2/28/2015

Foreward for Chinese Edition of “Woman-Haters: Misogyny in Japan”

Chizuko’s Blog No.82

February 9th, 2015


A Chinese translation (in the simplified Chinese characters) of my book “Woman-Haters” has been published. I have learned the Chinese title is 『厭女症』(Woman-Hater Syndrome). The following is what I wrote as the foreward for this Chinese edition. Also a Korean translation is now under way.


“Woman-Haters: Misogyny in Japan”
Written by Chizuko Ueno
(Kinokuniya Shoten, 6/10/2010)

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I’m happy to find that they have decided to translate my book “Woman-Haters.” The subtitle of the book is “Misogyny in Japan,” and I believe we can apply this idea to many different societies, like “Misogyny in China,” “Misogyny in Korea,” or “Misogyny in Vietnam.” In the first place, in writing this book, I was inspired by “Between Men: English Literature and Male Homosocial Desire,” a work by Eve Sedgwick, an American scholar in gender studies and Egnlish literature. So, obviously, there should be “Misogyny in Britain” and “Misogyny in America.” Unfotunately, it is difficult to imagine a society without misogyny.

This book consists of a theory and and its demonstrations. The three-piece combination set of homosocialism, homophobia and misogyny --- a theoretical apparatus which Sedgwick provided us --- is very useful. Thanks to this theory, we got to understand how different homosocialism and homosexualism are and why homosexual males tend to be “feminized.” And above all, we learned from her theory that masculinity is defined as “not being (like) a woman,” which means putting women outside of men.

Because this theoretical apparatus is so sharp-cutting that you are tempted to cut what you have using it. Like “Oh, yes, that group is homosocial,” or “Now I understand that womnaizer is a woman-hater in fact.” And as well as in Japan today, also in China today, you will find out there are so many situations you can easily explain with this theoretical apparatus. That is a shame, since it reflects the fact that men are not willing to change at all.

“Women support half of heaven.” We understood that we had learned this wonderful phrase from the socialist China. However, what we have heard after their “Reform and Liberation” are only stories no better than those in capitalist countries, including companies’ preference of men and job shortage for women. I was astounded when I learned a phenomenon called 婦女回家 (women returning home) in China. While Japanese women want to escape from being housewives, do Chinese women want to go back home and become full-time housewives on the contrary? The change of society is full of contradictions. Apparently, the difficulties women are suffering from in their lives are the same in all countries and under all political systems. China has its own misogyny.

As you know, the Japanese language has been developed as a kind of creole by importing foreign languages like Chinese and English. You can see that in the mixture of hiragana (original Japanese phonetic characters), kanji (adopted Chinese characters), and katakana (phonetic characters used in describing loanwords from foreign languages) in Japanese written words. Thus, the Japanese language has historically imported foreign ideas quite freely. But at the same time, it has failed to translate those ideas to Japanese. In Japan, the word “feminism” or “misogyny” has been accepted as a katakana loanword as it is. Meanwhile, in China, “feminism” is called 女性主義 (women-ism) and women’s center” is called 女性中心 (women-center), which impressed me. Also, I was deeply impressed to learn that this book of mine would be translated as 『厭女症』 (Woman-Hater Syndrome). If it is a “syndrome,” it should be a distinct medical disorder. Then, how “homosocial” and “homosexual” would be differently translated? I’m all curiosity.

This disorder of woman-hatrer syndrome affects not only men but also women. An advantage of the idea of misogyny is that it can explain the dark side of women too. As I explained in the book, misogyny of women is much troublesome than that of men, because it can trun to self-hatred. If we realize this, we may solve many problems including why women could be easily divided and have conflicts over men, why there is a saying “Women’ enemies are women,” or why mother-daughter relationships often tend to be awkward. Well, it would not be so easy, but to realize the fact can be at least the first step.

Feminism in Japan has been influenced by many foeign countries. This book also has been influenced by Sedgwick, an American scholar in queer theory, as I stated above. And some people say that Japanese feminism is no more than an import from abroad. But I would like to counter this argument with a quote from Gayatri Spivak, a well-known scholar in post-colonial studies, who was born in India, studies English literature, has the U.S. permanent residency, and teaches at Columbia University in New York. When she visited Japan to attend a symposium on gender theory, a Western scholar asked her if “gender” was not an idea which did not originally exist in Japan. Then she replied, “No matter where an idea was generated, if it is useful, you should use it.”

When a theory is applied to demonstrations, it is customized according to places,  subjects and contexts it deals with. For readers of the book, it would be hard not to apply the theory to their own societies and try to solve the problems they have. As I discussed misogyny in Japan, I expect some Chiniese readers will probably discuss misogyny in China in the near future. I hope I can read their book in Japanese translation. And if there are any phenomena this theory cannot explain? I should welcome them as a signal of the change that the society is getting away from misogyny.

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Original article written by Chizuko Ueno
Translated by A. Tawara

A Movie in My Memory All About My Mother directed by Pedro Almodóvar

Review by Siria


Fascinated by a Woman’s Strong Way of Living


Woman is strong.

