Women objectify themselves in Tokyo sex strike

longhiWriting about feminism is challenging because of the unfortunate tendency in our society to diminish it into a binary way of thinking: If you’re not pro-feminism, you’re against it.

While I will proudly proclaim myself a feminist, as everyone should, this black-and-white way of thinking is unfair and ultimately problematic.

Last week, the women of Tokyo declared a sex strike against any man who voted for gubernatorial candidate Yoichi Masuzoe.



The backlash against Masuzoe came after comments he made to a men’s magazine in 1989.

Women are not normal when they are having a period," he wrote. "You can’t possibly let them make critical decisions about the country, such as whether or not to go to war.”

While the comment is understandably contemptible, the resulting campaign, a Twitter account garnering thousands of followers and sexiling any man who voted for Masuzoe, was equally ridiculous.

In an attempt to punish a man for his now-decades-old misogyny, these women have done nothing more than simplify their own existence as purely sexual.

The movement also served to be ultimately pointless, as Masuzoe ended up winning the election for governor last Sunday, regardless of the women’s efforts.

Trying to comment on women’s rights in foreign countries is somewhat tricky; it is irresponsible of us to apply our own personal judgments to a culture with customs and practices we have no way of understanding.

But by responding to Masuzoe's archaic and sexist claims in this way, Japanese women have perpetuated the idea that they are creatures fit only to be sexualized, doing the entirety of womankind a disservice.

Additionally, it sets the women’s rights movement back about 50 years to keep pretending that sex is a favor we do for men, to be given and taken away at our leisure.

Why punish the men of Tokyo in this way? I do not know enough about Masuzoe to know if his unfortunate stance toward women extends into every realm of his political beliefs, but I do know that it is highly unlikely that the men of Tokyo voted for him for this one reason alone.

I also have to wonder, if women believe a sex strike is the way to accomplish their goals, does it not cut both ways? If it is only men that are supposed to suffer while they pick and choose who to “reward” sexually, the ultimate message of equality between the sexes is lost.

I can appreciate the women’s anger, as well as their original goal. We are at point in our society where women from all walks of life and all over the world are standing up for their right to be heard.

However, when we twist this intent and revert back to stereotypes that crippled our gender for so long, we as women do nothing but weaken our cause for equality and give feminism a bad name.

Reach the columnist at llonghi@asu.edu or follow her on Twitter @lolonghi

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