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Japanese women feeling pressured by image of perfect 'mama': study

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The rise of the new motherhood identity could ironically be causing women to delay starting families as they feel intimidated by the portrayals in magazines, according to the research in a new book launched this week.

Japanese women really have it hard. If you're working until beyond a certain age, you get criticized for not marrying. If you work while you're married and have kids, you get picked on by the management, and if you become a full-time housewife, you still have to keep up with appearances society expects you to conform with.

14 ( +21 / -7 )

Japanese media are creating idealized images of working mothers that women may find off-putting and hard to emulate in real life, according to new research from Cambridge University.

No, say it ain't so! We certainly needed an elite university to inform us of that.

And no media in any other country does anything comparable in any way, shape or form.

2 ( +7 / -5 )

Not just magazines, but manga, anime, commercials, TV dramas, all promoting the same image.

And you can guess who is behind them, the Ministry of Propaganda! D....u.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

Better not to get married. Just get a part-time job and live at home with your parents.

1 ( +9 / -8 )

Stupidity compounded by stupidity, woman are humans they might actually be smarter then men. I'd rather a female boss than a man .At least she will listen.

-8 ( +5 / -13 )

I will listen Cricky, I will listen.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

The image is of a mother finding happiness through child-rearing while also enjoying a career, often setting up a home business or making a living from what was once a hobby.

Compared to the full-time jobs some Japanese mothers do and many women do overseas, this is still relatively easy.

I have a lot of time for academia, but this is a recent graduate of Japan studies commenting on a selection of women's magazines seen through a non-Japanese lens. How about asking a decent cross-section of Japanese women what they think with open-ended questions? The methodology used here strikes me as very weak.

12 ( +12 / -0 )

@Reckless

Sorry what did you say?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Joint custody after separation and divorce is very beneficial for children and even mothers too. However, the Minister of Justice appears to prefer one parent usually the father is a mere bank account than a parent. You reap what you sew Japan.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

@Cricky would you prefer a competent manager or one chosen based on some arbitrary criteria such as gender, sexual preference etc?

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Sorry, but in Japan, I feel more for the salary man who has to be a slave in the office until retirement (or death...).

13 ( +15 / -2 )

I just asked my japanese wife if she feels any stress of being perceived as imperfect mama.

Perceived by whom ? who are these people ? was the answer .. there you see the brain still works. I think she is happy and healthy (Dr. Hamster voice) .

13 ( +13 / -0 )

I have a lot of time for academia, but this is a recent graduate of Japan studies commenting on a selection of women's magazines seen through a non-Japanese lens. How about asking a decent cross-section of Japanese women what they think with open-ended questions? The methodology used here strikes me as very weak.

This is a very big problem with certain disciplines in the humanities like gender studies. Lots of opinion, little evidence. I'm not saying it's not the case, but as pointed out here there's no way of knowing it's true or not.

I was actually very surprised when I came to Japan and heard so many women openly say they want to get married, have kids and be a housewife. Middle-class feminists who talk on their behalf seem to have difficulty dealing with that for some reason. Also anyone who disagrees with middle-class feminism is a 'conservative woman' as if that's an insult. However, we have to consider the fact that those 'conservative women' vote for the LDP in droves and are a huge majority in Japanese society

6 ( +7 / -1 )

However hard Japanese women have it they should know compared to Japanese men they are on easy street. Salaryman are willing slaves, walking zombies dragging their feet through the station everyday to their miserable desk job. Once they get caught in the honeytrap it's all downhill from there. Not welcome in their own house, separate beds, what meager penance they get thrown from their masters gets grabbed by their wife and they will be lucky to get enough for a fami chicken and a can of chu hi. It's horrific.

12 ( +15 / -3 )

I think would be interesting to show under-40 Japanese men what life is like for men in the West, how many hours they work, how days off they have, how much housework or child rearing they do and do the same for Japanese women and women in the West. I wouldn't be surprised if Japanese men were more into the Western way than Japanese housewives were into the idea of working full-time in return for their husband sharing the housework.

11 ( +11 / -0 )

Let's ignore the salary men.

Lets ignore the pressure being put on men to succeed.

Lets ignore the higher suicide rate among men compared to women.

Men are toxic or bad just because your a man, that's what the media says.

Men's problems are ignore, hidden, while women's issues are all over the media and all over magazines.

8 ( +11 / -3 )

Japanese men have got it much harder than the women in society.For women,it's either you got married or not.That's it basically.She working, is often dependent on her husband's income.If not married,she's gotta work!

5 ( +8 / -3 )

Everything TokyoJoe said!

10 ( +11 / -1 )

For women,it's either you got married or not.That's it basically.She working, is often dependent on her husband's income.If not married,she's gotta work!

That's not it, basically.

Have you ever been to Japan?

