Japan 101st in Global Gender Equality Rankings, Reactions

Japanese geisha wearing kimonos

When the World Economic Forum released the annual Global Gender Gap Rankings for 2012, Japan’s position out of 135 countries had fallen a further three places from 98th in 2011 to 101st, making it by far the lowest of the G8. While netizens commented on the article below in their thousands, with the top comments having more than twenty-thousand upvotes, the conclusions they draw are surprising. Rather than insisting that the position of women in Japanese society be improved and made more equal with that of men, some netizens suggested that the rankings favoured the Scandinavian countries that occupied the top positions. Furthermore, many commenters seem to imply that women and men are inherently different, and that women should just be housewives since it makes them happy. But do you think modern Japanese women are really content with being housewives? Or are there those who feel as though they can’t speak out against tradition?

From Yahoo!News.co.jp

World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap Report 2012

World Economic Forum Report: Japan Ranks 101st in Gender Equality

The World Economic Forum, known for hosting its annual meeting at Davos, announced rankings of social development, education, and gender equality on October 24. Out of 135 countries, Iceland continued to maintain first place as the country in which there was the least gender discrimination. Japan ranked 101st, falling three places from last year (98th), the lowest rank out of the G8 nations.

The survey was based on four areas; employment opportunities/salary, educational background, health/longevity, and political participation. In the combined rankings, the Scandinavian nations, where women’s social progress is well-established, occupied the top positions, with Finland ranking 2nd, Norway 3rd, Sweden 4th, and so on. Among the G8 nations, Germany was 13th, the UK was 18th, Canada 21st, and the USA 22nd.

Comments from Yahoo!News.co.jp

みちのく大統領(muc…)さん:

Japanese feminists have got gender equality all wrong. Originally, gender equality was thought of correctly as an awareness of social development and infrastructure in which women did not change into men. However, Japanese feminists are even trying to get rid of ‘masculinity’ and ‘femininity’. For example, even if there is gender equality, the merits of specific gender characteristics are still needed.

(^∀^)(cho…)さん:

I guess there are even disadvantages for women if everything is completely equal. Making it equal for women only when it’s convenient for them, hell, that’s just too convenient.

max(def…)さん:

> Discrimination against foreigners is also terrible in Japan. Japan needs a bill on human rights!
Say what you really mean! They just want to take over, right?

日本を守ろう(nip…)さん:

In various countries, the concept of values is different, plus attaching a ranking to this kind of thing is in itself nonsensical. And I think that it is forcing Western values on Japan that is unfair.

kamichi(kam…)さん:

Women-only carriages on the train, Ladies’ Day at the cinema, there are just so many strange things I guess there’s nothing we can do.

kanshingi(kan…)さん:

Aren’t they mistaking the meaning of equality? For example, there are also some families where the wife works and the husband stays at home. If the husband dies, there is a widow’s pension for the wife, but if the wife dies, there are no provisions; plus they have benefits for a single mother but not for a single father. Isn’t that strange?

left(lef…)さん:

It’s no use if every single thing is equal. For a start, men and women have different physiques.

uhl*p*rt01g*alk*e*er(uhl…)さん:

I think it’s crazy that there is not much difference in salary between a woman who fiddles with her smart phone all day at work and a man who works on site and does office work.

あはやた(ajg…)さん:

The way societies are constructed varies, so as a rule we can’t really compare them, can we? There are plenty of women around who want to become housewives. Social development is not gender equality that takes the shape of something we can see; the criteria should be whether men and women have their chosen paths obstructed because of their gender. We shouldn’t just drag women into working society against their will for the sake of statistics when they long to be housewives.

tak*_*ik*hou(tak…)さん

Japan is mistaken about gender equality, and there is a heavy tendency toward protecting women. And Japan is a male-dominated society where it counts, so gender inequality is evident. We have no choice but to satisfied with these rankings.

ona**mits*(ona…)さん:

In this kind of ranking, Christian/white nations get the top spots, while non-Christian/non-white nations rank lowest. It’s always the same old white triumph rankings.

そろそろ名前変更~(par…)さん:

Although they say that gender discrimination is wrong, there are too many women who start the gender discrimination themselves. For example, women who don’t even attempt to carry their own stuff if they have something that’s a bit heavy because they want to make it easier for themselves, and so they’re all like ‘I’m a woman so I can’t carry it.’ These bitches don’t have the right to talk about gender discrimination!! A real man will help those women who do their best to carry something even though it’s heavy, and he won’t even say a word.

sebunnsudoragon3(seb…)さん:

I don’t know much about gender equality, but in Japan, there are a lot of people who are members of various religions as well as many who aren’t, there aren’t many countries where there is no animosity between religions, and people from different religions talk and laugh in the same room or in a shop, and can socialize with each other in a normal manner.

kaw*t*da2*26(kaw…)さん:

Wow, they have those kinds of rankings. How are they quantifying the level of equality numerically, I wonder?

