Wednesday, April 04, 2007


Email to the Rescue

Yesterday, I received this email from a stranger.

Ms Mockett

I came across your blog, and thinking that maybe you could help me. My hobby is Asian studies and history.
In my studies, I had in my mine what I thought was and is the Japanese woman. I pictured her as a refined, controlling yet in a quiet way and very feminine. At least the ones from a higher social class.

But if you watch Japanese tv and read the mags., one gets a different perspective. You see them dressed like little school girls. I'm not a prude, but come on. It would be hard to have a serious conversation with that person. And they seem to present an "airhead" like mentality. Tell me this is all an act, and that the Japanese woman is a lot deeper
than this. Please set me straight.

Here was my answer.

Well, as an American with a British fiance, I can tell you it is often interesting to learn how we Americans are viewed by those who've only really encountered us through the media! And the reverse is true of course; people
have astounding ideas of what the British must be like (esp the men) based on movies like "Four Weddings and a Funeral."

The truth about Japanese women is equally complex and misleading, especially if you form your opinion just through television. I imagine that as Korea grows more powerful and puts more movies and films out there (and more westerners travel to Korea), we'll start to get a firmer pictures of what Korean women are like through these mediums.

But your question comes at a very interesting time, because I've just finished reading Veronica Chambers' excellent book, "Kickboxing Geishas."
The title notwithstanding, it's an excellent look into the lives of contemporary Japanese women, and if you are really curious about learning how they are viewed by their society and how they view themselves, I recommend you read it. Mind you, I don't work for the publisher or anything like that! It's just that I agree; it's hard to distinguish between the fantasy and the reality. Chambers does an excellent job and you'll learn a lot from her reporting.

Thank you for the question.

I go through periods where I seriously consider not blogging anywhere. Discussions become heated and unruly. Difficult and umpleasant subjects dominate discussion. There was an interesting segment on NPR the other day on how some bloggers, particularly women, find cyberspace to be uncivil and sexist. I'd agree.

But then I get a question like this, that I read as sincere and honest, and I feel like I've made contact with someone and my faith in the internet is revived.

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