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秋春粉墨

若兰的上海生活

 
 
 

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Stuff needs to git done? Find a Japanese wife.  

2013-05-22 00:56:41|  分类: 默认分类 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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I was with K, my best Japanese friend in the whole wide world.  He's the only Japanese person I can talk to about the Nanking massacre, what an idiot the mayor of Osaka is for condoning the use of comfort women, and the official visit of Japanese government officials to the Nanking shrine.  But those are topics for another day.  

To put simply, our conversations go far and beyond food and the weather.  He's just an awesome dude.

K and I spend a lot of time having intelligent discussions (aka booze and drunk convo), and a few weeks ago we spent a good four hours in a teashop talking about random garbage.  We must have went through 10 pots of tea talking about nothing and everything, taking in the rainy day from the comfort of indoors while enjoying the atmosphere of an old Shanghai teahouse.

As usual, I was complaining about how China makes everything in my life hard, especially when I want to pay for the internet.

"I have to go to the actual shop to pay my internet bill," I whine. "It's such a pain.  There's only one branch that stays open after 6 PM on the weekdays, and it just happens to be halfway across town.  That means every month I have to go an hour out of my way just to pay the internet bill.  It's so inconvenient."

"That may be true," K replies.  "But I think Japan is also inconvenient in the same way as well."

"Yeah, now that I think about it..." I rub my chin, reminiscing.  "The bank and post office are almost impossible to go to.  Don't they close at 5 or 6 or something?  They're not even open on the weekends.  I mean, what if you have a problem with your bank account?  Or you have to mail something using the post office?  There's absolutely no way to do that if you're working a full time job!"

"Exactly.  That's why we have a wife."

My brain exploded.  Did K forget he was talking to a woman, or have I truly become 'one of the guys' in his eyes?  More importantly, this is K!  He's a liberal and open-minded Japanese citizen, how can he just ruin my whole image of him by saying that women should stay at home so they can go to the post office for their husband?  

I think my mouth was literally gaping open and I was silent for a few minutes.  No exaggeration.  K continued his argument.

"I'm just saying," he poured another cup of tea, breaking eye contact with me. "Feminism just doesn't go down well in Japan.  In fact, Japanese women don't even want it.  They want a husband that works hard, and they want to stay home.  It's different from America, or even China for that matter."

I regain composure.  Shut my mouth close.  K kind of has a point.  I have few Japanese female friends that want to become 'career women' and give up everything to become successful.  And even if they do, they get such a bad rep that no one wants to date or marry them and they end up being single for, well, ever.  There's so many Japanese dramas about these kind of women, it's nuts.  I would even daresay that 20% of dramas are about some 30+ women that gave up love for her job and now she's lonely and depressed (but somehow manages to find some ikemen 20 something that wants to marry her--yeah right).  

Anyway, a good portion of my Japanese female friends are basically just as K described above.  Don't want to work, and want to rely pretty much on the husband.  They aim for the title of housewife, and I'm sure going to the post office or bank for their husband, to them, is a job of the utmost importance.  Still, as a working American woman, it was hard for me to just take that answer as it is.

"But something needs to change.  There needs to be a modification to the system in Japan so that if women want to work, they can also take proper maternity leave and holiday if they want to take care of their kids.  Right now, it's near impossible for a mom to work AND raise a family in Japan.  If the government also adjusts the bank and post office times even just a little, then women can become more independent.  Things need to change.  Women need to stand up for themselves."

My speech didn't work on K.

"That's just how Japan was built, Mary" he sighs.  "Japan was designed for everything to close early, because the wife is there to take care of everything.  It's been that way ever since I can remember.  This is what Japanese society was built on.  The same applies to the bento concept as well.  The man works hard to provide, so there's no way he could make himself a bento every ngiht. We need a wife to do that."

Again, my brain explodes.  A wife's duty in Japan is to go to the post office and make pikachu shaped ongiri bento?
K sees the shock on my face and continues: "I know you think this is crazy, or different from the USA, and it is.  But this is what Japanese women want.  They don't want to change.  And unless they want to, then feminism just isn't going to take off."

I think K has a point.  But I think there's a reason Japanese women want to stay home and not work.  It's because there is no middle ground for a woman.  When you become fully employed in Japan, it's all or nothin.  You bust your ass doing overtime, or you're fired.  Your kid is in the hospital?  You're about to give birth?  Sheesh.  Talk about a pain in the ass.  How about you just save me some trouble by quitting?  

That's basically the frame of mind in Japan.

While Japanese women want to stay at home, I think it isn't due to mere coincidence alone.  They are influenced by the government and by their society to settle down.  To not go all the way with their career.

In Japan, woman have two choices:

1. Become a career woman and die alone
2. Get married and quit your job

"仕方ないよ、メアリー" My friend smiles at me.  "It's just how Japan is."

I know.  And although my friend K was special, I knew that he was hoping for the same thing: A nice wife to make him a bento everyday that does his chores.

I adore K, but now I know why I could never date him.
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