What does Tokugawa Ieyasu know about

Before daybreak for women
A socio-historical essay

"If we do not study our own history and report on it, women will remain trapped in the various forms of slave existence for all eternity and lose the freedom that they have gained with difficulty".

Josephine Donovan: "Feminist Theory" (2)

In Japan there is extreme male rule (danseishijô-shakai). But the situation of Japanese women is only called pitiable and incomprehensible for the present time abroad. Few of them realize how deep their problems are. There are reasons.

Edwin O. Reischauer reports how, in his youth, he was greatly impressed by the fact that Japanese wives of the twenties took a step behind their husbands as if they were afraid of him (3). Even in the second half of the 1930s, the time when my memory began, women went after their husbands.

After the Second World War there were still enough women who immediately after a middle education married a man whom their parents chose, became a housewife and gave selfless devotion (mushi no kenshin) considered a woman's highest virtue.

Many young women today are certainly of the opinion that we Japanese women have become emancipated because we study, love and work before marriage and that we could be satisfied with what we have achieved.

But were women of the twenties and thirties aware of their misfortune? Probably not. These women compared their situation with that in the second half of the 19th century, before the modernization of Japan.

And the women around 1870? They, in turn, could still remember the Edo period (1603-1868) (4), which had just ended, when the situation of women was much worse.

The first British ambassador, Alcock, who came to Japan in 1859, complained that one could not meet women in Japan except prostitutes and women of the lower classes - especially unmarried girls (5). When we see on television today that there are only men on the streets in Islamic countries, many are sure to feel uncomfortable. It was the same in Japan 130 years ago.

That the Japanese have a weak memory for them unpleasant facts of their own history can be seen in the example of the Second World War. The point of view: "Everything was fine up to the Edo period" is currently dominating science, intellectuals and the mass media. The men who have these areas under control and the women who believe them form the basis of the Japanese male rule mentioned above .

The Portuguese missionary Luis Frois landed in Japan in 1563 and summarized the difference between European and Japanese culture in a small book (6).

The Japanese women, as he portrayed them, were freer than contemporary European women. While in Europe young women valued their immaculate honor, Japanese women did not value virginity. In Europe, the couple owns the property, but in Japan the woman owns her own property. Sometimes she lends it to her husband at high interest. In Europe the man goes in front and the woman behind him, but in Japan the woman goes in front and the man behind her. And so on.

Unfortunately, Frois only grasped the last lights of the matrilineal society that was just coming to an end (bokeishakai).

The laws passed by the military commanders of each region in the 15th and 16th centuries specifically state that the killing (satsugai) of the wife and the adulterous duty of the husband's family. And also the Japanese word mekake, which denotes the second woman, came up in the 16th century. The Japanese today believe mekake was simply the man's mistress, but she was part of the family within the marital system and lived with the woman under the same roof.

The Spanish merchant Avila Giron, who was also living in Japan at the time, reported that the Japanese could kill a wife just by watching her talk to another man (7).

About 20 years later, a Dutch merchant named Francois Caron writes:

"In Japan, if a man sees that his wife is in a room with another man in a room with the door closed, he can kill both husband and wife, even if nothing has happened". (8)

In the early 17th century, military commander Ieyasu Tokugawa established a hereditary government in Edo. This began the 260-year Edo Period and the Tokugawa Constitution came into effect.

This made love to women (onna no renai) to a crime that the husband, regardless of social class, could punish with death.

Love was forbidden for married women, of course, but also for concubines, widows, unmarried girls, maids, prostitutes - in short, for all women.

Of course, it was impossible to eradicate sexual feelings of love in women. Executions for women cheating on their husbands became less common in the later Edo period. But it still happened. Above all, it was easy to extend the prohibition of sexual love by women to a prohibition of all forms of resistance by women.

For example, in the middle of the 18th century, a farmer killed his wife who had contradicted him in words. The court agreed with the husband.

In this way, Japanese women became the "most submissive women in the world" (sekaiichi jûjunna onna) made.

The world of man and woman was completely separated. A normal woman did not come into contact with men. "The men are outside, the women inside (otoko wa soto, onna wa uchi) ". This phrase from ancient China became a household word among male intellectuals in the Tokugawa period. Behind it were Confucianist opinions about the role of men and women and about the relationship between the sexes. They dominated then and continue to have an impact today.

