lifestyle

What is femininity? Western and Japanese women weigh in

20 Comments
By Hilary Keyes

Being a foreign woman in Japan comes with its trials and triumphs, but one thing that really can affect how you feel as a woman is your concept of what being “feminine” means. Of course, social ideas of femininity and its qualities vary from person to person and culture to culture. So, women living in a foreign culture can feel pressure, whether that’s consciously or subconsciously, to conform to a different definition of what it means to be feminine. That can be confusing and uncomfortable for some, while others seem to embrace it.

As a follow-up to our article on dating in Japan, we sought to understand what femininity meant to foreign women, and how that shaped their experiences in Japan. We also reached out to a few Japanese women to broaden our perspective on what femininity means in Japan.

The Western perspective

“Femininity is a social construct after all. But when I think of feminine, there are definitely some words that come to mind. Words like delicate, soft, and pretty are a few of them. But I also think of words like meticulous and hardworking, as many of the crafts traditionally associated with femininity (sewing, cooking, etc) take a lot of time and effort.” (Katie, 24, African American, USA)

“I’m not exactly sure how I’d define femininity. The first thing that jumps to mind is female/woman and I probably associate it with the more ‘traditional’ ideas such makeup, dresses, delicate, well-mannered, etc. Despite believing that being ‘feminine’ does not necessarily mean you have to be a “lady” in the traditional sense, those are the first images that jump to mind when I hear it. I think it can be both a positive and a negative thing.” (Emily, 33, Caucasian, UK)

“To me, I feel femininity is not a category but a spectrum. Femininity is not something you can definitively claim you are or are not. Nor can you subscribe certain qualities as being solely feminine or masculine. Femininity is a feeling. Femininity is a feeling that differs from person to person. I guess that makes it tougher to define clearly. So many factors come into play, so much more than merely your gender.” (Laura, 34, Caucasian, Australia)

“It’s hard to put into words, but I think a lot has to do with how you’re raised, and your family background. And what kind of woman your mother is, you grandmothers are… I have a lot of female relatives, so I think I act the way they do, because that’s what I was exposed to. It’s a little traditional, but most of them are second or third generation Canadian, so there’s also some influence from Canadian culture there as well.” (Mary, 31, Indian Canadian, Canada)

The Japanese Perspective

Click here to read more.

© Savvy Tokyo

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

20 Comments
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Horrible generalisations and stereotyping.

Femininity is whatever you want it to mean, all females are feminine by virtue of being female. Pink, bows, ruffles and behaving like an idiot child is not my idea of femininity, I see that as infantile.

13 ( +15 / -2 )

What is the Western version? Women from which countries USA, Europe, Russia?? Too much generalization. There is not one Western type of woman. " Asian lady is much better option" Asian lady from which country? Asian is a vast continent. Much better option for what??

9 ( +11 / -2 )

I think a few posters here are under the delusion that 'Asian' women are subservient and meek and will do as their husband tells them.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

I think a few posters here are under the delusion that 'Asian' women are subservient and meek and will do as their husband tells them.

Either that or they're posting from the 1950s...

6 ( +8 / -2 )

Gee, it's all so confusing. Seems some posters here think Japanese women are much more "feminine" and better than "western" women. But, but, but, aren't we always hearing from guys who portray Japanese women as horrid creatures who won't let their husbands have sex, laze about while draining the husband's bank accounts of all their hard-earned money, and then on top of it all, kidnap their kids and never let them see them!

5 ( +7 / -2 )

"as many of the crafts traditionally associated with femininity (sewing, cooking, etc) take a lot of time and effort.” 

So the 'art of sewing' is still associated with being feminine in 2017?! Haha!

Too many ppl, men and women, still think being girlie equals being feminine, whatever that even means. ( do you need heels, long hair etc to be seen as feminine?)

As for the asian vs western women thing have never understood it either.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

If you read through the linked article to the Japanese opinions you get a very bleak picture of what they see as the essence of being a woman. I find it quite saddening actually, and there is no way i will let my daughter be brought up thinking her greatest and only worthwhile achievement in life would be to get a husband and have children.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Most western women have NOTHING on Japanese women (generally speaking) when it comes to being feminine.

That being said, I can't stand being with someone who acts like a child, speaks in a baby voice, and is too weak when the time calls for it to stand up for herself.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

Whatever it is/was it certainly doesn't exist in the Western world anymore.

You don't know what it is but it definitely doesn't exist in the "western world". Hmm. Vague.

It's why an Asian lady is a MUCH better option

Also vague.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

The four in the picture atop the article must be examples of the Western version. The Japanese version wins hands down.

0 ( +7 / -7 )

When I realized that being in a relationship with a Japanese woman meant that feminism would almost never be a conversation or a theme at all was amazing!

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Femininity and masculinity are just cultural creations. Nothing about biology says you have to be like this or like that.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Some of those southern gals in the US seem pretty feminine to me.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

thepersoniamnowToday  03:45 pm JST

Most western women have NOTHING on Japanese women (generally speaking) when it comes to being feminine.

That being said, I can't stand being with someone who acts like a child, speaks in a baby voice, and is too weak when the time calls for it to stand up for herself.

You and me both. I also can't be with someone who has to rely on another for success while she stays home or goes with her friends frequently while the guy works himself to death and drinks with his mates.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Wow....there are so many different / clashing opinions stated here, and for the most part, they are ALL right.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Oh Karlrb we can't say stuff like that to people these days...

You know how offensive it is to have a different viewpoint than another person! The best thing about Japanese girls is how they know how to make a guy feel good by being feminine.

Down votes please.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Whatever it is/was it certainly doesn't exist in the Western world anymore. It's why an Asian lady is a MUCH better option

-3 ( +6 / -9 )

Femininity has nothing to do with the race or nationality, it's a girl thing.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

I regret to say that 'thepersoniamnow' was spot on. Western women (I'm thinking American) just never grew up in an environment where true feminism existed and hence, never picked it up. They certainly have other attributes but being feminine is not one of them.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

Japanese women before Marriage are really "fémininité", they know how to draw Men in... unlike Western Women, and as well as their great looks (well lots), they really are good in bed, but the great thing I dislike about them, is they are so fake in their behaviors... it's so fake make-believe, so much so, that it becomes annoying to the point that all the above doesn't matter much. Worse still, after marriage, that Disney-land existence, suddenly disappears and you're left with the Ugly Witch... ouch!

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

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