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Organizer and Chair: Kathleen Uno, Temple University
Discussants: Barbara Hamill Sato, Seikei University; Kathleen Uno, Temple University
Although recent works by Jordan Sand ("At Home in the Meiji Period: Inventing Japanese Domesticity" in Stephen Vlastos, ed., Mirror of Modernity, 1998) and Yuko Nishikawa ("The Changing Form of Dwellings and the Establishment of the Katei (Home) in Modern Japan," 1995) have addressed the formation of katei (translated as home or sometimes as family) in modern Japan mainly from the perspective of changing uses of space, there has been relatively little attention devoted to the interpersonal dynamics of the home, that is, to relationships between family members. To begin to address these issues, this panel will examine and compare shifting conceptions of fatherhood and motherhood and their implications for relationships between both family members and between male and female genders in Japans modern era. Rather than dwelling on efforts of the state to define gender or parenthood, the papers and comments will focus on private initiatives by organizational leaders, association members, and various types of authors in popular media such as books and magazines in the construction of notions of motherhood, fatherhood, and relationships between family members in the first three decades of the twentieth century. In the case of fatherhood, Harald Fuess (German Institute for Japanese Studies, Tokyo) analyzes both notions of fatherhood and fathers behavior as represented in autobiographies. In the case of motherhood, the female activists and writers in womens journals, Ulrike Woehr (Hiroshima City University) argues that Japanese women, often depicted as passive victims of a patriarchal Asian family system, participated in both reinforcing and contesting established notions of womanhood as individuals and as members of organizations during the early 1910s. Finally, Sarah Frederick (University of Chicago), compares the notions of motherhood and parenthood of intellectual women and the writers of articles in the mass circulation magazine Shufu no tomo during its early years.
The intent of the participants in the panel is to spark dialogue with the audience regarding the construction of family relationships, home life, and gender as aspects of modernity in Japan. For this reason, the papers and comments will occupy at most one hour and fifteen minutes of the session, leaving the rest of the time (forty-five minutes) for discussion. The comments by Barbara Hamill Sato (Seikei University, author of "Sogoka sareta zasshi ni okeru jiendaa no hy˘sh˘Taiy˘ kateiran o megutte," 1998; Japanese Women and Modanizumu: The Emergence of a New Womens Culture in the 1920s, forthcoming) will analyze the papers mainly through the lens of Japans emerging modanizumu, the rise of Taish˘ mass culture, and representations of gender in popular magazines while comments by Kathleen Uno (Temple University, author of "Questioning Patrilineality: On Modern Japanese Ie Studies," 1996; Passages to Modernity: Motherhood, Childhood, and Social Reform in Early Twentieth-Century Japan, in press) will discuss the presenters findings primarily in terms of class issues in Japanese social history, larger trends in childrens and family history, and interdisciplinary study of households. Both commentators will address issues of gender and the construction of Japanese modernity.
Japanese Women Constructing Motherhood in the Early 1910s: Nishikawa Fumiko, and the Shin Shin Fujinkai
Ulrike Woehr, Hiroshima City University
In modern societies, the concept of motherhood has been instrumental in confining women to the domestic sphere. However, ideas of motherhood have also been used by women themselves as a means of self-assertion and empowerment. In Japan, the ideal of "good wife, wise mother" (ry˘sai kenbo) became the governing principle of womens education in 1899. Works by Koyama Shizuko (Ry˘sai kenbo to iu kihan, 1991) and Niwa Akiko ("Nihon ni okeru bosei shinwa no keisei," 1991 or "The Formation of the Myth of Motherhood in Japan," 1993) have shown that, at first, this concept stressed the role of women as "educating mothers." It was only towards the end of the 1910s that ideas of "motherly love" (boseiai) became popular.
Women themselves participated in the construction and propagation of the official concept of "good wife, wise mother" as well as other notions of womanhood. This paper examines the ideas put forward in the journal Shin Shin Fujin (New True Woman, 19131923) by members of the Shin Shin Fujinkai (Association of New True Women, a group founded and led by urban middle-class women) from 1913 to 1916prior to the first appearance of womens magazines like Fujin Kooron and Shufu no Tomo. The ideas of Nishikawa Fumiko, foundress of Shin Shin Fujin, and of other writers in the journal are diverse. Whereas some of them reiterate state ideology by stressing the national importance of the mothers role, others endeavour to construct a new female identity based on the shared experience of mothering.
