Sadaf and Rinzin Cafe Discussion 4- Bressler and Being Gay in Japan

Rinzin & Sadaf

Gs 302

Live Life More Selfishly: an on-line gay advice column in Japan

Both Rinzin and I were able to find some time to talk about this article last week after class. While both of us enjoyed the article, I realized that having presented on this and lead group discussion, I didn’t get a chance to fully assess her perspective on the article.

Sadaf: “I think that my main focus when doing the group discussion from my side was to emphasize the way in which gay culture has been Americanized and adopted by Japan as more of a western aesthetic as opposed to a lifestyle. The pictures that I purposely chose talked about that and I think that it indicated how being gay was not part of the Japanese cultural dynamic. Being gay means that it is a part of Japanese society but not a part of Japanese culture.”

Rinzin: “ I think, it is interesting to see the different dynamics of culture in different groups and how it influences someone’s identity. Coming from a culture that holds similar views to Japanese, I always knew that If I were a ‘gay’ or ‘lesbian’ it would be problematic. It is a problem because similar to Japan, my culture does not talk about the subject of sexual orientation openly. I feel that If I was still in Tibet or India, I would not come out of the shell for the sake of my family because the behavior of being gay would be seen as selfish and irresponsible. My main focus on this group discussion was to talk about the difference between individualism inspired by westerners versus the family-oriented value which most Japanese holds value to.

Sadaf: “ The requirement to reproduce and have children is a major effect of the inability for men and even more especially for women to be gay because this lifestyle seems to be reproductively unsustainable, the ability to lead a completely gay life is unacceptable. This is due to the structure of Japanese culture. As a result, Bressler’s structuralism argument was one that I thought was interesting and very relatable to the current dilemma. I was then wondering what Rinzin thought about structuralism and if she thought Bressler’s argument of structure was valid in describing Japan and its society and culture.”

Rinzin:” Whenever I think about structuralism, I go back to the example given by Bressler in his article ‘Structuralism’. The two applicants that were both qualified for the job but applicant A was chosen because he understood the language and the structure of what the company was looking. Applicant B was qualified but he did follow the guideline as what the company was looking for by showing up in a jean and messy hair. No doubt that there is a pressure in Japanese society to follow the structure of its tradition especially when it comes to behaving a certain way. As much as the Japanese men know they are gay, there is a constant pressure to follow the norm and the consequences of going against the norm of the structure.

My main question about this article is how can the structure of a society shape the identities of people within a culture? Can those who identify as gay, but cannot actually live such a lifestyle be considered gay, or is the term gay not connected to a lifestyle choice but rather a personal practice that one does in the private sphere?

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