IGWS Newsletter Vol. 46

  • Report on the 6th Segment of the Lecture Series: “Toward the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo!: Observing sports from a gender perspective.”
    1. “Sociology of sports”
    2. “Understanding the mass media: To think about sports coverage”
    3. “The body of an athlete and gender”
  • Report on the Special Lecture: “Sexual Minorities: Where do we go from here?”
  • Essays from Alumni: “Male housework / childcare participation”
  • Reflections on gender in everyday life: “Looking for ‘unique children’”

Report on the 6th Segment of the Lecture Series: “Toward the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo!: Observing sports from a gender perspective.”

1. “Sociology of sports”

Speaker: Prof. Tetsuo Nishiyama (Professor at Kansai University, Human Health Department)
Commentator: Mr. Rokuro Ayabe (Part-time lecturer at ASU)

 Sports is a modern pastime that is built on the premise of equal competition. However, there are doubts about its commitment to equality. How is equality preserved when men and women cannot compete against each other in official competitions? We can gain a deeper understanding of sports by considering how equality is preserved in competition. The different physical abilities of men and women is the reason given for separating competitions by gender. But is this the same thing as weight classes in judo or wrestling? In the first place, differences between men and women are not always clear-cut. Even within the same gender, physical ability varies. In the future, various classifications will develop based on various differences related to height, maximal oxygen uptake(VO2max), and weight. There is a good chance that sports will be more universal.

2. “Understanding the mass media: Considering sports coverage”

Speaker: Prof. Kaori Hayashi (Professor at the University of Tokyo Graduate School of Informatics)
Commentator: Mr. Seiji Fujii (Part-time lecturer at ASU)

 The world of mass media is society where men are dominant and gender inequality exists. There is an inherent masculine bias in the mass media. At the same time, news broadcasts reflect gender inequality at the societal level. Why has the gender gap never been eliminated even though gender equality was legally guaranteed? The reason may be related to the cultural norms and customs in in Japanese society, which is heavily influenced by the mass media. The situation is not as simple that it can be improved only by changing the mass media. Viewers must recognize male-biased news coverage and make people aware of the gender bias. The ability to confront this bias is connected to improving our society.

3. “The body of an athlete and gender”

Speaker: Prof. Keiko Aiba (Professor at Meiji Gakuin University international faculty)
Commentator: Ms. Atsuko Ishikawa (Part-time lecturer at ASU)

 Toni Bruce (2016) presents “15 rules” of media representation patterns. They include patterns about differences between men and women, others that focus on the similarities among men and women, and others that reflect behavioral gender performativity. The patterns can also overlap.
 Prof. Aiba introduced the activities of Women Talk Sports (WTS) and Caroline Wozniakki, a women tennis player in Denmark, as one example of Bruce’s rules reflecting performativity. Caroline posted her own nude photos to SNS, and this image generated discourse about “beautiful and powerful.” Third wave feminism has produced constrictive discourse that separates “athlete” and “feminine.” However, these categories are restrictive like “white,” “heterosexual,” and so on.
 Nevertheless, by participating in athletics, women will start to regard their own bodies as power, recognize their own abilities, and create a sense of connection between their mind and body. As a result, it will lead to greater empowerment of women.

Report on the Special Lecture: “Sexual Minorities: Where do we go from here?

On July 13, 2018, we invited Margaret, Drag Queen, and held a special lecture meeting.

 Margaret introduced the meaning of the word “Drag Queen” and their recent achievements. She explained that drag queens perform the significant to “disturb and reject people’s thoughts and biases by exaggerating social norms about gender.” In addition, Margaret said that forcing traditional gender norms on individuals can hurt their dignity. Therefore, we can create a society where people respect each other by recognizing the differences between individuals. Margaret also used film to show how values can vary by generation.

Essays from Alumni: “Male housework / childcare participation”

 Mr. Kunihiro Asakura, who graduated from ASU in 2000, contributed an essay to this newsletter.

 I started becoming more conscious of gender when I was job hunting in my fourth year of university. Job hunting for female students was more difficult than for male students. In 2000, when we were hired as recruits, the job offer ratio for new graduates was only 0.99%. At that time, I saw my female classmates crying in frustration.
 After I got my first job, I was bothered by the pressure to conform to the traditional gender roles of male breadwinner and female caregiver. In those days, I was not confident that I could support a wife and family.
 The big turning point in my life was changing my job to a special nonprofit corporation, Hamamatsu Gender Equality Promotion Association. Currently I am the director of Hamamatsu City Gender Equality and Cultural Arts Activity Promotion Center. This job helped me realize that it is fine for both husband and wife to work, and I got married.
 Recently my wife got pregnant. I wonder if I can become an “ikumen”? Can we strike a healthy work-life balance? I still feel a lot of anxiety, but I know it will be okay. My aim is to become an “ikumen” with my supportive colleagues.

Reflections on gender in everyday life: “Looking for ‘unique’ children’”

 Ms. Taisuke Murakami of the Department of Creation and Representation at ASU contributed an article about gender based on her own experience.

 In 2007, I exhibited my work at the Aichi Prefectural Children’s Comprehensive Center and after that I started researching art and media for children. In 2011, I lost motivation to work with children.
 In 2012, however, my personal life changed with the birth of my child. The uniqueness of my own child made me realize that my work showed an “image of children.” My six-year old son and I are currently involved in an artistic project about the relationship between children and the media in the information age. I am grateful to my son for making me realize that every child is unique. I would like to create new projects with him and with other “unique children.”

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