Intersections: Gender, History and Culture in the Asian Context
Issue 6, August 2001

Tolerance, Form and Female Dis-ease:
The Pathologisation of Lesbian Sexuality in Japanese Society

Sharon Chalmers

  1. Lesbian sexuality and its relationship to medicine and health remains an unexplored subject in contemporary Japan.[1] This is primarily because successive Japanese governments have refused to acknowledge the existence of individuals who identify with minority sexualities as being socio-political subjects living within Japanese society. The fact that the Japanese government does not have any policies which address the particular needs of lesbians' lives is a loud message to lesbians to keep silent and remain invisible. This 'accepted invisibility' in relation to Japanese lesbians, or, in the case of male homosexuality what is often referred to as 'social tolerance'[2] is reflected in the lack of public debate around issues specific to lesbians' and gay men's concerns, including health care. For example, public discussions dealing with HIV/AIDS have overwhelming placed primary attention around those contracting HIV through blood contamination relegating little time and few resources toward the potential and realised ramifications for gay men.[3]
  2. As a result of such exclusionary politics lesbians in Japan are socially pressured not to define their relationships and this perpetuates the false assumption that they do not exist, either individually, in families or in alternative households. This is achieved primarily through the implementation of both direct and indirect policies that support and consolidate mainstream heteronormative knowledges and practices that define what it is to achieve the status of normal, healthy 'Japanese womanhood'. In so doing, there is still enormous pressure for women to marry and the vast majority do.[4]
  3. To a large extent this pressure is manifested in the very construction of the notion of 'Japanese womanhood' which conflates ideas of appropriate forms of ascribed feminine behaviour with institutionalised sexualised practices such as marriage and reproduction of children within a particular familial type, the nuclear[5] heterosexual family unit. This conception of Japanese womanhood is reinforced socio-linguistically by the phrase to become a whole person [ichininmae ni naru] and is premised on a rigid gendered and sexualised life-course pattern.[6] Although women in contemporary Japan do have somewhat more flexibility in life choices, the ideal of 'Japanese womanhood' is still predominantly centred on the status acquired first by getting married with the 'natural' second step of having children. It is only at this stage that a woman is said to become a whole person.
  4. I intend to focus on what it has meant to be a whole or 'healthy' Japanese woman through an exploration of the modern history[7] of female same-sex desire. First, I will consider some of the ways in which women's bodies were read by the medical profession in relation to deviant behaviours and the subsequent overt and more subtle links these readings had on how both female and male homosexuality came to be conceived of through the early 1900s. For example, there was a shift in the conceptualisation of male same-sex desire from at least partial acceptance to unnatural deviancy. Concomitantly, the 'newly' emerging concept of female-same sex desire was directly linked to male same-sex desire and both were placed under the umbrella term dôseiai [literally meaning same-sex love].[8] These changes did not, however, occur in a socio-cultural vacuum. They were supported by the Meiji, Taishô, and early Shôwa governments (1850s-1930s) in order to substantially increase the rate of Japanese industrialisation while concurrently there was the establishment of a patriarchal system of primogeniture which firmly cemented rigid sexualised and gendered spheres. On the one hand there was the institutionalisation of the emerging middle-class ideal of the good wife/wise mother [ryôsai kenbo][9] while on the other there was a simultaneous medicalisation of those women who resisted such narrow categorisations as transgressing feminine behaviour and described in terms of unnatural [fushizen] gender performance. Not coincidentally, the increase in and translation of European medical and scientific texts informed and supported this containment of rigid separate spheres.
  5. Second, I will link these earlier constructions to how contemporary Japanese lesbians themselves articulate what it is to be a normal healthy Japanese woman. I will argue that to a large extent and despite the introduction of various equal opportunity practices in the post-World War II period, the influence of dominant and powerful institutions including the Japanese medical profession still remain complicit in directing women on how they 'ought' to live their lives.
  6. Throughout this article I will draw from the narratives I collected while in Japan from 1993 to 1994 and briefly in 1998 at which times I was working on a larger project in which I explored various themes around the construction of lesbian subjectivity in Japanese society.[10] Over a thirteen month period I worked with a number of self-identified Japanese lesbians situated in various household structures to explore the socio-economic, political, emotional, gendered and sexualised lived practices that these women created and responded to within Japanese social relations. The age range of the women I talked with is important. The women ranged from their mid-twenties to those in their early fifties. However, the majority were in their late 30s and 40s. This is significant and is reflected in the information and critiques they presented. That is, they were part of the first generation of women who accepted lesbian sexuality as part of their conscious subjectivity and one from which they could articulate their understandings and personal experiences. Thus I was able to collect a living history of the changes that have occurred over the past 30 to 40 years. These personal experiences were augmented by a history of the modernisation/ industrialisation of Japan which they gained from listening to their parents' stories—a generation who went through massive social, economic and political changes. At the same time, their ability to question, challenge and respond to mainstream representations of female same-sex desire throughout their earlier lives was extremely limited. The images these women were presented with were those of the pathological female deviant represented in the guise of the heterosexualised butch/femme [tachi/neko] or women who were portrayed in androcentric pornography.
  7. Further, although these women agreed to speak with me, except for one, none were 'out' in the Anglo-European sense. That is, they were prepared to share their stories with me, albeit under very specific conditions, but were very sensitive to and aware of the socio-economic limitations placed on them in their ability to survive in Japan independently as 'older' women, some as mothers, let alone what it would mean to be 'out' as a lesbian.[11] Yet, it is this very invisibility that needs to be examined. As outlined above, one way is by exploring the ways in which dominant, and still pervasive representations of healthy 'Japanese womanhood' have been historically constructed in juxtaposition to those images of women who have not necessarily 'fitted in'. Moreover, these earlier representations are not part of a past gone by but rather can still be found in and reflect the degree to which mainstream portrayals of Japanese lesbians still remain firmly in the category of anti-family, anti-reproduction, anti-social, transgressing normal [futsu] female bodily behaviour. On the one hand, contemporary female same-sex eroticism has been represented as 'deviant' either in terms of androcentric pornography or pathologised as abhorrent in the media and literature. While on the other hand, and more commonly, it has simply been ignored! I have interspersed the primary narratives throughout the chapter as the narrators speak to both the past and present dominant representations of the notion of 'female deviance' not in terms of distinctive and separate historical periods but as a continuous process which have had a direct relationship on their lived experiences.

    The construction of male homosexuality in 'modern Japan'
  8. Male same-sex practices have been discussed in Japanese literature since the thirteenth century, and there has recently been an increase of academic interest in this area.[12] Indeed male-male love, generally referred to as nanshoku,[13] was sanctioned and took on different forms depending on social status combinations such as class, profession and age. For example, sexual liaisons commonly occurred between priests and their young lovers [chigo], samurai [nenja] and youths [chigo or wakashu], and male kabuki actors or male prostitutes [kagema] and their patrons.
  9. However, there were very real differences in status and expectations within these relationships. The samurai model was based on loyalty, duty and obligations grounded in samurai notions of masculinity, while the kagema relationship was marked by gender differentiation.[14] This moral and not coincidentally gendered hierarchy also influenced the way future male homosexual practices would be both 'tolerated' and scorned. The former in terms of romanticising the notion of wakashudô [the way of loving youths] and its links to bushidô [the way of warriors] through literature, theatre and the widespread readership of manga [comic books], while conversely it was the kagema subject who became the object of contempt and emerged as the male homosexual deviant in the 1920s.
  10. This shift from limited acceptance to a containment of male homosexuality as deviant was strongly influenced by the new sexology discourses of England and Europe from the 1910s through to the 1930s. In line with these changes 'the science of sexuality', based on 'an established system of classification'[15] was becoming increasingly influential within Japan with the introduction of the writings of sexologists such as Krafft-Ebing,[16] Havelock Ellis, Magnus Hirschfield, and Freud whose ideas were read and adapted to a radically changing Japanese context.

    Re-ma(r)king the female body
  11. It is also at this time, during the Meiji (1868-1912) and Taishô (1912-1926) periods, that women became more visible both in the literal sense, on the streets in small towns and cities, and in literary, educational, 'scientific' and medical discourses of the day.[17] For example, through her analysis of the trial of Takahashi Den (1850-1879), commonly known as Oden, who, refusing to show any remorse and was subsequently executed for the murder of her alleged benefactor, Marran[18] illustrates how female deviancy was constructed within the medico-legal and literary discourses of the early Meiji period.
  12. Marran argues that in a similar way to the Victorian medical fraternity of the time, Japanese physicians who were trained in Western medicine, and who were gaining strong institutional support from the Meiji state[19] were equally taken up with the anatomical properties of the body in an attempt to find 'truths' about particular behaviours. In the case of Oden, this was done by dissecting her body to literally find the cause of abnormal sexual deviancy and 'in the process, understand what makes all women tick'.[20] Initially it was 'found' that Oden's sexual organs were larger than 'normal' and this was directly related to her abnormal sexual desires.[21]
  13. As a result, Oden's body became part of a scientific discourse that worked to produce 'knowledge' about feminine norms based on determinist biological differences. Those females whose bodies did not fit into this specific discursive 'procedure', like Oden, were labelled 'poison women' [dokufu], (re)constructed as anomalous and anti-social.[22] In the case of Oden, deviancy was also characterised in terms of 'masculine' traits—such as boyishness, independence and aggressiveness.[23] These notions of female deviancy continued to act as a major influence in the medicalisation/pathologisation of Japanese women's bodies in relation to female sexuality particularly throughout the Meiji, Taishô (1912-1926) and early Shôwa periods (1926-1989).[24] For example, the modan gâru [the Modern Girl] of the 1920s and early 1930s, were described as 'abnormal, masculinized females, who sported short hair [danpatsu] and wore pants',[25] but emerged more explicitly in various explanations of gender transcendence in the all-female theatre troupe of Takarazuka as discussed below. The point is that whether, as prostitute or lesbian, female transgression was read as sexual excess[26] and in contradistinction to the idealised female passivity of the middle-class female Meiji woman.
  14. The Meiji Civil Code was introduced in 1898 and the male-headed household became institutionalised and premised on the samurai ideal,[27] and the assumed 'natural' connections between biological sex and gender began to be firmly established in the Japanese state ideology,[28] and effected particularly among the growing urban middle-class. Consequently, and perhaps not surprisingly, those who did not fit in or resisted such narrow categorisations were those who both informed and bore the brunt of the emerging discussions of female same-sex eroticism often defined in terms of inappropriate or unnatural [fushizen] feminine behaviour.
  15. The Meiji state apparatus also implemented a state ideology which attempted to institutionalise a middle-class ideal of 'womanhood' in the notion of 'educating mothers' through the romanticisation and glorification of motherhood as the pinnacle of women's duties and obligations to the family (state).[29] The Meiji era, along with the institutionalisation of the concept of ryôsai kenbo [good wife, wise mother] saw the introduction of the concept of the mothering instinct [bosei honno]. This ideology, was a mixture of European, samurai and Confucian moral precepts and developed into a middle-class essentialist conceptualisation of Japanese womanhood grounded in 'warm' harmonious family relationships. Through this process, the idealised Japanese woman became inextricably linked with reproduction, reproduction with the domestic sphere, and women as 'natural' nurturers within the domestic sphere. [30] This was a significant shift as previously various familial forms existed, and as Bernstein argues even before the the Tokugawa period (1603-1868) until well into the twentieth century, although marriage was an institutionalised norm, neither child-bearing nor child-rearing was necessarily considered a woman's ikigai [one's life's worth] or main obligation.[31] The Meiji and Taishô leaders were, as previously mentioned, intent on 'catching up' to other industrialising countries and as a result some commentators asserted that the institutionalisation of heterosexual monogamy was a major factor in the process of modernisation .[32] Yet, as Kumiko explains there was and continues to be an element of hypocrisy attached to the introduction of heterosexual monogamy.