The author of the book "Kagyôden"(Tradition of family businesses) (9) writes in the first half of the 19th century: If work outside the home is inevitable for the women in the village, one should avoid a man and a woman working in pairs. On an illustration in a textbook The following scene is shown for elementary education from the second half of the 18th century: A male teacher teaches small children from the merchant class, the boys 'seats are in the front half of the classroom, the girls' seats are in the back half. The picture is provided with the advertising text: "Don't worry, parents, educate your children with us, because in this school the girls 'and boys' seats are separated by a curtain." (10)

Prostitution paradise

Originally there was no philosophy or religion in Japan that suppressed or criminalized sexual needs.

If women disappear from sight in such a country, it is easily possible that women in the minds of men become beings who were only created to meet their erotic needs.

Women in a society that is used to sexual freedom quickly follow the needs of men - especially in extreme poverty.

It was in the 16th century that prostitutes (baishunfu) suddenly came to the fore in Japanese history. The members of the military nobility (bushi) began to lock their wives and concubines in the house. Both at home and during the war they enjoyed prostitutes who could also sing, dance and make music. Those were the so-called geinin-shôfu (literally: artist prostitutes). Well-calculated merchants asked the authorities for approval for public brothel streets.

The Tokugawa government allowed the establishment of a public brothel district in Yoshiwara, Edo, in 1617. The government thought that this would limit the place of sexual pleasure in Edo to Yoshiwara, but the suppression of prostitution by permitting prostitution is an absurd policy in every country with no prospect of success. In Edo it was a particularly absurd policy. The population of the early Edo period consisted largely of the military on business trips and commuting merchants and farmers. Even as late as the mid-18th century, Edo's female population was only 35 percent. A night with a luxury prostitute in Yoshiwara initially cost as much as a car today.

A licensed prostitute (kôshô) Offering in such a place is like letting a pack of starving wolves smell the smell of meat.

The situation got worse the more the hunt for private prostitution increased in Edo. While the prostitutes who masked their work with artistic performances, thegeinin-shôfu, arrested, women turned up in the city doing prostitution in baths. Baths were popping up all over Edo.

Ordinary girls were also called into samurai homes to play instruments, sing and dance, imitating prostitutes performing art. That was the hour of birth geishawho was later made the "representative" of the Japanese woman!

When the government banned baths, prostitution shifted to teahouses and restaurants. Next, the hotels in the suburbs were overflowing with women who were prostitutes and chambermaids at the same time.

The secret prostitutes arrested were sent to Yoshiwara. As a result of the greater supply, the price of public prostitution fell, and the circle of consumers eventually expanded to include the lower class.

The most striking thing about the prostitution system of the Edo period was its remarkable quantity. As a result, the Japanese unconsciously view not only prostitutes but every woman as a sexual object.

At the end of the Edo period there were said to have been 60,000 prostitutes only in Edo (out of a population of 600-700,000). (11)

In Yoshiwara alone there were 5,000 prostitutes working at the end of the Edo period. This Yoshiwara was a tiny patch of 200-300 m in each direction. A report from October 1855 indicates the number of guests. At that time, the brothels were operated temporarily because Yoshiwara burned down after an earthquake. Almost 700,000 men visited the brothel district in four months. Such "prostitution paradises" existed everywhere in Japan, also in villages and especially along travel routes.

Of course, it was not only the large number that was a problem, but also the social conditions in which the prostitutes lived. Most of them were sold into prostitution by their parents. In order to amortize the money that was paid to the parents, the girls were exploited and treated badly.

The bodies of women who were punished with death, who killed themselves, who died of malnutrition and disease, were sent to the nearest temple. These temples were nagekomidera(Disposable Temple) called. One such temple is the Seikaku-ji temple in Tôkyô. The bones there are the remains of the beautiful women that can be seen in Japanese woodblock prints (ukiyo-e) sees.

Japanese wear when they are traditionally dressed tabi called socks. A look at the ukiyo-e shows that licensed prostitutes (kôshô) and animators (geisha) of the second half of the Edo period none tabi carried. It was forbidden for them, even in winter. In this way they had to show their special status.

So everyone knew about the true state of affairs. But when people get used to something, they stop looking at it as a misfortune. It is now popular in Japan that the prostitutes of the Edo period were not particularly unhappy. In the Edo period it was taken for granted and until 30 years ago no one was surprised when poor parents sold their daughters - which may still happen today.

In this climate a peculiar phenomenon arose in Japan, which Sigmund Freud would have enjoyed.

