In response to foreigners questioning their considerable backwardness, the Japanese have been pondering why it is so many of their women still aspire to and succeed in becoming housewives when the rest of the world is now enlightened enough to make both man and wife slave away at a workplace equally.
Overseas the more politically correct perceptions of housewives range from them being sad relics of patriarchal oppression to nothing more than workshy NEETs, and in many developed nations girls who aspire to full-time dependency and a large family would be quickly rushed to a career counsellor and given a handful of condoms.
In Japan however, many young women still earnestly aspire to remove themselves from the labour pool as soon as they can find a husband – although most of them evidently decide to forego the trouble of childrearing – and the nation boasts rates of female employment a staggering 4% lower than Germany (64%), and 6% lower than the US (66%).
Despite this love of home life most Japanese men surveyed seem to express a preference for their wives to remain employed, possibly a desire entwined with the peculiar institution of Japanese matrimonial finances, in which the wife receives her husband’s wages and then grants him a suitably small allowance.
An article describing how an unrepresentative sample of random foreigners mostly expressed pity for their archaic state of existence soon had Japanese themselves pondering why it is there are still so many housewives left in Japan, and why women apparently yearn to become them:
“Do they really want to work that much?”
“Overseas women do. They want to be recognised as such, unlike the ones in Japan.”
“Actually, doesn’t this have more to do with them not having any money for themselves if they don’t work? Only Japan has the custom of having the wife control the household’s finances completely.”
“Fewer housewives is sure to mean more divorces. If you have money and a job why would you put up with an annoying husband? You can live as you like.”
“I want to be a stay at home husband. I want to raise kids!”
“I don’t think I could stand all the lunch time chats with local mamas…”
“Who cares about that, spending time with my kids is what I want. It’s a shame I was born a man, paternity leave notwithstanding.”
“Don’t worry about it. In Tokyo there are loads of single mothers and fathers too. Part time worker house husbands are common as well.
“Try reading the blogs of some housewives – they really don’t get it at all. They complain about how hard it is as a housewife when they spend all day playing games, and then complain about husbands not doing an equal share of the chores despite them being housewives…”
“That’s not a housewife, that’s a NEET. If she’s a housewife she does all the chores and childrearing and he goes to work. There’s no need to for him to do chores.”
“Some idiots don’t grasp this. If you argue about it you’ll be accused of being out of step with the times or abusing your spouse.”
“I do it full time! It’s fun and I’m happy, my kids are cute and I always did enjoy housework and cooking.”
“I’m so envious of you…”
“With sacking people getting easier and easier in Japan, being a housewife is way too risky. The guy serving your ramen could have been working at a bank before he got sacked you know.”
“I used to be in charge of a department at a small magazine, and now I get turned down at the interview for a part time manual labour job at a warehouse…”
“All those girls at elementary school who were saying ‘in the future I want to get married and become a housewife!’ were basically just saying they never wanted to work, weren’t they?”
“But now more young women want to become housewives. It’s a good thing.”
“Is it really? Rather than have kids and make a family with two working parents, the ones who hope to become housewives just hang on and wait, so the average age of marriage gets even higher and the birth rate even lower. And they certainly seem to refuse to lower their expectations even when they are just looking to become dependants.”
“I really do not get all these women who graduate from university with the earnest desire to become housewives. What a waste of our taxes…”
“Right, and there are ones from Toudai and places who end up as housewives…”
“A UK think tank was saying 4 years ago that if Japanese housewives would actually work Japan’s GDP would increase 30%!”
“In the midst of deflation and high unemployment, do you think increases in the amount of labour are going to increase GDP?”
“A woman’s place is in the home. I think this is wisdom the human race has developed over thousands of years.”
“More like in a few tens of years in the case of full-time housewives.”
“At least from the Meiji period?”
“What? I thought all those women were out working in the fields, in factories, and in households?”
“Only the top aristocrats and merchants could ever afford to support housewives.”
“So, isn’t it really just the case that all these foreigners are just too poor to afford to keep a wife?”
“And jealous, no doubt.”
“Japs live different lives according to the gender of their birth. We can never hope to emulate the white masters.
“I think what you people mean is that these days nobody anywhere can afford to support a wife. Japan is just finding that out at present.”
“No way. Housewives are basically a post-war phenomenon in Japan. We never had them before and we’ve only had them for a few decades.”
“A woman working in a rice field can after all carry her infant on her back. Even now, in Touhoku and the like there are families with two breadwinners, and only in the cities can you find loads of housewives.”
“The real reason Japanese women are so keen on becoming housewives is because in Japan it is normal that ‘the woman controls the purse strings’ after marriage.
Overseas it is taken for granted that the man controls the family finances. A housewife who doesn’t work won’t have a penny of her own to spend, so naturally she wants to work herself.
I’d like to see the people who write these articles about Japanese women see how bizarre people overseas think it is for Japanese men to hand all their wages over to their wife every month and then be given an allowance of a few hundred dollars to spend themselves.”
“But wives do such a good job managing the money, I think it is a good thing.”
“Japanese housewives press a button on a rice cooker to make their husband’s bento, enjoy lunch at a family restaurant, then press another button on a washing machine, set the Roomba going and then go out and enjoy themselves. No wonder Japanese women want to become housewives.
Women overseas who aren’t really aware of just how pampered these women are and think more in terms of gender equality are left wondering why they aren’t more keen on working and buying things themselves…”
“Hardly surprising when Japanese housewives get all their husband’s money to use as they see fit. Elsewhere they’d just get something to cover their expenses.”