*(hen…)さん:

Women are often strong within the family, though…

マスゴミの暴走で戦争が起きた(mas…)さん:

Let’s get rid of legal aliases for foreigners instead of thinking about gender equality

表示名を取得できませんでした(agj…):

This type of survey is made so that the Scandinavian countries can come out on top.

k(rou…)さん:

Japan must revise the state of men’s employment, and not only focus on women’s social progress. The reason women tend to place emphasis on child-bearing and bringing up children is because their husbands can’t take time off the company for the birth and the upbringing of the child.

きっちゃん(kat…)さん:

No such thing as equality exists in this world, and that includes equality between men and women.

cb_*max*6(cb_…)さん:

The way we look at gender equality in Japan is weird. This is a bit of an extreme example, but there are facilities that have a ‘ladies’ day’ but there are virtually no facilities that have a ‘men’s day’.

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  • Ruaraidh

    Shame societies punish everyone in a way, but women seem to suffer most in them. Shame and face have a lot to answer for.

  • http://www.facebook.com/deejaytaufiq Mohamad Taufiq Morshidi

    No fucking shit.

    But i applaud Japanese women for not wanting to get pressurized by the work system. Some Japanese women would just retire from their job after marriage because of the horrid work culture of 9 to 7 with little time for kids. Seriously, if i were a Japanese women i’d rather be a housewife than work 9 am to 7pm with low chances of raise and overtime pay.

    If anything, equality in the workplace should start with creating work benefits for women, allowing women to leave work early for family’s sake. But i doubt it’d happen.

    • besudesu

      Good point! When you think of Japanese work culture, which is at times torturous for both genders, and particularly those with young families, being a housewife seems like the only option; very limiting for women.

    • Zappa Frank

      welcome to the world.. everywhere people work from 9 to 7.. (or 8.30 to 18.30).. despite of that still have children.

      think about that.. Japan is an old country, i mean, with a lot of old people.. who’s going to pay their pension if a half population give up working after marriage?

      • http://www.facebook.com/deejaytaufiq Mohamad Taufiq Morshidi

        But i work from 9 am to 5 pm, and it’s basically 8 hours.

        • Zappa Frank

          don’t you have any lunch break? usually it’s not included in working hours.

          • http://www.facebook.com/deejaytaufiq Mohamad Taufiq Morshidi

            Yeah, but for us it’s included too since our lunches can be considered meetings at time.

  • henryezra

    Japanese is the most chauvinist country, bar Korean LOL

    • ChuckRamone

      Really, even more so than some very conservative religious societies?

      • henryezra

        Confucianism is the most chauvinist belief (and ethic) system. What conservative religious system society did you refer to? Taliban’s or Amish?

  • besudesu

    In all societies there is room for improvement when it comes to the position of women and other minorities. The fact that Japanese netizens seem to focus on the idea that because women are biologically distinct from men they should have different opportunities, and also, the idea that Japanese women actually want to stay at home or quit their jobs after marriage is worrying. The problem is that where culture encourages these roles for women, women stop speaking out and start fitting into the prescribed culturally normative roles without thinking beyond them. Of course it is fine for a woman to be a housewife, but it is not fine for a woman to say she wants to be a housewife because she feels that this is the role that she is somehow “biologically destined” for, and therefore the role she will be most suited to.

    • WJ

      The fact that Japanese people focus on biological distinction is not worrying, but shows that they are one of the few countries in the world where common sense prevails. Women are not men and men are not women. To try to forcefully remove the distinction creates immense instability in societies.

      • ChuckRamone

        No one is trying to force women to be men or vice-versa. But, if they want, they should have the option of doing those things that are traditionally gender-limited, if they so desire.

      • elizabeth

        Absolutely sensible.

  • elizabeth

    It’s hard to talk about gender equality when men and women are so different physically, physiologically, emotionally and psychologically. The two are meant to complement each other, not compete on all fronts. Feminists are after more than just gender equality. Gender ‘neutrality’ sounds more like it. I wish they wouldn’t claim to speak for all women, at least not for me.

    • jonas

      The problem is that feminists want equal opportunity(nothing wrong with that) AND equal outcomes for men and women, which I think is impossible considering our differences.

      • elizabeth

        Hmm…equal outcomes…women’s rights could mean that men can be accused of marital rape but not vice versa. Haha…caveat emptor.

