuko (大藪順子). “Sexist jeers and infantile old men in the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly: The Japan that Shimomura Ayaka saw.” (東京都議会のセクハラ野次と幼稚なおっさん達――浦島花子が見た日本.) The Huffington Post Japan. 19 June 2014.
Is the Tokyo Assembly a gathering of elementary-schoolers, heckling someone without listening to her speech to the end? Even if they were children who didn’t know the meaning of sexual harassment, this inexcusable verbal assault happened in a public place, and afterward, everyone is now feigning ignorance about who did it. [This was before Suzuki owned up to it.]
They’re worse than schoolchildren. No, it’s an insult to schoolchildren to say that. To the old man who harassed Shiomura and those who callously laughed at the jeers: please go back to nursery school.
Kitahara Minori. “Considering the ‘apology’ for the assembly heckling: the essence of ‘sexual harassment’ still isn’t understood” 結婚・妊娠ヤジ「謝罪」に思う――「セクハラ」の本質はまだ理解されていない. Asahi Shimbun. 25 June 2014.
Kitahara discusses how “office humor” about sexual harassment actually dilutes the severity of the act and confuses people as to what harassment is. Furthermore, the author states in no uncertain terms that the low birth and marriage rates are directly connected to misogyny. The bluntness of this piece is spectacular.
Angela Erika Kubo. “Sexist jibes at Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly Spark & Ignite Protests.” Japan Subculture Research Center. 20 June 2014.
A good summary of the Assembly incident and the Change.org petition to punish the then-unkown member of the assembly who harrassed Shiomura.
“These sort of taunts fly around and there are assembly members who laugh in an assembly where members who say ‘we’ll promote the social advancement of women!’ or ‘we’ll work firmly toward providing child care support!’ gather,” Shun Otokita, a colleague of Shimomura’s, wrote on his blog. “This is the reality of the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly in the capital of our country.”
“Tokyo assemblyman admits to sexist taunting; Shiomura says ‘too late.’” The Asahi Shimbun. 23 June 2014.
“The taunts represent the bottom-line feelings of the assemblymen,” said Emmy Suzuki Harris, a 30-year-old representative of change.org’s Japanese version. “Their intention to bury the offense has angered many people.”
Johnny. “Takashi Murakami Responds To Sexist Heckling With Portraits of Ayaka Shiomura.” Spoon & Tamago. 26 June 2014.
Japanese artist Murakami Takashi did a series of portraits of Shiomura in the wake of the harassment incident. They are on display at Bar Zingaro.
Images of Ayaka Shiomura — from her initial speech but also from her press conference — have been appropriated and converted into dot portraits, which have then been overlaid onto Murakami’s signature smily floral patterns.
I’m not sure what to make of the artist’s intent, but if nothing else, giving more exposure to Shiomura’s case through art make make the public more aware of the harassment issue.
Gender and the Law
Sugihara Satomi. “The Musashino, Tokyo Assembly adopts a petition to reform laws about children born to unmarried parents; obligation to check the family registry and birth registration.”「婚外子差別、法改正を」武蔵野市議会が陳情採択 戸籍法、出生届にチェック義務づけ. The Asahi Shimbun. 27 June 2014.
The Musashino Assembly adopted measures to eliminated discriminatory laws against children born to unmarried parents. Last December, the Supreme Court struck down a law that stated that “illegitimate” children were only able to receive half of the inheritance “legitimate” children would get. However, the root of the discrimination is still present in the family registry (koseki) and birth registry system. The author discusses some of the legal reforms thusfar, including the 2004 decision to start listing children born to parents who are not married to each other not as “male” or “female” children associated with one parent but as their family relationship (“oldest son,” “second daughter,” etc.) in the family’s list of children.
Lizzie Crocker. “Japan’s Hypocritical Vagiphobia.” The Daily Beast. 16 July 2014.
