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Japan's #KuToo movement giving women a leg-up in the workplace

38 Comments
By Toma Mochizuki

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People need to be culturally sensitive to Japan's treating women like second class citizens.

-3 ( +9 / -12 )

I'll give this about another week at most

5 ( +9 / -4 )

I propose a #zutoo where women are forced to wear stuffy trousers and suffocating ties on hot days rather than their usually breezy skirts blouses.

For the sake of everyone maybe we could just away with torturous formal wear and allow office workers to work in comfort.

24 ( +30 / -6 )

"Japan is a society where people are often hesitant to speak up. But once one person does speak out, others tend to follow," Naito said at the event.

Yeah follow, only to the point that it does not affect their relationships with others and no way in hell their job either.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

I want to wear a thin, breathable skirt and sleeveless top during the summer months to get some air circulation up there and prevent swamp rot in the brutal heat here. Even a kilt would be fine. Maybe I should start a #kiltyou movement!

3 ( +8 / -5 )

There are reasonable office dress standards and there are unreasonable office dress standards. Forcing women to wear high heels which cause them pain all day long falls into the 'unreasonable' category. It's even counter-productive, as people suffering pain and discomfort almost certainly don't work as well as those who are comfortable.

And yes, the same applies to men wearing suits and ties on hot days, although I've never seen a suit and tie cause bleeding.

13 ( +14 / -1 )

BigYenToday  08:15 am JST

I've never seen a suit and tie cause bleeding.

You're comparing apples and oranges, that's why. Maybe try and compare like for like (women's ill fitting shoes vs. men's ill fitting shoes)?

-7 ( +3 / -10 )

Yes, Japan does have problem with prejudice against women. However, the basic structure of Japanese society is built on a ‘sempai/kohai’ structure that shows prejudice to anybody who is younger than the sempai. This prejudice starts in kindergarten. Therefore, women should not think they are being singled out with prejudice in Japan. The prejudices are shared equally among everybody.

0 ( +8 / -8 )

High heels have no place in the work place unless its a hostess bar.

Mini skirts and bear feet and painted toe nails, yes!

-2 ( +6 / -8 )

Hillclimber:

You're comparing apples with oranges

Well yes, because that's what I thought other posters were doing comparing suit-wearing with high-heeled shoe wearing. Obviously I didn't get that across.

Re shoes, I think the point is that men aren't forced to wear intrinsically uncomfortable footwear. Women are. Never dressed in drag myself, but I doubt the typical business suit for women is all that comfy either, as some male posters are claiming.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

High heels should never be compulsory. Ugly and damaging to the feet, joints and back, future generations will look at heels the way we look at Victorian corsets - dangerous and stupid.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Or get a job that doesn't require wearing such garments. You always have a choice.

-19 ( +0 / -19 )

Or get a job that doesn't require wearing such garments. You always have a choice.

Right, so just eliminate yourself from competition for 90% of the jobs that recruit students directly from university?

What do you think of this advice, women of Japan?

10 ( +10 / -0 )

Arturo: "Or get a job that doesn't require wearing such garments. You always have a choice."

You miss the point entirely, which is that they should not be 'required' at all. Tell me what possible purpose they serve related to the job.

9 ( +10 / -1 )

SuitMeToo

Hey ladies, your feet hurt! My wallet is hurt! Let’s run the numbers:

Men have to wear suits ( 5 x 35,000yen ) , dress shoes ( 10,000 each ), neckties ( 20 x 7,000yen ), white T-Shirts ( 10,000 ). Plus we need suits and shirts for all seasons. That’s just for a poor office worker.

Now look across the room. She shopped at ZARA or Uniqlo and that passes for work wear. Women can go cheap and then buy an expensive pair of heels and now they look like a 1,000 bucks.

Yeah, maybe your feet hurt but we are broke. If anything, the dress code is too relaxed for women in the office. Go to AOKI plaza or someplace and try keeping suits. Men have to replace their wardrobe every year. This stuff doesn’t last.

Now here comes someone who will comment that you should look even worse so men can’t make that argument. I get it though. The heels hurt. Let’s all go casual and reinvent lower living.

-14 ( +3 / -17 )

There probably are jobs where appearing taller may make a difference in a "project an image of success" type way, if you are hawking luxury stuff for example. However, I don't think it makes a difference if an usher at a funeral parlor is 5cm taller.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

I was talking to my friend on the train this morning about this. She was wearing walking platform sandals to the office. She said that in her company, corporate has banned the wearing of heels over 7cm in height “because they are dangerous if required to escape the building during earthquake, fire, etc.” However, her boss (she calls her “Sexy Boss”) is 175cm and always wears 10cm “pinheels” in the office in spite of the ban. Nobody complains. She doesn’t complain. And so because the boss does it, a lot of other women in her department also wear high heels (because they want to). And they don’t get reprimanded for breaking the code.

Again, it’s not all about bashing corporate Japan for being behind or oppressive. If we look for the negative, that’s what we are going to see.

As an aside, maybe the woman with bloody toes needs to find a different pair of heels that fit her feet better, so that they aren’t causing her damage? Foot for thought...

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

I propose a #zutoo where women are forced to wear stuffy trousers and suffocating ties on hot days rather than their usually breezy skirts blouses. 

For the sake of everyone maybe we could just away with torturous formal wear and allow office workers to work in comfort.

You seem to want to blame women for the dress code MEN has insisted upon. Women aren't often in power positions so aren't the ones who have enforced these kind of rules. I think ties and jackets are silly on hot days. I think your average woman would agree. Perhaps go and speak to management at your company. You know, the men at the top.

And perhaps you might actually understand why every OL has a sweater and/or blanket at the office if you wore what you described. Because most are freezing because the men have the AC jacked up.