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004190975472 Michelle Rodriguez

          the only difference that in our days, a woman will be more likely heard and comforted for being raped by her husband while a man will be mocked and made fun of if he is raped by his wife. Men being raped today is the same as a woman being raped 10 years ago but the law doesn’t specify that only one gender can accuse their partner of marital rape. so yeah feminists are good even for men or you want to go back to the mentality that when a woman is raped, it is because she asked for it? Ask the raped inmates what they think about rape?

  • Sean Cauffiel

    Wow, Japanese netizen comments are immensely smarter than chinasmack netizen comments.

    • http://twitter.com/RedHotRussia Augis Barkov

      Are you surprised?

    • ASDF

      I dunno about that, but the ones down here are certainly no less retarded…..

    • Zappa Frank

      smarter? i think even worst..

    • Nishi Hundan

      All I see is dumb goober white trash on both

  • http://www.facebook.com/inahson Yaminah Jamison

    ‘Women only carriages on the train’

    Isn’t that to prevent dudes from molesting & groping women……?

    • elizabeth

      Some will say that men can be molested and groped too. Whether they like it or not is a different story :)

      • http://www.facebook.com/inahson Yaminah Jamison

        I’m not saying it isn’t possible but obviously more females voiced and complained about the issue than men. I’m not gonna assume they like it or not because that same assumption could be made towards a woman wearing revealing clothing.

        I’m sure there’s just as many men who don’t like being molested as their are women but because of the stereotype that men are always horny and think about sex all the time, not many either voice it out or people just still like to think the stereotype applies to all.

        Like I said in a previous comment on Koreabang, people just need to keep their hands to themselves and at the minimal, respect a person’s personal space.

    • besudesu

      Yes; this has been a big problem in Japan in recent years; women only carriages are one of the measures the government has taken to prevent it.

  • moshimoshi

    The translations of the comments are not good. The 3rd comment, the one by max(def…), for example, is saying “Be honest. You just want to take over Japan, right?” as a reply to someone who said “Discrimination against foreigners is also terrible in Japan. We need human-rights protection legislation.”

    • besudesu

      I’m sorry if you disagree with the translation of the comments, feel free to suggest a better translation! We welcome that; translation is not a science! The particular comment you’re referring to has been updated; the reply sign ‘>’ was missing from our version of the comment, which lead to the mistake. Thanks for pointing that out.

  • A Gawd Dang Mongolian

    Japan’s view of women in general needs to change. There might be some progress but it’s minimal? How do I know? STORYTIME!

    My father is a vice president for a big biotech company(won’t name it for his sake, he’s got enough shit to handle). In their Japanese branch one of his representatives, a Japanese woman, was felt up by the manager over there. He was fired. The manager was outraged over the fact he was fired because of that. Apparently that wasn’t the first time he did that, but it was the first time he was actually punished for it…

    Yeah, the ranking does not surprise me.

    • A Gawd Dang Mongolian

      Oh and to clarify, this happened a month ago.

  • ASDF

    Gender equality will be possible when there are equally enough women willing to work alone and feed househusbands.

  • Lovely

    im one of those women who want to become a housewife. I hate going to the office everyday with a passion. i would love to just stay at home, watch daytime to TV, and take care of children. That is a luxury and a charmed life if the husband is a decent provider. I would trade my nice income for it!

    • A Lu

      My mum has been a housewife for most of her life (in Europe) and I can tell you that she always worked harder than any working husband I’ve seen in my life. And that’s to take care of a small flat and 3 kids.

      • Bob Loblaw

        Yes, being a housewife is no pic-nic. It’s a huge commitment. Giving-up on your professional career, cutting yourself from the contact of other adult for the most part of the day, endorsing the role of cook, teacher, nurse, driver for the sake of your kid(s). Also I’ve heard schools in Japan require a lot of investment from parents (ie. housewife).

        It’s a respectable way of living one’s life and seeing the way most people talk about it with disdain is saddening. I agree with you Lovely when you talk about luxury, seeing your children grow-up on a daily basis and being able to fully control their education is amazing.

        • Lovely

          sounds great to me, where do I sign up! Fuck this job bullshit. I hate it. And yes, I was a mom. My kids are teenagers now and imagine what it was like, not going to plays, and recitals because I’m at the office late, having a babysitter pick them up from school, not being home till 6pm on their birthdays, missing their whole childhood… yes, I would be a housewife anyday. But no, I am a working woman, trying to have it all. Divorced now but wish I could have the type of family where mom gets to stay home.

