japonisme: cross-cultural studies II

03 January 2008

cross-cultural studies II

Queen Victoria said: "I am most anxious to enlist everyone who can speak or write to join in checking this mad, wicked folly of 'Women's Rights', with all its attendant horrors, on which her poor feeble sex is bent, forgetting every sense of womanly feelings and propriety.

"Feminists ought to get a good whipping.

"Were woman to 'unsex' them- selves by claiming equality with men, they would become the most hateful, heathen and disgusting of beings and would surely perish without male protection." 1

During the Edo and Meiji (1868-1912 A.D.) periods, women were considered worthy of a certain amount of education.

Every girl, except those in the lower classes, was trained in the domestic and aesthetic arts.

This education included learning the Japanese written language, the Chinese classics, poetry, music, etiquette, flower arrangement, tea ceremony, calligraphy and painting, and in some areas, dancing.

Such talents were considered suitable for a proper woman and wife. 2

The Tal- mud- ists aver that teach- ing women to read is tiflut “unbe- coming behavior, sexual license, [and] a waste of time.”

The strictures they instituted blocking women from access to reading literacy, the minimum needed for participation in religious ritual was, until the seventh- century and only in Europe, carefully adhered.

Before that time few women in any Jewish population were reading much less writing literate.

Without the ability to record their lives for posterity, including their very much needed participation in holy days such as Passover, the experiences of half of the Jewish people have been and to a large extent continue to be ignored. 3

Surveys consistently find that women read more books than men, especially fiction. Explanations abound, from the biological differences between the male and female brains, to the way that boys and girls are introduced to reading at a young age. 4

throughout time and cultures, the idea that women should be taught to read has been suspect at best. but once again one thing becomes increasingly clear. in japan you really don't need to have red hair to read.

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Blogger Imani said...

This is a rare reaction but I am liking the Japanese prints much more than the European ones in this post. (Usually it's about even.) The last one on the right especially -- she looks so coy peeking at the scroll there.

I'm rather shocked to learn about that discrimination in Jewish society. So much is (deservedly) made of the community's intellectual contributions that it somehow never occurred to me that all (more or less) of it was male and no one seemed too bothered about it...

Thank you so much for that lovely solstice e-mail you sent me. I have saved it. I hope your holiday season was wonderful.

04 January, 2008 12:04  
Blogger lotusgreen said...

good seeing, amani. i wonder if it's a love letter and he is jealous....

i didn't even know victoria was such a luddite. apparently that was *really* her secret.

04 January, 2008 12:09  

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hi, and thanks so much for stopping by. i spend all too much time thinking my own thoughts about this stuff, so please tell me yours. i thrive on the exchange!

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