From the beginning of the 19th century the custom of hanging penis models in apartments and giving penis models in shrines as an offering spread among the lower classes. The "phallicistic" prayers went something like this: "Please let me meet a good man (or a good woman) and please don't let me get syphilis ..."

Since at that time there was nothing to be found in a man sexually molesting women there while visiting another house, not even the middle class women who only lived in their house were safe from sexual harassment.

That is why the women withdrew immediately after greeting the guests. If a guest became a nuisance, no fuss was made so as not to embarrass the guest. Even today, sexual harassment - for example in full trams - is common. (12)

Prostitutes make the best wives

There was only one way for licensed prostitutes to escape their plight: a man paid their debts and took them in as concubine. Was such a change definitely lucky for the women?

Married life in the Edo period was cruel for women. Nonetheless, in post-war Japan it was believed that it was only the military class in which women were oppressed and that the women of the peasants and merchants were free. (13)

As a result, the theory emerged that patriarchy only spread to Japanese society as a result of the new rulers of the Meiji period (1868-1912), who came from the samurai class. So don't the men who sold their daughters (as prostitutes) and who enthusiastically went to prostitutes belong to the "Japanese patriarchs"?

Two historians, namely Yasuko Tabata and Hiroko Nishimura, have recently shown that Japanese patriarchy developed in rural areas from the 12th and 13th centuries - earlier than in the samurai class. What they write seems very plausible to me, so there is no reason to assume that the attitudes towards women among farmers and merchants were more moderate than among the samurai military class. A book from the beginning of the 18th century about life in the country (Hyakushô-bunryôki - Report on the peasant class) declared submission and diligence to be the duty of the peasant women. “Any marriage, no matter how bad, is better than being sold into prostitution. Women must be grateful that their parents did not sell them, but married them. That's why they have to endure a bad married life. "This book teaches the men of the farming village:" Don't be nice to your wives in the early days of your marriage. Talk to them as little as possible, because if you show them a sweet face at the beginning , make a noise when you turn your heart to another woman. "(14)

Or another quote. In the book "Shikidô-ôkagami"(The large mirror of the path of love), which a merchant from Kyôto wrote in the second half of the 17th century, says:

Where was there freedom for these wives?

In addition, men could threaten divorce at any time. Laws passed around the middle of the 17th century ordered peasants to repudiate their wives if they were careless and lazy. In practice, the divorce proceedings consisted only of the husband delivering the letter of divorce to the wife. The divorce rate among the people was as high until the execution of the civil code of 1898 as it is today in the countries with the highest divorce rate.

Women who left their husband's house of their own accord had no means of subsistence until about 25 years ago and mostly had to leave their children behind in their husband's house.

In the military class, both marriage and divorce required permission from the authorities. Women had a secure existence because divorce was not easy.

However, living together with a concubine was more common among the samurai than in the other classes. A woman who on her own initiative recommended a concubine to her husband was the ideal.

The higher the social class, the stronger this demand became. In the class of feudal lords it became common practice that the wife chose a concubine at the age of 30, gave it to the husband and "withdrew from bed" herself. The concubine also resigned from her "duties" at 30. (16)

Whatever married life was like, the women were married. They knew no other life. Men married, as in the famous treatise on "The high school of women" (17) (Onna daigaku) becomes clear because they needed offspring and someone to serve their parents.

Around the end of the 17th century the idea of ​​maintaining the "house" spread (ie) the male line down to the lower class. The Japanese woman, famous for her selfless devotion, was born.

The education of women and women’s work at that time only aimed at training to be a bride and wife in the Japanese style.

From the age of seven, women - with the exception of those from the lower social classes - received ideas about submissiveness, hard work and compulsory childbearing in the manner of the women's theories mentioned earlier, hammered into their little heads both at home and in private schools.

The daughters of wealthy parents with a lot of free time learned to sew, spinning silk and weaving in preparation for marriage. In order to beautify the environment of the future husband of the upper and middle class, they took lessons in tea ceremony, flower arranging, music, painting and ancient literature.

Poor girls or daughters of parents who saw this as useful, that is, the majority of girls, became maids in higher-class houses. There they received instruction from the housewife or a superior maid in household techniques and rules of courtesy, sometimes also in tea ceremonies, flower arrangements and the like. They got bridal lessons as housemaids.

This ensured cheap labor for the side where the girl worked; the working side was given a testimony free of charge that improved the conditions for a good marriage. Every social class benefited, and so this type of bridal school became common throughout Japan in the second half of the Edo period.