That was my first impression of this movie. Woman is strong.
                                                                                                      
The heroine, Manuela, is a single mother who lost her son Esteban in a car accident. He died on his birthday of all others.

She has grieved his death for days until she makes up her mind.

She decides to go to Barcelona to find Esteban’s father.

It’ difficult to make an important decision when you have lost someone you loved. I think only women can do that.

When it comes to romantic relationship, men in general find it harder to forget their love than women. Some are obsessed with the memories in the old days, and their friends get fed up with that.

Manuela has been living with her son peacefully for 18 years since she divorced her husband. But this peace is broken by the great sadness of losing her son. I have never married nor had any child of my own, so her pain is beyond my imagination. In the middle of her grief, she leaves Madrid to look for Esteban’s “father”. And, she does this all by herself. The scene where she leaves for Barcelona reminds me of the innate strength that a woman has inside her.
                                                                                
In Volver, another movie directed by Almodóvar, the “male sex” was excluded from the plot naturally. In All About My Mother, on the other hand, male only exist as the symbol of the “sex”. There are some male characters who underwent a sex-change operation (therefore regarded as female). They had breast implant surgery, but never have their penis removed. In this sense, they are male AND female at the same time. Although they serve as the symbol of male sex, they are never excluded from the plot because the half part of them is female.

Esteban’s father, Lola is also a woman with a penis. She married with Manuela, had breast implant, and now she leads a life almost same as a prostitute’s. In Barcelona, Manuela meets a nun called Sister Rosa and finds that the sister is also pregnant by Lola. Rosa is HIV positive; she dies soon after giving birth to her son. As promised Rosa, Manuela takes care of the newborn baby. Gradually, she gets past her grief of losing her own son, if not completely, and takes her life back.

Despite the title All About My Mother, Manuela’s son dies in the beginning of the story although he was the one who wanted to know all about his mother and farther. It’s intriguing that the story develops from his mother’s view while the movie is titled from the son’s view. Actually, no characters in the story can find out all about Manuela’s life; only the audience can. When you are in despair, you will be fascinated by the lives of Manuela and other strong women in this movie.

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About the author: Siria was born in Brussels, Belgium. She is half-Japanese and half-English, and grew up in Chiba Prefecture, Japan. In her early days, she studied in the School of International Liberal Studies of Waseda University, believing that she should establish an international career because of her international background. But she felt uncomfortable among many other cosmopolitans and dropped out. After working as an editor and designer of cellphone websites, now she works for a company. She enjoys her free life in her own way tweeting about various topics.
Twitter @Les_Niniches

(Translated by N. Tajima)
                                                                                                                        

1/31/2015

Online petition: Please do not approve the re-opening of nuclear power plants!

Sign a petition to the Governor of Fukui Prefecture Issei Nishikawa: 
“Please do not approve the re-opening of nuclear power plants!” 


“Do Not Re-open Nuclear Power Plants Any Longer!” Fukui Prefectural Residents’ Petition Executive Committee has been working on a signature campaign to send the petitions to the Governor of Fukui Prefecture not to approve the re-opening of nuclear power plants.  

Please join the petition. Online petition is available from: http://fukui.jpn.org/international/eng.html
If you are able to spread the campaign, it is very much welcomed, too. The committee gathers signatures not only from Fukui but also from other prefectures in Japan.

For more information, please visit: http://fukui.jpn.org/international/
( Reported by Harumi Kondaiji )



Original article: http://net.wan.or.jp/tzn/2015/01/10/

Adopted and Translated by Shin Yamaaki


1/30/2015

A human chain for "Women's Peace" issued a red card to the Abe administration.


   Over 7,000 women and men dressed in red gathered and surrounded the Diet forming a human chain to raise their voices for peace and to say "No" against the runaway Abe administration on January 17th, 2015. They consider a wide range of policies pushed under the Abe administration as pro-war, especially the approval of the right to collective defense.


                



   Wearing red comes from the Icelandic Redstocking movement. The protest chain was formed four times on that day and at times reached 2 kilometers. Various advocates delivered strong speeches and encouraged people to lead lifestyles of peace and friendship.



Original article: http://wan.or.jp/emergency/?p=1886
                        http://wan.or.jp/ueno/?p=4748
Adopted and Translated by Naoko Uchibori

12/31/2014

Survey with 50 LBTs published

Gay Japan News publishes interviews with 50 LBT people regarding violence based on sexual orientation, sexual identity, and gender expressions from the points of view of lesbians, bi-sexual women, and transgenders

THE LBTs, or lesbians, bisexuals, and transgnders, experience violence on a daily basis in various situations because of their sexual orientation, sexual identity, and gender expressions. Of the 50 people who have been interviewed, 31 people (62%) received psychological violence, 14 (28%) people suffered physical violence, and 28 people (56%) experienced sexual violence. The majority of these victims have come to think of committing suicide. Experts tend to avert providing assistance because of they fear prejudice and lack of understanding. As a result, even when the victims are connected to experts, this does not mean they can receive considerate and effective support.

