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05 January 2017

Film "A Geisha" Feminist study movie

1st time I watch this film was more than 20 years ago. When I was attending US university. I took a course titled "History of Japanese and Chinese women." During the 4 month-long semester, the attending students had to see the old Japanese film as part of course requirement and the students all discussed matter related to the theme of the film. The film was of course, played with subtitle.

The film was released in 1953, 8 years after Japan's surrender to the war. Japan regained sovereignty and new constitution that ensures basic human rights and women's suffrage became effective. The story took in Gion district, famous Geisha town in Kyoto.

So women including Geisha girls should have basic human rights as other people. The two geisha got in trouble with their clients. One younger apprentice geisha (called Maiko) was about to be raped by her client so she fought back and hurt him. That aggrevated the client. Then the older geisha who ran Geisha house and hired the apprentice had to compensate by sleeping with the client's big client so that both can reach a big business agreement.

She was used as a prostitute and a tool for the business. The apprentice was shocked to know that because she thought that is not what a Geisha does.

In the last scene, the older Geisha says "You are living in a new era. I want you to keep your body clean."

A sad fact of Geisha life.

Nowadays, such thing should not be done so often, I believe.

A lot of people seem to misunderstand job of Geisha. Geisha literally means "Artist" or "Entertainer."

Geisha is after all, entertainer. Just showing dances, and singing songs in the party room. Of course they escort guests by pouring sake and chatting with them. They do not sleep with guests.  

They are not prostitutes. They have never been like that even in the very old days. But what happened to them is sometimes Geisha needed a big money to make a debut buying expensive kimono. So easiest way to get that is have patrons. Geisha agencies preferred that way so that the agencies could get back the debut fund they owed their hired geishas. Some popular ones did not have patrons because she could payback the debut fund only by entertaining guests in party rooms.  

Geisha not only entertain adult men but they entertain families including children. No alcohol, and nasty or obscure talk in the room. Just enjoying shows, meals, casual talk and views from the window. Independent and decent women's occupation.

That should be the tradition we have to preserve.

15:46 Posted in Film, Society | Permalink | Comments (0) | Tags: history, women, feminism, geisha, kyoto

29 June 2014

Great words from a Canadian principal

I have recently become a big fan of TV drama "Hanako and Anne" aired daily on NHK, Japan's public broadcasting station.

It is a story on a real woman who lived between end of 19th century and 1960's. The woman's name was MURAOKA Hanako. She was a translator who translated famous English books including "Anne of Green Gables" and "The Prince and the pauper."

She was born in a poor family but she could attend most prestigious girls' school established by a Canadian Christian missionaries in Tokyo because of charity. She learned hi-society manner and English there.

After she graduated from the school, she became a teacher, publisher, translator and radio announcer. She was also a sufferagist.

Surprised to know there was a life like hers. She met great people in life. Her life was far from average women at that period.

She lived through the second world war. During the air raid on her town she translated Canada's famous children's book "Anne of Green Gables", which she was given from her Canadian friend who left Japan because hostility erupted. In the war time, she could never expose herself to be English speaker in public. English was treated as the enemy's language. But she kept on translating the book although she never knew who would publish it.  

Why could she hold on hopes in such severe time?

Maybe because she remembered words from her school's principal, Ms. Blackmore.

"If some decades later, when you look back on your time with us, you feel these were the happiest days in your life. Then I must say your education will have been a failure.

Life must improve as it takes its course. Your youth, you spend in preparation because the best things are never in the past but in the future. "

That was very impressive words.

In fact, her translation of the book was published 7 years after the war ended and became a best-selling novel, giving hopes to Japanese in the post-war era.

Yes, we should not give up hopes and look to the future, never look back the past.

Then we will make things better than the present.

 

06 September 2012

Film"The Iron Lady" Mrs. Thatcher was indeed Iron lady

Biopic of former British prime minister, the only female PM in British history. Maybe she was as notable as Queen Elizabeth in pre-modern time.

She was born in a family of grocery. Her father was local mayor. She studied in Oxford.

She lived through 2nd world war, and struggled with male dominated society.

