Women’s Fates In Japanese Films

Women’s Fates in Western Films

  • Introduction

    The Japan society could become classified as patriarchal whereby women are usually seen as poor and their spot reaches home in order to take care associated with their own families. This created belief that ladies are subordinate and submissive has infiltrated the film-making industry where such themes continue to the perpetuated. The societal perception towards the place of women is changing, albeit slowly, but the majority of Japanese films, especially those produced during the post-war era, seem to promote the traditional roles of females. After the war, Japanese women started demanding recognition in the public sphere, but they were accused of pursuing toxic feminism – one that would tear the societal and the moral fabric of the communities.

    Women agitation for equal rights and recognition would be countered with the discourse of their role as mothers and their place in the family. Most films made during this time contributed to this debate by portraying women as incapable beings that could only stand with the support of their abled male counterparts. This paper explores the role of women in Japanese films by looking at how females are portrayed in different movies and their place in society. Women in Japanese films are portrayed as weak, submissive, and sex objects to gratify men’s amorous urges. In addition , the place associated with women in Japan films reaches house where they may be anticipated to bear, increase children, and keep their families with each other.

    The Characterization of girls in Japan Films

    The Pest Woman is the masterpiece film simply by Imamura Shohei discovering the life associated with a strong-willed lady as she challenges to survive within the quickly updating post-war Japan. The particular protagonist, Tome, will be born into the chaotic Japan inside the early 20 th century where battle and economic downturn are the purchase of the day time. However, despite becoming strong-minded, she actually is emaciated by the images associated with ladies and their functions in society. 1st, she is bizarrely raped by the girl boss, who is actually her neighbor. This particular portrayal fits very well into the post-war Japanese film-making industry which was riddled with sexually-themed movies. Vicari posits that during this era, “a Japanese male is permitted to rape or otherwise exploit women as a type of succor, with women loving him for it or at least never complaining” (85). The culture of raping women in Japanese culture was deeply entrenched in the mainstream way of thinking. For instance, imperial Japanese soldiers held this eccentric belief that if they raped virgins they would succeed in battle. They allegedly wore “amulets made from the pubic hair of such victims, believing that they possessed magical powers against injury” (Vicari 85). Therefore, it does not come as a surprise that Tome, despite being a determined woman, perhaps independent, is painted in a way that generalizes her weaknesses when you are portrayed as the sex object.

    This one some weakness, which she are not able to whatever it takes about this, overshadows all the girl other achievements. Actually after moving towards the industrialized regions associated with Japan, the just job she may find is the particular one that objectifies her body – prostitution. She turns into a mercenary procuress where she sleeps along with countless clients which includes her retarded dad. Ultimately, she will be betrayed by some other girls and the girl is imprisoned prior to one of the girl patrons turns with her daughter for sex gratification. After appearing out of prison, Tome earnings to her town, her home, due to the fact which is where the girl belongs, as the woman. The characterization of women within Insect Woman is grotesque, but this fits well into the particular narrative they are poor, dependent, sex items with limited functions in society.

    In Woman associated with Tokyo, a 1933 film by Yasujiro Ozu, the leading part, Chikako, suffers the particular same characterization of girls being weak, indecisive individuals whose location is at house raising families. Chikako’s role is in order to take care associated with her brother, Ryoichi, that is an college student. Ironically, Chikako is not because educated, and therefore the meager income that she will get from her work are barely enough. Therefore , she moonlights at a cabaret bar, where she occasionally engages in prostitution. Here is a young woman tasked with a herculean task of supporting her brother’s education even to the highest levels of learning. However, instead of being painted as a hard-working person trying to fulfill duties that would otherwise belong to her parents, her prostituting ways take the center stage.

