Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Trouble Ahead!

My day job consists of many tasks, including: conducting telephone-based English conversation practice, managing the receipt and review of corporate student evaluations, reporting student attendance and reading/proofing/correcting/grading student essays. The corporate business English students are all University seniors or salaried employees with prominent firms in Japan.

Students have certain topics to write about based on their course level and unit within the text. Sometimes topics are basic picture description, giving written directions, or writing a short "introduction" role-play. Higher levels write about the changing employment system, issues with working overseas, and gender roles. The gender role essay always provides me hours of amusement. Or bemusement. Or confusion. Sometimes irritation. And...I see trouble ahead with Japanese couples....

Following is an example of an essay on gender roles in Japan I have received. This essay is pretty representative of 90% of the essays I receive from the MALE students! (Their ages are 24-35)

In Japan, men should work in the offices and women take care of the house. It is okay for women to work when they are single. But when they get married they should think about quitting. It is because they need to keep the houseworks and house for their family. This is because Japanese care about family so women must take care of the house because men have to work long hours and sometimes can only have time at home on weekends.

Also, women are not really suited for working out of the home. They are not strong physically and get sickness when they have to work long hours. It is also to hard for them to work as managers because if they have to tell someone something strongly, they can get mental problems.

What kind of essay do I get from women? About 90% of the WOMEN say something like this...

I think it is important for women to have work outside the home. It gives them more life satisfaction with themselves and even their families. I am working hard on my career and want to be successful.

I am not married right now but hope to find my life mate someday. I hope he will support that I want to work. When we have children I hope that after I take a short leave he will support me going back to work and help with the children. Some companies now even offer a child care leave for men so maybe he can take a leave.

I think it is good for parents to be with their children and I hope companies will make changes so people do not have to stay so late at work and both parents have more family time. I hope my husband will help with the houseworks too. It is not fair for only woman to do the work if they both work. Many men can do houseworks and take care of children. I think that the choice of working or staying home should be made by each couple to their own choice and not only by a tradition.


So, here are some statistics....give or take a few points...

Just going on my students:
90% of the men want traditional roles to stand
90% of the women want newer roles and freedom of choice

"Professionally" obtained, and published statistics in Japan:
45% of women want to be housewives
71% of women become full-time housewives after they have a child

Doing a little math here....
29% of the women maintain their goal of working outside the home
26% of the women feel obligated/forced to give up their goal of working

I can see trouble ahead...will some of these men relent in their hardline traditional approach? Will some women be forced to give up their goals? Will some of these men and women stay single as they can not find a partner who accepts their viewpoint? Will there be brawls in the street between couples?


  1. But did you consider that the type of women who are perfectly happy to get married, pop out a few kids and spend the rest of their lives ironing the hubby's shirts are probably not that interested in taking English lessons?

  2. That would be the 10% female student essays I have that write essays that sound pretty much like the 90% male essay I get.

    Admittedly, some of those ladies looking to become housewives do take English lessons, so they can chat up the Western guys as potential mates.

    Either way - and although my small sampling as well as published stats don't come to an exact 100%, there are definitely more "old school" men that will either need to update their opinion, change a J-girls mind on career, or travel to some Southeastern Asian country with women even more oppressed - should they want to marry.

    Or they can marry their pillow, video game character, etc.

  3. Annnnd this is why Japan is bloody doomed.