Are Japanese women too nice?
The Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly a few days ago became a controversial. A female member of the assembly, Ayaka Shiomura appealed for supporting women over pregnancy, childbirth and infertility. What she received wasn´t a support but jeering of "You should get married now!" or "Can you not have a child?".
Sexual harassment is still quite common in Japan. I´m often asked by my Westerner friends why I find Japanese society difficult for Japanese women. "Because of machismo" I answer but usually they (most of them are women) tell me that women are treated lower in the Western culture too.
Perhaps they are right. And yet, I must say it´s harder to be a woman in the working environment in Japan unless you are happy to be an unambitious receptionist or office clerk.
Even in the public space, women aren´t so safe because Chikan (痴漢/molester) maybe next to you. I myself had been touched many times in the crowded trains when I was a student. They seem to like school uniform a lot. When I talk to westerners, they always ask me why I didn´t shout. That was because I was humiliated and no one would save me but would look at me as a rude person shouting in the train.
Most of them are just bystanders or worse, they pretend they don´t notice. Another columnist says that´s because there may be a risk for who helps the girl. The Chikan guy may hit you or if it happened in the office, you might been fired by defending the woman who were harassed.
The incident happened to Ms.Shiomura was the same. She responded to Asahi Newspaper´s interview (Japanese).
Asahi : You smiled a little when they jeered you.
Shiomura : It was a bitter smile. I thought I could dodge but others also started to jeer me and I couldn´t avoid it.
A : Why did you not object against them immediately?
S : I was caught short and couldn´t answer back. I didn´t know I could appeal to the chairperson to record in the minutes as an inappropriate speech.
According to the Global Gender Gap 2013, Japan came 105th. Our neighbour China came 69th, which means Chinese society is much nicer to both gender.
A financial planner, Yoshifumi Nakajima sees this heated argument over this discrimination against women as a "fiesta". They just wanted to beat politicians from the other side of the TV without getting themselves any risk. (Article in Japanese) As long as this is just a fiesta, this discriminative comment to Ms.Shimamura will be forgotten soon and Japanese society goes back to where men can sexually harass women openly.
While I was reading these articles, I was remembering my experience in a Japanese company I worked for a short period of time. When I started working there, people took me to a welcome dinner/drinking. At the table, a boss of other section sat next to me and soon I realised he was touching my knees. First few times I saw it and tried to find out if it was accident but then it wasn´t . I told him to stop. He lowed his voice and said, "I´m drunk, let me touch". "NO!" I said and changed the seat. But I saw he continued the same with other younger female colleagues.
Obedient is so important to be a good woman, Japanese women have a difficulty to face to men. Perhaps they are too nice. I personally think that men and women are not equal. Men are physically stronger and harassing women by using that power isn´t fair at all. I have seen Spanish or German women put men to silence by telling them off. Maybe those women are not considered as "kawaii (cute)" but at least those women are not taken advantage by men.
Japanese women, leave kawaiiness and niceness and let´s become a tough cookie!
More about Japanese behaviour