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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/
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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
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