    When her ungrateful brother, Ryoichi, learns about Chikako’s wayward behaviors, he has the audacity to confront and assault her verbally and physically. The least he could have done is to be grateful that his sister is trying her best to keep him in school. In an unexpected turn of events, Ryoichi commits suicide, perhaps unable to handle the humiliation and disgrace of being associated with a prostituting sister. The storyline is the same here, women are not enough and they cannot amount to anything. Even in their tireless endeavors to support families – a role thrust upon them by society, they do not seem in order to have it right. Chikako suffers the exact same fate of girls within Japanese films where she is colored as an indecisive weak woman, in spite of her selflessness within the search for get care of the girl thankless brother.

    Rashomon, a 1950 psychological thriller movie by Akira Kurosawa, can be another movie propagating male dominance whilst at the exact same time suppressing ladies voices. A samurai is dead, plus the audience will be taken through tales of four witnesses towards the murder – the bandit, the particular wife, the samurai, as well as the woodcutter. Upon the bandit’s accounts, he claims which he killed the samurai in a pendule fighting for the particular wife. Allegedly, the particular bandit tied the particular samurai on the tree, brought his spouse to the picture, seduced her in to sexual intercourse, plus later battled the particular samurai to dying. While this accounts of events may be compelling, it will not seem sensible. This is clear that this bandit raped the particular wife, but the particular issue is not really even discussed. The particular wife’s story will be different and even more credible. She promises that this bandit raped her in front side of her linked husband and remaining. She unties the girl husband and begs for forgiveness to be raped. Ironically, she actually is asking to become forgiven for becoming a victim associated with rape, however the spouse is not prepared to accord her like wishes.

    The samurai alleges any time the bandit raped her wife, the girl voluntarily left along with him. The woodcutter apparently saw the particular rape of the particular wife as well as the killing of the samurai, but he will not testify. Despite the particular conflicting account associated with so what happened, the problem of rape will be silenced throughout the particular movie. Lofgren states, “Frequently missing through the critical discussion is the original crime of rape committed against the wife which is an absent presence in the film” (113). A serious crime has been committed here, but it is unimportant because women are expected to be raped – after all, they are sex objects for men. As such, this film succeeds in trivializing the role and place of women in Japanese culture and society.

    In the film, A Japanese Tragedy, the director, Keisuke Kinoshita, explores the role of women as family creators and providers despite the underlying circumstances. The war was one of the greatest tragedies of Japan, and in its wake, it left untold suffering specifically for widowed mothers. The particular protagonist, Haruko Inoue, is a widow and he or she is expected in order to look after her 2 children. With no means that to support the girl family adequately, the girl lives in shoddy poverty together along with her children, yet she saves each coin to pay for all of them a decent schooling. Haruko hangs in the local taking in places that she will be occasionally paid in order to have sex in order to supplement her inadequate finances. The movie follows the typical storyline in many Japanese films, exactly where women are demonstrated to be uncreative, and therefore often these people consider prostitution because the only practical way of earning money.

    The story could be various whereby Haruko is unaffected by chances to level the organization ladder influenced from the need in order to provide for the girl children. However, this type of line of believing will be unpopular along with the potential customers associated with the film. Consequently , she has in order to be built in the particular common narratives plus ultimately become the prostitute. Interestingly, the girl children do not really appreciate her non selfish efforts, and therefore right after getting a great education, they refuse her. This style is similar in order to that of Woman of Tokyo whereby Ryoichi ungratefully disapproves her sister’s wedding in prostitution in spite of being a named beneficiary of such actions. This issue associated with dependents being tough to the attempts of girls to offer for their family members underscores a turned entrenched belief concerning the role of women in the family members. The area of ladies as providers plus caregivers is viewed as the duty, not the privilege to the dependents. This explains why Ryoichi commits suicide and Haruko’s children disown her with a sense of entitlement without having appreciating the surrender designed for them in order to get a good education. Ultimately, women’s place and functions in society stay unchanged.

