Saturday, December 18, 2004

Gender Equality in Japan and Elsewhere

Did you know that homemaking was a compulsory subject for Japanese school girls till the mid-90ies? After that it became compulsory for boys too. So if you are a Japanese man driven to be a househusband by economic changes or inlination you know all about the business of home economics. And you can watch your fictional colleagues on tv. You may think, gender equality in Japan - sounds too good to be true. And you are probably right. As in so many other societies, independent women are blamed for all sorts of social evils. So now the LDP proposes to change the article on gender equality in the Japanese constitution, stressing traditional family values.

Ah yes, the Japanese may be obsessive neophiliacs when it comes to technical gadgets, but change their society and conservatives start to panic like everywhere else. Don't they know that social change is driven by technology more often than not? No moveable type, no reformation (I'm thinking Gutenberg, not blogging software) and hence no capitalism. No washing machines and reliable birth control, no careers for women.

We are comfortable with thinking that changing from flint to bronze to iron tools caused massive changes in culture. At a pinch we may even admit to having passed the ages of transportation and (digital) communication. Yet when it comes to women they leave their 'traditional' sphere from mere egotistical spite? How utterly ridiculous; no spinning jenny, no Wollstonecraft; no sewing machine, no Pankhurst; no 'pill', no feminism. Whoever wants women back in the home will have to persuade the industry to stop producing these things.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I don't know... it seems like (in the US) we've gone too far the other direction. It's not enough that women are free to assume non-tradtional roles - now we must assume a non-traditional role or we are "hurting the cause" and it is automatically assumed that any woman who chooses to be a housewife does so for religious reasons.