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Essay On The Japan: The Modern Girl As Militant Discussing About The Modern Japanese Women During The Period Of The 1920s<Tab/>

1179 words - 5 pages

In Japan, the images of women have undergone rather remarkable transitional changes. In her article "The Modern Girl as Militant", Miriam Silverberg focuses on the category of Modern Girl ("moga," or modan gaaru), a topic of debate in Japanese society during the 1920s and early 1930s. She argues that the Modern Girl was a media creation designed to portray women as promiscuous and apolitical. It was a way of displacing the militancy expressed in their political activity, her labor in new arenas and their adoption of new fashions.Therefore, when examing the history of Japanese women during that era, the historian should not be trapped in viewing her as just an epitome of moral decadence, but rather should become conscious of her militant nature. This paper begins by focusing on some of Silverberg's strong arguments, which defends her position on the image of Modern Girl as militant . I would then proceed to highlight some ambiguities and questions with regards to her arguments.Silverberg begins her paper by asserting that the Modern Girl was a highly commodified cultural construct crafted by journalist during the decade of cultural and social change. She then proceed to discuss some of the contemporaries such as Kitazawa Shuichi, Nii Itaru, Kishida, Kataoka Teppi etc., who tried to define the characteristics of the Modern Girl. Despite the fact the contemporaries writing about the Modern Girl struggle to find an absolute definition, the essence of who the Modern Girl remains clear to society. The Modern Girl stood for everything modern and non-Japanese. It stood for all the materialism and decadence in Japanese society at that period, and all "modern" ideals and lifestyle that threatened the traditional social order of Japan. It was a conservative construct, a symbol of what women should not be, and a reflection of the negative social phenomena in Japan's modernisation process.However, Silverberg argues against that the true reality of the Modern Girl was in fact militant. She claimed that there was an increased in politicization of Japanese women during the 1920s to 1930s. For example, there was an emergence of militant feminist organizations such as the New Woman's Association (1919) and the Red Wave Society (1921) . Silverberg also highlights that women were active in the labour movement, with the setting up of many unions and professional organizations that dealt with the problems in some of the female-dominated occupations. Women also took part in strikes, such as the Toyo Muslin strike and Florida Dance Hall strike, with some strikes seeing women as active participants and organisers . She also noticed that the threatening emergence of the Modern Girl coincided with a debate on the possible revision of the Meiji Civil Code.According to Silverberg, the media and the government therefore sought to downplay the militancy of Japanese women by defining her image as apolitical and promiscuous. In this way, they are made to be less of a threat and...

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