      There is a real double standard about sex, the image and the values attached. Japan used to be very tolerant towards sex. The European puritan idea that sex was only for begetting children didn't really take hold here, and restrictions on sex didn't occur until the Edo period, and those were only for the samurai class. Heirs were needed, and women had to be chaste to ensure that the child who was born really belonged to the father.... The Edo samurai ideas of shame and chastity were taken up by the state in the Meiji period, and passed on to the children through the education system.... Even when my father was born, around eighty years ago, in his area it was common to marry about three times, and even women could decide to leave their husbands and take their children off to live together with another man. But Japanese women were heavily repressed during the Meiji period. Even in a society which frowned on sex, men had a certain amount of freedom, they could still buy prostitutes ... but if women slept with other men and got pregnant, the bloodline of the family would be sullied and the line ruined. Raising children became women's duty and their only pleasure, and that kind of pressure is still very strong today (Kumiko).[33]

  16. It was at this time, and I would argue not coincidentally, that the new term dôseiai [literally same-sex love],[34] which refers to both male and female homosexuality emerged. In contrast to the term and practices of nanshoku, Schalow argues that there was no pre-Meiji (1868) equivalent term for female same-sex eroticism.[35] Even if there were, Roden suggests, it is unlikely a term would have survived, as references to the prohibition of women's sexuality, specifically female same-sex practices, were maintained within Tokugawa literature (1603-1868).[36] In other words, female same-sex practices were not sanctioned. Portrayals of female same-sex practices can be seen in Tokugawan art but it is obvious from the prominent place of dildos in the prints and the often hidden voyeur, usually a male, that such behaviour was constructed, presented and consumed by and for men.[37] Moreover, these portrayals continue to be dominant in contemporary representations in television, for example, samurai dramas[38] and in mainstream constructions of 'lesbianism' played out in androcentric pornography.[39]
  17. This new inclusive terminology to encompass both male and female homosexuality [dôseiai] was arguably a dual response to the Meiji leaders and ultimately the codification within the Meiji Constitution of the distinct separation of men and women's socio-economic and political roles vis-à-vis the newly established modern Japanese state. First, it was a reaction to the existing male-related terms specifically describing male same-sex practices. That is, by using this new term and by including women within its meaning, nanshoku relations could be distanced both historically and psychologically from the new 'science of sexuality' that was surfacing in Japan. Second, by collapsing male and female homosexuality into one term the dominant Meiji ideology that gained its authority by hierarchically linking the emperor, state and family into a patriarchal and patrilineal family state helped to create an illusion of, in this case, the 'unnatural' gender connections, that is, women who want to be masculine [danseiteki joshi] and men who want to be feminine [joseiteki danshi], by tying male(ness) and female(ness) together, incapable of sexual autonomy. To a large extent, this mirrored biologically essentialist constructions of 'modern' institutionalised heterosexuality emerging at the time which asserted that two oppositional gendered halves make a whole, even in relation to 'deviant' gendered behaviour.
  18. As a result, gendered oppositions became clearly demarcated and homosexuality as deviancy became the norm.[40] Yet it is important to recognise that there were significant pockets of resistance to the Japanese state's strong attempts to contain women's roles. One of the more notable was the emergence of a feminist and socialist consciousness and political movement among a diverse group who were loosely referred to as the 'New Woman' [atarashii onna] throughout the 1910s.[41]
  19. This resistance notwithstanding and while female same-sex desire was named and at least acknowledged to exist, the aim in the male and female classification of homosexuality also worked to contain female same-sex desire through its association with female sexual deviancy. Roden asserts that this containment of sexuality was specifically aimed at women and states that conservatives tried to devalue the legitimacy of some women's newly found visibility and voices with what was seen as the perjorative term 'lesbian'.[42] Thus, at this stage it seems that the sexual act was not the problem. Rather, it was the shifts in gender roles that were seen as a threat to the Japanese social order through, for example, the potential rejection of marriage and motherhood[43] and the increasing number of women in waged labour.[44] However, during the 1920s, and possibly because of the widespread[45] popularisation and dissemination of discourses around sexology produced in the print media,[46] popular fiction and movies, and characterised by the modan gâru or moga [modern girl] of the 1920s and early 1930s, gender ambiguity and thus lesbianism became the focus of the sexologists and social critics. Many of the critics blamed this gender ambiguity on 'the "masculinizing" effect of Westernization on Japanese women',[47] which, taken to extremes, was now directly correlated with 'unnatural desires' [fushizen seiyoku]. Their main focus of criticism was often directed at the all women's theatre troupe, in particular the otokoyaku [women who performed as men] in the Takarazuka Revue.

    Per-forming gender: the Takarazuka Revue
  20. The all-women's Takarazuka Revue is not an isolated instance of 'gender-bending' in the history of the Japanese arts for there have been numerous examples of both public performances and cross-dressing within contained 'entertainment' spaces in historical and contemporary cultural practices in Japan. These range from the long traditions of Noh, Kabuki,[48] Taishûengeki theatre[49] and the Takarazuka Revue to the more recent proliferation of both heterosexual and homosexual transvestite bars. Club Marilyn in Tokyo, for example, is a bar where women cross-dress as men to entertain women.[50] It is this vast range of gender ambiguity that continues to perplex and complicate discussions of masculinity and femininity, sexuality, appropriate form, and the very nebulous and often touted banner of 'tolerance' in Japan.
  21. One area of popular culture that has been highly influential in historical mainstream constructions of lesbian and female heterosexual subjectivity in Japan is the Takarazuka Revue. At this point, therefore, Jennifer Robertson's work covering the theatre troupe in terms of what is acceptable 'gender-bending', in particular the relationship among the otokoyaku/musumeyaku [male and female roles], the tachi/neko [butch/femme] and the audience are of significance.[51] Her discussions of the historical construction of gender, heterosexuality and female homosexuality in relation to the internal and external production of sexuality both within and outside of the theatre troupe is indispensable to an understanding of the 'predicament' or 'social imperative'[52] in which tachi/neko were employed during the 1960s and 1970s, by some of the narrators with whom I talked.
  22. The Takarazuka Revue was founded in 1913 by Kobayashi Ichizô, the owner of the Hankyû railway and department store. In comparison to the Noh and Kabuki theatre the Takarazuka troupe is made up of young women performers. In a similar construction to the other theatrical styles, the roles are divided into two distinct genders, male [otokoyaku] and female [musumeyaku].[53] In Noh and Kabuki the 'male' is considered real and thus signified by his part, rather than his gender or sex, whereas the 'female' performers are referred to as onnagata [female model]. In contrast, in Takarazuka the difference of gender terms employed reflects the distinct status and hierarchical nature of both Takarazuka as a legitimate art form[54] as well as that of the 'male' and 'female' performers regardless of what gender(ed) roles they play. The decision to whom 'secondary gender' is allotted, which takes place in the form of both masculine and feminine re-constructions,[55] is generally made based on the physical appearance of the girl and to some extent on the individual's personal preference. Nevertheless, otokoyaku are usually taller, have deeper voices and 'exude kosei [charisma] which is disparaged in "females"'.[56]
  23. Many of the Takarazuka productions are based on classic 'Western' works and as such the actor's physical appearance is grounded in a re-invention of foreign 'maleness' and 'femaleness'.[57] The difference in representation may lie in the fact that the female actors were originally referred to as musumeyaku [daughter role] which was based in, and supported by, the Meiji ideology epitomised in the notion of ryôsai kenbo [good wife/wise mother] whereas sexual desire was confined, for married women, to reproduction or, for prostitutes, to servicing male sexual desire. In contrast, the musumeyaku [daughter role] epitomised both sexual innocence and filial piety.[58] Moreover, from their acceptance into the Takarazuka Music Academy for a period of two years training[59] and consequently during their performing careers, both the physical and emotional environment is predicated on the Japanese family system, in ways similar to other institutional structures in Japan.[60]
  24. Robertson traces the historical linkages between the Takarazuka actors and lesbian sexuality, specifically in terms of butch/femme constructions, back to the social commentaries of the 1920s. Moreover, as the following women's narratives suggest, these earlier explanations have continued to feed into recent and contemporary accounts of the 'origins' and interpretations of lesbianism:

      when I started to wonder whether or not I was a lesbian, I started to read books on psychology and psychiatry to do with lesbians. I also found out a bit by reading manga written for junior and senior high school girls. So it wasn't through feminism or anything like that (Mayumi).

