23 February 2011 ~ 14 Comments

Conversation 2/23/11: I just can’t understand American women!

Conversation with a recently married female private student at a cafe in Yokohama.

Me:…and I came  across an article from a American magazine from the 1950’s about black soldiers marrying Japanese women.

Student: Really? From the 1950’s?

Me: 1953, to be exact. It was amazing!  It had pictures of the couples and everything.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/vieilles_annonces/3655295479/sizes/o/in/photostream/

Student: Wow! Sounds awesome! What did the article say?

Me: Well, it asked the question, “Do Japanese women make better wives?”

She laughed. A guffaw, really.

Student: Are you serious?

Me: Yep. So was the article! And, you should here some of the things the Japanese women said. It was so crazy! Sounded like they were paid to say this nonsense. I mean, it was beyond stereotypical. They were practically caricatures.

Student: Eh? What’s that?

Me:A caricature? it’s like a ridiculous exaggeration. Like anime characters. 

Student: Ah, I get it. So, what did the women say?

Me: I’m almost embarrassed to repeat it.

Student: Go ahead.

I cleared my throat and spoke in my best “dumb blond” voice.

Me: “I think it’s my duty to do my husband’s bidding,” this one woman said. Another said something like, “I think only  what my husband wants me to think! Nothing more, nothing less!”

She laughed loudly. Everyone in the cafe was watching us.

Student: Wow!

Me: Crazy, right? You gotta see it!  I’ll send you a link later. (back to “dumb blond” voice) “I don’t have any friends here in the US! I just can’t understand American women. What can be more important than making your husband happy?”

Student: (ha ha) That is so old-fashioned.

Me: What do you mean?

Student: My mother is just like that.

Me: Really???

Student: I know…but it’s true.  It’s not a…what did you call it? Caricature? Not a caricature! It’s more like a portrait.

Me:….

Student:Some women are still like that even now…but not so many in Tokyo and Yokohama. But, inaka (in the country) is very different.

Me: I’ve never really met women like that in my eight years here. Most of the women I’ve met have been pretty modern. By Japan’s standards, anyway.

Student: It’s changing but very slowly…because of Japanese men. They are so useless. I am so lucky. My husband doesn’t want me to quit my job and be his maid and have babies. But some of my girlfriends, not so lucky. Japanese men are mostly helpless. Their mother’s took care of them until adult, so they never learn to cook or clean or anything. So they just look for a young replacement mother.

Me: You sound like an American girl. They say the same thing.

Student blushes and smiles and grinds her fist against her palm. The sign for (お世辞) oseji or apple-polishing flattery. 

I hadn’t meant it as such.

Loco

 

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14 Responses to “Conversation 2/23/11: I just can’t understand American women!”

  1. RKat 23 February 2011 at 2:16 pm Permalink

    Lol, I can NOT imagine my mother ever saying those words – "I'm lonely but it's worth it, as long as you're happy."

    • Locohama 23 February 2011 at 10:23 pm Permalink

      Yeah, my mother would sooner eat silverware than even think that let alone say it. Thanks for the shout Saboten shorty!.

  2. Bored in Kanagawa 23 February 2011 at 3:41 pm Permalink

    I send my wife a link to this article and asked her jokingly "why can't you be more like them?", and she responded "get in a time machine!" All kidding aside my mother-in-law is exactly like the women in the article the only deference is she tells me how it's sucks behind my father-in-laws back. The first time I tried to help her clear the dinner table he almost had a stroke.

    • Locohama 23 February 2011 at 10:20 pm Permalink

      LOL!! Get in a time machine indeed. I can picture Oyaji having a stroke too. "Hey! What the HELL you think you doing?? This ain't the US…our womens know their place!" Damn damn damn lol
      Thnaks for the shout Yo!

  3. Vin 24 February 2011 at 2:34 am Permalink

    "Japanese men are mostly helpless. Their mother’s took care of them until adult, so they never learn to cook or clean or anything. So they just look for a young replacement mother."

    I call bullshit.

    Since when does paying for everything (paying the bills and the mortgage) and trading your life at a soul-sucking job to feed your family count for nothing?

    Do women think we guys enjoy waking up at the crack of dawn and busting our ass to pay for everything, just to die early? Women need to understand something–given a choice, we'd prefer to be drinking a pina colada on a beach in Thailand.