Both approaches can be explained as responses to the conditions of modernity which for many women meant alienating and slave-like factory work, isolation as a housewife and mother, or being torn between family and work. The nationalist attitude as well as the ideas centering on womens experience and solidarity can be seen as efforts to overcome feelings of alienation, isolation and separation. However, the official concept of ry˘sai kenbo can be interpreted in the same way: as a compensation offered by the state for the above mentioned conditions, which were often promoted by that same state. The question, therefore, remains of how contentious womens ideas on motherhood in a given historical situation could be.
Parenthood in Late 1910s Japanese Intellectual and Popular Culture: The Motherhood Protection Debates Reconsidered
Sarah Anne Frederick, University of Chicago
In the pages of Fujin k˘ron and Taiy˘, Yosano Akiko, Hiratsuka Raicho, Yamakawa Kikue, and Yamada Waka debated the role that the state and social institutions should play in mothering in the 1918 exchange generally referred to as the "motherhood protection debates" (bosei hogo rons˘). This discussion, which touched on issues such as juggling paid work and mothering, womens unpaid home labor, and the relationship between the state and parenting, remains a part of the standard histories of Japanese feminism (Maruoka Hideko, Fujin shis˘ keiseishi n˘to, 1975; Yoneda Sayoko, Kindai Nihon josei shi, 1972).
It is not coincidental that the motherhood protection debates took place at the same time as discourses on the Japanese family were emerging in popular culture. Therefore, it is worth taking a new took this important moment in the intellectual history of Japanese feminism by revisiting it in connection with the new representations of motherhood and parenthood springing up in popular culture, including womens magazines, during the same period. Shufu no tomo went into circulation in 1917, the year before the debate began. Articles in this magazine aimed at housewives written by doctors, educators, "women reporters," and its own readers depicted and prescribed patterns of middle class urban family life, including household finances, housework, and child-rearing, while aiming at an audience of women who aspired to that lifestyle. The paper will show that its writings about mothers who had succeeded in placing their children in elite professions, household or money-saving strategies, and contraceptive techniques helped to form popular conceptions of parenting. Through examining links between the bosei hogo rons˘ and the representations of motherhood in Shufu no tomos articles and advertisements, this paper connects the intellectual, social, and cultural histories of parenthood in modern Japan.
The Culture and Conduct of Fatherhood in Early Twentieth-Century Japan
Harald Fuess, German Institute for Japanese Studies, Tokyo
Gender studies have made an enormous contribution to historical scholarship by emphasizing that "men" and "women" are categories which have been socially and historically constructed and that male and female roles were by no means natural, universal, or traditionally fixed aspects of society (Natalie Z. Davis, "Womens History in Transition," Feminist Studies 3, 197576; Joan W. Scott, Gender and the Politics of History, 1988). While historians of gender have focused on the previously neglected subject of women, man have also recently emerged as a subject of serious inquiry (Robert L. Griswold, Fatherhood in America, 1994; Ralph LaRossa, The Modernization of Fatherhood, 1997). My presentation will discuss one aspect of masculinity, namely fatherhood.
Japanese modernity is the context for my study of fatherhood. Several scholars have argued for a fundamental shift in the notion of Japanese fatherhood after the turn of the twentieth century (Sawayama Mikako, "Kosodate ni okeru otoko to onna," Nihon josei seikatsushi 4, 1991; My˘ki Hiroyuki, Chichioya h˘kai, 1997). As a result of new ideas on fatherhood, they believe, the fathers actual role in child rearing was reduced by shifting the responsibility for children entirely to the mother, and thereby establishing the ground for the modern Japanese family. My presentation will reexamine this common thesis by looking at both perceptions and practice of fatherhood in Japan between 1890 and 1950. Texts of intellectuals, especially educators and pediatricians, are analyzed to understand perceptions of fatherhood, while the practice of fatherhood is reconstructed through a selection of biographies written by members of the so-called new urban middle class.
In its conclusion, this presentation explores the implications of the history of Japanese fatherhood on the reconceptualization of "separate (but equal) spheres" between men and women in public and private in early twentieth century Japan.