Tuesday, February 1, 2011
Reading Chastity: 1930s Feminism and Japanese Popular Literature
Presented by: Professor Michiko Suzuki Assistant Professor, East Asian Languages and Cultures,
Indiana University Bloomington.
From the mid 1930s in Japan, "women's rights" activism focusing on gender equality and suffrage began to decline, while "mothers' rights" activism promoting legal protection for mothers became increasingly prominent. In order to expand rights for women, feminist groups strategically emphasized gender difference (reproduction, caregiving) as critical to national wartime interests. This shift in mainstream feminism ultimately redefined the relationship between woman and nation until the end of the Fifteen Year War (1931-45).
In this talk I focus on one of the most popular novels of the 1930s, _The Husband's Chastity_ (1936-37) by Yoshiya Nobuko. By exploring issues such as chastity and motherhood, the novel profoundly engages with questions of gender equality and difference, of vital interest to both feminists and society at large. This popular work examines critical ideas surrounding sexuality and gender identity and provides an important window into complex views of social progress in mid to late 1930s Japan.