Gay Japan News, together with International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, an NGO, and groups from Malaysia, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, and Pakistan conducted interviews with 50 LBT people ranging between 22 and 58 years old about their experience of being violence victims in Tohoku, Kanto, Chubu, Kansai, Chugoku, and Kyushu areas. The result has been complied in a booklet.

The booklet also includes suggestions for policies to protect people from violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation, sexual identity, and gender expressions. I hope that you will be interested in knowing that violence against LBT exists, and understand the status-quo and background, which this survey has revealed.

The document can be downloaded from here. (You need to get a password. The given survey is in Japanese. The website has a limited English section.)

Contact:
gayjapannews.com
info@gayjapannews.com

Translated by Naoko Hirose
Original article: http://wan.or.jp/book/?p=8252

12/30/2014

Médée in Operas: Misogyny in Modern Europe


The following is a translation of Rinko Umeno’s introduction of her own book Médée in Operas: Misogyny in Modern Europe.

I was a student studying vocal music at Tokyo University of the Arts when the movement of women’s liberation and student power was extremely active. The university president’s office was occupied. The movement was lead mainly by students of the faculty of fine arts, a part of the All-Campus Joint Struggle Committee. Although I was a student of the faculty of music, I remember that a few other students and I slept in the corner of the president’s office. Around that time, I also experienced a bitter relationship with a man and unreasonable discrimination against women in the movement itself.

After the All-Campus Joint Struggle Committee was defeated, I met many women who had joined the women’s liberation movement and shared sadness and pain with each other. It was a valuable experience. After that, I became a wife and a mother.  While I continued to be a musician, I had a chance to run for an election for the Yokohama City assembly councilor and won the election in 1995. After I served 2 two terms for eight years, I ran for an election to Kanagawa Prefectural assembly but I was defeated in the election.
When I was shocked and depressed, my daughter, who was a student of Yokohama National University, encouraged me to go and listen to university lectures, saying “university is an interesting place. Why don’t you audit a lecture?” Since I had had all the time in my hands all the sudden, I attended “A History of Islamic Civilization,” a course given by a German professor. It was two years after 9.11 had occurred. I thought I could not understand the world without knowing Islam. The lecture was so interesting that I officially entered the university at the post graduate level next year.

It took 8 years and a half to complete the courses and to get a doctoral degree in 2012. During this time, I studied in France for three years in total and went through a lot of adventures. The book, Médée in Operas: Misogyny in Modern Europe, is based on my doctoral thesis.

For many years I had thought about poverty, war, violence, and discrimination against women. I came to think that I could get a better grip of accumulating issues of present-day society if I became familiar with the origin of European civilization which formed the base of the present day. Opera was an emerging art form that was born in the beginning of the modern times, and thus it has the strong characteristic of the modern times. In operas, we often see longing for a woman and violence which includes murder, suicide, and rape. These show two sides of misogyny (sexism), an undercurrent of a mentality of modern Europe.

This book analyzed four opera librettos written in the era of Louis XIV, which feature Médée, a woman in Greek mythology. Médée appeared in operas and plays many times from the 16th century to the 17th century. It was during an absolute monarch characterized by a rigid class system and patriarchal society that Médée was represented as a witch. After deserted by her husband, she murdered her husband’s lover, a king who is the father of the lover, and her own two sons with the same husband for revenge. Why in that era was the story dramatized many times? Through analysis, I looked at the essence of misogynic characteristics of modern Europe. As a result, this book was born. (Author: Rinko Umeno)

Médée in Operas: Misogyny in Modern Europe
Published on November 10th, 2014
Publisher: Suiseisha
Telephone: 0356898410
Ask the publisher or the author about the book.


Translated by Atsuko Ishikawa

11/30/2014

Why don't we show our desire for a nuclear-free future through everyday shopping?

★The story behind the birth of Biwa Tea from Iwai-shima Island
There is an island called Iwai-shima in Kaminoseki, Yamaguchi Prefecture. Since the plan to build a nuclear power plant on its opposite shore was made public in 1982, about 90% of the residents in this heart-shaped island have been against the construction. 

Women in the island started sanchoku group in order to strengthen the economic basis (foundation?) of the community so that they would not need to rely upon the revenue promised with the construction of the power plant.  


Iwai-shima Island is known as the producer of the fruit called biwa. Residents of the island have long made make tea with its leaves. Based on this experience, the women of the island decided to sell organic biwa tea, and this tea came to be known by many, through the support of women in different parts of the country. 

Biwa Tea Today
30 years later, Biwa Tea became a very popular product, one that is often sold out. 


Today, Ikuko is sharing the knowledge and skills of tea making with Atomi Okamoto and people around her. Atomi moved to the island from Tokyo right after the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. Atomi says "I just wanted to return their kindness by my help, but it has become my life-work." She continues, with her eyes sparkling, "I am attracted to this because I can work while talking with Ikuko about the meaning of the group. I just love the work of biwa tea making. It's not repetitive. It is so much fun to make it based on changes in humidity, etc."