Consumer and Gender Socialization in Japanese Marketing
Our gender awareness is a phenomenon that comes with time, as we grow up social circumstances and cultural forms mold our gendered being. Children are normally born without the awareness of their gender identities but later discover them as a result of the interaction with their respective social and cultural environments (Creighton, 1994). We learn how we are supposed to dress, work, interact with other people, and feel ourselves as males or females by emulating the people around us. As an adult, a person is considered complete if he or she fulfills the societal and cultural expectations of his or her respective gender. On the other hand, the sense of inadequacy may take over if one feels that he or she is not able to perform or behave like other people of his or her gender in the society.
I grew up in a society where in the past; females were portrayed as less superior to males. Although as a toddler one could not notice it, the birth of a baby boy was more exciting than when a girl was born, perhaps, because of the perceived decreasing male population. Unlike boys, girls could not inherit their parents and instead, they were supposed to marry to acquire property in collaboration with their husbands. Therefore, little girls were taught by their mothers how to behave respectfully and responsibly to make good wives once they attain the rightful age for marriage, mostly late teenage. During leisure time, they were taught how to perform common household chores such as cooking, sewing, cleaning of dishes and clothes, as well as taking care of children. These were some of the must-know tasks that were exclusively performed by females.
Women were perceived as a weaker gender as compared to men (Staples, 2011). A woman was not allowed to participate in major decision-making processes, whether in their families or matters concerning the society. Politics was a no-go zone for women, and those who tried to join were most of the time victimized. On the other hand, boys, particularly at early teenage, spent much of their free time with their fathers; they were learning how to become responsible future husbands. They were taught masculine skills such as leadership and protective as well as economic activities like cattle rearing, fishing, and farming. Men were seen as family heads that deserved a lot of respect from women. A man was supposed to be strong enough to provide for his family, and it was the duty of their wives to cook for and feed them as well as their children. Any man who fell short of these skills was viewed as less masculine.
The wave of civilization has brought about significant changes in the definition of gender roles in our society (Hokowhitu, 2008). Nowadays, males are treated almost similarly to females, and the boundaries between their roles are gradually collapsing. For instance, unlike other husbands in the past, my father sometimes cooks for my mother, especially when she gets late from work. My brother is a professional chef in one of the five-star hotels, a career that was previously seen as feminine. There have been many campaigns advocating for the recognition of girl child as an able person in various matters just like her male counterparts. As a result, the society has started seeing the enormous potential of females in the issues that were previously seen as masculine. Following the gender imbalance in the political system as a result of the gender bias in the past, I feel determined to become the first female senator in our area. I have shared my aspiration with my friends and relatives, and they have promised to give me any support that I need to pursue my dream.
In conclusion, the social and cultural environments that we grow in influence our gendered being. It is important for people to hold perceptions and cultures that promote the well-being of both genders rather than being oppressive on either side.
Creighton, M. R. (1994). “Edutaining” children: Consumer and gender socialization in Japanese marketing. Ethnology, 33(1), 35-52.
Hokowhitu, B. (2008). The death of koro Paka: “Traditional” Māori patriarchy. The Contemporary Pacific, 20(1), 115-141.
Staples, J. (2011). At the intersection of disability and masculinity: Exploring gender and bodily difference in India. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 17(3), 545-562.