The Final Post

June 6, 2010

This will be the last post for this blog. It has been interesting tying  together gender views with the culture of Japan. On some days it was simple to do since I have been taught some of gender related subjects of Japan in previous classes, but on other days it was difficult to come up with something relevant.

I would like to say that I am not a feminist nor am I a male that looks down on women either. From my perspective, the feminist view is trying to give women more respect and rights as women, like having more people respect woman as people rather then sexual objects. Treating women as equals is just common sense to me, and people who treat women as lower beings have little to no humanity. But I am against feminist groups when they try too hard to get equal rights for woman. For example, when a feminist turns every little action on women as oppressive, like the courtesy of opening a door for a female. Yes, I opened the door for a girl out of courtesy, but I do this for everyone to be nice and I am not being oppressive to every person i open a door to.

For the blog, the topics I choose could all be turned into discussions of oppression and sexism of women, and in many aspects the arguments that arise are plausible. For instance, the genres of shounen, shoujo, and moe are media outlets that just reestablish gender roles in Japan’s society. Maid cafes and hostess clubs do indeed degrade women in some way. But to say that all woman are oppressed in Japan because these things exist is absurd. I will agree though that these things do further the stress of a woman to act toward society’s gender norm, but many women are strong enough to ignore such media and proceed with a fulfilling life without feeling oppressed.

I believe that if a person wants to stop sexism and gender roles in society, that the feminist movements must stop. Having a feminist movement to exist just constructs the idea that the problem still exists, and without the movement then the problem will dissipate over time. Instead of trying to ban things that are considered to be immoral or sexist toward women (like the lolicon ban and rapelay ban), these organizations should create programs that will allow women to gain a high self esteem to get beyond anything that may be oppressive. If you create such bans and public upheaval on such controversial subjects as “what is equal” and “what is moral” then more problems will arise.  I think that there is no correct answer to these questions, because everyone will always have different views on such subjects.

In this world there will always be people who look down at a person for being to poor, for being a certain race, or for being a certain gender. No one will be able to change how these people think or how a society may think, because there is a limitless amount of norms that are contrived with limitless amounts of morals.  There will always be good and evil, and the definition of each will always change as time passes. To deal with such people (who are sexist, racist, etc.) who are considered evil, one must believe in oneself. With a high self-esteem one can go beyond any type of oppression and walk through life without anything bothering or hindering one’s present and future.

My message is basically this, “Walk through life with a goal in mind, do not let others get you down, and always strive for something better.”

This song from Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann sums it up nicely.

Thank you for reading this blog and I hope I was able to enlighten people on some aspects of the Japanese culture.


会長はメイド様! – Kaichō wa Maid-sama!

May 23, 2010

This anime, called The Student Council President is a Maid! in English, had been airing in the current season of anime but has been going on since 2005 in manga format. The plot revolves around Misaki Ayuzawa, struggling to maintain a school that mostly consists of rowdy guys since the school just transitioned from being an all male school to a co-ed school. Even though Ayuzawa must maintain a strict demeanor as the student council president to be able to handle the guys of the school, she must become a delicate maid at her part time job at a made cafe. She keeps her part-time job a secret because she is afraid that her student council president image would be tarnished if people knew what she was doing. Ayuzawa works in the maid cafe, because her family is poor and it is the only way to pay for her school tuition. The plot thickens when Usui Takumi, a boy from the school, finds out about her alternate world of the maid cafe.

This anime/manga depicts some of the pressures of what women go through to become respected in society. When Ayuzawa she must be strict and harsh to the males of the schools to gain respect from them, and she believes that if she ever shows her delicate side that the respect she has build up will be destroyed. This is why she keeps her part time job a secret from everyone at school.  The pressures of keeping her strict personality in school and then keeping her job a secret from everyone to maintain her reputation keeps her constantly stressed in the series. Though these pressures are alleviated when she meets Usui Takumi. Over time Usui is able to explain to Ayuzawa that her job as a maid will not change how people think of her, because it is her character that distinguishes her and not her job as a maid. This type of message allows women and men reading/watching this anime that one should see a person for what they are and not what they are assumed to be under the labels of sex or occupation.

The Maid Cafe

May 17, 2010

Let me start this blog with something I know quite well, which is the maid cafe. The maid cafe is basically a cafe, but with the servers acting and dressing up as french maids. The maids must act in a polite manner, speak to the customer in the polite form of Japanese language, and address the customer as master. There are many forms of the maid cafe, but the subordinate/dominance act is always present.

Now does this act of master to maid relationship built in the cafe oppress women? I can understand how some people see this as oppressive. Having the female become eye candy and be subservient to the male customer for the price of a cup of coffee is demeaning for a woman. But the idea of the maid cafe is not to oppress women, but to give the customer a sense of happiness and relaxation.

Women who work in these cafes just see the maid act as a role they must portray to fulfill their job. Outside the maid cafe they may be a student or an office worker, but in the maid cafe they play the role of the maid to earn some extra money. Women know that this role of being subordinate does not go outside the maid cafe, and thus have no obligation to call a male colleague “master”. In the maid cafe there are also rules set in place that bar against any kind of oppression. Some of these rules include; no taking pictures, no asking of personal information form the maids, no touching the maid’s body, etc.

I have been to Japan and have gone to a maid cafe, and I can assure you that there is no oppression taking place. The aura of the maid cafe was relaxing and fun. It was on the second floor in one of the many buildings of Akihabara, Japan. It consisted of a  bar that took up most of the space and some small chairs and tables by the windows overlooking the street. There was a small party of business people around the area by the window and the rest of the customers sitting at the bar. When I walked into this scene I was immediately greeted by one of the maids that went along the lines of “Welcome master, please take a seat.”  Looking around, both the customers and the maids seemed quite happy. Whether they were taking food orders from the customers or entertaining the small party by the window with a game of rock-paper-scissors, the maids were always respected. I stayed in the maid cafe for about an hour eating my bunny shaped ice cream and then as I left one of the maids politely said “come back again.” I left the cafe with a feeling of relaxation and an empty wallet. Eating some ice cream and just observing the people in the maid cafe for about an hour costed me a good fifty American dollars. So the women are paid quite well for portraying the role of  a maid for the customers, thus there is no oppression of their salary is for this type of job.

Here is a video of some common maid cafes found in Akihabara Japan.

If you have any suggestions, thoughts, or objections to this post or the blog, please post it in the comment section.