Even with the onset of modernity, the goal of women's education and upbringing remained marriage. In the silk and textile industries, girls who saw marriage as the end of the line were collected as cheap labor. In doing so, they laid the foundation for capital accumulation in early modern Japan.

All that happened was that the social custom of the Edo period described was continued in the style of modernism. In other words, the place of training and the place of work were separated and the two were put together again.

This legacy also dominates post-war Japan and delays the liberation of women, but at the same time makes Japan rich.

In Japan today, less than 30% of girls under thirty dream of being a "housewife only". For the majority, "If possible, I want to continue my professional life for life." But because of the conservatism of the generation of men of the same age and the unfavorable conditions in the workplace, the number of women who have set themselves the job - under the vague condition "if it is possible" - is reduced.

You are planning to return to work after bringing up your children, but only part-time jobs and variants of them are easy to find. The Japanese way of working part-time actually forms the foundation of men's society, which in this way makes full use of the traditional housewife consciousness of Japanese women: The working hours are usually as long as those of a "full-time"Job, the wage does not exceed that of a high school graduate, social guarantees are missing. Incidentally, the origins of such physical short-term wage work by housewives under the worst conditions also existed in the lower class of the Edo period.

Even so, today's young women, because love marriage has become the norm for them, view this union of two traditions, which leads them to a dead end, as a subscription to happiness - if it turns out to be a hallucination. The male Japanese intellectuals easily declare that the structure of capitalist society demands cheap labor and is therefore the root of all evil. Perhaps they hope in this way to prevent the Japanese women from discovering the historical truth.

In Japan women were educated in this way even in brothels. The life goal of prostitutes was presented as a "housewife" or a "concubine" and tried to motivate them to be diligent in the "service".

The contemporary "Great Mirror of the Path of Love" (Shikidô ôkagami) claims that public prostitutes become the best wives.

The Japanese women play along by fulfilling men's selfish desires and making an effort to suit their whims. Many Japanese women still hold their hands over their mouths when they laugh, as if they are ashamed. The starting point of this custom can be read in the quoted "Spiegel des Liebesweges". They learned to use this coquettishly as a "modest female way of laughing".

The shimada hair style of the bride at traditional wedding celebrations also comes from the prostitutes, and the traditional white wedding robe also has its beginning in the night robe of the women of Yoshiwara.

Women affected by violence (bôryokusei) The men had been forced to die or to submit and had lost both economic and spiritual independence, there was only one way to survive: Since they were dependent on the men, they had to keep them in a good mood.

Thus "the housewife" became the ideal of Japanese women. And all Japanese women whose goal was to become housewives learned from prostitutes.

In Japan, too, there is a separation of female roles, embodied in the Catholic tradition by Eve (the prostitute) and Maria (the housewife) - two sides of the same coin.

If the warships of different countries had not forced the opening of Japan, we Japanese women might still live like in the Edo period. When a slave lives among female slaves, she does not notice that she is a slave herself.

The women of that time believed - just like the Japanese women of today - that a woman's life must be as they know it.

Only one woman, Makuzu Tadano (1763-1825), happened to hear about the marriage system of the early 19th century in white society during the Edo period and noticed, if only partially, the misfortune of Japanese women. 120, 130 years ago that was, so to speak, the zero point from which we Japanese women began our journey.

Of course, it's easy to spot gender discrimination in the statements made by Victorian Europeans and Americans as well. But even these were shocked by the Japanese situation. For example, a Frenchman said at an international orientalist conference opened in Paris in 1873: "I have no confidence in the efforts of the Japanese Enlightenment until the education of women begins and the independence and dignity of women are assured." (19)

"Main women" and "feminists"

Male intellectuals in Japan spread that current Japanese gender discrimination was brought about by the ruling class of the Meiji period (1868-1912). You want to express the following:

What's bad about modernity is capitalism, and the bad guys are the Europeans and Americans who forced capitalism on the Japanese.

A similar justification occurred to Japanese men at the beginning of modernity. They proclaimed that under the influence of Confucianism's contempt for women we had become like that, and that it was Confucianism that was bad.

If Confucianism is really to blame, why are women in China, its country of origin, currently far more emancipated than Japanese women? How do you explain the fact that they went through history far more forcefully even before the revolution?

Anyone who, like the Japanese men, believes that they are always doing the right thing themselves and always looking to blame others, of course sees no reason whatsoever to change the current situation of women and men. And because Japanese women are "the most submissive women in the world," it is very easy for them to be silenced by male arguments.