  25. Interestingly, but not surprisingly, both social critics and sexologists became fascinated with and concentrated on the otokoyaku, claiming that there was a direct relationship between playing male roles [tachi] and abnormal psychology [hentai seiri].[61] According to the literature of the time, female homosexuality was divided into two types, referred to as dôseiai and o-me no kankei. The former term implied non-sexual, that is, platonic intense friendships, which, while seen as 'abnormal', were tolerated as a 'girlhood phase'. This period in a 'girl's' life, from puberty to marriage, is known as shôjoki.[62] Indeed, to some extent it was encouraged by parents to steer their daughters away from pre-marital heterosexual relations.[63]

      When I was about twenty-two I was reading lots of psychology books and came to the conclusion that I must have been wrong in my thinking, because these books all presented the standard view that homosexual love among young girls is common until they grew up and found themselves the real thing in a man. I thought I was only going through that process (Kumiko).

    Or, as in the case of Toshiko, who, in her early twenties, lived together with her female lover [koibito] in the late 1960s, 'Our mothers were disturbed by our relationship and seemed to have the attitude that this sickness would pass after some time' (Toshiko). On the other hand, the latter term, o-me no kankei, directly referred to the tachi which established the gendered and sexualised oppositional nature of the butch/femme roles. The butch's sexuality was said to be premised on carnal depravity [nikuteki daraku][64] and inherent perversion [shinsei tôsaku].[65]

      When I was fourteen I fell in love with a classmate, and started to read books on psychology and the Bible. Psychology told me that I was abnormal.... This was sexual perversion, and women who played otokoyaku were the worst examples of this, incurable. Women that played onnayaku could still be saved, be cured. I read this and believed it which led me to a lot of mental anguish because I thought that my sexuality was basically oriented toward playing otokoyaku. But when I was in love with my classmate, I thought I was homosexual, abnormal, the only wrong person in the whole world (Sachiko).[66]

    In contrast, the neko [femme] was basically ignored, but perhaps she was seen as the 'pseudo-homosexual' enticed away from men by the tachi who was 'technically proficient at manipulating women'.[67]
  26. However, the contradiction emerges between the assumed passivity of Japanese female bodies[68] and the resistance to gender and (hetero)sexual conformity by both the butch and femme. That is, the conventional discursive construction of female subjectivity in the 1920s and 1930s was grounded in the assumption that women, or rather girls [shôjo] as they were referred to until marriage, were sexually naive and innocent.[69] Thus, the emergence of the tachi was explained by some commentators as originating in the propensity of the otokoyaku in pursuing their male roles outside of the theatre, thus producing the shift from a dôseiai to an o-me no kankei relationship.[70] This argument emphasised an 'evolutionary' and spatial shift. It was a response and explanation to deal with the potential and actual resistance that was already evident and in opposition to the ideal of ryôsai kenbo [good wife, wise mother] during the 1920s.
  27. Ironically, it was this very embodiment of ryôsai kenbo that Kobayashi (the founder) espoused as the eventual goal in the training of the gendered performances of both the 'male' and 'female' Takarazuka actors. Furthermore, the aforementioned acts of resistance are most often centred on the butch, as it is she who literally 'appears' as the disruption to the hierarchical nature of the male/female dyad.[71]
      In this society only otokoyaku has been seen as sexually perverted, a hermaphrodite [otoko-onna], or abnormal [ijô ], because their appearance expresses their refusal to play the role of women. While onnayaku[72] remains within the sexual control of men, otokoyaku intervenes in the male domain.[73]

    'Tachi' or 'Neko': Which one are you?
  28. It is also important to identify the position of butch/femme relationships within the historical context of feminist discourse. Up until the mid 1980s, feminists, particularly the more visible middle-class lesbian-feminists generally marginalised and assigned butch/femme couples to the realm of heterosexual mimicry, that is, simply a replication of the male/female binary which reflected the unequal hierarchical power relations of the dominant social order.[74]
  29. The common explanation that butch/femme is merely a duplication of male/female relations is not only simplistic but resembles a return to a pathologisation discourse in which the cause of such behaviour is reducible to usually 'negative' psychological and/or physical experiences, and the consequent appropriation of either a powerful or powerless position exhibited in either masculine or feminine roles.[75] This interpretation fails to acknowledge the options, although limited, available to lesbians in different times and places in relation to heterosexual society, as well as the values ascribed to the notions of 'masculinity' and 'femininity' at different historical and socio-cultural moments. Sachiko, for example, could only find a group who organised arranged meetings between women or what appears to be a replication of heterosexual arranged marriage meetings [o-miai]. [76]

      The people choosing roles were those in that lesbian o-miai group, and obviously the idea of taking on 'male' and 'female' identities was something they had learnt from society. The way they divided and stereotyped a quality like strength into male and female was borrowed straight from society, because there were no good lesbian models available... So the period I happened to be born in and grew up in was very heterosexual, and there was no information. Because of that, lesbians thought that playing an otokoyaku was a good thing, and that's what I did (Sachiko).

  30. However despite the appearance of heterosexual mimicry the critical, but often overlooked point is the fact that 'butches did not completely take on a male persona, and fems were aware that they were not with men'.[77] In other words, it is which body that matters and therefore crucial to differentiate and comprehend that, 'the man "in the woman" is not the same as the man "in the man."'[78] Nor is there usually any desire to be.[79] The regulatory nature of gender polarity and differentiation in post-war Japanese society left few choices for lesbians. The options were limited to either remaining completely invisible or making a conscious decision, as Sachiko did, when appearing in the 'lesbian public' of adopting a 'masculinised' role. Nevertheless, the configuration of the female body with so-called masculine traits, or, conversely, the femme who 'likes her boys to be girls'[80] needs to be read as a complex interplay of erotic roles and social practices.
  31. In Japan in the mid to late 1970s the only places where lesbians could meet publicly were in the bars, which, compared to male gay bars, were few and far between. Moreover, the lesbian culture in the bars was generally based on male/female gender divisions, in Japanese known as tachi/neko [butch/femme] roles. Thus when Fumie entered this bar world without knowing the performative gender distinctions that were already in place, she was initially taken aback and confused when confronted with the question of whether she was tachi or neko.

      I was asked for the first time if I was butch or femme. Dotchi na no? (Which one?) So I asked, 'Do I have to decide?' And the owner of the bar said, 'You know, these young people now they don't decide on these things any more.' She complained a bit but didn't force me to say it (Fumie).

    The confusion, however, did not stop there. At the time Fumie had long hair and because the stereotype of a neko was grounded in a reflection of heterosexual feminine dress and appearance codes, she was assumed to be femme. This meant that even though she was not interested in these divisions, because this code had already been established, there was the existing presumption both that she was neko and that she knew this when she entered. One of the effects of this silent understanding was that as a neko, she must take on a passive role. In other words, she could neither approach butches because they were supposed to initiate conversation, and as for talking to femmes, what would be the point? Moreover, rather than butches approaching her directly, information about her was sought through the friend with whom she had arrived. This made Fumie feel powerless. As a result, she decided to cut off her hair. Since Fumie's intention was not to attract anybody but simply to find out information, and to accomplish this she needed to ask questions, she decided on the conscious action of reversing her role.[81]

      I felt harassed as a femme, and I didn't want to invite that because then I would have to say 'go away' and it would be a hassle. And I wasn't there for that. So I thought if I cut my hair no one would approach me and I would have to start the conversation... I thought my position would be better (Fumie).

    Hence, even though the 'imaginary anatomy' of male and female bodies has been predicated on gender extremes and is reflected in the outward appearance and performance of the butch/femme, the transgressive nature of this relationship in terms of sexual object choice and sexual practices differs significantly from institutionalised heterosexuality.
  32. The first and perhaps most obvious difference, as discussed, is that lesbian eroticism depends on two female bodies and thus the penis as erotic signifier is displaced.[82] Furthermore, the femme is both actively involved in attracting the butch and in sexual reciprocity in that the femme also demands sexual satisfaction which is a fundamental shift from the usual primacy of heterosexual male pleasure. This 'active-passivity' of the femme[83] thus reveals a disjuncture in the nature of hierarchies between gender identification and sexual practices. Finally, although the butch and femme may appear to reinstate a heterosexual hierarchy, there is no associated social, economic or political privilege attached to either role. In fact, arguably, it is the femme who has the greater possibility to receive the social advantage (if one argues that invisibility is a benefit), by replicating the performance of gender(ed) norms, thus not drawing attention or disdain to her outward appearance or behaviour.[84]
  33. Thus, the employment of butch/femme roles when discussing lesbian sexuality in Japan must be historically contextualised in relation to the medico-legal discourses that helped to produce the 'truths' about female homosexuality. These included questions such as what is normal/abnormal, sexual/non-sexual, masculine/feminine as well as an emerging sexological reading, for example, Havelock Ellis who distinguished between the 'real' lesbian [tachi] /pseudo-lesbian [neko].
  34. Returning to the Takarazuka theatre, from the management's perspective, they endeavoured to imitate the gender norms of the day and continue to assert that in doing so they are able to train the actors, whether otokoyaku or musumeyaku, to become good wives and mothers [ryôsai kenbo]. Thus, the gender extremes embodied by the actors and their relationship to the audience, set within an erotic fantasy world, throw into relief or demonstrate the dominant and oppressive nature of gender/(hetero)sexual relations in Japan. At the same time, however, the very fact that both 'masculinity' and 'femininity' are enacted through and by female bodies transcends and resists the social containment it is supposed to produce. As Grosz astutely notes: 'As a concept, sexuality is incapable of ready containment. It refuses to stay within its predesignated regions, for it seeps across boundaries into areas that are apparently not its own.'[85]
  35. Robertson asserts that while the Takarazuka Revue remains extremely popular, it is no longer an important site for contemporary psychology and psychiatry, but rather has shifted to discursive strategies of containment.[86] I agree with Robertson on this point but also argue that the Takarazuka Revue remains integral to understanding the persistent misinformation that continues to pathologise, contain or ignore particular kinds of behaviour which are seen to be 'anti-social' and by implication 'diseased'.
  36. The Takarazuka Revue is not merely theatre suspended from social reality but rather a point of entry into the construction and reflection of the historical-political processes around the discourses of gender and sexuality that have occurred over the past ninety years. Moreover, through this period, specific policies in relation to what it means to be 'a Japanese woman' and how these have been taken up by the directors of the theatre have worked to produce the simultaneous effects of containment, resistance and constant dis-ease in relation to the notions of fixed gender and (hetero)sexual identity.

