Attempting to define the characteristics of Japanese women cannot account for the many women who deviate from the cultural norms. However, a core set of traits and values are common among Japanese women. In general, these characteristics describe the women as they think of themselves, others and their place in society.
Japanese people often think of themselves as a homogenous cultural group, and they might regard others outside of the group with admiration, suspicion or curiosity. Japanese women often think of themselves as the cultural center of the household, acting as the person who maintains order and balance in adherence with Japanese values. They might often feel the need to point out cultural differences between themselves and foreigners or others, which may come off as an insult to some but is their way of preserving their own cultural differences.
During World War II, many Japanese women were forced to work in factories while men were away fighting. As a result, many Japanese women today still hold the virtue of empowerment dearly, and they feel good by actively contributing to the household in a financial way. Education was also a traditional vocational role for women, and today many women feel that the education within their household is their responsibility.
Femininity Through Beauty
Women in ancient Japan were often seen as beautiful sex objects, and remnants of this thinking still afflict certain Japanese societies. Many women still place a lot of value on their own physical appearance, which they want to be elegant, slender and ornate. Along these same lines, women are often seen as quieter than men in Japanese culture, and they often speak their opinions less than men. Although these are the traditional norms, these values are slowly changing as society increasingly views women as equal to men.
Japanese culture has a highly stratified social hierarchy in which even language used to address someone has to conform to the person's social standing. Women exhibit cultural class distinctions through wearing expensive clothing, wearing makeup in a certain way, living in certain areas and maintaining their household in a particular way. Women of a lower class are expected to show respect to a woman of a higher class.
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