Discrimination causes self-discrimination and vice-versa

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Anonymous student post

It is bad sign to start with triteness, but for my defense I can say that sometimes we need to remind ourselves simple truths which we always tend to forget. So here is a well-known fact: gender as opposed to sex is created by people, not nature. We all understand that since it follows from definition of word ‘gender’ as ‘socio-cultural sex’, but we somehow forget that if gender exists in people’s mind, not in real world, then it is people who put sense in this concept. But here comes great paradox of our society: we talk about gender inequality as a problem that must be solved, but still wear newborn baby, who is too young to even say word “gender”, in pink if it is girl and in blue if it is boy. We start with clothes while baby don’t understand anything about its sex yet, and continue cultivate gender with imposing socio-cultural role on grown-up child. From now on girl will wear uncomfortable dress and play with doll and boy will climb trees in his pants. And this is the very beginning of discrimination.

Such paradox is common occurrence in patriarchal (or “masculine”) societies, which Japan is related to. In such societies gender roles are clearly distinct as well as characteristics that women and men are supposed to have. Patriarchal culture implies that woman is object of men’s desire, which he admires, that is why the main thing that matters about this “object” is its appearance. But I could not help but wonder: isn’t it women, who maintain this status of themselves? Isn’t it women who dress their daughters in pink and say to them that the most important is to find a good husband?

This thought was getting stronger while I was reading the articles “The care crisis in the Philippines” and “Global women”. Migrant mothers challenge the dominant gender ideology, which holds that a woman’s rightful place is in the home, but in fact these mothers migrate to do in other houses abroad that very work they are supposed to do in their own house. “Migrant mothers, who work as nannies carry for other people’s children while being unable to tend their own.” In masculine society underpaid and not prestigious work designed for women, in short, woman is supposed to be engaged in the same work that she does at home – that is service sector. And immigrant women, engaged in service sector, support masculine society’s view on woman, even though they want to earn more money and become independent. That is what I call self-discrimination. And the best example of this self-discrimination is the fact that middle-class families come to depend on migrants from poorer regions to provide child care and homemaking. It means that women from the First World who almost achieved gender equality support gender inequality for women from poorer regions!

Japan provides best examples of women’s self-discrimination. Being patriarchal society, it considers woman as an object, and that’s why it provides great variety of places where women should entertain men. There are not only Hostess Clubs, but also so-called キャバクラ “Kyabakura” (cabaret-club), スナックバー “Snack Bars”and メイドカフェー “Maid Café”. It is obviously represents Japanese society’s view on woman. Yes, not Japanese men’s view but society’s view, because quick look at modern situation is enough to understand that women don’t oppose this view at all. They try very hard to be かわいい “kawaii” (cute), and they even created new category of Japanese TV show – “obaka-chara” (stupid character), where women acts pretending to be stupid and be laughed at – and, therefore, to be “kawaii”. Where is demand, there is supply, in other words, discrimination causes self-discrimination, and self-discrimination supports discrimination. Is there any exit from this vicious circle?

References

Rhacel Salazar Parreñas, “The Care Crisis in Philippines: Children and Transnational Families in the New Global Economy,” pp. 39-54, in Global Woman: Nannies, Maids, and Sex Workers in the New Economy, Barbara Ehrenreich and Arlie Russell Hochschild. (New York Metropolitan, 2003).

“Introduction” by Barbara Ehrenreich and Arlie Russell Hochschild, Global Woman: Nannies, Maids, and Sex Workers in the New Economy, Barbara Ehrenreich and Arlie Russell Hochschild. (New York Metropolitan, 2003).

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