    Contemporary representations of 'Japanese womanhood'
  37. In contemporary Japan there is still constant pressure placed on women to conform to appropriate female behaviour. Thus, to appear heterosexual or to show interest in men particularly during the marriageable age period [tekireiki] is still the dominant norm.[87] It is at this time that biological family members, employers, work-place colleagues and friends are particularly aware of both men and women's marital status.[88]

      I look at my neighbours or young women and think they want to work for two or three years and then want to get married and have a child, and I really know how they feel. They are doing the things, the only things that they have really learned, because that's what they're taught, it's in them, they've learned it ... [it's the one area] they are able to decide and not be criticised for it (Fumie).

  38. Fumie's description and empathy with why most women in Japan take on marriage, child-bearing and child-rearing vividly underscores the ways in which the 'feminine' and the feminised heterosexual body are constructed within Japanese society. Japanese women and men's ability to achieve social recognition and monetary gains is grounded in the acceptance of the heterosexual marriage contract. In the case of Japanese women, adulthood is not realised until marriage and childbirth has taken place, whereas for men the relationship between marriage and social status is directly related to their position within the public-work sphere. Indeed, as Bankart rightly claims marriage is the first stepping stone towards becoming a 'real' woman, while the subsequent bearing of children and becoming a mother consolidates the process and completes a woman's initiation into adulthood.[89] Only at this stage does she become a 'whole person'.[90] Consequently these status markers significantly affect, even determine, women's social standing within the community.
  39. These views are also socially reinforced by the government and media. Medical discourses in Japan also significantly contribute to contain women's choices within socially prescribed roles and are complicit with other hegemonic Japanese social institutions in constructing and heterosexualising women's bodies:

      I had a myoma of the uterus. And I had only the myoma removed, not the whole uterus. So the doctor told me that I still had my uterus and I could still have children, so hurry up and get married. I thought maybe god was telling me to live an ordinary straight life, and that maybe it would be better to get married (Ayako).

  40. The medical profession and the Japan Medical Association are very powerful and while medical practitioners have been criticised for over-prescribing and dispensing medication,[91] doctors still maintain a strong influence in affirming and consolidating the contemporary state discourse that emphasises motherhood and reproduction as a woman's ikigai [life's worth].[92] Thus, the medical profession and, as previously noted, reports by 'social critics' in the media work to sustain popular attitudes that proclaim, for example, that 'childless married women over thirty are assumed to be barren,'[93] or 'less than a full woman,'[94] and a woman who does not want children is considered 'unwomanly' [onnarashikunai].[95] These attitudes place added stress on women to conform and comply within socially accepted roles.
  41. Many of the messages that these women receive, whether explicitly or implicitly, are contained within medico-legal explanations which secure dualistic notions of the hetero/homo, inside/outside hierarchy, in which the latter term is marked by devaluation, as the outlaw, and is set up as outside heterosexual norms. Yet, for this exclusion to take place and be protected, the 'other' needs to be included in order to construct it as 'contaminated' in the process towards exteriorisation.[96] In terms of lesbian sexuality, the subject 'lesbian' is intimately implicated in the construction of heterosexuality in order for the specific heterosexual discourse to function. Thus, for heterosexuality to be central and naturalised, lesbians (and gay men) cannot merely be on the outside, for it is their insiderness, the need for them to lie alongside, that necessitates their expulsion to the frontiers. Thus, the notion of 'outsiderness', whether through the act of exclusion or expulsion, is never fully realised, for the centre relies on repeated sites of contestation in order to maintain its hegemony.
  42. Mayumi's search for information illustrates the contradictions and alliances implicit in what is represented as a lack, which constantly needs to be supplemented in the continual and constant reification of heterosexuality as a system.

      I read books to find something approving the way I felt, but most of what was written was fairly negative, referring to it as something temporary, or connected with hatred of men, which wasn't a very satisfactory explanation (Mayumi).

    The negative representations that were being offered to Mayumi were attempting to push her over the borders of the heterosexual binary divide through a medicalisation of her subjectivity. However, through her questioning and refusal to accept this oppositional logic, she disrupts the hetero/lesbian boundaries by claiming a different ontological presence within, while still being portrayed as outside.
  43. The taboos surrounding discussions of sex and sexuality are significant and particularly evident within discourses directly relating to kazoku [family].[97] For married women in particular, these taboos produce home [uchi] or family [kazoku] images that represent active sexual pleasure as the antithesis of motherhood and reproduction.[98] As a result, a stark dichotomy is exposed in which good girls/women are set up in opposition to women involved in the mizu shôbai or the so-called entertainment industry. Thus, mainstream images of lesbianism that are intimately associated within androcentric pornography construct lesbianism as anti-reproduction, anti-family, and anti-motherhood. Women, on the other hand, are divided into good/bad, young/old, mother/whore, heterosexual/lesbian while simultaneously represent pleasure and desire as the province of active male sexuality.

      The media portrays very young women dancing at discos in a pornographic way, and then jumps from them to older women, mothers. In other words, men like young girls who suggest sex, and then older women who will look after them. Women are mothers, wives or prostitutes. Men decide women's positions. That's why as a lesbian I don't like the image of women portrayed by the mass media. You're expected to become a mother, a prostitute or a cute girl (Toshiko).

  44. The distinct separation between the categories of wife/mother, unmarried young women, and sex industry workers in Japan works to produce married female bodies that deny, displace and replace female sexual desire in favour of reproduction. For it is in this bodily form, or what Buckley refers to as 'the motherbody',[99] that heterosexual women gain privilege. This reified motherbody is then set in direct opposition to active and autonomous female sexual desire that is represented as a lack or excess, both of which are characterised in negative terms. Thus, within mainstream representations, lesbian desire becomes the quintessential 'imaginary anatomy' for despite the fact that they do not rely on a position in relation and subordinate to male desire,[100] lesbians are generally marked by male desire. These images are disseminated through popularised cultural myths.[101]

      If you say that you're a lesbian, and if you're like me, and not particularly pretty, people say that it's because men don't want you. And if you supposedly are pretty, people say that it's a waste. So men treat you the same way in the end. If you're what men think of as pretty, they assume you must be lesbian because you've been raped or have some other similarly terrible memory, and tell you they're not that sort of man (Chie).

      I read books to find something approving the way I felt, but most of what was written was fairly negative, referring to it as something temporary, or connected with hatred of men ... (Mayumi).

  45. Thus, what marks the lesbian within mainstream discourses is a repudiation of autonomous, active female desire which is explained by, among other things, sexual innocence and/or naivety, sickness or bad experiences with men.

    Tolerance, form and female dis-ease
  46. Since at least the Meiji Restoration there has been a combination of discourses employed including science, medicine, the law, media and the arts, education and nationalism, often used simultaneously, in order both to contain 'feminine' behaviour and as a result to regulate transgressive female bodies. This in part came about through the translation of various 'scientific' texts among which were those dealing with medicine, sexology and psychoanalysis. Up until now the existence of homosexuals has been treated according to three categories.
      Homosexuals are looked at as hentai [abnormal], controlled by the institutions of psychiatry. They are treated as o-warai [comedy] within the entertainment media. Or, they are ignored.[102]

  47. 'Tolerance' has been the catch-cry of mainstream explanations of how 'homosexuality' is perceived in Japan. Yet, since the 1930s all forms of homosexuality have been generally read in Japanese discourses as abhorrent, deviant and diseased behaviours characterised, depending on one's interpretation, as physiological or psychological illness. Part of the containment of lesbian sexuality has meant focusing on male homosexuality. Greater visibility notwithstanding and despite the claim that there have never been moral sanctions[103] nor legal prohibitions,[104] mainstream Japanese society does not tolerate any homosexuality outside of specific spheres that can be controlled by mainstream heterosexist institutions.[105] For example, as recently as 1994 the Japanese Ministry of Education compiled and distributed a teacher's manual which proclaims homosexuality to be 'a sexual perversion' and 'calls for medical treatment of homosexuality.'[106]
  48. On one hand, male gays are employed for their 'novelty' or 'camp' behaviour within the media[107]—most frequently in the context of feminine parody as comedy.[108] Another fashion has been the popularisation of manga from the mid 1970s, written by (heterosexual) women for teenage girls and women about male homosexuality [bishônen].[109] On the other hand, lesbians are either excluded or pathologised and if this is not possible, then ignored. Alternatively, the concept of lesbian [rezubian or the more commonly used abbreviated form rezu] is specifically employed to describe female same-sex androcentric pornography.
  49. In all the above portrayals what remains clear is that toleration is only acceptable for lesbians and gay males as long as 'they do not act homoerotically socially.'[110]

      About ten years ago there was a Japanese singer who was a lesbian [Sagara Naomi]. Her former lover came out and told everyone that the singer was a lesbian and after that society didn't want anything to do with her. Everyone kept on saying 'rezu' [lezzo], 'rezu'. In Japanese the word 'rezubian' isn't used very much, people say 'rezu'.... Everyone was fascinated. After that she vanished from the public eye. That's frightening, isn't it? (Marô)

