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Life for women in never-Christian Japan, not so fun

I received this interesting email today from a lady who has lived in Japan. I have edited somewhat to avoid any chance of identifying my correspondent, but she is a person of Asian ancestry married to a white man.

I offer it here, with her permission, as an interesting report from a devout Catholic “on the ground” in a country that is civilised but never Christian.

Dear Miss White,

I subscribe to your blog posts. I read with great interest your post on the pagan world and the treatment of women in Japan. I spend spring and autumn in Japan because I and my husband have a house in _____. …. I am a Catholic who recently came back to the Church after decades away.

There are few geisha left in Kyoto. The bursting of the financial bubble in Japan, followed by a 20-year recession, deprived many men of money to splurge on geisha. These creepy guys in the documentary who treat women like objects got the chastisement they deserved when the bubble burst – most of them lost their jobs, or their companies went bankrupt, or they were put into early retirement.

Japan is only now recovering, ever so slowly, from the financial bust. There are some maiko in Kyoto, but mostly they entertain groups of tourists.

An equally important change has happened among Japanese men. Many young men do not want to be like their dads and granddads. They spend more time with their children and their wives. Many of them attended university with women and have women friends.

That said, this society is very conservative and women are still treated like second-class citizens.

The concept of chivalry towards women simply does not exist.

– in a restaurant, men get served first;
– Japanese men do not open doors for women;
– in a crowded railway car, women get shoved by men and in fact, there are special rail cars for women only during rush hour because men like to put their hands under women’s skirts and grope them. So the Japanese solution is to segregate women.

I’ve always wondered why there is no chivalry here and my explanation is this: it is not a Christian society and it does not venerate the Virgin Mary.

Because I can pass for Japanese, I know that the rude behavior I get from Japanese men isn’t because I am a foreigner. Japanese men don’t dare act rudely to my husband but that’s because (a) he’s white and a man; and (b) he’s very tall and muscular.

However, I do not put up with this rude behavior, unlike my Japanese women friends who have been taught to be submissive and sweet all their lives. They are shocked when I tell them that if a man or several men shove me in a railway car, I sharpen my elbows and jab them back. I also told them that if a guy puts his hand up my skirt I’m going to deck him.

But chivalry is almost dead in the West, too, and many women don’t care. The West has largely de-Christianized.

Sincerely, _____