There's plenty of married couples who have jobs, each working as hard as the other. Sometimes working together.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

the portrayals in magazines

If that's the basis of measurement, I have to wonder how other countries figure. I'm thinking of the women I know in Japan and those I know here in the UK. None of them fit the images I've seen in magazines in either country.

Other research looks into the phenomenon of young women dressing up as cool, handsome men. The practice has close links to anime and cosplay

Or perhaps closer links to the Takurazuka Theatre which has been around for longer.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I just asked my japanese wife if she feels any stress of being perceived as imperfect mama.

Perceived by whom ? who are these people ? was the answer .. there you see the brain still works. I think she is happy and healthy (Dr. Hamster voice) .

You think? For anyone whose brain still works and who knows anything about the Japanese propensity for vague answers to direct questions, no one would make the quick leap to the conclusion assumed here.

Countering with questions may mean anything but an affirmation of health or happiness. Think again.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Japanese women are in a much better position than most women in the world! They have the luxury of going to salons, massages, wild shopping of branded clothes, bags, cosmetics and spend so much time with friends at restaurants / coffee shops ... all in all they live a luxurious life! So many other women in the world are like slaves! They should stop all this whining!

3 ( +6 / -3 )

All of these men speaking for women. Charming.

There must be some really bad collective dating preferences if all of you think all Japanese women stay home, do nothing and live a "luxurious life". Not to mention, not all Japanese men hate their jobs, probably not more than anywhere else in the world.

I've done both here. For the first few years I was married I worked just as long as my husband for around the same salary... and then I had a child and stayed at home for the first few years taking care of my child, the house, and my in laws. Sorry to burst anyone's bubbles but, in my situation, the full time job was much easier overall. I was responsible only for myself. I made my own money.

As a homemaker you get zero respect from society. Just look at the replies on this post. You might as well be a parasite in their eyes. You're responsible for keeping everyone else's lives in order, keeping everyone else healthy and happy but if you complain at all (again, just look at this post) people will say you are whining or talk about how men have it so much worse.

The problem with Japan in this case, is not only do you have to shoulder all of the burdens of being in charge of a household, raising children, and in most cases being the lapdog of your in laws (and actually in most cases you also have at least a part time job as well), you also have to look like the perfect Mom. God forbid your figure changes after the ordeal of pregnancy and childbirth or you start getting a wrinkle or two. Grey hairs before 60? Have you let yourself go? Smile and be quiet, never let anyone know how miserable you are. Your every fulfillment must come from serving the needs of others and maintaining a perfect outer image. If that's not enough for you, then you've failed.

Some of you must not have lived in Japan long enough to understand that what people say is almost never how they actually feel.

1 ( +7 / -6 )

Sorry, but in Japan, I feel more for the salary man who...

they should know compared to Japanese men...

Japanese men have got it much harder than

Whataboutery at its most bloated.

It is interesting to compare how, in comments about articles describing the plight of the modern man, women overwhelmingly express sympathy and information in support of men, without immediately trying to dismiss their problems and diverting attention elsewhere.

Let's ignore the salary men. Lets ignore the pressure being put on men to succeed.

Yes, in an article about women, reviewing a book about women, that is a good idea. I am sure, however, that in articles about men, you are the first to jump up and shout about how women are being ignored. Aren't you...?

Japanese women are in a much better position than most women in the world!

How is this relevant? If it is, people would surely never write a word of complaint about anything that affects them, since it's worse in Somewhere Else.

Why not just read this article and discuss its contents, without running around like a distracted three-year-old at Christmas?

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

Id rather go off to an office than take care of the kids all day...

2 ( +3 / -1 )

It is interesting to compare how, in comments about articles describing the plight of the modern man, women overwhelmingly express sympathy and information in support of men

What nonsense.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Just look at the trend. The age of the stay-at-home mother is coming to an end. People are marrying less, having almost no children and divorcing. Embrace hypergamy and enjoy yourself.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

every time we talk about Japanese society, the word “ pressure “ comes along ... men need to be “ successful “ and “ hard workers “ ( whatever that means ), women ( in this case, housewives ) need to be respectful, also “ hard workers “, and in some cases they need to “ look “ pretty and pure ... see the amount of pressure we,re talking about here? ... some posters in the comments section here got it wrong... this is not about men vs women... even if they don,t “ work “, Japanese women also have a really hard time and it,s not easy, at all ... the thing about Japanese society is that it,s always expecting you to be what you,re “ supposed “ to be or what you “ should be “ ... unlike other countries, in Japan there,s massive differences ( the way people think ) on what is considered being successful ( or not ), the meaning of being respected ( or not ) and what do you need to do to achieve that respect, etcetera. in many places around the world, it,s enough to be honest, never commit a crime and have a job ( any job(!) ), but in Japan it always look like you have to be something more / do a little more, if you wanna be respected, admired ...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Only if you buy into the propaganda instead of seeing through it.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Aren't they projecting 3 perfect mama - in the living room, kitchen, bedroom

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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