“Japan should rethink gender roles”? Yeah, no kidding

On December 5th, I gave an invited lecture-slash-workshop at a university in Gifu, where conservative values reign and men and women think they can run the families like it’s 1899.

The very same I made the trek up there, an article came out in Japan Today, a popular online-only English news company based in Tokyo.

Of course, like most “news” companies these days, they tend to stea…I mean, “borrow,” from other news sources.

They also delete their content after a few weeks to save server space, so I tracked down the original article on Sora News.


Here’s a choice quote:

a panel of experts has just released its newest bath of suggestions, including one that exhausted wives and live-in-girlfriends would no doubt be happy to see become reality: men doing more housework and spending more time taking care of children.

This is in response to over 30-year decline in child birth rates in Japan.

Funny thing is, I already wrote about this very issue 8 years before the “expert panel” suggested that men try helping out with house chores.

What took these “experts” so long to catch up to the 1980s?

The kicker is, the article is headlined by a goofy image of a Japan business man wearing an apron, rubber cleaning gloves, and a feather duster (pictured above).

As if to say, “hey, guys, cleaning around the house is a girly job and only effete, feminine guys do this, you pansy.”

Way to undercut the entire article about gender roles. There’s nothing “feminine” or funny about cleaning. It’s a damn dirty job, and all family members should do it. I’ve been a professional cleaner. And a dish washer. And a cook. And a day care center worker. It’s work. It’s hard work.

And here’s another thing. It’s perfectly all right for all the top-level chefs on TV to be men…because they’re cooking for other people, I guess. But cook for your own family?

Run a hotel and clean guests’ clothing? Sure. Clean your own kids’ clothing? When I suggested that the men in the Gifu university do their own laundry, horrified and/or sullen expressions followed.

Suck it up, guys. There’s no such thing as “men’s” jobs and “women’s” jobs. Just jobs. And your own damn family.

About MThomas

Long ago, I gave up my high school dreams of becoming the next Carl Sagan and instead wound up working (in order) at McDonald's, a '60s-themed restaurant, a video rental store, a used bookstore, a computer seller, Kinko's, a Jewish newspaper company, and an HR firm. I eventually became a teacher of intercultural communication in Kyoto, where I vainly attempt to apply quantum mechanics to language teaching, practice martial arts and Zen Buddhism, and always keep one eye on the sky. And yes, I know my profile photo's backward. I just think it looks better this way.
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