Sunday, March 29, 2009

Women, Can't Beat Them with a Stick

Are Japanese women different from others? No is the answer long or short. In this survey on What Japan Thinks (an absolutely great site), Japanese men and women were asked what men do not understand about women. I wager that the answers would be exactly the same in the US, which is likely to come as a surprise to those Western men who think Japanese women are different or nicer.

Basically, women want to be listened to and empathized with. And men just don’t understand a single thing about women.

For example, I had a Western male friend in Tokyo who dismissed all my efforts to sensitize him to my feelings. By the way, getting men to understand you personally and professionally takes up a lot of female time. He kept telling me that if he were to have a “significant relationship” with an American woman he might pay some attention to my suggestions. His one concession was to call me by my first name, and I should be grateful. His inability to empathize eventually proved too much to me.

Interestingly, he was quite taken by one of my Japanese girlfriends who saw through him long before I did. She loathed him. And when he proceeded to pursue her with what I thought were a series of pathetically sweet and endearing presents and emails (which interestingly always included something trashing me), she simply wanted to bite his head off. Yes, these efforts were insensitive but I was touched by a certain charm to their ineptness.

She refused to agree. And it took all my girlfriend goodwill to prevent her from replying to him in the most eviscerating manner I had ever seen by a woman in any culture, short of going after him with a machete. I eventually helped her draft a kinder, gentler reply that would leave some of his dignity intact. It should be noted that the reply was vetted among a multicultural group of women—Chinese, Korean, WASP—of whom none could understand their Japanese friend’s vitriol. Yes, boys, women always discuss ad nauseam any emotional issue among their friends.

Japanese women have always been like Western women. Maybe the difference is that they have been quieter about their feelings and slower to complain. Their expectations about men are low and they understand that it is futile to complain. But this is changing. And how they now express their discontent is not pretty. In contrast, I have become much more forgiving and resigned to men’s insensitivities. And my daughter's generation seems to have given up altogether and now prefer vampires. Somehow they find the heroic undead more attractive.


  1. Hmmm. Slower to complain. Methinks they---or at least many of the Japanese women I've met complain but in a different way. By the time they get upset enough to become more vocal about it, then things are really bad and it ain't nice to be on the receiving end.

    But I agree, Japanese women are not different from American women (not that I am making a claim to understand either!). That myth/fantasy of a passive little thing has never been very accurate except when they were forced. Even then, I suspect it was only that way in public.

    Maybe it's the newer, tougher vampires that are so attractive to younger women?

    Time to shut up....

  2. I would have to say Japanese women are more controlling than Western women. The Japanese women I have met don't like to compromise and tend to force there will upon the man. In other words they are control freaks, maybe not at first but overtime their true color show through.


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