    Tompopo by Juzo Itami is a 85 a comedy movie having a troubling characterization of girls. Produced within 1985, it might be anticipated that the movie would paint ladies differently from some other movies made within the 1950s whenever Japanese women had been struggling to become noticed and valued within the public world. Even though the particular film departs through the disparaging characterization of women because prostitutes, it retreats into another subtle method of belittling feminine characters as voiceless individuals in community. Tampopo is really a widow, but she gets worked well hard to begin a business, even although it is having difficulties. Two truck motorists, Goro and Weapon, come to the girl aid when she actually is harassed by the customer known because Pisken. When the girl asks the motorists about their viewpoint concerning her noodles, Goro indicates that even though they are “sincere”, they “lack personality. ” Instead associated with the film concentrating on Tampopos hard function, her weaknesses turn out to be the central stage of plot advancement.

    Goro requires charge from the company and Tampopo, in spite of being the creator, operates from at the rear of the scenes. The particular film views ladies from the Freudian see of the paternal community whereby a lady “stands in patriarchal culture like a signifier for the males other, bound with a symbolic order by which man can live his phantasies plus obsessions through linguistic command by impacting them on the particular silent image associated with woman” (Iles 70). In other terms, women are simply bearers, not manufacturers of meaning. Therefore, they are uninventive, plus they cannot be successful by themselves. The movie underlines this idea by painting Tampopo like a struggling company owner and the girl saviors are naive truck drivers. This particular portrayal of Tampopo promotes the story that women are usually weak, voiceless, reliant beings lacking the particular spine to remain on their personal.

    In an additional film, When the Woman Ascends the steps, Mikio Naruse, the particular director continues in order to advance the story that ladies cannot be successful by themselves. Their just hope is in order to depend on males for success or even become prostitutes. This particular view is calumniatory, however it is common amongst Japanese films. Within the film, the young widow, Keiko, has to get care of the girl family, and therefore she finds function as a person hosting in Ginza discos. She is decided on open her personal club and turn out to be independent and effective. However, the movie changes the story plot in order to fit this smart woman full associated with integrity into the particular mainstream viewpoints associated with seeing women because weak dependents. Keiko faces an apparently insurmountable task associated with raising capital in order to start her new company. However, she offers the choice of marrying the rich man in order to earn her solution to success. On the other hand, she could turn out to be a mistress for some of her wealthy patrons and generate some money upon the side.

    The film will not pursue the story where Keiko may open her golf club and become the successful business proprietor. Upon the contrary, the particular storyline throws the particular protagonist in to the standard struggles that ladies possess to face within society. Keiko draws near some wealthy customers to lend the girl money, but these people are unwilling in order to do so – they would like to pay the girl for sex. The girl desires for ever buying a business are usually silenced after becoming hospitalized with peptic ulcers. When the girl resumes work, the girl reluctantly starts interesting a heavy-set guy with the wish of marrying your pet. Nevertheless , he becomes out to become a fraud plus Keiko shifts the girl focus to Fujisaki, a married plus successful businessman. This individual promises to provide her money in order to start her personal business if the girl agrees to rest with him, plus Keiko obliges. Nevertheless, Fujisaki flees right after the sex without having keeping his guarantee. Ultimately, Keiko breaks in the ambition to possess a business, plus she resigns in order to the fate associated with working as the hostess. This motion picture twists an in any other case promising storyline plus reverts towards the normal themes in Japan films where ladies must rely on men for any form of success.

    In the film, Dolls, by Takeshi Kitano, women are portrayed as weaklings, which is surprising given that this movie was made in 2002. Someone would expect the Japanese filmmakers to have evolved to embrace a different view of women in the twenty-first century. Regrettably, even in the 2000s, women continue to be portrayed as voiceless, weak beings that have to cling to their male counterparts for audio decision-making. In the first story of the film, Matsumoto and his fiancée, Sawako, are about to get married as they continue sharing their undying love for each other. However, in an unexpected turn of events, Matsumoto’s boss, a president of a large corporation, wants him (Matsumoto) to marry his daughter instead of Sawako. Matsumoto is reluctant to accept this offer, but he ultimately abandons Sawako for her boss’ daughter. Feeling betrayed, Sawako tries to commit suicide and even though she is saved, she becomes insane. Two issues about the negative portrayal of women in Japanese films arise in this case.

