Gender Roles in Japan Essay

2137 Words9 Pages
It is no secret that for centuries, the Japanese woman has been, to most observers, a model of elegance and graceful beauty. A picture of a kimono-clad, modest, and often silent woman has been plastered everywhere, allowing for the upmost passive subjection. If we look deeper into this image of woman, can we tell if this picture is complete? How do these women painted in representative images far in the modern world? The ideal woman in Japan is expected to be both a good wife, and a wise mother. Though these seem like reasonable expectations, there is a much deeper meaning to them that has shown signs of being outdated. During the 1800’s and 1900’s, women were subjected to society’s vision of them, and could not break free for fear of the…show more content…
“She is intelligent, modest, unselfish, and always thoughtful of the other members of the family. She is particular about her manner and impresses everybody she meets with her graceful dignity…She rises earlier and retires later than anybody else in the family. She has never allowed herself to enjoy a lazy Sunday morning in bed, and the sickbed is the only place for her to rest…Endurance and repression are her greatest ideals. She says to me, ‘Endurance a woman should cultivate more than anything else. If you endure well in any circumstance, you will achieve happiness.” This quote is representative of the popular stereotype of Japanese women. It defines how they worked hard at home to please the men, and did whatever was expected of them without complaint. A key word in this quote is endurance. It is stated that a woman who endures well in any circumstance will achieve happiness, and what is said is true. History reports that though there were many women in leadership positions (Queens, empresses, etc.), they appeared to be second-class citizens. It seemed as though the only relationship they were prompted to have was with their husbands. However, they endured. They came to the realization that if this is how life would be, this is the life they would have to get used to. Due to multiple different influences, there are many inconsistencies when it comes to the role of women in ancient Japan.
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