In recent yearsJapan’s mass media, including advertising, television shows, and magazines,have taken off globally. However, do these forms of media only present Japan aswhat they want to be seen as? Taking a more thorough look at Japanese massmedia people can see that it represents Japan’s underlying structure on genderroles and gender inequality. In 2016 Japan ranked 114th out of 144countries in the gender gap index this is a lower ranking compared to its 111thposition in 2015. This is also the lowest ranking within the G7. *gender gapindex* With such a low position in the gender gap index, why does Japan stillshow variety shows that objectify women or advertisement that depicttraditional gender role. Throughout this report, I would like to explorewhether if outdated gender roles and gender inequality are enforced throughJapanese mass media.
TheHistory of Japanese Gender Roles In the past, roles of women in Japanbring out inconsistencies due to different influences that were intergraded atvarious time points due to the dominating religion at that time. It begins inancient Japan when Shintoism was the dominant religion. In Shinto-dominantJapan women were the one in power. Women were said to be allowed to rule andencouraged to do so because it was believed that women had the power to bringpeace and regulation. This was all due to the story of the goddess of the sun,Amaterasu, to the Japanese people she was the essence of perfection,demonstrating purity, beauty, and fertility. “From the depictions of female deitiesin the myths and the numerous women rulers…it can be assumed that the statuswas like that of men.
” (look up whatsource) However, the matriarchal society that Japan once was ended with theintroduction to Buddhism. In the 6th century Buddhismwas introduced to Japan and the form of Buddhism that came was quite anti-feminine.Men were had to be said the personification of men and women were the “agent ofthe devil” to entice men away from the path of Buddha.
This idea deterred ancientJapan away from matriarchal society to a patriarchal society. ** The next drastic shift in Japanesegender roles came with the second world war. The laws of 19th centuryJapan restricted women’s rights. Women were not able to vote, the could bedivorced and could not divorce, in this time they were still bound by the waysof the samurai culture which kept them subservient to their husbands. Like manycountries with men joining the fight during the war Japanese women found themselvestaking over the jobs left behind. Working in steel mills, arms factories, andsuch. The real change took place Post-WWII, during the occupation of Alliedforces, America introduced reforms to Japanese society.
One drastic change wasthe rewrite of the Civil Code of 1898 to the Civil Code of 1947, this new civilcode allowed women to own property, inherit family estates, to marry and todivorce, and much more. This political change became a catalyst to initiateconversation to create more social equality for women and men further on out. ** In modern day Japan, despite theirlow ranking of the gender inequality index the ideas of gender roles hasshifted in the minds of the Japanese people. Japan is currently an aging (?????) and so the roles of women stay in the houseand men go to work is prevalent today but there is movement against these idea.People like the prime minister Abe Shinzo realize the need for change. However,the thoughts of the people are developed by influences such as mass media.
Thequestion is whether if Japanese mass media like television, advertisement, arehelping to lead the change for gender roles and inequality or is it enforcingthe traditional roles that Japan so desperately needs to break free from? **culture oftelevison GenderIdeas in Japanese Mass Media I would like to go through threedifferent examples of mass media, one print ad, one television, and onecommercial to see whether if Japanese media enforces their traditional or amore modern take on gender roles. Frist, I would like to look at thisadvertisement for an energy drink that you can find in most train stations andon trains. In the ad there is a famous Japanese singer holding an energy drink inthe office with a suit with the tagline “???????in???”** This advertisement can be seen as men need the energydrink because they are the ones that do all the work in the office. This reinforcesgender role ideas typically found in post war japan where Japanese men are thebreadwinners for the family slaving away at their office job. Second, I would like to look asegment from a popular Friday night show called “?????????.” In this game segment, the show createstwo teams of celebrity girls under two different comedians calling them “ProductionA” and “Production B.” They have a question they ask people on the streets suchas “Top 25 celebrity girls they want to sleep with”, “Top 25 celebrity girlsthey want to make their girlfriend”, and so on.