    First, Matsumoto’s boss chooses a husband for his daughter. This act underscores the fact that women are seen as indecisive and poor decision-makers, hence weaklings. The boss cannot trust his daughter to make the right choice and decide whom to marry. Second, Sawako is painted as faint-hearted, which explains why she cannot deal with Matsumoto’s rejection. She thus decides to commit suicide instead of fighting to assert her place. In another story in the film, Hito leaves his childhood sweetheart, Rykyo, to look for wealth so that they could live a good life. Before he leaves, Rykyo promises him that she would visit the park every Saturday carrying lunch to see if he had returned. After many years, Hito returns and finds Rykyo still waiting for him at the park. However, he is too embarrassed to introduce himself to Rykyo because he has been gone for many years. While this act could be interpreted to underscore the power of love, it also paints women as weak. This argument explains why Rykyo spends years waiting for a man who promises to come back with wealth for a better life. She could have moved on with her life, but she is a weakling who cannot make such an important decision.


    Japanese film-making has borrowed heavily from its patriarchal culture whereby women are seen as weak, dependent, sex objects that have to lean on their male counterparts for any meaningful success in life. Specifically, the theme of women using prostitution (sex objects) as a way of earning a living is common in Japanese films. Out of the seven movies analyzed in this paper, five of them carry the theme of prostitution. In The Insect Woman, Tome, a strong-willed woman becomes a mercenary procuress after being raped by her boss and neighbor. The culture of rape is also common in Japanese films. However, this culture is entrenched in society and imperial soldiers would routinely defile virgins with the hope of becoming lucky and successful in the battlefields.

    In Rashomon, the samurai’s wife is raped bizarrely by the bandit, but this topic is not even explored. The film is silent on this heinous crime, which is the genesis of the movie’s storyline. In Woman of Tokyo, Chikako becomes a prostitute to get enough money to support his brother at the university. Similarly, Haruko, the protagonist in A Japanese Tragedy, chooses to engage in sex for money to cater for her two children. In When a Woman Ascends the Stairs, Keiko comes out as an intelligent woman, but she is ultimately compelled to sell sex to raise capital for her business. In Dolls, Sawako tries to commit suicide, Matsumoto’s daughter cannot choose whom to marry, and Rykyo waits for years to be reunited with his lover. In these movies, as representatives of Japanese films, women’s body is objectified, which explains why the majority of them turn to prostitution. They come out as weaklings, and thus they have to depend on men. Additionally , their role in society is to remain at home to bear and raise children.

    Works Cited

    A Japanese Tragedy. Directed by Keisuke Kinoshita, Shochiku, 1953.

    Dolls. Directed by Takeshi Kitano, Bandai Visual Company, 2002.

    Iles, Timothy. The Crisis of Identity in Contemporary Japanese Film: Personal, Cultural, National. Brill, 2008.

    Lofgren, Erik. “The Interstitial Feminine and Male Dominance in Rashōmon. ” Journal of Japanese and Korean Cinema, vol. 7, no . 2, 2015, pp. 113-132.

    Rashomon. Directed by Akira Kurosawa, Daiei Motion Picture Company, 1950.

    The Insect Woman. Directed by Shohei Imamura, Nikkatsu, 1963.

    Tompopo. Directed by Juzo Itami, Itami Productions, 1985.

    Vicari, Justin. Japanese Film and the Floating Mind: Cinematic Contemplations of Being. McFarland, 2016.

    When a Woman Ascends the Stairs. Directed by Mikio Naruse, Toho Company, 1960.

    Woman of Tokyo. Directed by Yasujiro Ozu, Shochiku, 1933.

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