IGWS Newsletter Vol. 36

  • Report on the 27th IGWS Seminar at Aichi Shukutoku University
  • Students' feedback on the 27th IGWS Seminar
  • "Living with the root of violent language" ― An essay written by Miki Koike, 2011 alumna of Aichi Shukutoku University
  • A woman who lived in "a male-dominated city" ― An essay written by Rika Yamamoto, Lecturer, Department of Global Culture and Communication, Aichi Shukutoku University
  • Report on the performance played by our research project team, "Nijiiro Chirashizushi"
  • Gender & Women's Studies: Open lectures (2013)

Report on the 27th IGWS Seminar

"Women's language is made"
( Speaker:Ms. Momoko Nakamura. Professor, Department of Economics, Kanto Gakuin University )

 Ms. Nakamura clearly explained how "women's language" confines women themselves in the framework of "women" as she traced back “the schoolgirls’ language” in a novel from the Meiji era.

 According to Ms. Nakamura, there are four processes in the creation of “women’s language”: 1. differentiate by gender 2. select an appropriate language 3. deny the women’s language, and 4. become a sexual object.

 First, in the process of differentiating by gender, schoolgirl language and schoolboy language are recognized differently. Second, schoolgirls select their appropriate language as they add particular expressions such as “teyo” or “dawa” in the end of their sentences. These expressions may likely be created by written media such as novels, not by schoolgirls themselves. In the third process, the language used by schoolgirls was dismissed as frivolity. Ms. Nakamura introduced one novel as an example. In the novel, the schoolgirls who used the girls' language were portrayed as educated but frivolous women. In the last process, as in the novel, their words became means of representing their sexuality, and schoolgirls using those girls’ words became sexual objects. Thus this women’s language began acting as an effective power to enclose women into a stereotypical frame of being “a good wife and wise mother.”

 Ms. Nakamura gave us a chance to think about the relations between words and gender as well as words and society. She has written many books about these topics, and she will continue to present her ideas to overturn our stereotypes on gender and words.

A woman who lived in “a male-dominated city” ― An essay written by Rika Yamamoto, Lecturer, Department of Global Culture and Communication, Aichi Shukutoku University

 In recent years, in Sasebo, Nagasaki Prefecture, some stories of women’s lives in the past have begun being “excavated.” One of them is a story of Yoko Ueno, which was found in the beginning part of the first issue of “Women’s History in Sasebo” published in the 1990s. Born in Gifu Prefecture in 1886 and graduating from the Tokyo Girls’ Normal High School in 1908, Ms. Yoko Ueno went to Fukui Prefecture to teach at a girls’ school. She married a junior lieutenant in the Japanese Navy in 1940 and lived for about two years from 1912 to 1914 in Sasebo because of her husband’s work. There she worked as a teacher for Seitoku, a private girls’ school. In November, 1911, when she was still in Fukui, she belonged to “Seito” or the “Blue Stocking Society” in Japan and wrote an essay in the first issue of the journal “Seito” as follows:

 “Now jobs for women are scarce. Women’s wages are low. However, if all the women in the world stood up and decided to commit themselves, women could work more and dominate men well. This is clearly understood when we see women’s paths in history.”

 This is a passage from the discussion Ueno contributed to “Seito” in 1911. Due to the Defense Office of the Imperial Navy being located there in the mid-Meiji period, Sasebo became the forefront base of the wars between China and Japan, as well as Russia and Japan. It was a time when large expansion of naval port facilities continued. The city of Sasebo developed rapidly as an important naval city in Japan from the end of the Meiji to the early Taisho era. The ratio of the male to female population was around 120 or 130 % in Sasebo, which means Sasebo was clearly a male-dominated city. Even under these circumstances, Yoko Ueno expressed her critical ideas about the trend of being “a good wife and wise mother,” as she taught at the girls’ school where children of military officers were attending. “To be self-managed and self- supporting. The most solid ground for women is their occupation,” she said. She encouraged women to make social progress and make a living on their own.

 In her essay written in 1912, we also understand her compelling idea of women making a living on their own: “Dear cool young women! I praise the mystery of love, but don’t forget that we have to live and to live on our own. What an inelegant life we have! Look the heavy black wings of life which spread over the gorgeous love!”

 Such a history of Yoko Ueno, who advocated women’s social progress in the “male-dominated city” of Sasebo, should truly be one of those stories worth being “excavated.”

Report on the performance played by our research project team, "Nijiiro Chirashizushi"

 On August 31 and September 1, IGWS project team performed a play at a theater called Nanatsudera Joint Studio in Osu, Nagoya. This was one of our research projects: an enlightenment program through plays with a theme of "living together with differences." The students who participated named this project team as "Nijiiro Chirashizushi", which means "Rainbow-colored sushi."The name came from their concept in making a play on the mix of a variety of subjects and of people. The major motif of the play originated from their true experiences of uncomfortable feelings in their relationships with family and friends, as well as their awareness of the gender discrimination they felt at their first job interviews.

 Mr. Tatsuo Sumida, Professor of our Department of Media Theories and Production, supervised this play. Mr. Sumida also worked hard to invite a lesbian personality, Asako Makimura, to have a workshop on the same day. This made the program content rich.

 Moreover, when practicing for the play, theatrical director Chaos Karma taught students how to act, and choreographer Tamami Yamada gave the students some instructions. Both Mr. Karma and Ms. Yamada are part-time lecturers at our university. They performed three times and 160 people came to see the play.

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