Arts, Humanities and Social Science

Japanese Women and Critical Feminism: A Qualitative Study
Melanie Belarmino, Melinda Roberts, Ph.D.

Paralleling Western feminist movements, the pursuit of equal rights between the sexes by Japanese feminists have a rich and diverse history. Despite the available records of the feminist movement from its conception to its current efforts, the impacts of the movement remain unaddressed by academia, leaving out the voices of the young women whose lives are intimately affected by the accomplishments and failures of feminism. The purpose of this qualitative study is to study the perceptions of young Japanese women in college regarding their nation’s feminist movement, its successes, and its differences with American feminism. Qualitative data was collected through open-ended questions during interviews resulting in various opinions and experiences regarding the feminist movement’s influences. The feminist movement has a long history of progress regarding women‘s rights in Western nations, such as the United States, from the first wave in the twentieth century to the current modern day third wave. The fight for the equality of the sexes and for improvements regarding women‘s sociopolitical standing was not confined geographically, as Asian nations and their women have forged their own historical movements alongside Western feminism in the face of the patriarchal societies in which they live. Japan, a nation classified as a patriarchal society, is a notable place where women have to struggleagainst the gendered inequalities of a culture that is fixated on maleness. Unfortunately, within present Western European and American academia, there is a lack of literature regarding the cultural impact ofthe feminist movement on Japanese women‗s personal experiences through their own opinions and without being a part of the movement. The literature, however, does focus on historical aspects or singular cultural impacts that were presented from Japanese feminists themselves. Therefore, by interviewing Japanese women, this study provides insight from Japanese women concerning their personal connections with feminism in regards to historical and current knowledge, gender inequality, and progress.

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