This is something totally out-of-the-blue, but I was born a female and think of myself as a woman.
Since I came to Los Angeles, I’ve noticed that the topic of feminism comes up in ordinary conversation between women. Just like when I was asked “Do you want to go to a feminist march?” or when I heard a young girl being told, “Your future is bright,” or saw stores selling T-shirts and caps with the logo “Feminist.” There is an environment ready whenever someone wants to become a feminist. It interests me a little, but I have yet to find enough passion to take any action.
As a female, I have probably been overly protected and have lived without feeling any unfairness, so I haven’t thought that much about gaining more rights, especially for women. Or it might be due to the fact that my mother, grandmother and great-grandmother all worked outside of the house while they raised their children, so I might be a little insensitive to unfairness. Of course when I’m working, there are times when I resent not being able to be a “male hand,” but actually I don’t consider that to be a critical problem. And in regards to sexual harassment, I am in complete agreement that it is something that can occur at different times, as it has been especially recently. But on the other hand, often times I feel that it is easier to build a cooperative relationship with men, more than with women. It is probably because as living beings, we can complement each other’s weak points. I also love the gay and lesbian friends around me. They have a separate way of seeing the world from me. They are filled with love, are a lot of fun to be with, and can be trusted. I believe that sensibility should definitely be protected, but I am left with doubt about lumping that together with feminism. Anyways, since I became a member of the work force, I have been given so much support by many people at various workplaces, and I feel strongly that rather than “being handled unfairly,” “I was treated preciously.” All of the reasons I can think of must be because so many older women have already, from long ago, wished for such a society to come about and to fight for it. I am just receiving such blessings. It seems that I might have been pretty lucky.
Even though I have been interested in this positive social movement, I wasn’t able to get actively involved. However, after I heard about a certain symposium from one of the Kashima coordinators, Hiroko Kikuchi from the NPO “Invisible,” I decided to attend it. The symposium theme was “What kind of Future Will Feminist Culture Assume.” There were eight speakers that made up the program. Not only were there women, but there were also people from the LGBTQ community as well. The audience that gathered in that one college room were sitting randomly. Most of them looked like they had some role in putting on the event and they were all women. I really enjoyed how the introduction combined photographs and videos, using various artistic approaches. It was also very interesting to see the different aspects of the issue of feminism, based on the race.
In respect to art, the issue of opening up the market for it can be seen clearly. One panelist advocated that “the art collection at large museums are almost all artwork created by male artists. Females have minimal opportunity. How many of you here would like to sell your artwork and become famous? I’m sure you all wish that, so isn’t it crazy that there is no market open for women?” For a moment, her claim felt right, but it is too dependent on capitalism and it made me realize that it didn’t fit my way of enjoying being a woman. My way of thinking is that women have exclusive rights of not having to be very well known. That is the right to walk on the small, narrow paths that run alongside the big major roads. It is because I exercise this right that I can take on this kind of research at once and build relationships with people I would have never expected I would. Of course it is much better to sell artwork than not. But, if we exchange what we have to become famous and lose sight of these small paths, it would be sad if we could no longer exert our strength, and we would have problems.
It is not that I can criticize feminism in one big lump. That is because, all around the world, there are always men and women, so the context of each time and occasion must be taken into account. In order to speed up the solutions for the dangers that threaten lives and hurt the dignity of people, we must not be misled by the voices that loudly advocate that “In general, women lose out.” Upon finding out concretely about the disadvantages women actually have in specific societies, I feel it is necessary to deal with each one individually. If I were to raise my voice, it would be after that.
Another thing to worry about is the area feminism is trying to encompass. In other words, if you were to roughly add up the number of females and LGBTQ, the men that are left are indeed the minority. As in circumstances where a shift in population causes people to move out, or natural disasters or changes in the earth’s environment causes people to leave their homes, where are these men, who are driven out of their place in the market economy and are drifting about, to go next? I feel that they may be a more serious existence than the women who are latent. I can’t explain it well, but it is an intuitive feeling of anxiety.
If the feminists who shout aloud about women’s rights visited the elderly residences in Little Tokyo, I’m sure they will quickly catch on that women all live long. I have met many women who are filled with vitality, even after the loss of their husband or sons. There is a preciousness that cannot be compared in terms of loss and gain. I think I need to start coming up with some new and interesting ways of collaboration.