I probably crossed the line today when I asked (“declared” actually) two things in school :

1)Why do girls need to go to school when they all end up as housewives anyway?

2)And why the need to study English when you don’t (plan to)use it anyway?

This is surprising (and shocking) to most of them because I am an English ALT. Second, I am female. My comments are careless, tactless, sexist and unbecoming of a female English teacher.

Why do girls need to go to school when they all end up as housewives anyway?
Let me state this bluntly. I don’t get Japanese women.  They go to school, then they go to juku to make it to a reputable university, then they study abroad and for what? So they can become office ladies and eventually retire to become housewives. How do most of them willingly accept the roles society has set for them easily?  Why can’t they use their God-given brains and talents and pursue their own dreams? To want something for oneself and not simply conform to what men dictate? Don’t they ever crave for money, power or simply success by their own hard work?

Why are they so unquestioning? Why are they such push-overs?

No one can effectively fight for women’s rights other than the women themselves. And looking at the way the gender gap is sooo wide in Japan, we can assume that the women are not doing much fighting. They’re not incapable or stupid. I like to assume they’re simply lazy. After all, my husband explained, no one wants to keep fighting society when they were raised to conform – the thought probably hasn’t crossed their minds. Especially when corporate abuses happen all the time. When, being a housewife, seems much easier.

Well, with regard to the first question, the sensei seemed to want to prove me wrong by asking the class, “Who wants to be a housewife?”

No one raised their hand.

That is the wrong question of course. And wrong premise. While unspoken, his premise goes:

P1 A Japanese woman can become anything she wants in Japan
P2 If she chooses, she doesn’t have to be a housewife, even if she’s married
Conclusion A Japanese woman doesn’t have to become a housewife.

This is a valid argument true, but not sound. Because we know (based on reality) that Premise 1 is false. The gender bias and gender discrimination are still prevalent in many companies. A Japanese woman cannot become anything she wants. She is subject to the rules of men.

To add to that, my comment was actually based on reality:1 out of 3 single ladies want to become a full-time housewife (published September 26, 2013), young girls continue to dream to be housewives (published February 4, 2013 ), Growing number of wives who favor staying at home: gov’t survey.(published June 1, 2010)

From Young women’s life preferences acknowledge workplace reality (published September 27th, 2013)

When asked if they want to be full-time homemakers, 34.2 percent of the female respondents said “yes” or “probably.” And while more women, 38.5 percent to be exact, said they didn’t want to be homemakers, the portion who said they did was apparently higher than people expected, especially now that the government is pushing an agenda to make it easier for women to join the workforce and contribute more directly to the economy.
Indeed, a 2010 survey of 568 single women released by continuing-education company U-can shows that 53.9 percent said they “would rather become a full-time housewife after marriage or childbirth” to “focus on housework or child-rearing,” “spend time on their hobbies” or because “they don’t like their jobs.

From Japanese Women in Their 30’s:Changes and Traditional Values by Hiroyuki Ida of the Osaka University of Economics  (published unknown)

However, a large disparity exists in terms of married women’s participation in the labor force. The percent of working married women is 46.6% in the 30 to 34-year-old age group and 56% in the 35 to 39 age group. Among married women who have been in the labor force for one year before having their first child, only 32.2% go back to work in six months. In other words, Japanese women still tend to quit their jobs and become housewives when they get married or have a child. Women who choose to work after having a child are increasing, however; the majority still prefers to quit their jobs and raise their children.

Other stats from this site (article dated  January 29, 2013)

housewives in Japan

Housewives in Japan : stats by age range

It’s not about what the students want to be, it’s how things already ARE.

My point is, why do need to pass all these exams, go to juku, spend taxes on junior high school and employing teachers when the ladies don’t strive to be anything more than a housewife? I’d prefer if my taxes were used on a huge gym right next to my house with a wave pool or solar panels for renewable energy. There is NO POINT INVESTING IN WOMEN’S EDUCATION. Look around you. Women must know their place.

Next, my second statement : Why do Japanese need to learn English?

The sensei said they have been learning English since Meiji Era, that is 1868. I haven’t checked the facts on this yet – but if that is the case, then by golly, isn’t it about time to stop and reflect and admit that, hey it’s not working? It’s been 145 years.

We Filipinos started learning English much later. Nonetheless, it’s too arrogant to assume we are just naturally smart to have surpassed our Japanese neighbors, who have weird techniques for learning English.

And much more bizarre ways for practicing it: Japanese man arrested for shouting that he studies English (weird) before grabbing woman’s butt (illegal)

Granted, Filpinos don’t speak like Americans- I, for one, am not a perfect English speaker- but at the very least we can sing to Taylor Swift without a problem. It’s probably, because, hey, we actually use it? Like, everyday? On the contrary, Japanese survive without ever having the need to use English anyway. Fine. No problem. So why do the parents push their kids to learn English when the kids neither like it nor intend to use it?

If someone is interested in learning English, then by all means, cultivate this interest. But to me, it looks like the adult society is shoving English learning down Japanese kids’ throats  because of some sort of unfulfilled dreams/ frustrations in themselves. And the more kids hate it! Out of 30 kids per class, there are less than five who are sincerely interested in English. Where is the love?

Or are they victims of false marketing?

While the below poster was obviously having a bad day, I can’t help but agree to the points he raised, if only it were phrased in a less offensive manner.


Gaijinpot Forum - rant

Gaijinpot Forum – rant

And the prevalence of hiring “native English speakers”, as if!

Why don’t they just let the kids choose from among a set of options they can pursue in high school instead of force feeding them English? Then maybe they can spend their time doing what they like, one that hopefully suits their talents.  After all, it’s been 145 years.