IGWS Newsletter Vol. 38

  • Report on the 29th IGWS Seminar at Aichi Shukutoku University
  • Students' Feedback on the 29th IGWS Seminar
  • Report from the Field of Vocational Rehabilitation
  • Book Review: Deception in Narration: Fiction in Contemporary Novels in English Speaking Countries.
  • Institute for Gender and Women's Studies Renewed
  • Announcement of the 30th IGWS Seminar at Aichi Shukutoku University

Report on the 29th IGWS Seminar

"Can Men Protect Women? Why Do Men Want to Do So?" (Speaker:Ms. Tomomi Shibuya, Associate Professor, Tokyo Keizai University)

 We unconsciously internalize gender roles. If you are a man, you internalize the role of protector of women. If you are a woman, you internalize the idea that women should be protected by men. Ms. Shibuya posed three questions to the audience, which helped us realize the unconscious nature of gender norms and expanded our viewpoints.

 The first question was "can men protect women?" Her answer was clear. "Unfortunately it is impossible," she said. When husbands try to protect their wives and children, there are two ways to support the wife. One way is to provide economic and emotional support by working outside the home, and the other is to provide economic support by working outside the home and emotional support by helping with housework and child rearing. In reality, however, both forms of support are very difficult to achieve. In the former case, many men are pressed for time and extremely stressed because they work in a strenuous work environment in order to perform the role of family breadwinner. In the latter case, the working environment often hinders men from performing the roles of dedicated employee (or salaryman) and family man.

 The second question was "why do men want to protect women?" Ms. Shibuya partly attributes such an attitude to men's potential desire to create and sustain bonds between men. In such a "homosocial" environment, men compete with each other in order to achieve a higher position in relation to other men. The notion that men protect women has the potential dangers of forcing men to endure a strenuous work environment and reinforcing the notion of male superiority and female inferiority.

 The third question Ms. Shibuya asked was "what does it matter if men cannot protect women? Isn't it all right as long as both people are happy?" By raising this question, she suggested an alternate way of life. For people in relationships, what is most important is for partners to support each other. For single people, the important thing is to be happy.

Report from the Field of Vocational Rehabilitation

Mr. Shohei Nakagawa, a graduate of the graduate school of Aichi Shukutoku University works as an adjunct counselor at Takaoka Local Youth Support Station. He is also an adjunct instructor of sociology at a junior college and a nursing technical school. He gives his report on how he feels in the field of youth support service.

  "Takaoka Local Youth Support Station" is an institution which provides vocational rehabilitation services to people between the ages of 15 to 39, who are not in education, employment and training (NEET). The Japanese government defines people between the ages of 15 to 34 who are not in education, employment and training as non-employed youths. According to the "White Paper on Children and Young People 2014," the number of non-employed youth has been around 600,000. Other books estimate that the potential number of non-employed youth is 4,830,000. The ratio between male and female visitors at Takaoka Local Youth Support Station is 7:3. This shows that the station received many more male visitors than female visitors. Most of the male visitors are social introverts. They feel they have to work but cannot due to anxiety and lack of confidence.

 Unemployed male youths may experience difficulty performing a masculine role in a patriarchal society. As a result, their self-esteem decreases and they may choose to isolate themselves from society. They are afraid of failure. I saw a 28 year-old male visitor who was unable to meet society's expectation, find an alternate life course and gradually felt a sense of entrapment.

 Some scholars insist that anyone can become unemployed. Modern life is much harder than life in the past. In my opinion, it is important to draw attention to those who suffer from oppression in society.

Book Review: Deception in Narration: Fiction in Contemporary Novels in English Speaking Countries

Ms. Sachiyo Yamada reviews the book titled 『「語り」は騙(かた)る-現代英語圏小説のフィクション[Deception in Narration: Fiction in Contemporary Novels in English Speaking Countries]』 (2014), which was written by Ms. Mitoko Hirabayashi, professor in the Department of Literature, Aichi Shukutoku University.

The Potential of Narration seen in the expressions "語り[narration]/ 騙り[deception]"

 Two Chinese characters in the title of the book have the same pronunciation ("かたる" [kataru]) but express different meanings. Both originally mean to "narrate," but the latter character "騙り" has expanded to include the new meaning of deceiving people through highly skilled storytelling ability. Readers of the book may get a negative impression from the title, which seems to convey how "readers are deceived by narrators of novels." After reading the skillful analysis of "narration," however, they will find that the title has a rather positive meaning.

 The book analyzes works published from the beginning of the 20th century to 2011, which include works by Margaret Atwood, Anita Brookner, Kazuo Ishiguro and Katherine Mansfield. Through her research on gender and sexuality over a period of many years, she has found "deception in narration" as a trend in contemporary novels from English speaking countries.

 The book not only provides an analysis on "narration," but also constantly refers to the readers' point of view or how readers might interpret stories. Such an insightful analysis would make the readers want to read the novels analyzed in the book.

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