The Role of Women in Japanese Society Essay

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The place of women in Japanese society is an interesting blend of illusions and myth. It is within this illusion though that there are two distinct Japanese societies that of the public and private. However, the Western image of Japanese women is of the subservient Japanese woman and this image is real; it is however, only an image. Women in their private family roles’ often are dominant towards the male members of the household. When judged by Western standards, the women of Japan are unusually seen as dedicated to their families. Currently the position of women in Japanese society can be attributed to the vestiges of two old philosophies that of Confucianism and the Samurai. Not only has Japans’ society formed from these old vestiges it …show more content…
This same code of law combined with the influences from Confucianism and Buddhism also drastically changed the place of women as well as how they where viewed within Japanese society. These three institutions alone were all highly discriminatory towards women. For example it is Confucianism that stressed that the men should be placed over women. As an example one Confucian teaching states: "A woman is to obey her father as daughter, her husband as wife, and her son as aged mother." Within Buddhism one of the basic tenets states that salvation is not possible for women. With this the Samurai believed that "...A woman should look upon her husband as if he were heaven itself." As an example of how the society tended to view women can be shown through an excerpt from The Tale of Genji, an 11th century Japanese novel, which was written by a woman; in this she said: "If they [women] were not fundamentally evil, they would not have been born women at all."
Women living under the Tokugawa Shogunate (1602-1868) did not exist legally. What is meant by this is that woman could not own property. An example of the position of women can be taken from a log recording of a Portuguese trader, a woman's "...husband may kill his wife for being lazy or bad." Even though women where treated as a lesser people women still could learn to write, but only in hiragana, woman’s hand. This then prevented women from being able to read…