  50. Fushimi, a gay activist, also argues that discriminatory practices in Japan are often not direct, but take the form of 'marginal skirmishes'.[111] One of these more recent and public 'skirmishes' involved a Japanese gay and lesbian organisation,[112] known as Akâ or Ugoku Gêi to Rezubian no Kai [Group for the movement of gays and lesbians]. In 1990 a small group of gay men were told they could not stay overnight at a youth hostel, Fuchû Seinen no Ie [the Fuchu Youth Activity Center], a Tokyo City Council public facility. A representative from the department of education at the Tokyo City Council stated that, 'Allowing homosexuals to stay is against the principle of this facility, which aims to support the healthy development of young people' (emphasis added).[113]
  51. As a result Akâ sued the Tokyo City Council and in March 1994, the judge ruled in favour of Akâ, who were awarded 270,000 yen compensation.[114] This ruling was then appealed by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government. On 9 September 1997 the Tokyo High Court supported the original finding and ruled that denying access to a public facility was illegal and discriminatory. Although I have also taken part in 'lesbian weekends'[115]at other youth hostels and public facilities around Japan, the same response has not taken place. Perhaps it is because lesbian groups do not use the word 'lesbian' when registering, (even though it is obvious that these groups are made up of lesbians), that the same public confrontation has not occurred. Or perhaps it is part of the discourse on the lesbian groups' side to protect any public space they can get, while it suits the government to perpetuate the silences by ignoring their existence.
  52. Compulsory heterosexuality in Japan does not exist in a social, political or economic void and gendered and sexed role differentiation is strongly supported and maintained by all dominant institutions in Japanese society including an extremely conservative medical profession. Indeed, doctors' attitudes[116] to women's health can be defined by an overall commitment to upholding the gender status quo by constructing biological essentialist explanations when linking women, motherhood, the family and paid work with institutionalised heterosexuality. Although research has not been carried out in the area of lesbian's access and treatment within the medical system in Japan there are strong indications that deviations from the norm of 'Japanese womanhood' and living outside of a heterosexual family are seen as an aberration and would be diagnosed as such.[117] However, these constructions are not bound by biological givens, but rather are linked to a particular, usually middle-class, historical and cultural construct of 'womanhood' which is affirmed and privileged within a specific spatial and familial type.

      Japanese mothers are supposed to throw aside their careers, no matter how promising, as soon as they have children. Men continue working, while women give up their jobs to raise children. Women are supposed to be mothers before they are women (Toshiko).

  53. Japanese female sexuality[118] continues to be intimately connected to Japanese femininity, motherhood and heterosexual reproduction within a homogenous notion of 'the Japanese family'. As such, those who do not fit in continue to have their behaviours pathologised by the medical profession through in the case of married women, the invention of neuroses. Or, for those women who are unmarried in the form of 'expert' advice by doctors and psychologists often appearing on or quoted by the media[119] to get married in order to avoid illness and by doing so become a whole (healthy) Japanese woman. This common practice is supported and perpetuated by a culturally relativist academic rhetoric which argues that Japanese men and women's socio-economic and political positions are equal but separate grounded on complementary gender roles. This position is then employed to justify the uniqueness of Japanese social relations thereby foreclosing any further debate. But what happens to those who do not 'fit in'? White explains the separate sphere debate in the following terms: 'The received opinion of the "separate spheres" camp visualizes women as stable, secure, and satisfied - except, of course, for younger women and other "pathological" categories'.[120] Thus, White points to a persistent tendency to differentiate Japanese women according to their deviation from an assumed universal sameness. This defines those who adhere to mainstream norms as 'Japanese women', while 'others' are represented as abnormal, anti-social and anti-family.
  54. The dominant contemporary bio-medical discourse in Japan as stated also overlaps with media images setting up contradictions between autonomy and family obligations in which the female subject, whether heterosexual or lesbian, is pathologised in terms of a dichotomy. For women who are assumed to be heterosexual, the 'traditional' mother is imbued with the associated feminine virtues of perseverance, the archetypical kyôiku mama [education mother], constructed in opposition to the independent 'modern' selfish [wagamama] woman. On the one hand, women are criticised for their so-called obsessive or psychotic behaviours, generally described as syndromes or neuroses, for example, 'kitchen syndrome' or 'moving-day depression.'[121] On the other hand, they are censured for breaking away from the isolation of their homes when entering paid employment, in particular the full-time workforce.[122] The more extreme critique of this latter portrayal is said to lead 'to the "masculinization" of women'[123] which is somewhat reminiscent of the emerging discourse of the Japanese sexologists in the 1920s. Moreover, the tendency to present self-identified lesbians and gay men as heterosexual mimicry still exists within contemporary media images. Valentine in his work on the representation of homosexuality on a Japanese television talk show[124] similarly found that male gays are usually portrayed as transgressive comic relief in the form of transvestites, that is, men who want to be women [okama] while lesbians, when they do appear, are characterised as masculine in 'nature' [onabe].[125] Thus, the dichotomy that constructs women who want to be men danseiteki joshi and men who want to be women joseiteki danshi and which conflates sex, gender and sexuality is still firmly in place in Japanese society.


    [1] In contrast there has been emergence of literature particularly within the US including or specifically dealing with lesbian health and their access as self-identified lesbians to medical care. For example, see Patricia E. Stevens and Joanne M. Hall, 'A Critical Historical Analysis of the Medical Construction of Lesbianism', in Women's Health, Politics and Power: Essays on Sex/Gender, Medicine and Public Health, ed. Elizabeth Fee and Nancy Krieger, New York: Baywood Publishing, 1994; Patricia E. Stevens, 'Lesbian Health Care Research: A Review of the Literature from 1970 to 1990', in Lesbian Health: What are the Issues? , ed. Phyllis Noerager Stern, Washington: Taylor & Francis, 1993; J. B. Lehmann, 'Development and Health Care Need of Lesbians', Journal of Women's Health 7, 3 (1998):379-87.

    [2] This notion of 'tolerance' primarily toward male homosexuality is also found within feminist texts. For example Yoshizumi states that, 'Solidarity among men has tended to be glorified, and there is a generally tolerant attitude with respect to cultural expressions of homosexuality.' She goes on to discuss male homosexual practices with a brief afterword about lesbians. Moreover her examples of contemporary cultural 'tolerance' are restricted to expressions of male and female homosexuality within the entertainment industries. Yoshizumi Ky˘ko, 'Marriage and the Family: Past and Present', in Japanese women: New Feminist Perspectives on the Past, Present and the Future, ed. Kumiko Fujimura-Fanselow and Atsuko Kameda, New York: The Feminist Press, 1995:190-92. Miya Yoshiko goes a step further and makes the distinction between the kind of tolerance for gay men and for lesbians. 'Even in the modern period there has been a fairly high tolerance of a homosexual sub-culture so long as it did not "flaunt" itself ... I would say the public is more tolerant toward male homosexuality than toward lesbianism', Sandra Buckley, Broken Silence: Voices of Japanese Feminism, Berkeley & London: University of California Press, 1997:162-63, (emphasis added).

    [3] Sandra Buckley, 'The Foreign Devil Returns: Packaging Sexual Practice and Risk in Contemporary Japan', in Sites of Desire - Economies of Pleasure: Sexualities in Asia and the Pacific, ed. Lenore Manderson & Margaret Jolly, Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1997, p. 279.

    [4] One of the major reasons given for the high rate of marriage and low rate of divorce in Japan is the lack of economic security for women in the paid workplace. This situation has indeed become worse in recent years with an increase in wage differentials between men and women. Sandra Buckley, 'Altered states: The body politics of "being woman"', in Postwar Japan as History, ed. Andrew Gordon, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993, p. 358; Mary Saso, Women in the Japanese Workplace, London: Hilary Shipman, 1990, p. 257. This situation makes it even more difficult for women to live economically independent lives, particularly if they have children.

    [5] The majority of Japanese households are now considered 'nuclear' households but in reality many families build separate living areas, live next-door or in the same neighbourhood and so still retain extremely close ties emotionally, geographically and economically.

    [6] The general portrayal of a Japanese woman's live-course is presented as, a young woman who will graduate from high school, attend a junior college or university, enter the paid workforce until marriage or childbirth, rear her children, and then possibly re-enter the paid workforce as a part-timer with the potential obligation of taking care of one's parents-in-law or sometimes one's own parents as they become elderly.

    [7] The 'modern' history of Japan is generally defined as beginning from the Meiji Restoration in 1868.

    [8] In a similar way that the contemporary term 'homosexuality' in Anglo-European cultures tends to refer to male homosexuality the same inference is equated with the term d˘seiai.

    [9] This concept was introduced and institutionalised in the Japanese state rhetoric during the late Meiji, early Taish˘ periods.

    [10] All women were given a choice of whether they wanted their real names or pseudonyms used. By the end of the project, all chose to remain anonymous.

    [11] This is in contrast to a new younger generation of self-identified Japanese lesbians who appear in, write to and read a variety of 'lesbian chic' magazines and who are beginning, and I emphasise just beginning, to be more open about their existence.

    [12] Margaret H. Childs, 'Chigo Monogatari: Love Stories or Buddhist Sermons?', in Monumenta Nipponica 35, 2 (1980):127-51; Gary P. Leupp, Male Colors: The Construction of Homosexuality in Tokugawa Japan, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995; Paul Gordon Schalow, 'The Invention of a Literary Tradition of Male Love: Kitaumura Kigin's Iwatsutsuji', in Monumenta Nipponica 48, 1 (1993):1-31; Stephen D. Miller ed. Partings at Dawn: An Anthology of Japanese Gay Literature, San Francisco: Gay Sunshine Press, 1996; T˘no Haruyuki, 'Niki ni miru Fujiwara Yorinaga no nanshoku kankei: ďch˘ kizoku no uita sekusuarisu', (Fujiwara Yorinaga's Sexual Relations with other Men as Seen in his Diary: The Vita Sexualis of the Heian Court Nobility', in Hisutoria 84 (1979):15-29; Watanabe Tsuneo and Iwata Jun'ichi, The Love of the Samurai: A Thousand Years of Japanese Homosexuality, London: Gay Men's Press, 1989; Greg Pflugfelder, 'Strange Facts: Sex, Gender, and Sexuality in Torikaebaya Monogatari', Monumenta Nipponica 47, 3 (1992):347-68; Greg Pflugfelder, Cartographies of Desire: Male-male Sexuality in Japanese Discourse, 1600-1950, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999; Hiratsuka Ryosen, Nihon ni okeru nanshoku no kinkyû (Research into the Practice of Male Homosexuality in Japan), Tokyo: Ningen no Ruigaku, 1983: Ihara Saikaku (trans. Paul Schalow), The Great Mirror of Male Love, Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1990.

