Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Women Around the World

I have been in Japan for the last two weeks. It's been a great trip but I am ready to get home. Having a gluten intolerance, I have eaten a lot of rice while I have been here. Sometimes, that's all I've been able to eat for a meal. People have been so kind though. Last night, a kind waitress worked hard to find something I could eat on the menu. I wound up with a bowl of warm rice with some egg strips, green onions and raw tuna. It was actually really good.

The women, especially in our area of Kobe, are beautiful! They looked like they have walked out of a fashion magazine. I don't know how they manage to keep their style in this heat or manage to walk around the city in the ridiculously high heals they often wear. They exude fabulousness.....

We had the opportunity last week to visit with some girls from a women's university. Darling, fun girls! They chose questions they wanted to ask us and many were about the roles of women in our country. There is a culture change happening in Japan and these young women are caught in it. These beautiful stylish, strong confident women are expected to leave work immediately once they have children. There is nothing wrong with choosing to stop working once you have children, but for these women it is different. For one, it is not a choice. Secondly, the family system here is such that the man works and the woman's world begins to revolve around taking care of the children, the house and the husband. Sometimes she is even unaware of what the husband does at work, who he works with and often will not see him during the work week.

Last night we were in a different area, the city of Osaka. We were there to offer English lessons to those coming and going on the trains. In this area, along with others in Japan, it is common for a team of men that dress nicely in suits and have stylish hair, to approach women about working as "waitresses" for them. For some, it may very well be a legitimate waitressing position, but for others it is not. These men just approach women and follow them through the station. Some men took the tactic of getting in the women's faces and harassing them. Others would walk along flirting and flattering the women. Personally, it made me angry.

I do not understand how women are treated so violently and demeaningly around the world. It happens in our own culture in America. Here the police know it is happening and do nothing to stop these men, just like most places around the world. I remember walking through the streets of a Muslim neighborhood in Belgium seeing a women trying to cover her face because she had been beaten by her husband. Her sad eyes were surrounded by bruising. Part of his right as a husband is that he could hit her any time he wanted, any time she did not please him.

This is part of what makes me stand in awe of women. Through the difficulties, women find ways to stand strong. Find ways to make relationships that give life meaning. In difficult circumstances they find ways to raise children with love. And often, they do it with their own flair........that is fabulousness. Find a way to encourage a special woman in your life today. Find a way to work against injustice to women.

1 comment:

  1. It is great to hear about your experiences in Japan. Have you read "Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide"? If you haven't, you should! Miss you!