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Female Sexuality in Twentieth-Century Japanese Literature: Challenging Gender/ Sexual Norms

November 18 @ 10:15 - 12:00

Kostenlos

Gender equality is a global issue and the fifth goal of the SDGs adopted at the 2015 UN Summit. However, Japan ranks 116th in the Gender Gap Index (GGI) for 2022 published by the World Economic Forum, and when contrasted with Germany, which ranks 10th, there is a large gap between Japan and Germany’s efforts on this common issue. One of the reasons pointed out for Japan’s low ranking in the GGI is the persistence of gender norms, such as the division of social roles based on gender.

In order to explore various aspects of Japanese women’s challenges to these gender norms, this lecture will focus on literary works written by women, particularly in their portrayal of female sexuality. Literature, an art field that is also a reflection of culture and society, has long been considered in Japan as a field in which women can actively participate. In addition to waka poetry, many important works in the fields of diary literature, essay, and novel were written by women in the 10th and 11th centuries and are still recognized as the canonical works of Japanese literature. Although women were no longer regarded as bearers of literature when political power shifted from the aristocracy to the samurai and the position of literature in society changed, many women writers became active again in the modern era.

On the other hand, what is noteworthy about the activities of women in Japanese literature is that female writers have always been expected to produce „feminine“ literary works in line with the gender norms. Women’s gender roles were accompanied by strict sexual norms, and it was considered shameful for women to talk about their sexuality. This lecture will examine the challenges of female writers who attempted to liberate themselves from the gender norms by defying these sexual norms, focusing on two periods: the early 20th century and the 1980s. Starting with Yosano Akiko’s depiction of the female body in Midaregami (Tangled Hair, 1901), followed by an examination of rape and lesbianism by Tamura Toshiko, and adultery by Otsuka Kusuko and Araki Ikuko around 1910, we will reveal how the female voices question the norm. Works from the 1980s, when the postwar period of rapid economic growth gave way to the bubble economy and „women’s social advancement“ became an issue, will also be included in the analysis. What did the straightforward expression of one’s sexuality and sexual desire described in the works of female writers have at that time, and how did they lead to the literature of the 21st century? We will discuss Itō Hiromi’s Aoume (Green Plum, 1982), Yamada Eimi’s Bedtime Eyes (1985), and Matsuura Rieko’s Natural Woman (1987).

Ein Vortrag von HIRAISHI Noriko (Universität Tsukuba) im Rahmen der Online-Ringvorlesung der Universität Bonn, Universität zu Köln und des Japanischen Kulturinstituts Köln.

https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_S_kVUiPNQWyDVjQjdUEZIQ

Veranstalter

Japanisches Kulturinstitut Köln
Universität Bonn
Universität zu Köln