    [13] Schalow points out that male sexual relations were not exclusively homosexual but part of broader bisexual practices. Paul Gordon Schalow, 'Male love in early modern Japan: A literary depiction of the "youth"', in Hidden from History: Reclaiming the Gay and Lesbian Past, ed. Martin Duberman, Martha Vincus and George Chauncey Jr., London: Penguin, 1991, p. 119.

    [14] Furukawa Makoto (trans. Angus Lockyer), 'The Changing Nature of Sexulality: The Three Codes Framing Homosexulaity in Modern Japan', in US-Japan Women's Journal (English supplement) 7 (1995):98-127, p. 100.

    [15] Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison, New York: Vintage, 1978, p. 64.

    [16] Furukawa asserts that the translation of Krafft-Ebing's Psychopathia Sexualis was 'the most important work in sexology, [and] contributed greatly to turning sexology toward the study of sexual perversion or hentai seiyoku.' Furukawa, 'The Changing Nature of Sexuality', p.118. Translations of Havelock Ellis could be found in Seit˘ (a feminist journal of the 1910s), see Vera Mackie, Creating Socialist Women in Japan: Gender, Labour and Activism, 1900-1937, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997, p. 84. It is interesting to note that while Freud and Krafft-Ebing did not consider female same-sex practices as an illness, Ellis, condemned female homosexuals as 'diseased or criminal outlaws' while he conceptualised male homosexuality as 'congenital and harmless' (Gilbert Herdt, Same Sex, Different Cultures: Gays and Lesbians Across Cultures, Boulder: Westview Press, 1997, p. 41; Richard von Krafft-Ebing, Psychopathia Sexualis, Philadelphia & London: F. A. Davis Co., 1892).

    [17] Education was made compulsory for both male and female students in 1872 under The Education Ordinance [Gakusei]. Similar moves, that is, the classification of women's sexuality, also became more visible in both 'scientific', educational and popular literature in Anglo-European societies with increased urbanisation and industrialisation in their respective histories (Colleen Lamos, 'The Postmodern Lesbian Position: On our Backs', in The Lesbian Postmodern, New York: Columbia University Press, 1994, p. 87; Carrol Smith-Rosenberg, 'Discourses of Sexuality and Subjectivity: The New Woman, 1870-1936', in Hidden from History, ed. Duberman et al., pp. 264-280; Stevens & Hall, 'A Critical Historical Analysis of the Medical Construction of Lesbianism', p. 240; Martha Vicinus, 'Distance and Desire: English Boarding School Friendships, 1870-1920', in Hidden from History, ed. Duberman et al., p. 213).

    [18] Christine Marran, '"Poison woman". Takahashi Oden and the Spectacle of Female Deviancy in early Meiji', in US-Japan Women's Journal (English supplement) 9 (1995):93-110.

    [19] Susan Orpett Long, 'Health Care Providers: Technology, Policy, and Professional Dominance', in Health, Illness, and Medical Care in Japan, ed. Edward Norbeck and Margaret Lock, Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1987, pp. 69-71. Lock argues that Western medicine during this period supported and further legitimated existing understandings of the body, which 'visualised the body as embedded in the macrocosm of society'. This meant that illness was conceptualised as a symptom of a disequilibrium (encompassing past, present and future generations) between the moral and organic elements that constitute healthy social relationships. That is, the Meiji government promoted an ideology based on one's ability to perform in harmony with the land, climatic elements and a communal work ethic which would ultimately 'shape[d] individuals into good citizens', (Margaret Lock, Encounters with Aging: Mythologies of Menopause in Japan and North America, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993a, pp. 337-38).

    [20] Marran, '"Poison woman", p. 94.

    [21] This 'finding', that is, the assertion that Oden's sexual organs were larger than 'usual', was later shown to be incorrect (Marran, '"Poison woman", p. 94).

    [22] Marran, '"Poison woman"', p. 103.

    [23] Marran, '"Poison woman"', p. 106.

    [24] By this time sexological and psychiatric texts by mainly male 'experts' such as Freud, Jung, Krafft-Ebing and Ellis had been translated into Japanese (Jennifer Robertson, 'The politics of androgyny in Japan: Sexuality and subversion in the theatre and beyond', in American Ethnologist 19, 3 (August 1992b):419-42, p. 420).

    [25] Robertson, 'The politics of androgyny', p. 429. Silverberg also discusses the modan gâru in terms of constituting an ambiguous cultural identity. However, '[f]irst and foremost, the Modern Girl was defined by her body and most specifically by her short hair and long, straight legs.' Moreover, her independence was closely associated with her sexuality, as in the case of Oden. Thus it is important to recognise the historical similarities indicating that there had not been a significant shift in representations. For example, in the magazine Shinchô (January 1928), she, the modan âru, was described among other things as: not hysterical, a blunt speaker, direct and aggressive sexually and challenging the virtues of virginity (Miriam Silverberg, 'The Modern Girl as Militant', in Recreating Japanese Women, 1600-1945, ed. Gail Lee Bernstein, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991, pp. 242, 250).

    [26] Marran, ' "Poison woman"', p. 94.

    [27] Gail Lee Bernstein, ed. Recreating Japanese Women, 1600-1945, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991, p. 3; Joyce Ackroyd, 'Women in Feudal Japan', in Transactions of the Asiatic Society of Japan, third series, 7, 3 (November 1959):31-68; Margaret Lock, 'Restoring Order to the House of Japan', in Wilson Quarterly 14, 4 (1990):42-50, pp. 44-5; Tonomura Hitomi, 'Women and Inheritance in Japan's Early Warrior Society', in Comparative Studies in Society and History (1990):592-623; Ueno Chizuko, 'Genesis of the Urban Housewife', in Japan Quarterly 34 (April/June 1987):132-42, pp. 134-35. Prior to this, only the samurai class was restricted to a system of patrilineality and so within Japanese society various familial forms and regional variation existed. It is also important to note that prior to the Meiji Restoration (1868) the samurai class was constituted by only 6 percent of the total population.

    [28] Bernstein, Recreating Japanese Women, p. 3; Niwa Akiko (trans. Todo Tomiko), 'The Formation of the Myth of Motherhood in Japan', in US-Japan Women's Journal (English supplement) 4 (1993):70-82, p. 71. Indeed, Bernstein points out that even before the Tokugawa period (1603-1868) until well into the twentieth century, although marriage was an institutionalised norm, neither child-bearing nor child-rearing was necessarily considered a woman's ikigai (one's life worth) or main obligation.

    [29] Hayakawa Noriyo, 'Sexuality and the State: The Early Meiji Debate on Concubinage and Prostitution', in Feminism and the State in Modern Japan, ed. Vera Mackie, Monash University, Melbourne: Japanese Studies Centre, 1995, p. 36; Niwa, 'The Formation of the Myth of Motherhood', pp. 73-4.

    [30] Margaret Lock, 'Ideology, Female Midlife and the Greying of Japan', in Journal of Japanese Studies 19, 1 (Winter 1993b):43-78, pp. 69-70.

    [31] For example, other practices existed, such as the adoption of sons and sons-in-laws and designating daughters as heirs. (Bernstein, Recreating Japanese Women, p. 3; Ackroyd, 'Women in Feudal Japan'; Lock, 'Restoring Order to the House of Japan, pp. 44-5; Tonomura, 'Women and Inheritance'). Ueno Chizuko also asserts that ane katoku, matrilineal inheritance was widespread among well-off merchants and farmers in the late Tokugawa period (Ueno, 'Genesis of the Urban Housewife, pp. 134-5).

    [32] Hawakaya, 'Sexuality and the State', p. 32.

    [33] The Edo period is another name given to the Tokugawa period. Edo (now Tokyo) was the capital of Japan during this era. Tokugawa refers to the ruling shogunal dynasty from 1603 to 1868.

    [34] Dôseiai [same-sex love] is a direct translation of homosexuality, as it was used in Western sexological literature, and as explained above the meaning was significantly different from the meaning of nanshoku.

    [35] Schalow, 'Male Love in Early Modern Japan', p. 119.

    [36] Yasuka Toutar˘ cited in Donald Roden, 'Taish˘ Culture and the Problem of Gender Ambivalence', in Culture and Identity: Japanese Intellectuals During the Interwar Years, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1990, p. 52.

    [37] Sandra Buckley, '"Penguin in Bondage": A Graphic Tale of Japanese Comic Books', in Technoculture, ed. Constance Penley & Andrew Ross, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1991, pp. 167-68. This use of dildos within lesbian practices is explained within a Freudian context as a substitution for woman's 'irremediable lack' (the castrated woman's desire for the absent penis). This leaves the viewer, usually a male, titillated by an active female sexuality while female pleasure always remains dependent on and presumed only to be fulfilled by vaginal penetration. Also see Barbara Creed, 'Lesbian Bodies: Tribades, Tomboys and Tarts', in Sexy Bodies: The Strange Carnalities of Feminism, ed. Elizabeth Grosz and Elspeth Probyn, New York and London: Routledge, 1995, pp. 93-94; Toni A. H. McNaron, 'Mirrors and Likeness: A Lesbian Aesthetic in the Making', in Sexual Practice/Textual Theory: Lesbian Cultural Criticism, ed. Susan J. Wolfe and Julia Penelope, Cambridge: Blackwell, 1993, pp. 294-95).

    [38] James Valentine, 'Skirting and Suiting Stereotypes: Representations of Marginalized Sexualities in Japan', Theory, Culture and Society 14, 3 (1997):57-85, p. 80.

