Distortion or evolution of culture?

by Anna Dreveau

In our globalized world, information is transmitted, exchanged and shared throughout a big part of the planet. As information is shared, so is culture. Movies, TV shows, books and even commercials from different counties would be known across the world and deliver a certain reflection of its country of origin. However, this image of the culture do not get the same treatment as it is used to in its own country: should we be talking about “distortion” of culture and condemn it?

If the distortion of culture is considered as negative – as the choice of the word “distortion” clearly conveys – what about the evolution and mixing of cultures? Being exposed to other cultures has inspired local artists in a different way than if they would have been without globalization. Music is mixing genres with Da Arabian MC, as they took Black-American Hip Hop and Arabic poetry. They revitalize what Hip Hop has been – a music of protest – and while letting aside what it became – merchandised music –, mixing traditional Arabic poetry and Palestinian way to write songs to convey a message that is fully them, but similar to Hip Hop messages used to be.

This mix of cultures thus enrich every single cultures involved and create something new, part of a more globalized culture.

Nevertheless, the fear about distortion can be real. Steve Derné have written an article about culture globalization in India. He describes the attitude of middle-class Indian people towards Western views about gender roles. While being exposed to a culture promoting women liberation and love marriage, they refuse those same principles, as they would rather stick to the traditional gender roles and arranged marriage. However, they are more than accepting toward the image convoyed by action movies as they stress male domination and violence, which find echoes in Indian culture.

By only taking a part of what American culture proposed about gender role, India get to stick with its traditional values, reinforce them and does not change in any way while America values get impoverished in foreign soil.

Those thus are extreme reactions; one is understanding and adapt the culture and its own to create something new and even more striking while the other is closing its understanding of other cultures to only select what suit him best. The biggest difference between Da Arabian MC and those middle-class Indians is not only open-mindedness and also their feeling of closeness with the other culture. Da Arabian MC choose to work with Hip Hop music because they feel that Black-American back then suffer from the same fate they are currently coping with.

Yet, middle-class Indians do not have the means to stick to love marriage, as parents still play a very important role in young couples’ life and thus see those egalitarian ideas as completely foreign. However, as Steve Derné mentions in his article, give them the means (i.e. high income class Indians) and even Indians will be more than willing to accept those new ideas, as they convey something that can find echo in their economic and living situation.

Transforming a culture while it is sent overseas seem to be the fate of those undertaking globalization. Whether it is just a interpretation restriction, an evolution by mixing cultures, culture changed for the people who will receive them. When you think about it, it is not so different from interpretation of books. As books are written, the author was hinting a certain message but the readers can not see it. It can interpret it in a completely different way, but can you say that it is the wrong way to interpret it if it makes sense with the content of the book ? Umberto Eco stresses something though: do not ignore parts of the book to make it suit your own message. This criticism can transposed to middle-class Indians way of interpreting American culture, which is too restrictive to bring the positive effects of being opened to others cultures.

“Recognizing” and “Understanding” Ikumen

by Chihiro Kobayashi

My mother and father both work as middle school teachers. Even though they engage in the same job, their life styles are very different. My mother’s day starts from cooking a breakfast for the family and making a lunch box for me. One hour later, my father wakes up and starts eating it as if it were air. As soon as my family finishes eating them, my mother washes the dishes and then starts hanging out the cloths to dry. After she finishes her paid work, she comes back to home earlier than my father to cook dinner for us.

Even though my mother works as same paid job as my father, she engages in much more unpaid housework than father. Since my grandmother has very strict and traditional idea toward gender role, my father is not allowed to enter the kitchen to help cooking and washing. My mother often told me that housework should not be the role of only women.

Recently, more and more Japanese women work outside to make money since only husband’s salary is not enough to support their family. Also, Japanese society itself wants to increase the working women because aging society will leads the less working generation. Even though the number of full-time housewife is decreasing and working women is increasing, the idea that housework is a role of women is still remained. As a result, women are struggling with the double burden of paid labor work and unpaid housework.

Since 2010, Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare has started Ikumen project (育メンプロジェクト) which has established for the purpose of increasing the social momentum of male participation in child care.