I would now like to briefly refer to the Japanese word "Hausherrin" (shufu) corresponding to "housewife" and the use of the word "feminist"received.

Today's Japanese hold,shufu " and "housewife" for the same. But that's not right.

Only the second part of the word,shufu", namely ,,fu"- or ,,tsuma"read - means" wife ". The ,,shu"indicates the meaning of" head of the women of the house "(main wife).

"Shufu"is a word that indicates the high status of the first wife, at a time when there were two women in the family. A precondition for the status of the" right "wife is the existence of a concubine. The concubine was also the servant the main woman, so that "shufu"can also mean" boss "," superior "," mistress "of the servants. Originally the word comes from Chinese classical literature, and the Japanese at the beginning of modern times, who had a basic education in Chinese, knew its meaning.

The Japanese also got to know the term "housewife" in contact with the West. Since there were maids in the European and American families at that time, those who introduced the European family to Japan probably used the word "shufu"as a translation for" housewife ", and the word became common with this meaning in Japan from the mid-eighties of the 19th century.

The Japanese men now wanted housewives who looked like western "shufu"Had responsibility for raising children as well as housekeeping, kitchen work, feeding and entertaining guests, but also had loving and intellectual conversations with the men, for which they were revered by their husbands in the West.

Until then, in Japan, the husband had some of these responsibilities. He gave detailed instructions for household chores to the family and servants. Now the men noticed that it was easier to put the responsibility for the practical business on the women.

It meant more work for the submissive Japanese women. The special Japanese custom that husbands hand over wages to wives has its origins at that time.

In Japan,shufu"originally nothing more than" the mistress of women "of a house, but the concubine was eliminated from the marriage system in the Civil Code of 1898. Reading classical Chinese literature was stopped and the original meaning of the word was forgotten.

The Japanese wife was now fully responsible for the house, in addition to the traditional bondage of unselfish devotion to the family.

With the word,feminist"In Japan, one describes a man who is" kind to women "," a man who worships women ".

The prehistory to this begins in 1860. In that year around 170 samurai went to America as members of an embassy to ratify an economic treaty. They were horrified - after all, the women walked on the street and, moreover, still arm in arm with men! These women were not prostitutes! Also with the ratification of the contract, with public invitations and in private houses, at the workplace, at the teacher's desk and in the hospital with the nursing - women everywhere! There was no concubine in any house. Men and women married in the Church by swearing love for one another. Women even studied. On social occasions, the men let the women sit down, asked the wives' permission to smoke, and brought drinks to their wives. The members of the delegation wrote down their observations, and now the men in Japan were amazed. The Japanese recognized that modernizing their country also meant having to change the situation of women a little, something like "ladies first"but was beyond their understanding.

Ever since the diplomatic mission report learned that "in America men worship women," this has been a topic of discussion among Japanese men of intellectual greats to common people. In 1875, a Japanese named Hiroyuki Katô came up with an interpretation typical of Japanese men:


The Japanese men were reassured by this excellent explanation. Aha, the European and American men are really poor with their stubborn wives. Katô also urged the Japanese men to ensure in good time that women in Japan would not become too strong as in Europe as a result of women's emancipation.

The Japanese, who were in a hurry to modernize, immersed themselves in philosophical books and learned about the existence of feminism in the 19th century. Feminism was with jokenron(Discussion of women's rights) translated. The ideas about it were, as expected, completely incoherent.

Everything that did not exist in Japan was under jokenron(Feminism), from the demand for political rights for women to thoughts on the role of the housewife as "wise mother and good wife" (ryôsai kenbo), as it was common in the West at that time, up to the custom of "ladies first".

The Japanese men only imported what they themselves liked. "It is welcome if women expand their rights and become wise mothers or loving wives, but Japanese women should never lose their traditional subservience." That was by and large the Japanese reaction to the term "feminism".

The following words, uttered by Kikue Yamakawa (1890-1980) in 1928, became decisive: "Feminism worships women because of their gender." (21)

Yamakawa was an activist in the Marxist women's movement, and this phrase was no more than part of the criticism of feminism that Marxist women then criticized for, in their opinion, "any kind of liberation was part of the class struggle".

The confusion of terms was not with Yamakawa, but because she was a theorist who was particularly revered in the entire women's movement, this one sentence spread out of context. It was amalgamated with legends in Japan about western men and is still used in this sense today.

