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  • Reorganizations of Gender and Nationalism:Gender Bashing and Loliconized Japanese Society
  • Naitō Chizuko (bio)
    Translated by Nathan Shockey (bio)

Editor's Introduction

Naitō Chizuko is associate professor of modern and contemporary Japanese literature and media in the Faculty of Language and Literature at Ōtsuma University in Tokyo. Her critically acclaimed book Teikoku to ansatsu: Jendaa kara miru kindai Nihon no media hensei (2005, Empires and Assassinations: Gender and the organization of modern Japanese media through gender) was awarded the Women's History Prize. In that study, Naitō draws on her extensive archival research to produce a stunning indictment of the modern Japanese media's storytelling practices and collusion with state aggression and authoritarianism in structural discrimination and oppression. The text that follows pursues many of the same issues and links them with Naitō's interest in contemporary women authors through a discussion of Shōno Yoriko.1

Naitō's research interests also extend to other contemporary women authors, such as Matsuura Rieko and Mizumura Minae, as well as topics including media and literary representations of women's bodies, Ainu, colonies, anarchists, socialists, and infectious disease. She is a founding member of [End Page 325] the Mars Club (Kasei Kurabu), a collective of women scholars working on contemporary Japanese fiction.2 Naitō addresses differential power and the politics of representation in the classroom as well. While many of her courses focus on modern and contemporary Japanese literature and media, she has also taught comparative media studies courses, such as one on the Star Trek series and U.S. imperialism.

Reorganizations of Gender and Nationalism: Gender Bashing and Loliconized Japanese Society

In Japan today, an increasing number of books are published on the subject of "gender bashing," and the word gender itself has been subjected to escalating acts of "bashing." In this paper, I discuss the ways in which "gender bashing" and "loliconized society" (rorikonka suru shakai) are tied to contemporary Japanese neonationalism. To begin, I would like to examine the current state of gender bashing and neonationalism in Japan by drawing on the arguments made in the book Jendā furī toraburu (2005, Gender-free trouble), a cross-sectional inspection of the current state of gender issues in Japan.3 The book was edited by Kimura Ryōko and borrows its title from Judith Butler's 1990 study Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity.4

Following the United Nations' 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, Japan revised its laws to incorporate the conference's resolutions on correcting gender disparities.5 The gender bashing taking place today can be seen as a backlash against these developments. "Radical" sexual education and "gender-free education" (jendā furī kyōiku) have been made the targets of attack by conservative factions, who have gone on to make "gender studies" (jendā sutadīzu; jendā gaku) itself into a target of criticism.

In Japan, the term "gender" (jendā) first became widespread through use of the term "gender-free education." This term, based on Barbara Houston's 1985 article "Should Public Education Be Gender Free?"6 and first used by the Tokyo Women's Foundation, indicates a freedom from gender bias in education. The use of the term "gender free" was at first localized in public offices, but it was soon pointed out to be a "Japanese English" (wasei eigo) term that deviates from standard English grammar. Moreover, as "gender free" is a "bureaucratic" term, many Japanese gender studies researchers elect not to use it. Nonetheless, the term "gender free" has become broadly known through its use in the educational field and in the media, and many feminist studies [End Page 326] scholars approve of the term's aim to rectify the structures of gender discrimination in the educational system.

In response to this movement to advance gender equality in the educational field, many conservative groups have self-righteously circulated falsehoods that "gender-free education completely negates the differences between men and women, and is a dangerous idea with the potential to destroy the traditional culture and family structure of Japan," and argued that gender-free education means "ignoring the differences between boys and girls and allowing them to change clothes in the same room." Such...


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