The point of the segment iseach leader of the Production team to select a member from their team to go againstthe opposing team to see if their chosen member is ranked higher on the rankingthan the opposing teams chosen member. This is one of the times where massmedia is pushing the opposite agenda of what Japan as a country is trying toachieve. As Abe Shinzo is trying to push for his “Womenomics” reforms Japaneseprime time television is airing a segment objectifying women and pitting themagainst each other. This clearly enforces ideas that men have the right to seewomen as only things for beauty and sex and not as intellectuals who can createchange. Lastly, I’d like to look at thiscommercial for Panasonic.
* reference the video* Compared to my last two examplesthis is the most forward thinking of the three. In this commercial the vieweris shown a family with both the wife and the husband working to support thefamily while both the wife and husband are seen taking care of the kids. Theylessen the burden of house chores with using Panasonic products.
The beauty ofthis advertisement is that although both adults are working it does not fall into the trap of still just the women ends up taking care of the kids. This “??? series” has many commercials and shows the new dynamics of aJapanese modern family. It breaks the mold of traditional roles and shows thefuture that both the Prime Minister and the modern Japan hopes to achieve. AComparison to the United States Similarly, to Japan, the United Statesof America is taking initiatives to become more gender equal within theirmedia. In the past years, the feminist movement has almost become a trendwithin young America and because of this a lot of commercials and tv roles putwomen in empowering positions to inspire younger viewers. This can be seen in televisionroles such as Olivia Pope in Scandal and commercials such as the “Like a Girl”series form Always. However, regarding breaking gender roles and bringingawareness to inequality Japan and America are going at it from different directions.
Whereas Japan is trying to change the image of the traditional family dynamicAmerica is just trying to bring confidence to women whether it be in the workplace or in beauty. This can be seen in the “Stress Test” series from Secret. Theytest their deodorant with women put in different stressful scenarios likeasking for a higher wage. Like said in the second part of thispaper, major reforms to Japan’s laws on gender equality came with theoccupation of America. This means that the current ideas of gender roles and equalityin japan is based on the ideas of America. During the occupation in the 1940’stalks about the reformation of the Civil Codes began from the Americans. Thisallows us to assume that America was already moving down the past of gender equalityyears before Japan. This translates to why there is an immense gap between themin the gender inequality index (114th vs.
46th.) America’sfeminism movement began in the 1840s whereas Japan just began around the 1940s.*sourceabout American feminism* Despite the gap between the two and the two-differentstarting points this does not mean that Japan is behind America in its fightfor gender equality. They are two different countries tackling this socialissue from two different angles.
Conclusion Japan started out as an almostmatriarchal society on it’s own terms until other countries such as China,Korea, and American came in to introduce their own ideas. Buddhism began theend of the matriarchal society and brought in misogynist views to women throughreligion. As the years go on the fight to break this woman hating barriers ledto the confinement of women in the house only to care for their appearance andtake care of the man. Only after the war, has it become relevant for Japan totry to completely break these molds and catch up to the rest of the world. Theculture of mass media is the basis of a nations opinion.
* find a book thatsupports this saying * A consumer of Japanese media can see that in commercialssuch as the Panasonic commercial that Japan is moving towards a new dynamic inways of having double income households and men also participating in dailychores and taking care of children. On the other hand, they will be able toalso see the sexist ideas enforced through variety shows with their unconventionalantics and love for all things sexual. Objectifying women through ranking gamesand pitting themselves with each other not only allow men to do and think thesame in their own lives but push back the agenda of what the leaders of Japanare trying to do. Japanese television shows have the power to say that men wantmore than boobs, beer, and sports and women are more than their boobs andlooks. Japan has the nature of following in the footsteps of other countries. *I think that they will only further their advancement towards gender equalityfirst through legislation and then through changes with their media.
More commercialswill come out breaking the boundaries of gender roles and empowering both menand women. I will hope that the television shows do not fall too far behind andthat the people of Japan can be rise above it.