Gender Roles in Meiji Era
Women’s right refers to the freedoms and entitlements of females of all ages. Gender roles and rights have been an important concept of hierarchy throughout Japanese history, but the cultural elaboration of gender differences has varied over time. The status and role of the standard woman has changed evolutionarily over the last couple centuries. However, the more significant change was women and men’s shift of opinions due to this transformation of women. Women appreciated their newly received rights and continued to push for more as expected. On the other hand, the support of many revolutionary men was not so expected. In Meiji era, Japanese prevails in the marital marriage among different classes. A brife story by Higuchi Ichiyoin published in early Meiji era. It follows a main character named Oseki Harada, a woman who is in a married to an abusive husband, named Isamu Harada. She wants to divorce with Isamu and her left the home, abandoning her child with her abusive husband, in order to seek permission for a divorce from her parents, more specifically her father. Her father provides statements of familial pressure for her to stay married to Isamu despite the poor quality of their relationship. Because when Oseki married Isamu, he offered Oseki's brother a good paying job, and helped her family finically, thus raising their social status and standards of living. The effect of the input the father gives in regards to how Oseki feels about her marriage indicates just how much of an influence he has on her life financially. Higuchi also depicts Oseki’s life as not being ideal, and people having problems in marriage. These two elements fit the story into the genre of poetic realism. “The Thirteenth Night” biased and over exaggerated in one sense because a woman wrote it. Yet it seems much more genuine because of the first hand experiences of sexist oppression that Higuchi must have felt in her society. The gender of the author does not really change the intent of the story, but more so they way it is received because women authors at that time were not taken seriously. Most of the stories written by women in the Meiji period included dominating female characters or a woman becoming independent. This was a way for those authors to express the world that they believed should exist. Higuchi’s statement also is a major contribution in regards to women authors of the Meiji era. Additionally, The Thirteenth Night is exemplary of Higuchi’s attempt to juxtapose a traditional Japanese marriage with a modern analysis that addresses the narrator’s individual concerns contrary to the traditional focus on the collective. The narrator, Oseki, went to her parents’ house with a black rickshaw in an attempt to express her feelings of resentment towards her husband and desire to divorce with Isuma. Higuchi efficiently balances traditional and modern sentiments in the construction of this story. Traditionally a woman would be forced to remain in the marriage because the family benefited from her marriage with the man, in this case her son and brother both involved. In more traditional texts the feelings of the individual would have been all but ignored and certainly not voiced to the parents. However, Higuchi expresses the concerns of Oseki, thus remaining faithful to her modern style of writing. Higuchi’s use of both traditional and modern styles of writing is exemplary of Japans commitment to its past despite its attempts at modernization and the Japanese desire to modernize while maintaining their culture. To understand Oseki’s representation of women, the effect of the Meiji Restoration on the period must be mentioned. The Restoration brought the Tokugawa Period to an end and marked a new beginning for Japan. The Meiji leaders embarked on a process of modernization, and encouraged westernization as a means to achieve...
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