Differently conceived is the translation work indexed in McLelland's discussion of the 'expansive potential' p. A second theme given multiplex expression in several of the chapters is what I will refer to as that of transgressional and transformative struggles. The volume as a whole, of course, is engaged in the ongoing struggle, indexed above, of transforming dominant homologised and essentialised representations of gendered and sexual experience and identities in Japan.
The transgressiveness of the liberating enjoyment of non-reproductive sexual pleasures among Japanese women as consuming sexual agents is explored in the chapters by Dales and Takeyama. Dasgupta's chapter is an interesting and ethnographically drawn cautionary tale of the persisting dominance and hegemony of heteronormativity, even as renegotiated from within by heterosexual identifying young salarymen.
This was achieved by using a chronology of the articles online publishing date and it was assured that only original articles were included in the corpus. After that twelve articles remained for the in-depth-analysis. Due to the decline Japanese masculinity is discursively established as a subordinated masculinity. To prove a decline of the salaryman and legitimise concern about Japanese masculinity, estimates are given of the proportion of herbivorous boys inside the Japanese population. Interestingly the estimates differ significantly: while some authors estimate a rate of only 20 per cent Neill, others take a proportion of 60 per cent or even 70 per cent as given Otake, ; Harney, These estimates establish the issue of masculinity in transition, making it hard to dismiss the phenomenon as something marginal.
Furthermore the scale of the phenomenon makes it large enough to have a substantial impact on social conditions in Japan. These social and economic conditions are unfolded through various topics.
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One of them is the disillusionment of young Japanese males with the current Japanese economy, making them uncompetitive and uncommitted to work McNeill, Simultaneously the stability of that masculinity model is questioned and herbivorous boys are presented as an effect of these changes. In the working poor topic increased irregular employment patterns due to the deregulation of the labour market Otagaki, are discussed. This development is deemed alarming because it also resulted in the widening income gap between males Otake, The hegemonic masculinity is obviously linked to the era of economic growth and stability, whereas non-hegemonic masculinity is simply tied to the more problematic economic conditions.
The economic recession is being described as making it impossible for the young generation to pursue the hegemonic masculinity of the salarymen and thus leading to their decline. Lifetime employment and regular income are said to have made them consumers of exclusive and expensive goods Harney, But the well-established branches of male consumption are being threatened Broughton, as sales are going down, especially products such as cars and alcohol Lim, The declining consumption has a problematic effect on the economic turmoil that Japan was already facing Harney, ; Pesek, ; Otagai, ; Lim, To some extent they present a logical conclusion of the foregoing, as the economic changes with the effect of precarious employment and lower income generally are leading to a decline in male purchasing power, but the herbivorous boys are making more shifts in the consumption patterns of men.
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During the bubble era consumption was regarded as good and people measured their value by money, whereas herbivorous men are not buying things to show off Otagaki, In general it is assumed that it is no longer important to those young men to boost their status through consumption Arima, Furthermore alcohol and tobacco have become substituted by sweets and goods that were considered as inappropriate for males less than twenty years ago Lim, The unmanly fashion choices Japanese men could make were skirts and lacy tops, which happened to be designed for men Broughton, and were being topped by the male bra Otake, ; McNeill, ; McCurry, The shift of men towards formerly feminine connoted consumption patterns is also common in the West and therefore common knowledge of masculinities, yet by referring to i.
Here a first indication of utilising Japanese masculinity as a worst-case scenario illustrating ramifications of changing masculinity is perceivable. Drawing on the definition of herbivorous boys as shying away from women, the discourse is searching for reasons for this. An argumentation is presented in the discourse that indicates a reciprocal connection of masculinity and femininity.
Change of men and women is therefore as much a cause as it is a consequence. Therefore the discourse can claim that new types of femininity trigger a change of masculinity and vice versa. In several articles friendship without sexual interest is emphasised Lim ; Neill ; McNeill, ; Harney, This is deemed to be a huge step towards a more equal relationship between men and women in general McNeill, In the first argument a lower male libido is regarded as impossible while the second one is trying to understand the decline in male sexual drive.
Sex drive and masculinity are strongly entwined in this argument making it impossible to declare a decline in male lust, at least for a healthy male.
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Rather than admitting a declined sex drive a sublimation of sexuality towards other means of satisfaction was noted, like pornography, sex toys or cybersex instead of real women Harney, ; Pesek, Yet the discourse rates this as unfavourably with regard to the shrinking birth rate Harney, Implicated here is a connection between sexual activity as a marker of masculinity and birth rates. It is implicated through this statement that men may only think of marriage and starting a family if they possess the financial means to do so, which simultaneously indicates that the maxim of the male breadwinner still remains strong.
Men have been expected to work full-time after leaving the education system, marry and support wife and children Otagaki, The argumentative structure in this topic is very complex and linked to other topics of the discourse. However the entanglement of masculinity with economic status, marriage and reproduction becomes obvious.
