Gender, representation and identity

The multifold politics of Japanese woman imagery

Authored by: Aya Kitamura

Routledge Handbook of East Asian Gender Studies

Print publication date:  December  2019
Online publication date:  November  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138959897
eBook ISBN: 9781315660523
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter explores the multifold politics of Japanese women imagery. It first critically analyses sociopolitical construction processes of the Orientalist and sexist stereotypes, and subsequently explores how individual Japanese women live the images in their everyday lives. In-depth interviews with Japanese women with international experiences highlight how women’s performances are diverse, fluid and ambivalent, and their identities – the effect and not the cause of the enactments – are shifting and unstable. As such, rather than attempting to define Japanese-women-ness, this chapter provides a feminist ethnography in which a researcher, a Japanese woman herself, encounters the women’s agency to subvert the powerful gaze.

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