Acting Like a Woman in Modern Japan: Theater, Gender, and by Ayako Kano (auth.)

By Ayako Kano (auth.)

Weaving jointly cautious readings of performs and stories, memoirs and interviews, biographies and important essays, performing Like a lady in smooth Japan lines the emergence of the 1st iteration of contemporary actresses in Japan, a kingdom during which male actors had lengthy ruled the general public level. What emerges is a colourful and intricate photo of recent eastern gender, theater, and nationhood. utilizing the lives and careers of 2 dominant actresses from the Meiji period, Kano unearths the fantasies, fears, and influence that girls on degree created in Japan because it entered the 20 th century.

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Additional info for Acting Like a Woman in Modern Japan: Theater, Gender, and Nationalism

Example text

It soon became a narrow and oppressive ideology, however, institutionalized in the legal codes and inculcated through the education system. It defined womanhood in narrow terms, controlled women's behavior and their energies, and marginalized those who failed to fit the ideal. It has been pointed out that the Meiji state actually focused more on motherhood than on wifehood as the crucial function for Japanese women. 8 Although it is this motherhood ideology that has been most lucidly critiqued by feminists as continuing to the present day, 9 my focus here is on the lessdiscussed "wifehood" aspect.

28 If onnagata insist on cutting their hair short, he concludes, we need actresses to take their place. This is indeed a "daring" argument. It opens a whole new can of worms, raising questions about the sexual status of impersonators in premodern times, about the status of the feminine characteristics that these impersonators seemed to have in the past but have lost in modern times, about the status of the sexual attractiveness of onnagata acting like women, which can be replaced by the sexual attractiveness of actresses acting like women.

40-his tone suggests that his sympathies may lie elsewhere. Kojima concludes that while actresses may be necessary for modern plays centering on dialogue, for the present and near future, onnagata will be more valued than the actress. All the opinions surveyed so far have one trait in common: They assume that men and women are fundamentally different and that difference is fixed at the level of the body by nature. This assumption underlies both the argument that women should perform women's roles because for a man to do so would be unnatural, and the argument that women should not perform because they are naturally and physically inferior to men.

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