If the birth rate stays low or declines even more, the shrinking of the workforce could be accelerated Pesek, Although the population is rapidly aging Japan does not welcome large-scale immigration of foreign workers ibid. Hence yet again it is utilised as an example to convey possible consequences and links between masculinity and social conditions. These findings are discussed in perspective to the common knowledge stock of the media workers and its connections to the concept of hegemonic masculinity, a global hegemonic masculinity, the hegemonic viewpoint as well as internal and external hegemony.
Additionally the recurring motive of reciprocal change of men and women is part of the common knowledge stock.
Gender bending in Japan
The impact of femininity on masculinity should not be underestimated Connell and Messerschmidt, , p. As women change, so do men and vice versa. It is noteworthy that despite the dislike of the herbivores was stated several times in the discourse, it was not laden with accusations towards women as for example in the media discourse in Germany about changed masculinity Pauer, ; Scheuerman, The question who changes and why was not presented as a gendered problem between sexes in the discourse, but a self interest in change of men Pease, was also absent from the discourse as cause for change of men and masculinities.
Rather the discourse naturalises diversification of men and masculinities by concluding that it coincides with and due to economic and social changes, yet political changes were not mentioned in detail and only one article referred to that topic specifically Harney, Moreover it is used to construct a subordination of Japanese masculinity.
As stated in the beginning I presume the working of external and internal hegemony on the global and regional level of masculinity construction. Furthermore I hypothetically assumed the media to take a hegemonic viewpoint and constructing a matrix of hierarchical masculinities.
This is external hegemony. Granted a dominant status in Japan as early as Vogel , the salaryman has been identified and studied accordingly as the Japanese hegemonic masculinity in various approaches and fields Louie and Low, ; Roberson and Suzuki, ; McLelland and Dasgupta, and is still discussed as such Hidaka, ; Dasgupta, The salaryman has also been the model on which Japan based the makeup of its post-war welfare state and constructed the gender order subordinating other men and women Osawa, By demonstrating that the salaryman is a declining form of masculinity its foothold in the ranks of a global hegemonic masculinity is in jeopardy and becoming unstable.
The discourse simultaneously utilises the decline of the salaryman to indicate the importance of maintaining a strong and thriving economic power base which is needed to construct a masculinity that can be recognised as close to the ideal of a global hegemonic masculinity. Hence not surprisingly it is established and reproduced as common knowledge by the media workers with no need to establish a new background to interpret reality. Yet concurrently the knowledge constructed in the discourse about Japanese masculinity is used to subject Japan and Japanese masculinity from the hegemonic viewpoint.
The subordination then not only applies to Japanese masculinities but the country itself. This clearly demonstrates the working of internal hegemony by the western hegemonic viewpoint in the media constructing a power matrix or hierarchy of masculinities. It seems that the hegemonic lens to view reality is merely economic, which arises from the strong nexus with masculinity construction.
Connell and Wood , p. Arima, Tomoko Beasley, Christine Rethinking Hegemonic Masculinity in a Globalizing World. Benwell, Bethan ed. Masculinity and Men's Lifestyle Magazines. Oxford: Blackwell. Berger, Peter L. The social construction of reality. Garden City, N. Y: Doubleday. Beynon, John Masculinities and culture. Philadelphia, Pa: Open University. Broughton, Philip Delves The Times. Cacciatore, Michael A. Scheufele and Xuan Liang At the time of writing, an amendment was prefigured which would allow an individual with children to change their own sex on their own family register once their children had reached adulthood Japan Times , Japan Times.
It is just over a decade since the first sex reassignment operations were carried out in Japan. There has also been at least one other mainstream drama that dealt with transgender issues, an episode of the TBS high-school drama, 3nen Bgumi Kinpachi-sensei Mr Kinpachi, 3 rd year, B Group , in For the genealogy of such representations in the media, see Ishida and Murakami , unpaginated. For the purposes of this essay, I will mainly focus on two texts that appeared in relatively mainstream and accessible media outlets in The actor who plays the transgendered singer, Hasumi Rin, in the drama is herself a transgendered singer-songwriter and actor, Nakamura Ataru.
Nakamura was the focus of attention recently when she appeared in the national broadcaster NHK's New Year's Eve singing contest in the female team. The NHK New Year's Eve singing contest is one media venue where entertainers of ambiguous gender presentation, such as Takarazuka performers, Onnagata from the Kabuki theatre, or other cross-dressing performers, do appear.
I am indebted to Suganuma Katsuhiko for alerting me to this connection and for an extended discussion on the gender politics of the NHK program. I will generally use pronouns that refer to an individual's chosen gender identity, except in such situations as this, where I wish to emphasise the gap between sexed bodies and gendered identities, or below, where the narrative refers to different gendered identities at different times of an individual's life.
Finally, the napkins come to serve a useful purpose.
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She can use them to hide her genitals in a situation where she must undress down to her underwear in front of other women. On the medicalisation of the transgendered condition in Japan, see McLelland pp. For an example of resistance to such medicalisation, see Mitsuhashi , pp. The mother buys a book on the transgendered condition Nomiya et al.