Love of women - a taboo

When conditions change, women change too, regardless of the men's plans. The Meiji government, established in 1868, issued the "great order" in 1872 that all women should go "outside" and study in schools. (22)

The idea behind this was that “Japan lagged behind because Japanese women, especially mothers, are stupid. Let's make the next generation mothers smarter! ".Kikue Yamakawa left a lively note on her mother's notes about how positive this order still had on young, strong-willed women. At the same time, Ginko Ogino (1851-1913) was aiming for the profession of gynecologist. She became the first female doctor in Japan. She herself suffered from a venereal disease with which the husband she divorced had infected her. In the same year Rin Yamashita (1857-1939), the first female painter in the western style, fled from her home, where her marriage was advised, to study in Tôkyô.

The importance of access to education for women is clear from the two most famous feminists of the time, the poet Akiko Yosano (1878-1942) and the writer Haru Hiratsuka (pseudonym Raichô Hiratsuka, 1886-1971). Both belong to a generation for whom education was already a matter of course. Both became famous through erotic gossip, which is particularly typical of Japan. Women's need for sexual love (seiai e no ishi) was basically taboo until 1945, until the end of the war.

The scandals of the two aroused severe criticism from the environment. Akiko, daughter of an old merchant family, described in her first collection of poemsMidaregami (Loosened hair) the course of her love for the married poet Tekkan Yosano, who later became her husband. Akiko left her family and went to Tekkan (1901). Neither the father nor the older brother forgave Akiko, and ties with her family of origin remained severed throughout life.

she wrote in a famous poem.

With her behavior, she asked the environment: "Why shouldn't we love women?" She was not deterred by the fact that all of Japan disapproved of her behavior, and so took a clear step towards women's liberation.

In Haru Hiratsuka's case, the following happened: A novelist asked her, "Love me!" She replied, "I do not love you". The man then threatened: "I'll kill you." She replied: "As long as I live, I won't throw myself away. If you want to kill me, kill me". The man didn't kill her. Then she went to the mountains with this man. When she returned, she was picked up by the police (1908). The man described this unrealized love in a novel that was serialized in a daily newspaper. People fought over this newspaper. The man dealt with the same incident in the next novel, and Haru was angry at the way he described it. In the first novel, Haru is described as a "woman made of ice" as a frigid woman who has no sexual desire from birth. If this interpretation was already quite funny, the Haru of the second work is full of sexual desire. The author describes how he suppressed a bout of her nymphomania with the power of Zen Buddhism!

It goes without saying that the real Haru was indignant about this. This anger was a motive for the publication of "Seitô"(Bluestock), the first emancipatory magazine in Japan. (23)

With the release of Seitô she exposed herself again to the scorn of the environment. That really motivated her to her mission as a campaigner against discrimination against women. Haru spread throughout Japan: "I am a new woman". The reason for the publication of the first feminist magazine in Japan was the inability of the Japanese men of the time to understand that there are women in the world who, whether or not they Desiring a man sexually or not, rejecting his desires with your brain. That was in 1911.

So women began to band together. Next to Haru's story appeared in the first issue of Seitô also a poem by Akiko, who had already spoken a number of times about women's problems. As a result of this merger, Fusae Ichikawa (1893-1981), also a famous feminist, appeared. Hiratsuka and Ichikawa worked together, and gradually the actions of women expanded into a movement. (24)

The women's movement had four main focuses:

1. The movement to abolish prostitution. Ochimi Kubushiro (1882-1972) and others, especially Christian followers, fought for this.

2. Hiratsuka and Ichikawa fought for a law that restricts marriage (kekkon-seigen) for sexually ill men.

3. The rejection of the ,,ie"- (family, house) - system was embodied by Hiratsuka herself. She lived with her partner without any marriage formalities. Within this movement, Yayoi Yoshioka (1871-1959) and others revised the provision on theie required in the civil code.

4. The movement for birth control, which was mainly initiated by Shizue Kato (1897-).

Until 1945 the Japanese women suffered mainly from open infidelity, from prostitution, from the almost limitless oppression by the Japanese patriarchs (kafuchô), among the family (ie) as well as under hardship and poor health as a result of many births.

In addition, Kikue Yamakawa and others sought a theoretical structure for women's emancipation and the organization of working women. Itsue Takamure (1894-1964) locked herself in her house for twenty years to write down the history of women and Yuriko Miyamoto (1899-1951) in her novel Nobuko (1924) vividly portrayed the pressure that his wife also felt in a love marriage of Husband is exposed and the wife's uphill battle when she breaks out of the marriage. Others called for universities to be open to women. At the forefront of the movement for women's suffrage (fujin sanseiken) stood Fusae Ichikawa.