After she became prime minister, she won the war with Argentine over terriroritorital sovereignty in South Atlantic sea. At that time US was not very supportive, rather Reagan proposed peace pact with Argentine. That taught us what would happen if similar thing happens between China and Japan.

At that time, Thatcher told the U.S., what did you do when Japan attacked Pearl Harbour? Did you abondon Hawaii because it was so far away and not many people lived there? Did you propose peace pact to Tojo?

She was once about to be assassinated by IRA but survived.

This film described her being woman did not matter to what she did. She had capability of what she wants to do.

Recently I asked some British people about their reputation of Mrs. Thatcher. Surprisingly they did not like her very much. Is it because of her neo-liberal policy? She cut budget spending and privatised national businesses.

Whether that resulted in a good way or not, she had done those things with her firm determination.

Why we never had such a strong leader in our country's politics!

22:09 Posted in Britain, Film, Politics | Permalink | Comments (0) | Tags: women, feminism, history

20 March 2012

Film "Working Girl" Back to 1980's

Working Girl is a 1988 romantic comedy film, which tells the inspiring story of a Staten Island-raised secretary, Tess McGill (Melanie Griffith), working in a Wall Street investment bank. When her boss, Katharine Parker (Sigourney Weaver), breaks her leg skiing, Tess uses Parker's absence and connections, including her errant beau Jack Trainer (Harrison Ford), to put forward her own idea for a merger deal.

It was a typical success story. She suceeded in business and love and got promoted. The film reflected 1980's social phenomenon like feminists arising. More women in business fighting against male cheuvinism in the industry and economic booming by financial sector such as merger and acquisition. The scenes were shot in the World Trade Center which was later destroyed by 911 terror attack.

However these things have become outdated lately.

Feminism is no longer a big issue. It is because gender equality has reached certain level so there is not much needs like in the past. In the mid-management position, in the US, women accounts for 40% of all the positions in business. Of couse glass ceiling still exists, in top management positions like CEO, women only accounts for 10%. In Japan 10% is ratio in mid-management position, ratio in top management is only 1% or less. But no one argues women working in top positions in the business or politics. Now it is a matter of time and efforts for individuals to get what they want regardless of gender.

But ironically, people have become more conservative recently. Although public attitude changed, women traditionally face difficulty breaking barriers which precedors already created and continued for so long. Women are no longer exluded but still not welcome and not suitable in male dominated sector. In fact not many women want to do totally same things as men do. Girls are girls and boys are boys anyway.

After all, even rich, successful and independent women want to get married to richer and more successful guys.

Lately backlash has come, more younger women want to be housewife because that is easier in economic recession and people discovered being good wife and wise mother is one of greatest choices in life. In the old days women could hardly chooose the way to live. Besides being housewife and mother was secretary, teacher or nurse. Now housewife is what they can choose besides working girl. In fact they can do the both if they want to. Recent feminist film "Mona lisa smile" implied traditional role of women is not bad at all although you do not have to comform to what the society expects you to be.

The other thing outdated is business success, especially in financial sector. After Lehman Shock and Occupy Wall Street movement, financial sector seemed to be con and dirty business that exploits many commoners in the society. Merger and Acquisition was a kind of money game which never cared about people working in companies.

Although people wanted to be and believed to be richer, only a few of them could achieve that. Just 1 % of people occupy vast majority of the wealth in the society. 

Success in business cannot always link to happiness in life. Working all day long and no time to use money for fun. No time to have good communication with your family. You have no friends and no one to trust or nobody who trusts you. What does money help you?

Furthermore, because of necessity of economic growth, our earth and lives are in danger such as global warming by carbon dioxide and recently radioactives from nuclear power plants. To grow more states and corporations have to exploit more natural resources and take huge risks for our lives.

Our lives, happiness, environment are at risk for materialistic success. That kind of things shouldn't be valued in motion pictures any more.

We are now living in a different era from 1980's materialistic era. We have to think and change.  

 

 

10:13 Posted in Film, Society, un-USA | Permalink | Comments (0) | Tags: feminism, women, fukushima

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