Comparison of single, middle-aged women in three major Asian cities: Chizuko Ueno’s review of Confucianism and Makeinu* by Junko Sakai.
*Makeinu, literally ‘loser dogs,’ is a term coined by writer Junko Sakai satirically referring to single and childless middle-aged women, including the writer herself
To realize a society in which both men and women are actively involved has been wrongly recognized as women having to have a goal to become like men. Women actually have chosen to become soldiers and to take part in state violence as men do. Society has fallen into the pitfall of gender equality. Is feminism a theory that insists women have power and are able to participate in war? If feminism argues that women can be as strong as men, I am not interested in it. I consider feminism a theory that enables you to survive, while being respected as the weak of society.
In contrast to the idea of dying gracefully for the nation, assuming that not to live miserably deserves a medal, while desperately hanging onto “masculinity” by choosing to sacrifice his life for the sake of power and honor. The book shows survival theories for women, the elderly, and the physically challenged: the weak should neither be the strong nor oppressors but should be respected as they are.
In the epilogue whose title is “in lieu of ‘prayer,’” Ueno writes that she chose feminism so that she would not have to pray helplessly. The author is a theorist who considered “praying” but decided not to. Human beings should be able to concretely solve all the problems they caused.
I like to believe that we could weave something that replaces ‘prayer.’
A book review by Kimiko HoriOriginal Article Jun 30
Translated by Atsuko Ishikawa
"It was my incredible fortune to have known Kazuko. I met her for the first time when I went to Japan in the summer of 2008. As the host of my visit at her university, she offered me the most thoughtful, hospitable, and generous treatment any guest can hope to have. We met again in 2009, when she was a visiting professor at UC Berkeley. She kindly drove me from San Francisco Davis, where I was to give a talk. Although the times we had together were brief, I was deeply moved by Kazuko's intellectual and political energies. Seldom have I met someone who is as filled with personal charm, courage, and
humor as she. Most of all she taught us what it means to love. I will miss her forever."
--Rey Chow, Anne Firor Scott Professor of Literature at Duke University
"My first contact with Kazuko Takemura was indirect. Indeed, she was not even aware of it. Rey Chow, our common friend, then at Brown University and now at Duke University, had written to me saying that Kazuko would be visiting Berkeley for a year, and asked if i knew of anyone who had an apartment close to the university to sublet. I sent Rey information about an apartment that Kazuko subsequently rented but Rey had not given Kazuko my name. Feminist academic networks work in silent and invisible ways. I first met Kazuko after a reading and book reception for my co-edited collection Derrida and the Time of the Political. She came up after the brief remarks by me, Suzanne Guerlac and Martin Jay and introduced herself. It was only later, over a dim sum lunch, that we realized we had already been linked in many ways. She had long had a connection to Berkeley as the translator of my colleagues, Trinh Minh-ha's and Judith Butler's writings. At that lunch and subsequently, we spoke of the difficulty of translating theory into Asian languages among many other topics including deconstruction, bio-power and feminist cultural studies. She was instrumental in getting Iwanami Shoten to publish an abridged translation of my Derrida collection. She was so important as a channel of European and American feminist and critical theory in Japan and she also made us aware of the interesting work that was being done by feminist theorists and cultural studies scholars in Japan. What I remember most about Kazuko is her infectious smile and wonderful sense of humor."
--Pheng Cheah, Professor, Department of Rhetoric, University of California, Berkeley
At one point, Kazuko asked if I would mind checking her English on a paper she would soon be presenting. We became so engrossed with this task, working with each other easily and productively from the very beginning, that we began to work on several other projects Kazuko was involved with: articles and reviews for journals; translations of essays and book chapters she had originally written in Japanese and now wanted to submit to English publications; keynote addresses and panel introductions for a number of conferences; and many other projects along these lines. Kazuko was so enthusiastic about our work together, so open to suggestions, and so generous in expressing gratitude for my input, I began to think about going back to school to become an editor! But, of course, I realized that not all writers would be as delightful and engaging as Kazuko, so I contented myself with working as frequently as possible with her during the year she was here in Berkeley--and by telephone, email, and Skype after she returned to Japan.
As I have already expressed, I feel so privileged to have known and spent such wonderful times with Kazuko. I learned a great deal from her--about feminism and literature, about Japan and Japanese life, and, most of all, about living life to the full. She will always have a place in my heart, and her memory will always inspire to me. I am grateful."
--Kristina Holland, Clinical Psychologist, Private Practice
Please also see the information on the Takemura Fund for Feminist Research for Gender Equality and Justice here.
After over forty years of second wave feminism in Japan, Japanese society has definitely changed. The strongest power behind this change were numerous grassroots women’s groups throughout the country. Each group was small, but members were patient and with strong wills. Newsletters and organizational pamphlets from such groups connected women and played a significant role in bringing change in society.
Today, many of such groups are experiencing a generational change, and there are a number of such publications that have been discontinued. These materials are an important source of information about the history of feminism, and we are afraid that they would disappear if nothing were done. We would like to collect and preserve such materials as a witness to history. WAN (Women’s Action Network) proposes to create a digital archive to store them semi-permanently on a website, allowing access by anyone from anywhere.
As stated in the prospectus, this project was initiated by the editors of the twelve-volume collection, Feminism in Japan, New Edition. This series was created as an anthology of feminist work in Japan, and this work could not have been done without a large amount of materials, including newsletters, leaflets, and magazine articles. We believe that this digital archive will be a meaningful resource for future generations of women, who will want to trace the history of feminism themselves.
We request the submission of materials in all forms, including newsletters, magazines, and booklets.
Finally, please consider making donation to make this project happen. It is expensive to construct the archival website. You can transfer the money with a postal transfer, using the following number: 00960-4-321524 and write: “ＮＰＯ法人ＷＡＮ D－WAN協力金”
Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org, if you are interested in participating in this project, or already have an archive of your organization. We would like to hear from you and are happy to discuss any copyright concerns you may have.
Original article May 5, 2012
Translated by Eiko Saeki