Posted by: travislipscomb132 | January 17, 2016

Cultural Differences of Female Leadership: Japan

Yesterday a friend of mine came back to Christopher Newport University from studying abroad in Japan; I took the opportunity to ask her about some of the cultural differences between how female leaders are treated over seas as opposed to here in the United States, and if she would mind me recording her responses. First I ask her how she was treated by the men in Japan, and what she said surprised me.

“Most all the men I met in Japan were very cordial to me, treating me with a lot of respect. I have always considered myself a very independent woman, so I like to do things myself, but the men find it  insulting to not let them help you. For example, one day I was walking home from school with a few friends and one of the men asked to carry my bags for me, but I would not let him. One of the women pulled me aside and told me I should let him carry my bags or it will hurt his feelings and sense of manhood.

Next I asked her what were the households like? How were the women treated and what was expected of them?

“From what I saw Women typically stay in the home, cook, clean, take care of the family, while the men go to work. But it’s not because that’s what is expected or mandated , it’s just the way things are. The women are comfortable with their roles and don’t feel the need for things to change.”

After she left I started to think of why the women of their would be comfortable with these roles, then I remembered how in class we talked about how this issue used to be referred to as the “Silent Question” and it occurred to me that maybe they just do not realize that what is happening could be very wrong. I could be wrong, but it reminded me of putting a dog in a cage with the door wide open, but when the dog left the cage they wouldn’t get fed. Eventually he would never leave the cage.

What does everyone think about this issue, should the women of this society be contempt with only staying inside the home if nothing bad comes of it? Or should they be searching for something more?

Written by,
Travis Lipscomb


  1. This is a really cool post Travis! I’ve always been interested in how differing cultures act and react to each others customs and traditions. I too wonder if the women in their society in particular are aware that they do have other options but I also can see why they would be perfectly comfortable. Does anyone that took a cross cultural class have input?

  2. This is really interesting.
    It brings me back to the Friedan reading on The Feminine Mystique, talking about the “demands of domesticity” or the idea that women are forced into being stay-at-home moms.
    At the end of the reading, Kellerman notes that Friedan was criticized for how judgmental she was towards women who freely decided to stay at home. I still see this now, people expecting women to “fight the man” and go to work while they are really truly content with life at home as it is. This is just another added pressure, another way of telling women how they “should” or shouldn’t act. I actually think that many women (and men!) make the decision to stay home as my mom did when I was little and I think they should be fully allowed to make this decision without judgment.

  3. Great topic! Culture plays a huge role in considering the social norms of a society. I couldn’t help but think of the anti-feminists I learned about in a Gender class I took for my major. We learned that in response to radical feminists, women would post pictures of a sandwich they made for their male significant other with pride. Also, when I first started dating my fiance, I remember being very against him opening the car door for me. My thoughts were “I am a completely able, independent woman. I don’t need your help opening the car door. I can do it myself, thank you very much!” I remember his mother getting so angry when I wouldn’t let him open the door for me. She explained that while yes, I could open my own door, he was trying to be a “gentleman”. Now, I let him and even expect him to open my door. Not because it’s his duty based on his gender, but because it is one of the ways he shows me he cares about me. While I don’t open his car door for him, I do show that I care about him in other ways. I guess what I’m trying to get at is that either way, it’s not my place to judge another woman’s choice to be a stay at home mom or the CEO of a company. Regardless, it is not my place to judge or shame anyone. I can choose to live my life how I want, and so can other men and women. We as humans, should be supporting one another, not tearing each other down because we don’t agree with their choices. Listening and understanding are at an all-time high in terms of needs in our society. Yet, they are both lacking and we as initiators of change need to partake in this effort.

  4. Good post Travis! I find some of your friend’s comments so strange, especially considering the problem’s Japan was facing just a few years ago. Starting in the 90s and into the 2000s, Western culture traveled over the Pacific and infiltrated the Korean and Japanese cultures, which in turn created a younger female population that rebelled against the traditional Japanese woman image, with piercings and colored, shorter hair. It also meant women wanted to be independent, so they went after jobs instead of boys. These women in their 20s and 30s were very successful, but when this population is not in relationships with the opposite sex, babies are not being born. This westernization in Japan caused a pretty severe population shortage, with their population pyramid inverted (like a V) where the majority of their population was old. From the sounds of it, your friend had a bit of a different experience in Japan then the one I had known previously. Could it be possible that in different regions or different cities the societal norms and expectations are different?

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