    I understand the complaint about Japanese men not being able to tie their own shoes. However, as an American man working for his family, I have to step in and defend any man who goes out there and busts his ass to bring home the bacon for his wife and kids.

    We SHOULD be respected. We deserve a back rub from our woman. Otherwise, what's in it for us? Why should a man get married and have kids? (I'll give you a hint, we don't do it because we hate sleep and love working for the man).

    • Locohama 24 February 2011 at 6:53 am Permalink

      I'm with you big guy! LOL That's why i called her that vicious slur "American" but she didn't get it! Thanks for the shout Vin-san

    • Biggie 24 February 2011 at 9:25 am Permalink

      hear hear!

    • kathryn 25 February 2011 at 1:11 am Permalink

      I have to agree with what you are saying. If both partners work then fair enough, they should do an equal share of the housework but if one partner is working outside the home and the other inside the home, then stick to that. If I had a househusband, I wouldn't bitch because he didn't come into work and do his fair share.

    • Rubi 25 February 2011 at 4:46 am Permalink

      I understand the sentiment Vin, Loco, Kat, Biggie, but I'm not sure exactly what precisely you are attacking. Loco's student is voicing her disapproval of the idea that the pinnacle of female achievement is the happiness of their husband. She claims that that value is changing, but slowly and blames the expectations of Japanese men. Here's what she said:

      It’s changing but very slowly…because of Japanese men. They are so useless. I am so lucky. My husband doesn’t want me to quit my job and be his maid and have babies. But some of my girlfriends, not so lucky. Japanese men are mostly helpless. Their mother’s took care of them until adult, so they never learn to cook or clean or anything. So they just look for a young replacement mother.

      My understanding of the statement is that in contrast to her friends, her husband does not want her to quit her job, be his maid, and have babies. She is asserting that the reason why this is the case is that typical Japanese men like her friends' husbands are looking for young replacement mothers.

      Now one could take issue with her argument by pointing her to the evidence that large numbers of Japanese women want children, and want their kotobuki taisha. One could also point to the unrealistic expectations of some of these women regarding the lifestyles they desire after becoming full time housewives, and the subsequent pressures on men to provide. (You would of course be remiss not to then discuss the links between these expectations and patriarchal culture – especially corporate culture, but I digress)

      Basically she's over-egging the custard, but my reading of her argument is not that she's denigrating men's work, but doesn't want to be treated in ways that suggest she's a baby-producing maid.

      Secondly, I think that Vin's counter risks undervaluing the work that women do. It's important to note that the whole "man works outside, woman works inside" division of labour has only really been the province of the middle-class Japan and is unlikely to be the reality for most Japanese. My understanding is that many Japanese women, like their counterparts across the world, go out to work and then come home to do the lion's share of work in the home. So lads, spare a thought when you come home hoping for a back rub to reward your hard work. Your woman just might have worked harder than you did.

    • FuKnWitU 26 February 2011 at 12:16 am Permalink

      "Since when does paying for everything (paying the bills and the mortgage) and trading your life at a soul-sucking job to feed your family count for nothing? "

      If your job is sucking your soul then that's your fucking fault. You shoulda' turned right instead of left.
      You hate your job so you deserve some back rubs because your not happy with your choices?

      "We SHOULD be respected. We deserve a back rub from our woman. Otherwise, what's in it for us? "

      You sound like a fun guy. Bet the ladies are dying to show you appreciation for putting up with the miserable situation you lined up for yourself.

      @Loco
      Sorry to be late. I wanted in on this 🙁

  4. coco3 9 March 2011 at 11:35 pm Permalink

    Nice to meet you.I found this blog recently. There are many interesting articles.
    I agree with this story.
    But recently women have to work because of business depression.
    So men also have to do housework.

    I'm looking forward to reading your blog.
    Thank you for your continued help.

    • Locohama 10 March 2011 at 1:08 am Permalink

      Thanks Coco3, glad you like it (-; Tell your friends too. Yeah there have been a lot of changes in japan even in the 8 years I've been here.

  5. WH 4 December 2011 at 1:26 am Permalink

    Hey! My professor is doing a bunch of research on the female diaspora. Something about tracking how Japanese women moved around different parts of the world throughout history, and the way it was reflected in modern literature. I remembered this post and I told her about it. She seemed interested so I looked this post up again. Just wanted to let you know!


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