Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Dignifying Japanese Women

Recently there have been many television news reporting the exploitation of young schoolgirls, who are lured by “telephone clubs” into the nadir of pornography and prostitution. According to statistics compiled by researchers, many schoolgirls in Tokyo, including elementary-school girls, have experienced solicitation for sex by older men, in many cases by intellectuals like teachers, doctors, government officials and even politicians. This is unusual in a country that boasts high literacy standards and economic success.

What riles me most of all is the widespread and tacit consent in Japanese society of such immorality. It is acquiescence on behalf of parents, educators and lawmakers that has allowed the obsession of the Japanese male with cuteness to mutate into an obsession that might best be described as lewd.

When I first arrived in Japan, traveling from the airport to my lodging on a cold winter’s night, I was shocked to see teenage girls wearing miniskirts as school uniforms. As the days passed, I became well acquainted with the sight of these girls in their minis. Curious, I asked many Japanese adults about this and their answer was “fashion.” If a girl does not conform with her peers, she will be the laughing stock of her school. What?I was puzzled to hear that.

I think Japanese schoolgirls’ skirts are too short to be considered as part of a decent and proper school uniform. I cannot understand why educators tolerate this kind of fashion sense of these girls, knowing they could attract attention and interest from many “hot-bloodied” predators. I can neither understand why the Japanese government has allowed magazines for adults portraying teenage girls in these uniforms nor why institutions like “telephone clubs,” “love hotels,” etc., help promote promiscuous behavior among young girls. Is this the image of the next generation of respectable and responsible women?

Before it is too late, we should open our eyes and look at this issue as a grave national problem if we really wish to bring dignity to Japanese women.I believe the government must enforce legislation to prevent minors from becoming involved in immoral activities voluntarily and severely punish violators to send the message across in male-dominated Japanese society.

I also believe feminists must come together to educate young women and oppose any institutions and practices that bring indignity to Japanese women. But most important of all, we parents must spend more spiritual time with our daughters and protect them from negative influences of society so that they can earn respect and better circumstances.All this will certainly help save the reputation of the current and future generations of Japanese women.

(This essay was first published in Mainichi Weekly on December 6, 2003)

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