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Book Review: Barbara Sato The New Japanese Woman: Modernity, Media, and Women in Interwar Japan Duke University Press, Durham and London, 2003, xiv+241 pp., illustrations, ISBN 0-8223-3008-3.

Wilson, S. (2003) Book Review: Barbara Sato The New Japanese Woman: Modernity, Media, and Women in Interwar Japan Duke University Press, Durham and London, 2003, xiv+241 pp., illustrations, ISBN 0-8223-3008-3. Intersections: Gender and Sexuality in Asia and the Pacific (9).

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Abstract

The 'modern girl' [moga] has long been associated with the period of 'Taishô democracy' and the emergence of mass culture in Japan. With her short hair, Western clothes, love of pleasure and apparent disregard for convention, she has seemed to epitomise the 1920s and the new atmosphere that permeated large Japanese cities, especially Tokyo. Yet, as Barabara Sato convincingly shows, the 'modern girl' was not the only new prototype of Japanese women in the interwar period. The growth of the middle class and of opportunities for suitable employment, together with the great expansion of the mass media, produced or highlighted two less spectacular but numerically much more significant figures—the middle-class housewife, interested in personal fulfilment rather than solely in her role as 'good wife and wise mother', and the professional working woman. None of Sato's three representative figures conformed with older stereotypes of the meek and docile Japanese woman, and hence all of them challenged ideas about gender in interwar Japan.

Publication Type: Non-refereed Article
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Social Sciences and Humanities
Publisher: Gender and Cultural Studies, School of Culture, History and Language, College of Asia and the Pacific, The Australian National University.
URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/23836
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