    • Zappa Frank

      Maybe the misunderstaing here is that gender inequality is not just due to males, but also females like you, who received a bad education, bad examples and instead of looking for self-realization are just looking for an easy life (a chilidish illusion by the way).. for sure this is a loss for all society, because instead of work a big part of young population don’t do anything, and expecially in a country of old people like japan it’s a big problem.. And the fact that there are women like you is a strong penalization also for women who try their best in order to do something by themselves.

      • vincent

        Easy life? You talk as though being a housewife is a picnic, walk a day in their shoes and you’ll understand how difficult it really is.

        • Lovely

          ha! At least a housewife only had to deal with her stupid husband and manage him, whereas a career woman like me has to deal with her stupid boss, his cohorts, and my own cohorts, and every female at the office who acts like a total bitch in order to seem efficient. Corporate america is so overrated.

      • Lovely

        actually i have an education and a career but having all of that is not as nice as it’s cracked up to be. dealing with assholes at the office, working 40 hours per week and having only 2 days (the weekend) to do what I want to do. I really hate dealing with people. If I worked on my own and didn’t have to do deal with my colleagues and their assinine ways I would love having a job. But I hate it. People are crap and I hate bothering with them. By the way, I am in America not japan! Europe has a better model, 4 day work weeks, holiday in August. All I do is work and pay taxes. Women in japan want to get in and i want to get out.l

  • Lovely

    On second thought, I would never want to become like a middle eastern housewife where women don’t have options. So is there really something to complain about with Japanese men? Those societies are scary, particularly because the women can’t go outside without a man… likely because they fear she will run away from home.

  • A Lu

    You cook, I wash the dishes. Or the other way around.

    That’s the only way to go, in my opinion of course.

  • Kochigachi

    We all know Japan is backward country

  • dim mak

    Eh, Scandinavian countries really are all fagged up with self-loathing that feminist shit, so I don’t think it’s rigged

    Japan needs to bring its women to the workforce without adopting retarded western ideals. Best model is the Chinese model. Our women are just as ruthless as the men, and don’t give a fuck about feminism or compassion or other such self defeating bullshit

  • Ryoma

    Hate to mention this but women in Western countries don’t get paid as much as men either, in fact the ones I know get a lot less. But women have a lot have much more flexibility than men do to look after their kids.

    Just like men, some women are good workers and some are not so good. It would be good if everybody got paid according to how well they work. Both men and women.

    • jon775

      Which country are you talking about? I know that in the northern countries of Europe there’s no noticeable difference. There is a small general difference because the top earners are always men. But for the same job, the pay is the same.

      • Ryoma

        Australia. One is my sister. Another was my co-worker.

        This sounds like a “natto” thing. Having heard it tasted bad, I believed it. Until I found I was eating it for years and liked it. It’s the difference between believing others and finding out for yourself. An open mind helps.

  • redgirls

    I once attended a leadership skills course, When we entered the class a man and a woman were there.The man was busy setting up the projector laying out stationary ect the woman also was laying out teas and coffees ect

    We all took our seats, as the class began the woman and the man were on either side of the projector. All of the class looked at the man ready for the class to begin. The woman then thanked him for his help and he left the class, all eyes turned to the woman whose first question was , who in the class had expected the man to be the instructor? Every hand in the class went up. It really was an eye opener.

    • dim mak

      That’s the kind of parlor trick they dupe kids into thinking the world is more unequal than it actually is. How often do you see a teacher setting up the projector? Now how often do you see a teacher putting out tea and coffee? There you go.

      • redgirls

        Often, It was an adult evening course and tea and coffee were provided in every class.

        • dim mak

          Okay, but we both know it’s unusual in a larger context.

          That outside variable blurs the line between role stereotypes and gender stereotypes, which is probably being exaggerated again.

          • redgirls

            Yes it is unusual in a larger context.

            But we do as a species have preconceived notions. I am guilty of doing it just last week. I went to our out of hours Doctor service.

            In reception were two gentlemen one a man in his fifties wearing a smart shirt, tie and jacket, the other a young man in his twenties dressed in casual jeans, and shirt. I immediately expected the older gentleman to be the Doctor but as it turned out he was the Receptionist and the younger gentleman was in fact the Doctor.My preconceived notions led me to think this is how it is.

  • expatrick

    Not surprising. Asian societies are extremely repressive and oppressive against women. That’s why you see so many Asian women with White men – because they want to be treated better and with respect. There are no civil rights in Asia nor women’s suffrage. They may be able to make/copy electronics, but they are very backwards in their treatment of women.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003224583672 Mike Anderson

    Japanese women WANT to be housewives and not in the workforce. Please familiarize yourself with Japanese culture before assigning retarded western liberal comments and attitudes to the Japanese culture.

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