search Japan Podcast
top

JP 03-1: Male-dominated Society-Danson-johi-男尊女卑

A Clean House is a sign of a wasted life
What is the intrinsic worth of a male vs a female? In Japan’s male-dominated society, guys can, if they are not particularly enlightened, have life much easier than women. Living here for many years, we bring our Western point of view to the issue. So, as with any human society, it’s…complicated.
This is part 1 of a 3 part conversation.

Quick Notes from the Show

  • a phrase that explains society in Japan, the fact that it’s dominated by males
  • built into the structure of society is the idea that the male is higher, more valuable
  • Karamoon doesn’t usually see it unless he looks for it
  • not in a Japanese company or surrounded by people who also are not
  • people who have lived/studied abroad or don’t have very traditional families or are quite young
  • but it’s definitely there – easy to see if you pay attention to it
  • it’s not seen in such a negative way
  • the world is male-dominated, but at least we make out that that’s a bad thing and we’re trying to change it
  • England & America = female’s salary disparities are still there
  • it’s more hidden than in Japan, but definitely there
  • Terri says it’s easier not to see it as a male foreigner
  • a lot depends on who you spend your time with
  • it seems to have most weight in work-related circumstances
  • it’s not usual in Tokyo to spend time in the company of other families
  • visiting at people’s houses is still a bit unusual here: you meet up with people at restaurants
  • Karamoon lived with a host family, and there were obvious signs of danson-johi
  • the wife does all the housework, without question
  • she’d prepare all the meals
  • this was in a family where the wife worked full time and went to night school in the evenings
  • it never occurred to the husband to help
  • she would get up very early, prepare food for the family
  • unimaginable in England
  • lots of differences between women in Japan and other countries that are not necessarily all to do with danson-johi
  • food is a big thing here, much bigger than in England and America
  • it may have more to do with being a mother
  • it’s easy to label it as that, but…(Ed: but the husband is not a child, no?)
  • recent movement for fathers to spend time with their kids
  • the assumption of value comes from that danson-johi
  • younger guys may be breaking that – they are breaking something that does exist
  • some of them actually talk about it: who’s preparing bento for Junior Watanabe tonight?
  • Terri finds the flavor of male domination here to be particularly tough
  • the American flavor can be negotiated
  • the Japanese flavor seems set in stone
  • even racists would rather call you racist than being thought so themselves, same thing with sexism
  • male and female are equal in value: different in physical prediliction
  • intrinsic human value is not balanced in Japan
  • look at China – who is valued on a gender basis
  • what do we mean by value?
  • Americans often look at other countries, through the frame of race
  • British look at other countries through the frame of class
  • both countries think in terms of sexism
  • we often think of value as how other people value them: external value
  • not necessarily true in Asia
  • how do women here value themselves?
  • how do they feel they are valued by society?
  • the word for father comes from provider
  • the word for mother comes from manager
  • large corporations design salary for a whole family
  • father works, mother is a housewife
  • not so true in America and England
  • in Japan, it’s pretty usual for the father to earn the money and just hand over the whole wallet to the woman, who manages it
  • it may be more about people’s role in society than about intrinsic human value
  • in England and the US, many women are exploited by women: look at glossy exploitative fashion magazines
  • and many of us are implicit in our own exploitation…

(Ed. note: Tom noted that my pronunciation of ‘danson’ is more like ‘danna-san’, meaning husband, which is wrong. Karamoon’s pronunciation is right: it’s ‘danson’ for male)


Terri records the show on her iPhone3G
Tom Toeda of fti studio mixes the show.
image credit: KrisandApril
If you’d like the show to download into your iTunes automatically, click to subscribe (and please feel free to leave us a review on iTunes, or a comment below).

Next show theme?
Danson-johi part 2

This week’s show:

Play

4 Responses to “JP 03-1: Male-dominated Society-Danson-johi-男尊女卑”

  1. Cherri says:

    It is not so a simple topic! You need to interview Japanese males vs Foreign wifes, Japanese wifes too.
    Please see my reply on Japan Soc.
    Good luck with this topic. Not an pleasant cup of coffee, discussion here….

  2. Terri says:

    Hi Cheri:

    yeah, I hear you – like we said, it’s complicated. this is not an attempt to get lots of viewpoints, necessarily, more a way to look openly at our own thoughts. I think Karamoon would agree that we certainly don’t have the definitive view!

    I just think it’s good to have the discussion…

    thank you for your comment!

  3. sarahf says:

    Technical difficulties mean I can’t listen to your discussion, but the notes are enough to motivate me to get up and sort out the gremlins! Interesting site!

top