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Modern and Traditional Japanese Culture: The Psychology of Buddhism, Power Rangers, Masked Rider, Manga, Anime and Shinto. 在日イギリス人男性による日本文化論.

Thursday, January 24, 2013


Bring back Dansonjohi: Be Suorlavihc to the Second Japanese Sex

Bring back Dansonjohi: The Second Japanese Sex by timtak
Over the past 20 years or so there has been a lot of talk about how Japan needs to bring more sexual equality --in the Western sense of giving women more power -- in order to increase the birth rate, reduce divorce, and increase or lower the age of marriage. It has not worked.

It seems to me however that conversely if the Japanese want to invigorate the family the Japanese would need to bring back "Dansonjouhi." Dansonjohi (男尊女卑) means, literally "respect men, abase women", which makes it sound very nasty. Nasty or not Dansonjouhi is a "benevolent sexism" (Glick and Fiske, 1996) like chivalry or  "ladies first" except in the opposite direction. In Japan, traditionally, the women put "men first". To espouse Dansonjohi is thus, to be suorlavihc, chivalrous in reverse. 

The traditional Japanese benevolent sexism was "men first," as opposed to "ladies first" because in Japan women hold the structurally dominant position. In the West "Man" means "human," and women are "the second sex" (De Beauvoir, 2010). The reverse is true in Japan. "Watashi" (in red letters in the image above) is a female first person pronoun used by everyone. When Japanese men want to refer to themselves in formal situations, they have to refer to themselves as a woman. If they use a male first person pronoun (ore, boku) they sound uncouth or infantile.

The centre and building block of Japanese society is the family (Nakane's "ba", 1967). The pre-eminent Japanese interpersonal emotion (Doi's "amae," 2001) springs from mother-child relationships. The Japanese super ego is an internalisation of the mother not the father (Kozawa, 1932; Okonogi's "Ajase complex", 1991, 2001).  The best Western theory of the Japanese self (Markus & Kitayama, 1991) was originally a theory that Hazel Markus and Susan Cross had about their own female selves (Markus & Cross, 1990). Japan's most famous psychologists, argued that the archetypal Japanese is Mother (Kawaii's bosei genri, 1989).

At the very least, at a concrete level, the sleeping arrangements (Caudill & Plath, 1966; Shweder, Jensen, & Goldstein, 2006) are designed to facilitate mothering more than the satisfaction of male desire, and Japanese women control family finances.

In return for this structural control, or cultural power, Japanese women (and Western men) used to put their partners first, in a rather matronising (patronising) way*, by carrying their bags, letting them sit down on trains, putting their clothes on for them, giving them freedom, and not nagging them.

Now however Japanese women (influenced by Western culture) want to keep their cake and eat it. They want to keep all the structural power, their centrality within the home, the power over their children, their financial control and at the same time be treated like a Western wife. This is a bit like a British guy refusing to be a gentleman (e.g. going to snacks or worse). As Stan Lee says, "With great power comes great responsibility."

* It has been shown that Western male espousal of the "Ladies First" doctrinaire correlates with a dim view of the state and abilities of women: women are put first because they are thought to be the weaker, second sex, in Western society (Glick & Fiske, 1996). This does not prove that Chivalry or Ladies First are nice, or nasty, but they refer to attitudes and behaviours that compensate for the underlying structural imbalances of power. One can argue that the structural imbalances should be taken to task and the compensatory "benevolent sexism" be reviled but, that may require a greater restructuring, or even abandonment, of the family. It has also been shown the benevolent sexism correlates with life satisfaction (Connelly & Heesacker, 2012).

Beauvoir, S. de. (2010). The Second Sex. (C. Borde & S. Malovany-Chevallier, Trans.) (1ST ed.). Knopf.
Caudill, W., & Plath, D. W. (1966). Who Sleeps by Whom? Parent-Child Involvement in Urban Japanese Families. Psychiatry: Journal for the Study of Interpersonal Processes.
Connelly, K., & Heesacker, M. (2012). Why Is Benevolent Sexism Appealing? Associations With System Justification and Life Satisfaction. Psychology of Women Quarterly. Retrieved from http://pwq.sagepub.com/content/early/2012/08/17/0361684312456369.abstract
Glick, P., & Fiske, S. T. (1996). The Ambivalent Sexism Inventory: Differentiating hostile and benevolent sexism. Journal of personality and social psychology, 70(3), 491. Retrieved from http://psycnet.apa.org/journals/psp/70/3/491/
Markus, H., & Cross, S. (1990). The interpersonal self.
Markus, H. R., & Kitayama, S. (1991). Culture and the self: Implications for cognition, emotion, and motivation. Psychological Review; Psychological Review, 98(2), 224. Retrieved from http://www.biu.ac.il/PS/docs/diesendruck/2.pdf
Shweder, R. A., Jensen, L. A., & Goldstein, W. M. (2006). Who sleeps by whom revisited: A method for extracting the moral goods implicit in practice. New Directions for Child and Adolescent Development, 1995(67), 21–39. Retrieved from http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/cd.23219956705/abstract
Kawai, H. 河合隼雄. (1989). 父性原理と母性原理. 第三文明社.
Kozawa, H. 古沢平作. (2001). 罪悪感の二種類. In 小此木啓吾 & 北山修 (Eds.), 阿闍世コンプレックス. 創元社.
Okonogi, K. 小此木啓吾. (1991). エディプスと阿闍世. 青土社.
Okonogi, K.小此木啓吾, & 北山修. (2001). 阿闍世コンプレックス. 創元社.
Nakane, C. 中根千枝. (1967). タテ社会の人間関係. 講談社.
Doi, T. 土居健郎. (2001). 「甘え」の構造 [新装版] (新装.). 弘文堂.
Kitayama, O. 北山修. (2005). 共視論. 講談社.

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Some notes regarding this post

One can see the feminine side of Echoes front man Tsuji HItonari here http://www.sayuki.net/wp/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/story2010.
pdf And pre transformation Tsuji HItonari, as well as his most famous song, here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jdWAZuPkgp4

Simone De Beauvoir, argued that Western culture encourages "mankind" to think of themselves upon a male model. I think that Japan tends to encourage the reverse, the woman as the model of all 'watashi' (originally a female first person pronoun now used by men and women). It is not a surprise to me therefore that Japanese men find themselves to be more calm and collected when they are wearing a bra. They are acting out the role that their culture is enforcing upon them, and likely to feel therefore more at one with societal expectations.

I think that the reverse tendency, for women to cloak themselves (or perhaps their manner of narration) masculine may exist in the West, due to the pressure for people to be independent, rational, choice makers. The famous social psychologists, Hazel Markus, who attacks the universality of independent rational choice, wrote her opus about the Japanese "interdependent self" (Culture Emotion and the Self) originally about women. In that form it was unpopular, so she teamed up with Shinobu Kitayama, and republished the same research about the Japanese and it was a major hit.

Japanese women are more happy with their femininity, and as above, would be more likely to be called "not normal" (!!?) if they were to abnegate it. Do you remember the furore when AKB members passed a Puccho from mouth to mouth? Female-to-male cross dressing, or anything that smacks of lesbianism is generally considered abnormal or worse. Here is the controversial (not) AKB video https://www.

The article above is not news. The Japanese have dressed as women (e.g. Onna kata) since time immemorial but more surprising is the fact that, at looong last, "Boyish" has become fashionable in Japan http://tinyurl.com/plfc9ma albeit in a very cute form.

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This blog represents the opinions of the author, Timothy Takemoto, and not the opinions of his employer.