Women Talk Essay

1974 words - 8 pages

Mariko Asano Tamanoi's article "Women's Voices: Their Critique of the Anthropology of Japan" from the Annual Review of Anthropology is an example of an article focusing on issues of feminist anthropology. She writes her article with a modern look at feminist anthropology where both males and females are investigated equally. This is evident primarily through Tamanoi's opening statements about her research which says, "to focus on women may seem to run against the current trend, in anthropological studies of women, toward emphasizing gender" (Tamanoi 1990:17). To further support her view of gender and sex, she makes the statement that "women do not constitute a social group but instead are ...view middle of the document...

A new view of Japanese women arises from one of Tamanoi's sociological sources where the Japanese housewife is neither compliant nor long suffering. An "alternative mode of [Japanese] femininity" arises where the woman is the master of the house and the man is master of the world outside the home (Tamanoi 1990:20). For this model however, Tamanoi points out that it cannot be said to be representative of all Japanese women as they are not al housewives. In neither of these models did Japanese women have a voice as anthropologists and sociologists have spoken them for - both "fail to include the voices of the women they portray" (Tamanoi 1990:21). Tamanoi's goal in writing this article was to give a voice to the Japanese women and to "attempt to understand how the lives of a variety of Japanese women are structured by [...] larger social relations" (18). In looking to some anthropological studies that employed a more emic form of analysis, it was shown that though women often emerged as powerful figures inside the home, it was not consistent within all groups. Women were almost always subjugated with severe oppression in the workplace outside the home (Tamanoi 1990:25). Therefore, Tamanoi concludes that a "proto-typical Japanese woman" does not exist; a single description cannot be formed that can be used to describe all Japanese women (Tamanoi 1990:21).After introducing these varied views on the traditional Japanese women, Tamanoi presents theories on the question of why they began to enter the workplace, a place they rarely had entered as it was considered the male domain. The workplace for a woman is a poor one, Tamanoi explains:Women remain poorly paid; few single women working in large corporations can climb the career ladder; there is little or no job training for women; most married women work in medium- or small-scale enterprises, and many work in so-called part-time jobs that are in fact full-time or over-time; most women are not unionized, and unions do not necessarily support woman workers. (Tamanoi 1990:25)Tamanoi points out that this description leaves a question to be answered: "What explains the specifically Japanese nature of woman's workforce participation?" (Tamanoi 1990:26). Tamanoi describes how scholars have tried to theorize how Confucian teachings of the Tokugawa period and the 19th century Western "cult of domesticity," which aimed to legitimize a woman's place in the home, led to the view of "female labour as supplementary" and "made possible the massive appropriation of female labour [outside the home] during Japanese industrialization" (Tamanoi 1990:26). As Tamanoi points out however, many scholars now believe this increase in labour was the result of resistance and dissatisfaction put forth by the women against this dominant ideology (Tamanoi 1990:26). Though not all women were leaving the home to pursue work elsewhere, most were trying to emphasize their place and equal importance in society in relation to men (Tamanoi...

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