In Japan, the images of women have undergone rather remarkable transitional changes. In her article "The Modern Girl as Militant", Miriam Silverberg focuses on the category of Modern Girl ("moga," or modan gaaru), a topic of debate in Japanese society during the 1920s and early 1930s. She argues that the Modern Girl was a media creation designed to portray women as promiscuous and apolitical. It was a way of displacing the militancy expressed in their political activity, her labor in new arenas and their adoption of new fashions.
Therefore, when examing the history of Japanese women during that era, the historian should not be trapped in viewing her as just an epitome of moral decadence, but rather should become conscious of her militant nature. This paper begins by focusing on some of Silverberg's strong arguments, which defends her position on the image of Modern Girl as militant . I would then proceed to highlight some ambiguities and questions with regards to her arguments.
Silverberg begins her paper by asserting that the Modern Girl was a highly commodified cultural construct crafted by journalist during the decade of cultural and social change. She then proceed to discuss some of the contemporaries such as Kitazawa Shuichi, Nii Itaru, Kishida, Kataoka Teppi etc., who tried to define the characteristics of the Modern Girl. Despite the fact the contemporaries writing about the Modern Girl struggle to find an absolute definition, the essence of who the Modern Girl remains clear to society. The Modern Girl stood for everything modern and non-Japanese. It stood for all the materialism and decadence in Japanese society at that period, and all "modern" ideals and lifestyle that threatened the traditional social order of Japan. It was a conservative construct, a symbol of what women should not be, and a reflection of the negative social phenomena in Japan's modernisation process.
However, Silverberg argues against that the true reality of the Modern Girl...
Bibliography: Gordon Andrew, A Modern History of Japan, (New York: Oxford University Press, 2003.)
Keller Evelyn, "Making Gender Visible in the Pursuit of Nature 's Secrets, ' in Feminist Studies / Critical Studies, ed. Teresa de Lauretis (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1986)
Silverberg Miriam, "The Modern Girl as Militant", in Gail Lee Bernstein ed., Recreating Japanese Women 1600-1945, (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1991)
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