The construction of gender, which is where a girl learns to be a woman and where a boy learns to be a man depending on what society has taught us about each of the genders is similar with the construction of the consumer in Japan context, which is what a woman should be wanting to buy to increase her femininity/ to be a good housewife and what a man should be wanting to buy to increase his masculinity/ to have success at work. This is one of the main reasons for advertising and gender to be so closely linked to one another.
In Japanese society cultural values, history and practices have deep roots and very important meaning. To see housewives dressed in kimono and teaching their daughters how to cook, helping their sons to study or preparing meals for husbands returning from long-hour work; husbands, working all day long in offices playing golf and drinking with friends after work – all these situations are reflection of a wonderful Japanese culture, culture, which persists for a long time and is so different from Western cultures.
In conclusion, researchers as Akira Sakamoto and Mieko Takahira claim that traditional stereotypic portrayals of men and women in Japanese television commercials have not substantially decreased from 1961 to 1993. Nor do they accurately reflect contemporary social trends in Japan. (http://www. hss. ocha. ac. jp/psych/socpsy/akira/media/Progress. htm) That means that generally, Japan society has withstood from West influence, is quiet strict and unwilling for big changes. Relationship between gender and consumerism in Japan.
In this topic I am going to discuss about consumerism in Japan, and especially about female consumers, as women are the main figures in Japan’s consumer culture. Social, cultural, economical and ideological history of Japan in the 20th century brings to life the gender differentiation guided by the mix of urbanization, globalisation, the growing middle class and consumerism. Global internationalisation reached the island of Sun also, but it doesn’t mean that it made increase consumerism there, I mean, Japan had no necessity to be surrounded by Western novelties.
Japanese women became the icons of an emerging urban femininity quickly, and, later, it was the main marketer’s object. Also, they could immediately recognise different types of female consumers, which were depending from their lifestyle, age and other criteria. This was particular period marked by new ways of living and working. Buying goods, clothes and cosmetics was a good way to feel sophisticated and happy, to make your dreams come true. Buying was a real form of self-fulfilment, and also making decisions on what to buy and what not to buy.
Women became the leading role’s players. They were representing the main group of mass consume culture. Nowadays, Japan is known as one of the richest country in the world, and consumerism here has really high incomes (and, actually it has also negative side). Today Japanese magazines, advertisings, TV are promoting are a lot of commercial goods, often in persuading way. Especially women’s magazines are playing a significant role in promoting a consumer culture, and are themselves items of mass consumption.
I think, the main success of these magazines is that they are helping women to construct their own identity. Japanese women had and still have a lot of difficulties in this male-dominated country. In these magazines they find out that there is somebody who thinks exactly in the same way, has exactly the same problems, and, also, has the same dreams…So they do not feel alone anymore. It is evident that doing shopping makes woman feel good.
Well, today in Japan is emerging one big problem related to consumerism- enjo kosai, or „dating for assistancea, a practice where high school-aged girls are paid by older men to accompany them on dates and sometimes to render sexual services, even if it seems not so frequent phenomenon as media claims. However, statistics shows that not all the girls involved in this activity, are talking about it loudly. The social network surrounding enjo kosai is complex. This phenomena is linked with the consumerist kogal subculture.
It appeared after the end of the 1980s economic boom, and many observers believe that it serves as a way for young girls to preserve the lifestyle of that era, despite their families’ more difficult financial situations. (http://edstrong. blog-city. com/japan_sex_teenage_girls_and_consumerism. htm) Also it is present in other Asian countries, Europe and America. I think, the main problem is that with growing materialism and consumerism enjo kosai is still continuing. These young girls need luxurious and well-known designer’s goods and men – something they receive in change of it.
It is like a magic circle, it makes these girls to be involved in this activity for a long time, because it is easy and immediate money. Earning money in this way can be even like a drug, it can create a strong dependency, and once they begin, it is quiet hard to stop later. Some sociologists see enjo kosai as a coming-of-age ritual that has naturally developed in Japan’s contemporary capitalist society. Japan is famous for being a place full of contradictions and various sexual politics, which are quiet strange looking with West person’s eyes.
In Japan enjo kosai is interpreted in much more easy way – girls lots of times even do not have to have sexual relation with a man, so they do not feel ashamed, and men, are justifying being them involved in this activity because this is the nature who created this „uncontrollable attractiona, a justification that is not understandable to foreigners. In conclusion, for the girls who offer themselves and the men who pay, enjo kosai is a dangerous drug which consists of two powerful „elementsa of thought that are deeply rooted in the collective perception of modern Japan – it is the poin.