Japan Today not very well-endowed; to die old, alone

I touched in passing on the issue of Japan Today’s blatant sexism/objectification of women in a recent post, but the situation has escalated beyond the means of mere mention. From singers to actresses, to misleading headlines and inappropriate reporting, the entertainment section is the worst offender. Yesterday, the article “Kyoko Hasegawa makes sexy comeback after having first child” focused entirely on how rocking Hasegawa’s new body is on the cover of anan magazine. A staff member from the magazine is quoted as saying: “She’s even thinner than before her pregnancy. But her bust remains bigger, so her figure is just awesome now.” Every woman should get pregnant so they can reap all those awesome, painless physical benefits!

The brief item concerning JUJU’s performance at the Japanese premiere of Disney’s A Christmas Carol focuses entirely on a joking comment she made about wishing she were lucky enough to spend Christmas with a man (and I realize that Christmas in Japan is more of a romantic holiday than a family one, but seriously?) with the headline “JUJU looking for man to spend Christmas with.” I must have missed something because nowhere did I read JUJU saying she was looking for anything. Inference and misquotation: two of the great fundementals of journalism.

Men on this web site very rarely have to deal with topics of relationships or how well they should keep their bodies looking; every time an engagement, relationship confirmation, or break-up occurs it focuses on the female half, bestowing the woman with chief responsibility/scorn. When Yumi Yoshimura and Nao Omori split, the headline read “Puffy’s Yumi Yoshimura back on the single scene.” How’s Omori doing? No one cares! Men have more important things to do then worry about relationships! He has his whole life ahead of him! And anyway, according to the commentary left by readers, it’s the woman’s fault if she failed to look pretty enough to nab a man before she got super old and no one wanted her. They probably broke up because “she couldn’t be bothered to comb her hair” writes one reader; “[s]he got no chance of finding happy hubby time now at 34 – a lifetime of host clubs awaits…” writes another.

As an extension, reporters seem to constantly badger women on the topic of their love life even when their appearance at movie premieres and charity events has nothing to do with their personal lives.

“Reporters at the event wasted no time getting into Hoshino’s private life, asking yet again about her rumored relationship with JRA jockey Kosei Miura, 19. […] Hoshino deflected further questions about her love life with her light saber, but was kept in the spotlight by the storm trooper at her side.”

“Actress Yu Yamada, 25, shocked crowds in Ikebukuro on Saturday when she appeared at the illumination ceremony of the Christmas tree in Sunshine City’s fountain plaza with her beautiful brown locks cut short by 30 cm. Jumping to conclusions, reporters immediately questioned if something had happened between Yamada and her beau, 26-year-old actor Shun Oguri…”

Actress Meisa Kuroki, 21, lined up with actresses Rinko Kikuchi, 28, and Hinako Saeki, 32, this week to announce the completion of their upcoming sci-fi movie “Assault Girls.” […] When asked if she was attracted by the allure of older men – a reference to her rumored relationship with kabuki actor Shindo Nakamura, 37 – she replied: “What are you trying to make me say?!”

“Model Yuri Ebihara, 30, attended an event in Tokyo this week to promote the sale of DVDs of the first season of American drama “Gossip Girl.” […] Ebi-chan is rumored to be seeing ILMARI, 34, of hip hop group RIP SLYME, and she looked like she had grown a bit weary of questions about her private life.”

It’s sort of hard to exclusively poke fun at Japan Today: to examine this type of “reporting” is to examine the actual system at work in Japan. Most promotional events feature women, rather than men, dressed up in cute outfits, a lot of emphasis is placed on awards bestowed upon women for their physical attributes – prettiest hairstyles, greatest legs – to give women an incentive to focus on and value their appearance above all else, and most reporters ask women questions dealing with their personal lives or fashion sense rather than their body of work (a reminder of where a woman’s “real” achievement is). I’d be very interested if anyone has any other examples of such egregious reporting in the Japanese press, or if Japan Today is a sort of very cruel exception to the rule (if I was as bad a reporter, I would instantly assume that with such a rampant, shallow focus on women, sexism isn’t just alive, but thriving in the Japanese press).

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6 thoughts on “Japan Today not very well-endowed; to die old, alone

  1. Lisa November 15, 2009 / 7:44 pm

    I like that you’re writing about this, it’s important. I don’t know jack about Japanese culture, but even in American culture it’s no different. Can’t a woman ever be pretty enough? Or be ok without being in a relationship? Men are nice, that’s fine, but we won’t die today without one.

    And a good lasting relationship isn’t about what you look like, because you sure as hell won’t have the same body as time passes on, nor will the person you’re with. It’s personality that’s the real gift inside the polished box.

    It’s disgusting and I’ll tell you something. Most men prefer a woman with some meat on her bones. It’s called curves, ladies. And it’s healthy. Now go eat something.

    • Anna November 16, 2009 / 11:21 am

      Can I get a witness?

      • noonan November 16, 2009 / 12:46 pm

        Amen!

  2. noonan November 16, 2009 / 12:57 pm

    Totally agree with this, but, from what I know about the last 30 years or so of Japanese culture, this shouldn’t come as a huge shock. It wasn’t too long ago (maybe 25, 30 years) when women in Japan weren’t supposed to leave an elevator or train before men. Despite improvments on many fronts, there are still some pretty strong sexist undertones in Japanese culture. 2 years ago, when I was in Tokyo I held the door for a girl I was on a date with, and she was dumbfounded when I expected her to pass through the door first. There were several instances like this through the course of our short relationship, where I got the vibe that she was expecting me to treat her like crap, and wasn’t sure how to act when I didn’t. Personal anecdotes aside, no matter what progress away from sexism a society makes, it could take forever for the popular media to reflect that progress. Just look at the American, British or any other Western press. They may be better than Japantoday but they are not what most would call “enlightened.”

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