Gender Discrimination through Japanese Language Gender discrimination can be observed through many factors within a specific culture. These factors include, a person’s position within the family, social class, use of language, and religious beliefs. I am going to focus on language and its cultural significance within Japanese society. By studying language, you can see the gender expectations Japanese women experience everyday. However, language can be used to identify the transformation of women throughout the changing structure of words.
The language used to communicate within a culture helps us to understand why Japanese culture functions the way that it does, and how language determines the roles of a man and a woman. There exists a stereotype that Japanese women are submissive and subject to the patriarchal system. However, this was not the experience that I found. I found it interesting that many women in articles and interviews I had found featuring Japanese women had defied my initial expectations of the “typical” woman. This modern woman never liked to cook for anyone other than herself, loved to travel, and hoped to move on to graduate school.
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In my opinion, independence defies weak and submissive heartsickness, including a life dedicated to gender role expectations; I. E a woman serving a man. Along with the stereotype of remaining ‘submissive and subject’ to the patriarchal system, I understood that to mean that Japanese women rarely put a word in matters such as higher education and the workforce. Now however, there are Japanese women who live alone, cook for themselves, and study in higher education. These are all characteristics that support strong and independent women of 21st century Japan that have a life outside of the family.
And since the Law for Equal Employment Opportunity of Men and Women in 1986, the social standing of women greatly improved. Despite this, gender discrimination still exists in Japan. It is important to understand why, and how the cultural significance of Japanese language contributes to this discrimination. First you have to ask; do all cultures have the same element of gender discrimination through language? Not quite. If you compare the attitudes of both Chinese and Japanese speakers, you could start to sense and feel a difference between the two languages.
The Japanese-Jose equivalent to Chinese could most likely be considered ‘lady talk,’ as mentioned above. Although there are similarities within each language, there is no equivalent built-in-structure of Jose and danseuse to Chinese language, instead it is more the context of word choice and intonation. This leads us to believe that Japanese does in fact carry gender discrimination throughout language alone. Japanese Women’s Language, JOWL, is a style of speech is connected with tradition and culture and is seen as ‘uniquely Japanese,’ showing the beauty and femininity of the Japanese woman.
JOWL has been a part of Japanese culture and tradition long enough to where this style of speech remains in Japanese society today. A likely source of JOWL is from Japan’s period of modernization. With modernization came the glorification of the traditional ideal women, arroyos combo shush (good wife, good mother). Interestingly enough, after World War II, this concept was pushed even further. JOWL was used to serve as a tool in integrating women into the national culture, making them more likely to submit.
The goal here was to reinforce gender roles by regulating language in order to unify the people during the war. In this case, history has largely contributed to gender discrimination. The overpayment powers of Japan did this by creating a nationalistic pathway to freedom’ by taking away the freedom of language. The government plays a major role in defining language restrictions/rules also. Although history shapes the platform on which language and gender roles are built, there are a variety of changes and factors that can be seen through modern society.
Solo character’s are usually younger and use young people’s language more often. This lack of feminine language rejects old gender roles. Even with these two possibilities, women are trying to convey a message. That they are changing, or have a desire to change, from traditional gender roles to an age of freedom. Education is key in making this change possible. Before World War II, education was centered around the “good wife, good mother,” mentality while instructing the youth towards nationalism.
Educated men and women are sprouting from these changing educational institutions, and with them, new gender expectations of the 21st century. Whether these women know it or not, they are promoting the modern woman by Just adopting a new style of language. There still remain many deep-seated issues within gender discrimination and language that will be difficult to escape. However, by recognizing that it is an issue, society is one step closer to breaking it down.