Gender Norms In Takahashi's Lonely Woman

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Stephanie L. Takahashi’s 1977 “Lonely Woman” depicts the life of very similar, yet different characters that serve to demonstrate the breakdown of gender norms. In the story, Sakiko and the old woman demonstrate the change in generation brought about post world- war Japan. During Japan’s transition from a feudal economy to a westernized nation state brought upon the Meiji restoration, the shift to a capitalistic nation, called for an increase of women in the workforce. Though the capitalistic ideology has granted women a certain degree of autonomy, Takahashi emphasis the pervasive norm that penetrates into the life of every Japanese woman. Takahashi’s protagonist Sakiko-- an educated woman with a career— does not live an ordinary life.…show more content…
While the old woman represents a much older generation, she exhibits facets that deviate from societal norms. For instance her house is described as “purely Japanese-style edifice” and her style takes a more conservative “traditional attire” (11). Strikingly, these Japanese homes were not for single woman, but for traditional families where the elaborate system of registration was prevalent. This notion of the Household head was inherently corrupt as it gave males the means of control (Bullock 158). Simply put, Takahashi’s use of the old woman as an independent head serves to demonstrate the demise of a patriarchal generation. Although, Sakiko, too lives on her own, she demonstrates a contemporary change. While the old woman reflects a much more traditional model. For instance, although the old woman states “I have sharp ears”, she repeatedly finds herself not hearing Sakiko’s statements. The generation contrast is what disables them to hear each other. Sakiko’s statements were often of the same nature, involving binary models of gender, for instance when she states, “It must be quite a job to care for so many of them” (20). Since women are merely support figures, it is evident that choosing not to hear this comment would be in the old woman’s best interest. Unlike Sakiko, the old woman’s behavior emphasize the way in which societal norms are slowly demolishing through the breakdown of

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