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by Alex Tinsley
In the time since the rise of #GamerGate a lot of those critical of feminism and its practices may have noticed that they have tried their best to remove many aspects of Japanese culture from our own, aspects that have been introduced through both video games and anime. It is almost as if these aspects were dangerous to them.
When I first got married my wife got me a copy of Yamamoto Tsunetomo’s Hagakure, one of the two primers on Bushido. While the other, the Five Rings by Miyamoto Musashi, is on ethics of combat, the Hagakure is on the manners and lifestyle of being a proper retainer in the Tokugawa Shogunate. This is a philosophy that is still relevant even today for Japanese society, despite overwhelming Western influences.
I have read this book a few times since I got it and I highly encourage it, if only for learning about other cultures. This is where I’m going to be coming from to figure out how Japanese culture threatens feminism.
Now to begin, one should look at what the prime motivation of Bushido truly is. Like Medieval European chivalry the philosophy is based upon service to others. Feminism tends to only serve itself from our experiences, however there is more than this reason that there is fear of this in particular. I am of the mind that the development of Bushido and how feudalism developed in Japan completely refutes and disproves all of feminism’s claims.
This is a bold hypothesis, to be sure. However, I hope to encourage others to examine this as well to help prove or disprove my notions. So where to begin? Lets start with the concept of women staying three steps behind a man. Most feminists would mostly likely see this purely as a sense of subservience on the woman’s part. However it is more the samurai protecting the woman. The length of a katana is closer to three feet long, so it’s so they don’t get cut.
Another aspect that is typically forgotten is the fact that most women of the era are also carrying a tanto in their sleeve. Meaning they at the same time have their samurai’s back.
Another argument a feminist may make against Bushido is something touched upon early on in the book about the wife putting her husband first as he puts his feudal lord first. The aspect typically ignored is that the samurai class, the class of service, is as dedicated to the orders of the ladies of the court as they are to the lords. On top of that a good samurai who is seen to mistreat their wife is encouraged to commit seppuku for having disgraced their lord as well.
The last thing we’ll look at is the existence of kunoichi or female shinobi. While ninja as we know them in the West aren’t in anyway as they are depicted in media, kunoichi are one of the few honest things involved. They typically hid as entertainers of many types to get close to important people and were some of the more effective assassins.
To sum up, the way Japan has viewed women has always been out of reverence and respect. It has always been a very egalitarian society, as such the author Tsunetomo also had a precept about men and women that I find very appropriate in our society: “A man who feigns laughter is but a coward, a woman who feigns laughter is of loose morals.” The obvious advice of women can be as untrustworthy as men, but in more insidious ways.
Now this is merely the tip of the iceberg but I’m hoping I at least have depicted honestly why Japanese culture is targeted by feminism under the guise of ‘cultural appropriation,’ because they see its values as a threat to the narrative. Please let it be known your own thoughts on the subject as I feel this is an important concept to explore.
The author of this article, while he has not fully graduated from university, has taken 6 years worth of a degree based in the Fine Arts minoring in Japanese linguistics and culture. Sponsored and aided in the running of the convention OMG!Con, an anime and video game enthusiast convention, originally based in Paducah, KY through the years 2006-2009. Through such endeavors having learned about Japanese culture as a whole, but how it interacts with and affects our own culture in the West through not only talking with acquaintances in both fields from both countries but through interactions with Japanese exchange students as well.
You can also follow Alex Tinsely on twitterby