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Category: International, Media

Progressive Girls' Voices Blogger: Representation of women through Japanese Media

| June 15, 2011

In the real world, the Japanese gender ratios are in fact quite equal. Overall, it has been found, for every women represented on Japanese television, two men are represented.In family shows or women's magazines, the ratio of men to women is more proportionate. But when it comes to action-drama television or cartoons, there are five men for every woman. When family or household products are being sold though, a far greater amount of women are used to market products. 

Television has become a major player in household life throughout many countries. In Japan, the television was seen as on of "three sacred treasures" in family life, followed by the washing machine and refrigerator. These treasures represented status throughout Japanese culture. As the husbands began to stay at work later to pay the ever-more-expensive bills, women spent more times with the T.V. than their husbands. This was the beginning of the targeting of women through media. Trying to capture the attention of housewives, shows referred to as "wide shows" began to market the 'ideal' wife.

The age of the women used is also a very slim one. There is a ten-year difference in the average are of women viewed in the media and that of men. On television or in magazines, 70% of females usually range in age from their late teens to early thirties. Men usually range in an average age from their thirties to fifties. It is important to also note how this limits the job capacity for Japanese women. If they can only be in front of the camera until their thirties, they are then left jobless after the slightest hint of aging. The social norms of beauty expectations limit women's ability to grow through society. With men, it is evident that there is far more leeway. There is far less of an expectation for them to be visually appealing to the eye. You would think that this is because there is a larger male population watching these media sources - yet as I mentioned earlier, women are stereotypically at home as their husbands work. So they too are being targeted by the idealistic looks of women.

A hopefully improving attribute of the Japanese media is its beginning recognition of transgender women. The media is beginning to view these women as fashion icons and therefore inspirations for many. They still although avoid the subject of hardships or rejections from society that these women have faced. Still dressing transgender women in short skirts and perfect makeup, the Japanese media still struggles with entirely accepting these women for who they are. "The media does not want to show a woman having a male mind, or women deviating from hetronormative relationship because women in Japan, like in many countries, are seen as someone who put order in the society."

Another large sexualization of women can be seen through the incredibly popular anime cartoons of Japanese culture. It is ridiculous that these women are portrayed as powerful fighters yet also have a pornographic look to them also. It seems a contradicting message - you can be a strong, independent women, but only if you have the idealistic body and run around in skimpy clothing. It is horrible that this cartoon style degrades women as so and is still accepted so popularly by society. It is a cartoon and therefore not real. It doesn't make sense that these virtual realities for what a woman should look like put so much pressure on how women are told to be in real life. It is physically not possible for women to look as a cartoon depicts them to be - yet the lengths females go to to fit into these idealisms show a serious need for change.

Throughout Japanese culture it seems that women are view first and foremost as objects and sexual ones at that. The male population runs societal expectations and women are expected to fall into those stereotypes. It is a problem that should not be silenced any longer. Through the spreading of awareness in this issue along with educating how to break free of these stereotypes on a personal level, a change in this mentality can be achieved.

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