Artist Rokudenashiko was arrested for 3-D printing her labia for the “Pussy Kayak.” The article summarizes the issue well, but a better comparison would be the penis festivals of Japan than vending machines full of underwear. (Are we still shocked about this?) But still, Japan’s obscenity laws, especially in this case, seem outdated and selectively applied. It’s just a vagina.
Check out Rokudenashiko’s blog Deco-Man (“deco-puss”) for more art.
The Tokugawa Art Museum Harassment Case
A sexual harassment suit at the Tokugawa Art Museum in Nagoya lead to the firing of the vice director and the administration section chief–for supporting the victims against the department head who harassed them. There is a change.org petitition to reinstate the staff who tried to help those who were haraased. Thanks to toranosukev for the links!
徳川美術館の管理部長がセクハラか 女性職員２人、労働審判申し立て.( “Labor lawsuit declared against Tokugawa Art Museum manager for sexual harassment of 2 women employees.”) Sankei-MSN. 12 June 2014.
Petition update (7/30/2014)
Art and Culture
Johnny. “The Art of Japanese Beauty Through the Ages.” Spoon & Tamago. 24 June 2014.
But, in particular, what have the Japanese required in depictions of beauty, and how did we go from bijinga (beautiful women) in the Edo period to bishojo (beautiful young girls) today? That question, and many others, is the subject of a new exhibition at the Aomori Museum of Art. “Bishojo: Young Pretty Girls in Art History” will run from July 7 – September 7, 2014 and will feature more than 300 works that span over 300 years, all categorized under various sub-themes like “musical girls” and “magical girls” to “girls having fun.” Works shown below are samples that aren’t necessarily part of the exhibition.
Those of you following the cross-dressing series may be interested in this three-parter about the failings of the manga version of Otomen, which focused on high-school boys with “feminine” interests and pursuits, to address gender issues. I really enjoyed the drama version of the show, which ended before some of the issues become problematic, so I’d like to recommend that as an alternative.
Tsunderin. “Putting the ‘Meh’ In Otomen: The Unbalanced Subversion of Gender Roles.” Lady Geek Girl and Friends. 7 July 2014.
I have enough links to do a whole Reader on geek gender topics, so I’ll just share a few non-Japan links this time.
James Turnbull. “Korean Women’s Sexual Histories: Still a slippery subject.” The Grand Narrative. 30 June 2014.
(Some content may be NSFW.)
This summer then, it’s probably [K-pop band] T-ara member Eun-jung’s recent “confession” to—shock! horror!—past sexual relationships that is most likely to have an impact on how the public views or discusses theirs. Or, alternatively, the news that matchmaking companies no longer assume that their female clients will pretend to be virgins before marriage…That’s the takeaway message from this survey by two matchmaking companies….
Caitlin Constantine. “On Having Tattoos and Being a Female Athlete.” Fit and Feminist. 25 June 2014.
I would have gotten more [tattoos], but then I met my future ex-husband. My future ex-husband hated tattoos on women. Every time I brought up the idea of getting another one, he squashed it. “I’m the one who has to look at it, and I say no,” he’d say. So for several years, my skin remained needle-free, until two months after I left, and a woman named Jill etched a phoenix in solid black lines on my upper back. It was one of the first of several “fuck you”s offered to my old existence, a way of reclaiming my body for myself.
Sarah Miller. The Link Between Slut-Shaming, Bullying, & Femininity. Gender & Society. 16 June 2014.
My respondents used slut talk to make claims about class and race. However, across racial/ethnic and class backgrounds, I find that girls are invested in this process because it offers an opportunity to make claims about what kind of girl they are, through naming what kind of girl they aren’t.
Katie Halper. “New Favorite Tumblr: Confused Cats Against Feminism.” Feministing. 28 July 2014.
The clusterfuck that is #WomenAgainstFeminism “don’t need feminism” to help with their lives and neither do these cats in a satirical send-up the of original photos.
What are you reading?