In recent years, the Japanese government has made efforts to improve gender equality in Japan, and especially so in the workplace. The truth is that Japan has always been, and still very much is, a patriarchal society, but change is happening, albeit very slowly. So now that the dynamics in the office are changing, with more promotions and increasing salaries for women, what do the men dealing with these changes really think? In terms of where Japan is at with gender issues, the results speak for themselves.

To get an understanding of what lies beneath the surface of the recent changes and expectations regarding gender issues in the workplace, a survey was conducted by Japanese news website My Navi Woman, which asked a total of 97 men between the ages of 22 and 39 what they thought of the women they work with. Granted, that is a very small sample size, but it's still safe to say that these men who took the poll represent the typical Japanese office worker. When the question came up whether or not they were actually afraid of their female colleagues, 34% of them said that they, indeed, were. Now that's quite a large percentage, if you think about it. One out of three men in the Japanese workplace claim that they are fearful of their coworkers, just because they happen to be women. But why?

Apparently, there are four main reasons. The first reason is that the men find that the conversations they overhear women having are downright scary. "I'm scared of them because they love gossiping and rumors, " said a 31-year-old automobile industry worker. "Women at work talk badly about people all the time without caring, " said another male who works in the electronics industry. (I personally have heard both guys and girls talk negatively about others, but on with the survey.) Another reason for the fear is sensitivity when it comes to communication between the sexes. One man claimed he had to be careful when allocating work. Another doesn't like his bossy female superior who orders him around. The third reason is a lack of trust. Some surveyed men claim that they have witnessed female coworkers conspiring to ruin the reputation of a male in the office. "When they are in a group, it can be really frightening," he said. And last but not least, Japanese men don't feel comfortable around the fact that women form cliques, and that they are always starting rivalries within the office. A 36-year-old in the teaching profession went as far as to say, "I even heard of one female superior who would hit a female subordinate really hard when no one else was around."

So there you have it. It sounds like a whole bunch of paranoia to me, and it really does reflect how far Japan has to go if gender equality is really a legitimate goal. Japan has a very long history of male domination, and to this day, even though it has come a long way, males and females have very distinct personalities and roles within the society. In short, they are different. But like I mentioned earlier, the government and the people are starting to realize that things have to change, and all for the better. But as this survey has shown, a real and natural equality, especially in the workplace, still has a long way to go.


Les Interprètes - 翻译官

Starring Huang Xuan and Yang Mi

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