Unfortunately, the women in the women's movement before the war used their energy again and again to say bad things to one another, which went so far that they often lost sight of the real goal. In contrast, the cohesion of the "Men's Alliance" was impressive, albeit limited to the demands of women.

I wonder whether in the years before 1945 between the Japanese soldiers who took a swarm of prostitutes with them when they attacked Asia and the members of the Communist Party, who carried the "Liberation of the Japanese People" on their banner, but the female party members into housekeepers, or more precisely, maids with "sexual use", in which there was some difference in attitudes towards women. Soon - at the time the men spread the war in China - the majority of women became part of the men's women's movement and women's own activities collapsed.

It occurs to me that Virginia Woolfe spoke about the unity of gender discrimination and fascism.

... that women are people like men

On August 18, 1945, the highest body of the Japanese police decided to create special prostitution facilities for the American occupation soldiers expected in the near future. Large numbers of prostitutes were recruited through newspapers as part of a corporate venture based on joint investment between the government and prostitution businesspeople. That was the first official act after the war that our Japanese men took towards female compatriots.

On the other hand, a week later, Fusae Ichikawa, together with former campaigners such as Taki Fujita (1898-), presented the government with a demand for women's suffrage. The Prime Minister at the time is reported to have said: "I am thinking about it", but this vague promise was inconsequential.

Ichikawa and others also presented their request to the next cabinet, it was accepted and passed through parliament. At this point Japan was already occupied by America.

"We got women's rights because we lost the war," said Shizue Kato, and Taki Fujita stated, "Japanese women were given democratic rights through the power of the G.H.Q." (Occupation Headquarters) (from: Kiyoko Nishi: ,, Japanese Women's Policy under the Occupation ") (25).

This view of history cannot be stressed enough.

The following lines are a reminder of village life before the war. (At the time of the war defeat, the peasant population was about 50%). Life in the city where I grew up was not fundamentally different either. Without the defeat of the war, it would have been impossible for Japanese women to break out of this situation.

When eating, warm and good things were given to the men, the leftovers to the women. In some families, the woman did not eat until the man stopped eating ...

There were only men at meetings and deliberations. Once a woman stood in for the man, she didn't open her mouth. When she gave her opinion, it was said: "What a woman says does not count ... What she says ...

Even the little girls were portrayed as stupid to the boys.

At wedding celebrations, the women, the bride as well as the matchmaker, had the lowest seats ...

When boys and girls went to school together after the end of the war, everyone who was born in the Meiji period and raised in the country was appalled and worried, and stormy times were expected. "

(Kenkichi Kusumoto: "Life in the village") (26)

Almost all Japanese women were deeply moved 40 years ago when they began to realize that women are the same people as men. (Don't laugh about it. It's true Japanese story).

The reluctance some Japanese men felt towards the occupying power's policy of emancipation for women is shown by a saying that every Japanese over 40 knows: "What has become stronger after the war is stockings and women".

The men at that time repeated this sentence over and over with a big grin. They wanted to express: “As strong as they get, women are things that men trample on and throw away, just as the stockings also tear at the end and are thrown away. Americans wasted their time pointlessly. "

Probably not a few women understood that tasteless saying for its true purpose. But even if the real intention remained unclear, the women were not happy to be told: "You are stockings". To escape this discomfort, women had only two options: either to avoid the stocking-up treatment by avoiding the appearance of being a "strong woman" and, as little as before the war, the "weak one" Woman "to continue playing. The other way is to make up your mind to be a really strong woman who won't be treated like a stocking.

Most women, who fear that they will be rejected by men and subsequently not receive "the passport for life", choose the first option.

When I came to the university at the end of the occupation in 1952, there were 17 female students among 245 students at the literary faculty of this state university (law and economics included); four of them still practice their profession - three of the four are unmarried; the remaining 13 married and went into the family. This one example shows how the women’s policy of the occupation was received by the Japanese.

Although almost most of the actions of the Occupation with regard to women took root, the process took a long time. Even though all of these things had been demands of Japanese women before the war and there had been a breeding ground for them. It was about women's suffrage, the abolition of prostitution, the abolition of the traditional,ie"Family system, the anchoring of the idea that marriage and divorce had to correspond to the will of the woman concerned, the anchoring of the mother's parental rights, the dissemination of knowledge about contraception, co-education from elementary school to university and much more. What not had been prepared did not work even with American support.

