She’s the first in the office every morning and somehow has time to put on an immaculate full face of makeup and curl her hair. She’s climbing the corporate ladder in a slightly liberal yet still respectable Japanese corporation, all while looking oshare and feminine in matching suits and heels. She married before 30 and is now superhumanly balancing work and childcare, with the help of a supportive but not emasculated husband (he probably earns just that little bit more than her so he doesn’t feel threatened). She can cook, does 75 percent of the housework and never complains. She really seems to have it all.
Ladies and gentlemen, meet the empowered Japanese woman, according to the majority of media outlets and an alarming percentage of the population’s perception.
Now, this kind of woman does exist. I’ve met actual breathing human beings who genuinely do seem to be this flawless and ultra-professional. I am totally in awe of them and if aspiring to this model will make you happy, you do you. My problem is, when only this very specific form of womanhood is celebrated. A successful and happy life can look very different on different women and the road less travelled is just as valid.
What about queer Japanese women? What about Japanese women working in blue collar jobs, freelancers, and those is non-traditional roles? What about Japanese women who don’t want to get married or have children? Hell, what about women who just don’t wear makeup. I want to see the full spectrum of Japanese womanhood accepted and celebrated.
Enter Celebrating Women in Japan, a Corporate Social Responsibility Project by Melanie Brock, Chair Emeritus of the Australian and New Zealand Chamber of Commerce in Japan and founder of a company that represents Australian companies looking to gain access to Japan. Each day, Celebrating Women in Japan shares a profile of a woman living in Japan on their social media channels, celebrating that woman’s life and achievements. It’s a simple but powerful concept.
In a bid to learn more about the project, Savvy Tokyo talked to Melanie about her work and why it’s important to celebrate all types of Japanese women.
Could you describe the “Celebrating Women Japan” project in three sentences or fewer?
Celebrating Women in Japan is designed to celebrate women in Japan and challenge stereotypes held about Japanese women. It’s my own small attempt to show the world the breadth and depth of engagement by Japanese women and by doing so, highlight the issues that women face in Japan.
What motivated you to begin the project?