Not Suitable as a Man?

Teresa A. Algoso

in Recreating Japanese Men

Published by University of California Press

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780520267374
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520950320 | DOI:
Not Suitable as a Man?

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Whereas sex and status had been inseparable social identifiers during preindustrial times, reforms and discourses during the Meiji era had created a new “category of woman that cut across all classes and that was set in opposition to man”. As a system of rights and obligations came into existence in Meiji, it had become important to identify who qualified for which privileges and their attendant responsibilities. Because one of the key determinants is the individual’s sex, medical jurisprudence played a major role, particularly when the individual’s sex was difficult to ascertain. From the Meiji era, medical jurisprudence focused on the new phenomenon, han’in’yō. Han’in’yō referred to those individuals whose sex cannot be easily determined as male or female, or hermaphrodites. This chapter explores how medical jurisprudence discourse on hermaphroditism supported the role of conscription exam in defining the new ideal of masculinity. Because the rights and responsibilities of citizenship were assigned on scientifically measured masculinity, individuals with bodies that did not conform to this new definition of masculinity were legally and socially marginalized.

Keywords: status; social identifiers; Meiji era; medical jurisprudence; sex; han’in’yō; hermaphroditism; conscription

Chapter.  8706 words. 

Subjects: Gender and Sexuality

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