IGWS Newsletter Vol. 35

  • Report on the 26th IGWS Seminar at Aichi Shukutoku University
  • Students' feedback on the 26th IGWS Seminar
  • "Women who write" in The Tale of Genji ― An essay written by Atsuko Toyama, Associate Professor at Aichi Shukutoku University
  • Report by the students who participated in the "Harmony Festival of Nisshin City"
  • The 6th Meeting of Discussing Graduation Theses Written from a Gender Perspective
  • Students' feedback on a movie "MITSUKEMONO" : after participating in a theater- talk- show organized by TSUNAGARETTO Nagoya
  • Announcement about the 27th IGWS Seminar

Report on the 26th IGWS Seminar

"Do you know Article 24 of the Constitution of Japan? ― Cornerstone of gender equality and non-violence"
( Speaker:Mr. Hiroshi Nakasatomi. Associate Professor at the University of Tokushima, Faculty of Integrated Arts and Sciences)

 Article 24 of the Constitution of Japan declares that men and women are equal in their marriage and family. Mr. Nakasatomi's lecture was about the importance of this Article 24.

 According to Mr. Nakasatomi, since its establishment after World War II, there have been several discussions on amending our Constitution and the discussion has been growing more and more since the 1990s until now. Due to these circumstances, Mr. Nakasatomi expects the students to learn what exactly the discussion is about and to think whether we should amend our Constitution or not.

 Mr. Nakasatomi began his lecture by stating that our Constitution is very advanced among the 188 worldwide, codified constitutions. It incorporated human rights clauses from the earliest stages, and included all the best parts of the constitutions around the world when it was established.

 In the debate over Article 24, the Japanese conservatives think that it focuses too much on individualism, so much so that the Japanese family has been demolished, and an amendment is necessary for the rejuvenation of Japanese families. On the other hand, the Japanese progressives think that it talks about only men and women and lacks the perspective of the third sex or homosexuality. People who criticize those conservatives say that Article 24 still plays an important role for a family because, even now, one Japanese woman every three days loses her life due to domestic violence. People who criticize those progressives say that there are clauses to cover the individual's rights: Article 13 provides the individual dignity and the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, as well as public welfare. Article 14 guarantees human rights and equality.

 As referred to in the title of this lecture, Article 24 is a cornerstone of non-violence in marriage and family. Mr. Nakasatomi believes that it is necessary to maintain Article 24 and that a non-violent society should begin at home.

"Women who write" in The Tale of Genji ― An essay written by Atsuko Toyama, Associate Professor at Aichi Shukutoku University, Center of Japanese Language.

 In the Heian period, in the wake of the invention of the kana characters, literary works by women emerged one after the other. "The Tale of Genji", written by Murasaki Shikibu, was one of them. However, it is not accurate to think that in that period, many women played active roles in the literary field. The public appearance of women was at that time extremely limited, and men could not see their figures nor hear their voices. In other words, since they were deprived of physical expression, their writings were the only means to express themselves, and men imagined women's countenance and personality only through their handwriting or their letters.

 In "The Tale of Genji", various kinds of "women who write" appear, and they are the subjects of admiration, as well as contempt, by men. For example, the protagonist named Hikaru Genji admires the handwriting of his beloved wife, Murasaki. However, Hikaru has given his own handwriting to Murasaki and let her practice calligraphy. In other words, the husband controls his wife's handwriting, which in turn means he controls his wife's life. "Women who write" were constantly exposed to men's speculation and evaluation.

 The author Murasaki Shikibu herself was also exposed to men's judgment at that time. She wrote "Murasaki Shikibu Diary", which is a good record of the court life. She recorded the names of the men who read her story, "The Tale of Genji." According to her diary, the readers were the Emperor, high ranking officials, and highly educated people. Here the author shows her self-confidence that her story is not a woman's pastime, but valuable enough for those intelligent men to read. However, there exists a harsh reality that the appraisal of the woman's writing was only obtained by male readers.

 On the other hand, at the end of "The Tale of Genji", a woman who writes not for men but for herself emerges. Her name is Ukifune. She is loved by two men at the same time and attempts suicide, only to fail. She hides herself in a Buddhist hermitage. There she looks back her life and writes as much as she can as she looks introspectively at herself. This action gives her a peaceful soul in the end.

 The background of the birth of "women who write" was the result of the fact that women at that time were deprived of physical expression, and writing was the only means to show their existence. "The Tale of Genji" concludes with a discovery that writing is a way for women to acquire individuality in a male-dominated society. In this sense, "The Tale of Genji" has played a pioneering role in the representation of women in their writing activities ever since.

The 6th Meeting of Discussing Graduation Theses Written from a Gender Perspective

 The 6th meeting was held on Monday, January 21, 2013. This year there was one report from the Faculty of Letters, one from the Faculty of Communication Studies, and two from the Faculty of Creativity and Culture. This time, there were not only students who did the survey and analysis, but also a student who wrote a scenario and made a presentation on the summary of her work. The names of the students and their theses are as follows:

  • MORI, Sayaka. Faculty of Letters, Department of English Language and Literature. " "Ever after" in 21st Century Romantic Comedies"
  • TAKAHASHI, Kana. Faculty of Communication Studies, Department of Language Communication. "Comparison Between Japan and China Concerning Marriage and Childbirth"
  • SUZUKI, Kotoe. Faculty of Creativity and Culture, Representation Studies Course. "Chapter・2 "
  • SUGIYAMA, Kasumi. Faculty of Creativity and Culture, Representation Studies Course. "Seeking Ego ― The Men who Lived in the Elite Society in the Works of Ogai Mori ―"

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