Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Will Miss #501 - marriage is a good thing

Throughout my life, marriage has been portrayed in Western culture (especially America) as a burden on men. There are jokes about the "old ball and chain" and the idea that men are giving up their precious freedom if they subject themselves to restrictions of this lifelong commitment. The message is crystal clear, marriage is bad news, particularly for men.

In Japan, the message is greatly different. The culture largely views it as a rite of passage and a means by which people make the transition from prolonged dependence and their status as a child in the family to adulthood. Men and women alike want to marry for the most part and see it as a desirable thing. They look not at the things they are losing, but what they are gaining. And, yes, men actually get more benefits from marriage than women so this is hardly a lie. Do a search and you'll find a variety of perspectives from which this is so including economic gains.

I miss the way in which marriage was portrayed as a positive thing by the people and the society in Japan.


  1. But isn't it also seen largely as a business proposition and promiscuity, especially on the part of the men with prostitutes, is generally tolerated and ignored?

    1. It is. Japan is notorious for it's affairs and treating love, marriage,and sex as completely different and often unrelated things. Statistics make it seem like the Japanese have even more affairs per couple than both Europe and America combined.

  2. Maybe they have less punitive divorce laws and better women. The perception in the US of marriage as a burden on men is basically an accurate reflection of reality.

    1. The thing I've noticed in japan is that while the men don't say it is a burden on them, in public, they sure as heck don't act that way. I actually started to feel sorry for them because the pressures of their society are far worse than those of other nations. In other words it is much more a burden for an average man to be married, with child, in japan and they rarely openly complain about it. Instead the cheating ratio, domestic abuse ratio, and sexual abuse ratio are exceedingly high even when compared to the US, the UK, China, India, and Russia(cheating/abortion capital of the world). The worse part it is is commonly known that these cases especially, the abuse(affairs too), are heavily under reported (and yet the numbers already so shockingly high) and the woman put up with it to avoid the shame of a divorce.

    2. In my opinion the idea that a "best" or "better" wife is a woman is 100% domestic is antiquated. Even if the men don't cheat I assure you that the women do just as much as domestic American wives and get caught even less.

  3. Ah, too many anonymouses here. ;-)

    The divorce laws in Japan could be seen as less "punitive", but they could also be seen as less supportive of women and children as a means of making sure they don't have the power to escape bad marriages.

    One of my students was married and her husband beat her. They had two children. When she divorced him because of his physical abuse, she had to work super hard to pay for herself and her two children on her own. This is because divorce laws in Japan don't force men to pay child support (or if they do, they are not enforced).

    As for "better women", what is "best" in any relationship is not only subjective according to culture, but also according to individuals. For many Western people, a relationship with a woman in which she expects to be economically looked after 100% is not a good one. In Japan, that is perfectly acceptable and even considered desirable. Many married men said they wanted their wives to remain at home and look after all things domestic. That's fair enough, as long as that is what the women want to do as well (and they often did).

    If this turns into a pissing contest about the value of Asian vs. Western women, I'm shutting comments on this post down. I'm okay with opinions, but not "better" or "worse" comparisons based on utterly subjective criteria unless it includes "better FOR ME" when talking about your own choices and preferences. You can say you prefer women who stay at home. You can say you prefer women who work. You can't say Japanese women are "better" wives as that means nothing.

    And one of the anonymouses is right, there is a much higher level of cheating and domestic abuse in Japan. Domestic abuse in general has been ignored and wasn't even a crime until the 80's. Even now, the police won't do much about it. However, I think this is a reflection on how hard men's lives are (and they are) and the weak support system for them emotionally rather than an indictment of marriage in Japan. I think they still see marriage as a good thing, but they don't always act well within their marriage because of the stresses on them at work and the way in which they are encouraged to suppress their emotional (or drink them away).


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