An example: Immediately after the defeat in the war, common lessons in housekeeping were introduced for boys and girls from elementary school to high school. I can still remember how much this made parents and teachers reluctant. It was arguably an inevitable resistance, given the deep roots of the Japanese housewife tradition. Based on this opposition, the education bureaucracy reduced housekeeping to a compulsory subject for girls over a period of five to ten years after the occupation ended. We post-war women did not prevent that.

Or: Although the official prostitution system disappeared (27), the open enthusiasm of Japanese men for prostitution has not yet diminished. The demands of Japanese women to destroy the public prostitution that deals with the bodies of poor women did not get to the bottom of the problem.

If we hadn't had the fortune of the "UN Decade of Women", Japanese women would undoubtedly still be fighting in the dark.

At the end of the ten-year period, just in time, Japan passed the Equal Opportunities Act for Women and Men (Equal Treatment Act,danjo-byôdô-kintôhô) (28), which corresponds to the labor paragraph of the Treaty on the Abolition of Discrimination against Women.

When I compare the fierce resistance of the men, some of whom even feared that such a law could mean the downfall of Japan, with the poor content of the law that came into being, it is more laughable than angry.

Because the law only makes it easier for women to enter the world of men who, like men, negate the family and only care about their work. Criminal provisions against gender discrimination in the workplace are completely absent.

On the other hand, the Equal Treatment Act has had positive effects for women, because it gives them the opportunity to work in all professions in which women have previously been undesirable and in all areas of administration. As a result, some young ambitious women have started to ignore the pressures of their surroundings and take up this tough challenge.

Most importantly, through long public discussions about this law, Japanese women of all ages learned that there are ideas such as "equality of men and women in employment" or "right to work for men and women". (Many women hadn't even thought of such a thing before.)

Since the early 1980s when this law became the topic of conversation, women across the country have spoken out. Some had only now become aware of these problems, others had been asking themselves these questions for a long time: "Why is it bad if women want to work for life too?" "What is bad about it when women do not take on the traditional roles of mothering and wife are satisfied, but also want a life of their own? " The next stage of "awakening" was a corollary:

"Why should only women take over the housekeeping and child-rearing and looking after the elderly?" "Why do we speak of happiness for women when they are bullied by a husband who pays the salary at home but does nothing else for them ? " "How can there be intellectual independence without economic independence?" "Is it okay that women, who make up half the population, are only there to look after the lives of men?"

The intellectual advancement of women through the legal changes after the war, through participation in university education and through the increased social presence as a result of the Equal Treatment Act will mean that Japanese women will no longer be like they are in the foreseeable future.

The situation of Japanese women is not to be judged particularly optimistically, this should have become clear from the statements made so far. Women may have come out in public with their voices in the 1980s, but they are still quiet and may not be able to hear all of them.

Just a few days ago a 25 year old Chinese woman said: “I don't understand Japanese women. They don't think at all what they want to be themselves, they do what they see in others: they go to high school, then to university and then become a housewife. "

When I say that women will change, I mean that more and more conscious women will acknowledge their unhappy reality - which is so unhappy that many do not even perceive it as "unhappiness" - without excuses and will try to find themselves to change as an individual.

Women who work in bureaucracy or feminist theorists have already begun to influence unknown women. Wives show their old husbands how to cook for themselves. Husbands who do not understand their wives are forced to divorce. Girls loudly protest sexual harassment in the packed tram, and some women take every opportunity to talk to everyone around them about women's problems.

"Resignation is the conclusion of fools", says the young writer Keiko Ochiai. I personally remember how I shed tears in my thoughts of Japan 14 years ago in the Vienna Opera while listening to the arias of "Madame Butterfly": "How we are poor, we Japanese women ... "

To be honest, until the year I observed European life, I was one of those Japanese women who didn't notice my own misfortune. In the meantime, however, I've gotten bored of being "the poor women of the world." Speaking the truth about our situation is the first step in change, and that's why a light appears at the end of the tunnel. If the truth is not stated, the goal of the necessary upheaval remains incomprehensible. The title of this essay "Before the Dawn" is based on the title of a famous novel in Japan. (29)

This novel describes Japan just before modernization between 1853 and 1886 as "before daybreak". It is probably the case everywhere that women experience history differently than men. The time "before daybreak" for women is those 100 years and one a few decades that have passed since Makuzu Tadano had doubts about the married life of the Japanese.

For Japanese women only now is the morning light gradually beginning to shine.