    [39] Valentine, 'Skirting and Suiting Stereotypes', p. 80; Sharon Chalmers, 'Japanese Lesbian Mystories', Paper presented at the Fourth Women in Asia Conference, 1st-3rd October 1993, University of Melbourne, Melbourne.

    [40] The strength of Western sexology and psychoanalytic discourse as integral to a universal notion of modernity is still reflected in contemporary literature that portrays non-Anglo-European same-sex practices in pre-Meiji Japan as 'child prostitution' (Cecilia Seigle, Yoshiwara: The Glittering World of the Japanese Courtesan, Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1993, pp. 85-86).

    [41] For an interesting exploration of the debates that took place among the socialist-feminists throughout the 1910s and 1920s see Mackie, Creating Socialist Women in Japan.

    [42] Roden, 'Taishô Culture and the Problem of Gender Ambivalence', p. 44. Similar comments were also made to discredit Hiratsuka Raichô, a leading feminist, and the 'New Women' in general by inferring that these women were driven by being 'man-hating lesbians or frustrated spinsters' (Barbara Rose, Tsuda Umeko and Women's Education in Japan, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1992, p. 147.

    [43] Jennifer Robertson, 'Gender-Bending in Paradise: Doing "female" and "male" in Japan', in Genders 5 (Summer 1989):59.

    [44] Waged labour for women in the late 1800s and early 1900s created the possibility of a separation or at least a de-emphasis of reproduction within kinship systems not only among Anglo-European nations but also within China and Japan. This led to the opening up of spaces for female erotic and non-erotic same-sex relationships (Truong, Thanh-Dam, Sex, Money and Morality: Prostitution and Tourism in South-east Asia, London: Zed Books, 1990, p. 77). In relation to China see James McGough, 'Deviant Marriage Patterns in Chinese Society', in Normal and Abnormal Behavior in Chinese Culture, ed. Arthur Kleinman and Tsung-Yi Lin, Dordrecht: D. Reidel Publishing, 1981, pp. 185-186; Janice Raymond, A Passion for Friends: Toward a Philosophy of Female Friendship, Boston: Beacon Press, 1986; Marjorie Topley, 'Marriage Resistance in Rural Kwangtung', in Women in Chinese Society, ed. Margery Wolf and Roxane Witke, Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1975; Gail Tsukiyama, Women of the Silk, New York: St. Martin's Press, 1991.

    [45] Furukawa, 'The Changing Nature of Sexuality', p. 118.

    [46] Ivy notes that by 1924 newspaper circulation had reached 6.3 million (Marilyn Ivy, 'Formations of Mass Culture' in Postwar Japan as History, ed. Andrew Gordon, Berkeley and Los Angeles, University of California Press, 1993, p. 242).

    [47] Robertson, 'The Politics of Androgyny in Japan', p. 425.

    [48] Women were prohibited from performing on stage in 1629 and since then men play both the male and female parts in Noh and Kabuki theatre.

    [49] Marilyn Ivy, Discourses of the Vanishing: Modernity Phantasm Japan, Chicago and London, University of Chicago Press, 1995, p. 216.

    [50] Kim Longinotto and Jano Williams (Directors), Shinjuku Boys, London: Twentieth Century Vixen, 1995.

    [51] Robertson, 'Theatrical Resistance', pp. 165-77; Jennifer Robertson, 'Doing and Undoing "female" and "male" in Japan: The Takarazuka Revue', in Japanese Social Organization, ed. Takie Sugiyama Lebra, Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1992a, pp. 165-193; Robertson, 'The Politics of Androgyny in Japan', pp. 419-442.

    [52] Elizabeth Lapovsky Kennedy and Madeline Davis, 'The Reproduction of Butch-Fem Roles: A Social Constructionist Approach', in Passion and Power: Sexuality in History, ed. Kathy Peiss and Christina Simmons (with Robert A. Padgug), Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1989, p. 244.

    [53] Musumeyaku means 'daughter role'. Note the difference between the construction of the adult woman played by a man in Noh and Kabuki, the onnagata, and the role of woman played by a woman but portrayed as less than an adult in the daughter role of the musumeyaku.

    [54] Kat˘ cited in Mochizuki Mamory (sic), 'Cultural Aspects of Japanese Girls Opera', in Japanese Popular Culture, ed. Kato Hidetoshi, Westport Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1959, p. 169. Mochizuki also states 'Measured by the size of its audiences and the vastness of its stage, it is true that the girls' opera is one of the major theatrical arts. But it has always been handicapped because it is performed by girls for girls. This limiting factor detracts from its status as art.'

    [55] In the documentary film Dream Girls, one of the leading 'male' actors is coaching a 'female' actor and says, 'You're not Western enough, you're too Japanese. Try and be more Western. We Japanese hold our feelings in, we don't express them. Be more dramatic. Western women would flutter their eyelashes. You should be more daring. You'll understand more about being sexy when you're older, don't worry about it now.' Kim Longinotto and Jano Williams (Directors), Dream Girls, London: Twentieth Century Vixen, 1993.

    [56] Robertson, 'Gender-Bending in Paradise', p. 171.

    [57] Mochizuki, Japanese Popular Culture, p. 173. Those which are based on Japanese themes are generally situated in the context of a romantic feudal past and so set up a similar distance and feeling of 'fantasy' between the audience and actors in the same way Western productions do.

    [58] Robertson, 'Theatrical Resistance', pp. 167-68. Robertson, also argues that 'Before and even after the Meiji period, published writers and critics - the vast majority of whom were male - relegated sexual desire in females to courtesans and prostitutes', while 'Ordinary' women were defined by the gender roles of 'daughter', 'wife', and 'daughter-in-law' (Robertson, 'The Politics of Androgyny in Japan, p. 425).

    [59] The academy opened in 1919.

    [60] This was reflected in the fact that Kobayashi (founder of the Takarazuka Revue) insisted that both 'male' and 'female' performers address him by the term 'Father' (otôsan), as well as the fact that other kin terms were employed among the performers themselves (Robertson, 'Doing and Undoing "female" and "male" in Japan', p. 171).

    [61] Robertson, 'Gender-Bending in Paradise', p. 58.

    [62] Robertson, 'Gender-Bending in Paradise', p. 56; Matsui Midori, 'Little Girls were Little Boys: Displaced Femininity in the Rrepresentation of Homosexuality in Japanese Girls' Comics', in Feminism and the Politics of Difference, ed. Sneja Gunew and Anna Yeatman, St. Leonards: Allen and Unwin, 1993, p. 177. of shôjo, according to Robertson, is that of a 'not-quite-female' female with the connotation that prior to marriage Japanese 'girls' are heterosexually inexperienced while homosexually experienced. The term ki (period) also intimates that this is a transitory phase.

    [63] In a similar way to contemporary representations of lesbianism, this form of 'toleration' was expressed through 'ignor[ing] the girl's behavior.' Moreover, Mochizuki also asserts that this 'latent homosexuality' among fans and actors alike has decreased significantly with the introduction of co-education in the post-war period (Mochizuki, 'Cultural Aspects of Japanese Girls' Opera', pp. 170 and 172).

    [64] Fukushima cited in Robertson, 'Doing and undoing "female" and "male" in Japan', p. 177.

    [65] Watanabe Mieko, 'Sayonara, onnayaku no onnatachi' (Goodbye to WomenPlaying the Role of Women), Regumi Tsushin (January 1992):5-7, p. 5.

    [66] Sachiko says that the term used for homosexual in the psychology books she read was dôseiai. Thus in more contemporary discourses there seems to be less differentiation between dôseiai and o-me no kankei.

    [67] Robertson, 'Doing and Undoing "female" and "male" in Japan', p. 177.

    [68] This 'passivity' is also indicated in mainstream explanations of the femme in Anglo-European representations as replicating the docile female or 'feminine' body within heterosexual relations (Anne Charles, 'Two Feminist Criticisms: A Necessary Conflict', in Sexual Practice/Textual Theory: Lesbian Cultural Criticism, ed. Susan J. Wolfe and Julia Penelope, Cambridge: Blackwell, 1993, p. 61).

    [69] Robertson, 'Doing and Undoing "female" and "male" in Japan', pp. 173-74.

    [70] Robertson, 'Doing and Undoing "female" and "male" in Japan', p. 178.

    [71] Kennedy and Davis, 'The Reproduction of Butch-Fem Roles', p. 244; Charles, 'Two Feminist Criticisms', p. 61.

    [72] The role of 'onnayaku' only takes place in Noh and Kabuki. While the otokoyaku is a 'known' and can be emulated by observant women, the notion of 'woman' is thought to be in the realm of the unknown and therefore malleable, to the extent of being perfected by men 'becoming' women.

    [73] Watanabe, Sayonara, onnayaku no onnatachi, p.5.

    [74] Mark Blasius, Gay and Lesbian Politics: Sexuality and the Emergence of a New Ethic, Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1994, p. 88; Elizabeth Lapovsky Kennedy and Madeline D. Davis, Boots of Leather, Slippers of Gold: The History of a Lesbian Community, New York and London: Routledge, 1993, p. 12.

    [75] Catherine Stimpson, Where the Meanings Are: Feminism and Cultural Spaces, New York and London: Methuen, 1988, p. 59.

    [76] o-miai means marriages that are initiated through 'arranged meetings' usually involving family negotiations in contrast to ren'ai meaning 'love meetings', that is, couples instigating their own relationships.

    [77] Kennedy and Davis, Boots of Leather, p. 190.

    [78] Elizabeth Grosz, Volatile Bodies: Toward a Corporeal Feminism, Sydney: Allen and Unwin, 1994, p. 273.

    [79] Evelyn Blackwood, 'Falling in Love with an-Other Lesbian: Reflections of Identity in Fieldwork', in taboo: sex, identity and erotic subjectivity in anthropological fieldwork, ed. Don Kulick and Margaret Wilson, London and New York, Routledge, 1995. Stephen Murray argues the same point in his discussion of male cross-gender mannerisms and dress. He states "Wanting to attract a man is not the same as wanting to be a woman" (cited in Herdt, Same Sex, Different Cultures, 1997:40).

