IGWS Newsletter Vol. 43

  • Report of the 33rd IGWS Seminar
  • Students’ Feedback on the 33rd IGWS Seminar
  • The 10th Annual Symposium on Graduation Theses and Projects about Gender
  • Essays from Alumni “Creating a place for people to connect”
  • Reflections on gender from my own experience

Report of the 33rd IGWS Seminar: “Don’t refuse your little mind of feminism: An interpretation of Frozen from the viewpoint of feminism”

Speaker: Prof. Ayako Saito (Professor at Meiji Gakuin University)

 On November 28 and 29, IGWS held a lecture in honor of Prof. Ayako Saito, who is a pioneer in Japanese film studies. She introduced movie research in Japan which incorporates gender and feminist methodologies. This time, Prof. Saito presented Disney’s animated movie Frozen, which was released in 2014 and become a big hit in Japan, to analyze it from the viewpoint of feminism.
 Prof. Saito said that this film is a story about how the heroine Elsa overcomes fear through love. She also focused on the lyrics of the theme song. The “it” in the title “Let it go” can be interpreted as her fear that she feels towards her own power and the fear can be viewed as an aspect of her own femininity. Therefore, we can interpret that these lyrics include an implicit feministic message about freeing oneself from the fear of one’s own femininity. On the other hand, the Japanese translation of “Let it go” is “Arinomama-de (=as it is).” Since it seems to convey a positive nuance rather than the message of self-liberation, the feminist message in the original lyrics has been considerably weakened.
 The scene of the ice castle where Elsa sings this song seems to conceal various other messages. For instance, “door” can be viewed as a metaphor for suppression and liberation. Moreover, the transparent ceiling can be read as a so-called “glass ceiling”. Elsa’s obstacle is her own magical power, and what rescues her is not a prince’s kiss but the love of her sister’s self-sacrifice.
 Lastly Prof. Saito concluded that the focus of feminism has never been to battle with others. Rather, feminism is about making sacrifices so people are guaranteed freedom. The struggles of feminism were intended to increase tolerance for others, like the sisters in this film.

The 10th Annual Symposium on Graduation Theses and Graduation Projects about Gender

 On January 25, we held the 10th annual symposium on graduation theses, graduation projects, and class activities on lectures about gender. The names of the presenters and titles of their works are as follows:

- KOGA, Atsushi. Faculty of Letters, Department of English Language and Literature.
“Gender in the novel Dracula”

- YAMAZAKI, Tsukasa. Faculty of Media Theories and Production. Department of Media Theories and Production.
“Put ‘hug’ on your cheeks”

- OKUDA, Masayuki. Junior Student, Faculty of Media Theories and Production. Department of Media Theories and Production.
“Niji-iro Wide-show (=talk show)”

Essays from Alumni “Creating a place for people to connect”

 Ms. Shiho Tsuji, who graduated from the Faculty of Letters in 1988, contributed an article about the activities of the NPO she herself was involved in.

 Last autumn, the NPO corporation SKIP published a book, Our declaration of farewell: We will disband NPO (edited by SKIP editorial committee, published by Kusumisha, 2016).

 SKIP was an NPO corporation in Nagoya that began planning and managing classical concerts to accommodate mothers with childcare responsibilities in 1993. Concerts are usually held at night, but they held them in the morning so that mothers busy with child-rearing could easily participate. There was a great response from mothers to this project. For the next 20 years, I could realize there are many things I cannot do only by myself but through connecting with others. This book is SKIP’s record of 20-years of activities and our declaration of dissolution. The editing work was difficult but fun, and it took a total of two and a half years.

 It will be almost a quarter of a century since SKIP began its activities. The number of places mothers can go with children has increased, and the day care nursey system has been developed. However, we still cannot say that the environment for women raising children continues to improve. I always want to get behind people raising children and confronting problems right now. This is definitely a matter we will continue to face.

Reflections on gender on my own experience

 Mr. Hidemaro Takeyama, professor of our Department of Health and Medical Sciences, wrote an essay about gender.

 After finishing graduate school, I facilitated workshops focusing on health and safety in the workplace in Asian countries such as the Philippines, Thailand, etc. for a total of 10 years. This activity promotes the voluntary improvement of working conditions through seminars targeting business owners and labor unions. The seminars encourage them to reduce industrial fatigue, prevent occupational accidents, and implement the formation of a more humane working environment.

 In the summer of the first year, I had the opportunity to visit the ILO Asia-Pacific Regional Bureau in Bangkok, Thailand, chaperoning some medical undergraduate and graduate students. When we shared our opinions after finishing the tour of the facility, gender came up when we discussed the topic of female labor. At that time, one of the female students started talking enthusiastically about gender issues in the workplace. In the future, she may get married and work side-by-side with male doctors while raising her children. Since the current working environment for female doctors does not accommodate working mothers, she has thought daily about how to change the present society.

 This trip was a bitter but valuable experience for me because I have been working on a supportive workplace environment. It made me realize that I am not aware of the situation of female workers. I also realized that it is necessary to consider gender issues when discussing the health and safety of workplaces.

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