I started this post months and months ago and just never got around to finishing it. Anyone that knows me well, knows that I am a passionate feminist and passionate about feminism. The more I think about where and when my feminism started the more I realize that I was always a feminist but just didn’t know what to call it and moreover was too afraid to express that feminism. But the older I get the more important it is for me to be vocal.
The other day I was listening to a podcast and it got me thinking about being a feminist and I started wondering if living in Japan was what made identifying as a feminist important to me.
While I was living in Japan, I realized the importance of feminism and the importance of supporting my fellow female in arts, business or whatever it is that she is pursuing. Too often we are our own worst critics and enemies, we tear each other down for making bad decisions rather than help each other up after falling. I am ashamed to say that I have been active in this reverse form of sexism and even slut shaming but have grown up and learned how detrimental this is to women. We are human beings and make decisions the best way we know how, for reasons that most of us may not know.
The podcast was Just Japan, hosted by fellow Canadian Busan Kevin. This particular episode featured the lovely Jenny Silver whom I’ve been following on Twitter since my time in Japan. The theme of the show the experiences of being a foreign female in Japan. Until listening to this podcast, I almost forgot about what women (foreign and Japanese) have to go through in Japan or maybe it was more that I had blocked it out.
Thankfully I didn’t experience any direct sexism or harassment in Japan but I know from the stories I’ve been told and articles I have read that the experiences of victims of harassment or sexual assault in Japan are very different than those in other countries. Still, to this day career-focused women despite years of experience are often denied promotions and even jobs What I mean is that at the very heart of Japanese culture is the understanding that personal (selfish) pursuits and needs are put aside while maintaining a sense of community is importance. It’s this deep-seeded cultural mentality that allows Tokyo (a city of approximately 30 million people) to remain more safe, clean and orderly than any other city in the world. Maintaining this sense of community is so ingrained and important that things like discrimination and sexual assault are rarely reported.
Things aren’t much different in Canada. Street harassment is still a problem and misogynistic and hateful comments from university groups are brushed off as boys being boys but it’s these societal problems that make my feminism and my desire for change stronger. I guess in a way I’m thankful for all of the shit that women have to go through on a daily basis because it fuels the fire for change.
You can find Kevin and Jenny at the following links:
Art by Halifax artist Victoria Brumwell