    [80] Judith Butler, Gender Trouble: Feminism and Subversion of Identity, New York: Routledge, 1990, p. 123.

    [81] This hierarchical social setting is also presented in Kennedy and Davis' work on working class lesbians in the Buffalo area in the 1940s and 1950s. However, they point out that, like Fumie, some members of the bar community were also not comfortable with this gendered division despite the fact that they complied in order to adapt (Kennedy and Davis, Boots of Leather, pp. 79, 251).

    [82] Kennedy and Davis, Boots of Leather, p. 192.

    [83] Kennedy and Davis, Boots of Leather, p. 193; Blasius, Gay and Lesbian Politics, p. 89.

    [84] Kennedy and Davis, Boots of Leather, pp. 233-34; Blasius, Gay and Lesbian Politics, p. 91.

    [85] Grosz, Volatile Bodies, p. viii.

    [86] Robertson, 'The Politics of Androgyny in Japan', p. 430.

    [87] Takie Sugiyama Lebra, Japanese Women: Constraint and Fulfillment, Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1984, p. 78. Brinton discusses this notion of marrying 'on schedule' in Japan and the expression that is commonly used alongside it. 'Why are women like Christmas cakes? Because they are popular and sell like hot cakes up until twenty-five and after that you have a lot of trouble getting rid of them' (Mary C. Brinton, 'Christmas Cakes and Wedding Cakes: The Social Organization of Japanese Women's Life Course', in Japanese Social Organization, ed. Lebra, p. 80).

    [88] The centrality of marriage and children that constructs married womens' high status in the domestic sphere also has an important effect on their position within the paid work-force. For example, prior to marriage 'single' women are addressed by their first or surnames. After marriage, the term changes to oku-san [Mrs] or oku-sama [a married woman], which reflects her increased social status. However, her employers and work colleagues are also bound by social convention to shift the social markers and make the distinction in status. Management often interpret this shift, and here I am particularly referring to women workers who continue as full-time workers after marriage and child-birth, as undermining both their superior and in particular junior male worker's authority, thus disturbing the hierarchical harmony of the work-place (Sharon Chalmers, 'The Marginalisation of Women in the Japanese Workforce: Rethinking the Definition of Work', unpublished honours dissertation, Griffith University, Brisbane, 1990, p. 35).

    [89] Brenda Bankart, 'Japanese Perceptions of Motherhood', Psychology of Women Quarterly 13 (1989):59-76, p. 60.

    [90] Lebra, Japanese Women, p. 162.

    [91] Buckley, 'The Foreign Devil Returns', p. 268; Long, 'Health Care Providers', p. 76; Karel Van Wolferen, The Enigma of Japanese Power: People and Politics in a Stateless Nation, New York: Vintage Books, 1990, p. 54.

    [92] Lock, 'Ideology, Female Midlife and the Greying of Japan', p. 44.

    [93] Linda Louise Perry, 'Mothers, Wives, and Daughters in Osaka: Autonomy, Alliance, and Professionalism', Ann Arbor, Michigan: Ph.D. dissertation, University of Pittsburgh, 1976, p. 160.

    [94] Hara Minako, 'Lesbians and Sexual Self-Determination', AMPO, 25:4-26:1(1995):71-73, p. 72.

    [95] Samuel Coleman, Family Planning in Japanese Society, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1983, p. 159.

    [96] Diana Fuss, 'Inside/out', in Inside/out: Lesbian Theories, Gay Theories, ed. Diana Fuss, London and New York, Routledge, 1991, p. 3.

    [97] 'The family' however cannot be simply read as a separate or isolated unit from the public sphere. It is also far too simplistic to assert that women in both the public and private spheres do not discuss sex/sexuality but men in the public sphere do. There are tens of thousands of women involved in the sex industry and all they do is talk and perform both lesbian and hetero-sex. Thus the silences are constructed for particular women in particular spaces.

    [98] Coleman, Family Planning in Japan, p. 173.

    [99] Buckley, '"Penguin in Bondage"', p. 179.

    [100] Creed analyses the differences between the 'female body in general' which signifies 'other' and the lesbian body. She states, "The active female body disturbs cultural definitions of gender and collapses the inside/outside boundary that constitutes the social division into female and male.... [T]he offending body challenges gender boundaries in terms of the active/passive dualism, a dichotomy which is crucial to the definition of gender in patriarchal culture (Creed, 'Lesbian Bodies', pp. 87-93).

    [101] Creed divides the myths surrounding lesbian bodies into three stereotypes; the lesbian body as active and masculinised, the animalistic lesbian body and, the narcissistic lesbian body (Creed, 'Lesbian Bodies', p. 88).

    [102] Fushimi Noriaki, 'D˘seiaisha ni shakaiteki ninchi o' (Social Recognition for Homosexuals), Asahi Shimbun, 16 April 1994, p. 4.

    [103] Yoshizumi, 'Marriage and the Family', p. 190.

    [104] Furukawa points out that there was a brief period between 1872 and 1881 when sodomy [keikan] was prohibited, but he also explains that it was rarely enforced (Furukawa, 'The Changing Nature of Sexuality', p. 110).

    [105] Sasamoto Hiromi, 'Gays want Equality with Heterosexual Couples', Daily Yomiuri, 24 December 1998.

    [106] 'Gays Struggle Against Prejudice', The Japan Times, 10 August 1994.

    [107] The notion of 'camp' is defined by Esther Newton as a combination of incongruity, theatricality and humour (Esther Newton, Mother Camp: Female Impersonators in America, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1972, p. 106).

    [108] Nicholas Bornoff, Pink Samurai: Love, Marriage and Sex in Contemporary Japan, New York: Pocket Books, 1991, p. 427.

    [109] Aoyama Tomoko, 'Male Homosexuality as Treated by Women Writers', in The Japanese Trajectory: Modernization and Beyond, ed. Gavan McCormack and Yoshio Sugimoto, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988; Buckley, '"Penguin in Bondage"'; Fujimoto Yukari, 'A Life-size Mirror: Women's Self-representation in Girls' Comics', in Review of Japanese Culture and Society 4 (December 1991):53-57; Matsui, 'Little Girls were Little Boys'; Nishiyama Chieko (trans. Martha Tocco), 'Depictions of Sexuaity in Japanese Girls' Comic Books', Global Perspectives on Changing Sex Role (sic), International Seminar on Women's Studies, National Women's Education Center of Japan, 23-26 November 1989, pp. 393-409; Watanabe Mieko, 'Josei mangaka ga kaku sh˘jotachi no tame no poruno' (Pornography Written by Women Manga Writers for Teenage Girls), Fuemin 2271 (January 1992b):5-7.

    [110] Blasius, Gay and Lesbian Politics, p. 39.

    [111] Fushimi, 'Dôseiaisha ni shakaiteki ninchi o', p. 4.

    [112] Although this group is a gay and lesbian organisation, as yet, the issues that have been taken up publicly have been framed as male gay issues. Moreover, from what I have been told, many gay and lesbian political and social activities are separate.

    [113] Tsunoda Yukiko, Sei no hôritsugaku (The Legal Study of Sexuality), Tokyo: Yuhikaku, 1992, p. 217.

    [114] Fushimi, 'Dôseiaisha ni shakaiteki ninchi o', p. 4. The complainants initially asked for 6,500,000 yen in compensation, at that time on the exchange rate about AUS$65,000.

    [115] 'Lesbian weekends' occur around Japan a number of times during the year. They are nationally advertised in various lesbian newsletters. For a detailed discussions around notions of 'community' in relation to these weekends see Sharon Chalmers, Emerging Lesbian voices from Japan, forthcoming, Curzon Press, 2002.

    [116] Over 90 percent of Japanese physicians are male (Long, 'Health care providers', p. 79).

    [117] Research based in the US covering different areas of lesbian health care overwhelmingly asserts that when disclosing their sexuality to their doctors, lesbians have generally encountered negative physical and pathologising treatments. Therefore most lesbians are very guarded and selective about where they seek health care (Stevens, 'Lesbian Health Care Research, pp. 1-30).

    [118] I use the term 'Japanese female sexuality' purposefully as there is a stark contrast to definitions of female sexuality by those not considered Japanese, particularly those women who come/are b(r)ought from other Asian countries, for eg, Thailand, Philippines, and Taiwan to work in the so-called 'entertainment industry'. Anglo-white women are also constructed in sexually specific ways often linked with notions of promiscuity but are not systematically exploited or abused as are the former group who are often in dire economic circumstances when arriving in Japan.

    [119] Many examples of this kind of advice are found in newspaper and magazine advice columns. See for example, John McKinstry and Asako Nakajima McKinstry, Jinsei Annai, "Life's Guide": Glimpses of Japan Through a Popular Advice Column, New York and London: M. E. Sharpe, 1991.

    [120] Merry White, 'Home Truths: Women and Social Change in Japan', Daedalus 121, 4 (Fall 1992):61-82, p. 65.

    [121] Margaret Lock, 'Protests of a Good Wife and Wise Mother: The Medicalization of Distress in Japan', in Illness and Medical Care in Japan, ed. Edward Norbeck and Margaret Lock, Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1987, pp. 143-45.

    [122] In the case of part-time workers (over 50 percent of married women are classified as part-time workers) women fit into a representation of the 'good mother' by virtue of organising their work lives specifically around the family's need and by providing supplementary wage for the family.

    [123] Lock, 'Restoring Order to the House of Japan', p. 47.

    [124] Valentine observed TV shows over a 5 month period from 1993 to 1994 in which he only came across one program that presented both male gays and lesbians appearing together. It is worth noting that they were seated opposite each other, while the male discussants or 'social commentators' made it clear they were speaking on behalf of heterosexual males. 'These "real" men [sat] at the top table, their line of vision taking in both sides, the objects of their gaze' (Valentine, 'Skirting and Suiting Stereotypes', pp. 57-58).

    [125] While the term okama is commonly used onabe is not popular and as I have pointed out rezu is the usual term used by mainstream when referring to lesbians in Japan.


This paper was originally published in Intersections: Gender, History and Culture in the Asian Context, with the assistance of Murdoch University.

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