Thanks to this project and other effects by mass media, the “recognition” of child caring father has widespread certainly. For example, the cooking book targeting men, Ryori Danshi (料理男子), is very popular and the number of cooking shows by men is increasing. Also, the drama and books talking about Ikumen is popular among women.

However, when I see around myself, there is not so many or no Ikumen yet. I wonder whether Ikumen really exist or are they just a fantasy made by mass media and government. I guess even though the “recognition” of Ikumen has widespread, the “understanding” toward Ikumen is not spread yet and that is why there is not so many or no Ikumen.

For example, I read an article about Ikumen and it described how Ikumen are seen from the Japanese society. When one guy brought his child to the hospital, the doctor asked him “Where is your wife?” Also, when he brought his child to the park, other mothers were talking that his wife depends on her husband, does not take care children and does not play a role as a housewife. Most of the Japanese people know and “recognize” the word Ikumen, but they, even women, still have traditional idea of gender role, and “understanding” of the Ikumen has not spread yet.

Though I do think Ikumen will play an important role in the Japanese future, I do not want to pressure and force every father to be an Ikumen. There is no correct one answer of the way father care their child. Some fathers prioritize their career up and get a better position, while others want to balance their work and housework. I can say the same thing to the women.

I think how parents share their work and housework should be depended on their choice, environment and values. Therefore, I think it is important to make a society which both women and men can share and choose their work and housework flexibly. To attain that society, I think one of the important first steps is to spread the “understanding” of Ikumen among Japanese society. If society flexibly accepts both shufu (主婦) and shufu (主夫), and people recognize and understand both of them, I believe Japanese traditional gender role will be changed.

Global Care Chain Reinforcing Gender Roles

English: photo rhacel parrenas

Rhacel Parreñas (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

by Yuri Kasai

I would like to discuss about ‘global care chains’. This concept was first used by Arlie Hochschild and developed by many authors such as Rhacel Parreñas. This concept refers to global processes to exchange care and salary. Care includes child care nursing for the sick and elderly people, and love giver. I will focus on global chains of child care, which we discussed in class.

About child care, women in richer countries cannot raise their children because they are busy from their job and they do not have time to bring up children. Therefore, women in richer countries hire a migrant mother from the poorer country as a nanny. Nannies send remittance to their family to support financially instead of taking care of their children. The role of migrant mothers to care their own children is imposed on their older female sibling or their relative women and most fathers who stay in their home do not help to care children. The distribution of roles attributes gender role in the migrant’s home countries. Philippines are one of the sending countries of nannies and most Philippines’ male families do not help out child rearing. Host countries of foreigner nannies are the US and European countries such as Belgium, France, Germany and Italy (GCIM, 5).

I think the labor exchange of child rearing cannot replace to parental love. Our professor argued that care is not an exchangeable resource like any other products, and hiring nannies lets parents in developed countries to keep two types of illusions: 1) the illusion to have all including work, family, and leisure, and 2) the illusion of maternal love. I agree with this opinion.

Parents’ assumptions let them to spend their time to develop their career or something. The families seek what they want to do, lose strong tie and time to gather around. However, family relations last for many years till parents die in many cases, even though the children do not like their parents.

Family is not collection of blood relations but a tie of human with love. It is better for parents to create good relations with children through rearing them well from babyhood. If not, parents have difficulty that children take to them and children maybe take to only their nanny, considering about the time to spend for children. Their children are not the status of parents but humans who need love. If parents need good relations with their children, parents need to care their children physically instead of hiring nannies for children. To migrant mothers, if they can love children deeply as a nanny, they miss their own children. Parents in developed countries should notice this and think that breeding children need physical care.

In order to reduce the number of children without love from parents, I think we need to make society with smaller gender role. Although migrant nannies give maternal love for children, children need parents’ love to be a good family. In some developed countries, such as the US, Germany or Italy, they seemed to complete better gender-free society. However, children care is depended on migrant mothers and gender role is imposed on immigrants. This tendency does not destroy gender role and gender role in developing countries enlarges to the developed countries. We should make global society without gender role.

Reference

Global Migration Perspective: Global Care Chains, A Critical Introduction. Global Commission on International Migration (GCIM). Sep, 2005. www.gcim.org.