Odd Women Out

Margaret Lock

in Encounters with Aging

Published by University of California Press

Published in print January 1994 | ISBN: 9780520082212
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520916623 | DOI:
Odd Women Out

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The social construction of gender in Japan has, particularly over the past one hundred years, emphasized a rather marked role separation between men and women: women are biologically suited for life “inside” while men are consumed by the world “outside.” The assumption in Japan that all women will marry, have children, and devote their lives to the care of the family is so deeply internalized that the few women who do not fit into this mold attract attention. In the present sample, 3 percent have never been married, 2 percent are divorced, less than 1 percent separated, and 4 percent are widowed. Perhaps kōnenki presents particular problems for these women since, because it inevitably signals the end of fertility, it may heighten any ambivalence about not having led the kind of life expected of a Japanese female.

Keywords: role separation; Japan; gender role; kōnenki; fertility; Japanese female

Chapter.  14081 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Medical Anthropology

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