Recently I stumbled across a report by The World Economic Forum entitled ‘The Global Gender Gap Report 2008’ (pdf link) , basically it is a report examining four critical areas of inequality between men and women in 130 countries around the world. The four critical areas being:
1. Economic participation and opportunity – salaries, participation levels and access to high-skilled employment
2. Educational attainment – access to basic and higher level education
3. Political empowerment – representation in decision-making structures
4. Health and survival – life expectancy and sex ratio
The league table of results was to say the least shocking and yet at the same time, for this land of the rising sun that I temporarily call my home, completely predictable.
Norway tops the list, up one place from last year with Finland, Sweden, Iceland and New Zealand ranking 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th respectively.
No Big surprises there, but I am thinking of moving to Scandinavia ;-)
The UK , my dear green and pleasant land comes in at number 13, and the USA, a land from which hail many of my current friends at number 27 (below France-15th, Australia-21st and Cuba-25th)……..this is starting to get interesting.
Kazakhstan home of Borat (allegedly;-) is in 45th place just above Columbia at 50th but below Mongolia striding into the list at 40th.
Is anyone else starting to find this a little weird?
Anyway…..China is at 57 just one place behind Israel at 56, both above Italy at 67.
But we have to pass Ghana – 77th, Bangladesh – 90 and Cambodia – 94, before we reach Japan, this country revered for its modernity and admired the world over for its ‘Kawaii’ (mostly by people who have never been here let alone had to live in its oppressive midst) at , drum roll please……..number 98!!!!
(side note – The kanji for the word ‘rape’ in Japanese are 強姦 (goukan) which is made up of the kanji for, ‘strong’ 強 and the kanji for ‘wickedness’ 姦, it’s interesting to note that the Kanji for wickedness is made up of 3 of the kanji, 女 ‘woman’ stacked together. Is it any real suprise that Japan comes in at number 98 when it has such delightful linguistic phenomenon as that??)
Just for a little perspective the countries at the foot of the list reads like a who’s who of , if not misogyny, then well……..places where chivalry was still born way, way back in the mists of time.
Kuwait – 101, Syria – 107, Algeria – 111, India 113, Iran 116, Pakistan – 127 and in last place Yemen – 130.
I have presented this report to several Japanese friends and acquaintances over the last day or two and have been met with some incredulity, much more from the women than from the men it has to be said.
Most of the men just laughed it off, in a “so what, women in their place, whats wrong with that?” kind of way, but despite their well practiced inscrutable smiles, the women were a little more surprised, I could see it in their eyes. Especially when I pointed out the positions of China, Bangladesh and Cambodia way above their beloved land in the list (even the mens laughs turned a little hollow at the mention of Chinas ranking).
“Why is Japan so low on the list?” I asked them, not really expecting a sensible answer.
I wasn’t disappointed, most of them could offer no insight as to why it should be so.
Responses ranged from, “This is Japanese culture” the get out of jail free card Japanese people always play when confronted with something bad about their country, to “I’m just a woman , I can’t do anything about it” (seriously sister, Its that kind of thinking that is causing the problem, let me introduce you to Andrea Dworkin, maybe you should have a chat)
My 2Y, for what its worth (actually a lot more than it was 2 months ago;-), is that its because all of the factors that were judged are essentially political and the Japanese, especially the young, are among some of the most politically unaware people I have ever met.
They literally have no clue whats going on inside their own country let alone outside it and whats more, they aren’t interested.
If I casually bring up a gaffe or f^%k up that this politician or that governor of Tokyo has uttered no one has any idea what I’m talking about.
They wear that “photo or it never happened” smile that is enough to drive a person insane.
Now, call me an agitator, call me an anarchist, call me anything you damn well please as long as its true, but I think it should be my Japanese friends and acquaintances telling me about political issues in their own country and not the other way round.
And right there is where the problem lies, the root of why Japan is at number 98 in the list, for this willful ignorance of issues affecting them as a nation is why I’m pretty sure I’ll be hosting my “Japan falls to number 100 in the gender equality list” Vicars and Tarts party pretty damn soon.
Now, where did my wife go??, Get me a god damn beer bitch!!! ;-)