I really don't understand why women get attacked on these threads when all they are trying to do is make their lives better. Don't like the dress codes where you work? Great. Take it up with your company rather than bash women who are trying to make changes.

9 ( +12 / -3 )

Let's be honest. The actual reason that high heels are worn is that they are a sexual display. They serve to accentuate the rear end, push out the front end, and create a kind of sway when women walk while wearing them. So I can understand why companies want employees to wear them- it gives a memorable impression on male visitors.

But really this has no place in the workplace. As long as people dress comfortably in clean clothes that are relatively neutral, who cares?

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Well, It's quite well-known to dress up for an interview.

I still don't get why people can't figure out how to buy/wear shoes. Dress/buisness shoes suck for everyone. but a few things from the 100 yen shop or a little DIY and I can wear business shoes all day. Also, how about changing shoes when you get near the place, like, there are other options.

As far as in the workplace, it kinda does depend on your job. Like the woman working at the funeral parlor, I would expect business shoes and heels.

But please note that "Cool Biz" was started by Japanese Ministry of the Environment in 2005. So until it's "official", find workarounds.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

Cameron: "Nobody complains. She doesn’t complain. And so because the boss does it, a lot of other women in her department also wear high heels (because they want to). And they don’t get reprimanded for breaking the code."

Sounds like another example of just not following the rules because you don't like it. The ban was put in place for safety reasons, no? So, all these women who wear heels could potentially be harmed as a result of ignoring the rules. THAT is reason to complain. That nobody does is the problem here in Japan, where popularity and convenience often trump law.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

I don't get why people are comparing this to men's discomfort, as if it's a race and only the ones who are the worst off get to see change. I'm sure there are discomforts with men's clothing, but how would this woman be aware of it? She's tackling one issue, and I think it would be great if uncomfortable men also called attention to their issues.

And for the people in here insinuating you should just wear 'better' heels... Tell me when you find them!

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Sorry but there are plenty of industries that do not require suits and it's much more than the 10% you suggest.

-8 ( +0 / -8 )

What purpose does a suit hold? Professionalism. Nobody would hire a lawyer dressed in flip-flops, Jams 3/4 pants, and a Hawaiian shirt.

-7 ( +1 / -8 )

What purpose does a suit hold? Professionalism. Nobody would hire a lawyer dressed in flip-flops, Jams 3/4 pants, and a Hawaiian shirt.

Hawaiian shirts are considered professional attire in Hawaii (serious). As are the Japanese equivalent in Okinawa.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

But we aren't in Hawaii. And even if we were, that Hawaiian shirt vs a suit would be quite obvious which would get more work thrown their way.

-8 ( +0 / -8 )

poor choice of words for headline - Giving Women a Leg Up... what brainiac thought that up?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Men have to wear suits ( 5 x 35,000yen ) , dress shoes ( 10,000 each ), neckties ( 20 x 7,000yen ), white T-Shirts ( 10,000 ).

Ridiculous. First of all, most don't have 5 suits, but 1-2 suits. And who has 20 ties at 7000 yen per? If anything, most will hav 5-10 ties, ranging from 100 yen shop ties to maybe 1000 yen ties.

And 10,000 yen for white undershirts?

Get out of here with that level of math. No 'poor office worker' is doing anything remotely related to that.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

I have 1 suit which I use for interviews. I tell everyone if you see me in a suit and tie it means I have a job interview. I have two blazers and the rest is simply business casual. For men, money spent on good jackets, ties and shoes in money well spent.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

who has 20 ties at 7000 yen per?

Me :D

I love a nice tie. I'm a total sucker for them. I have a hard time walking past tie shops.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

I love a nice tie. I'm a total sucker for them. I have a hard time walking past tie shops.

I hate them with the white hot intensity of a thousand suns. They feel like a hangman's noose around my neck. A totally useless article of clothing that provides no apparent function other than discomfort.

It's incredible that two decades into the 21st century, many men are still required to wear them in the workplace.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Are women actually being forced to wear high heels ? Or business shoes with an heel ? One thing about Media is that they can twist a statement to being one extreme or another. I've seen young girls wear horrendous platform shoes, and I bet no one makes them wear those... some of those shoes are absolutely dangerous.

-7 ( +0 / -7 )

Yes, Japan does have problem with prejudice against women. However, the basic structure of Japanese society is built on a ‘sempai/kohai’ structure that shows prejudice to anybody who is younger than the sempai. This prejudice starts in kindergarten. Therefore, women should not think they are being singled out with prejudice in Japan. The prejudices are shared equally among everybody.

So by your "logic" here, and by the way, sounds like you are making excuses here, it's on the "sempai" women for causing all this pain for the women. They are the "elders", who could have done something about it, but let it go and now everyone below has to suffer the consequences of their inaction.

Women are being singled out, if men dont have to wear them, then neither should women. Problem is far too many women themselves LIKE wearing heels because it makes them look taller, with longer legs, and whatever. It should be their choice, and their choice alone.

"Sempai" are there to look out for their "kohai" and in more ways than one, and if you try to use this as the rationale behind your argument, you really dont understand the system!

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Are women actually being forced to wear high heels ? Or business shoes with an heel ?

Er, yes. Try reading the article.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Great work.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

When you think that not even one percent of the female has signed this partition out sixty million women goes to show its not the big deal that's its being talked up, in my travels to Japan there were plenty of women wearing flat comfortable shoes at work - maybe the women that are complaining should just find another employer.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

in my travels to Japan there were plenty of women wearing flat comfortable shoes at work - maybe the women that are complaining should just find another employer.

Um, have you ever even talked to a Japanese woman? You basically just said the overwhelming majority of Japanese women should find another employer.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

You basically just said the overwhelming majority of Japanese women should find another employer.

Or rather employed Japanese women.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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