How Are Tomboys Perceived In Japan

How Are Tomboys Perceived In Japan – TOKYO – Kurumi Mochizuki is a skilled soccer player who can roll the ball onto her right foot from between her shoulder blades to the top of her head and hold more than a dozen shots high. He makes it look so easy.

However, when he trained with his local club team southeast of Tokyo, the coach sometimes advised him to rest longer than his teammates and warned him not to carry heavy bags of balls when carrying equipment from the yard.

How Are Tomboys Perceived In Japan

13-year-old Kurumi is the only girl on the team. She played with boys because her neighborhood didn’t have a girls’ club team and her high school didn’t have a girls’ team. It will also be difficult to find a team in high school. Only one of the 14 schools in Kurumi Prefecture has a girls’ team. His brother, who played soccer in middle school, didn’t have that problem—almost every high school in the district had a boys soccer team.

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Such is the state of women’s and girls’ sports in Japan, where female athletes work hard to achieve their dreams. The rigid gender norms in Japanese society limit opportunities, and they define women’s lives not only on the field, but also at home and in the workplace.

Japanese women have overtaken their countrymen at Olympic Games after Olympic Games, with Japanese-born tennis player Naomi Osaka becoming one of the world’s biggest sports stars, but the gap remains wide.

The Tokyo Olympics, which open next month, are giving girls a chance to lift their fellow champions to inspire their passion for the sport. But after the Olympic glory fades, people like Kurumi will face major obstacles.

Japan doesn’t have laws like America’s Title IX, which requires equal opportunities for boys and girls in state-funded schools, and schools don’t publicly report how much money they spend on classes, extracurriculars, sports, or gender segregation.

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Committed female athletes often overcome the stereotype that they are doing something unbecoming of a woman, thereby losing the opportunity to attract men and then become wives and mothers. Even their coaches see their involvement in this light and in some cases give them etiquette lessons to prepare them for family life.

This is another reason why Japan has failed to help women reach their full potential as leaders in many fields, despite politicians’ claims that women must be empowered to develop the economy. Although many women work outside the home, they are considered to be lagging behind men. And in everyday life, girls and women are forced to adhere to narrow behavioral patterns such as politeness and sophistication.

Tetsuhiro Kidokoro, an assistant professor at Nippon University of Sports Science, said, “Boys who are good at sports can be role models. “But the definition of femininity doesn’t include women who are good at sports.”

Kurumi was at home with her younger brother. Her neighborhood didn’t have a girls’ club team, so she played with the boys.Credit… Noriko Hayashi for The New York Times

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Despite societal expectations, Kurumi hopes to play elite soccer like her hero, Homare Sawa, the captain of the Japanese national team that won the 2011 Women’s World Cup and won silver at the 2012 London Olympics.

At the age of 6, he joined his brother in football. She said about being the only girl on the team, “I never thought about it when I was younger. “But the older I get, the more I know it.”

Her public high school extracurricular soccer team is technically a coed team, although none of the team’s 40 players are girls. Instead of trying to join a new group at school, Kurumi decides to continue with the club she’s been in since elementary school.

“There’s a difference in the strength and aggression of the boys on the gravel,” said middle school vice principal Shigeki Komatsu, who stood by as the boys raced on the gravel.

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17-year-old Koko Tsujii, who lives in Suginami Ward in western Tokyo, decided to play soccer in the first grade of elementary school, but her mother thought the sport was only for boys.

She now plays for the club’s women’s team, where men outnumber women almost 5-1.

Coco Tsuji, right, chats with other members of the Suginami Soccer Club women’s team. Credit… Shiho Fukada for The New York Times

In addition to teaching kicking and passing techniques, the girls on the team also learn about femininity. When Koko was in middle school, a teacher at an overnight camp taught the girls how to hold chopsticks and rice bowls as a smart way.

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“If he hears the girl he’s going to date playing soccer, he’s going to be prejudiced against her,” Coco recalled after completing a few hard sprints on the field during a recent evening practice.

“I didn’t like it at first,” Coco said. “But I’m very happy because I’m in high school. I realized that some men care about that sort of thing.”

Ten years ago, after the women’s national team won the World Cup, there was hope that the situation of female athletes in Japan would improve.

Before that victory, girls flocked to suburban soccer clubs after the U.S. women’s team won the 1999 World Cup in the United States.

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However, Japan does not have this kind of prosperity, and this distinction is not clearly recognized by the public.

A 2019 study by the Sasakawa Sports Foundation found that 1.89 million boys between the ages of 10 and 19, or nearly a third of all boys in that age group, played casual or team soccer at least twice a month, compared to 230,000 girls. or more than 4 percent.

Girls outnumber boys five to one at Suginami Soccer Club Credit… Shiho Fukada for The New York Times

According to the Nippon High School Athletic Association, only 48 of 10,324 high schools have girls’ soccer teams. Incongruity brings maturity; Only 5% of the players registered with the Japan Football Association are women.

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And like America, the wage gap is huge. According to media reports, men who play professional football are paid 10 times more than female players.

Apart from football, the most sensational sporting events involve men and boys. Japan goes crazy at the end of summer because Koshien, a high school baseball tournament, is over 100 years old. Just after the New Year, many spectators watch the Hakone Ekiden, a collegiate-level marathon relay race for male athletes only.

Few people speak out in support of female athletes, and most of their coaches are men, so young women are not encouraged to change their bodies.

Hanae Ito, a swimmer who represented Japan at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, said coaches told her during competition that she was “mentally weak” as a teenager about mood swings related to weight gain or menstruation.

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“I thought it was my problem or my fault,” she said. “But I think it all has to do with Japan’s patriarchal society. Even women’s sports are viewed from a male perspective.”

Yuki Suzuki, who once played in the professional soccer league, with his son in Tokyo. She was frustrated by the rigid gender definitions that prevented women from participating in athletics.Credit… Shiho Fukada writes for the New York Times.

After Olympic swimmer Hideko Maehata became Japan’s first woman to win a gold medal, one of Japan’s major newspapers, The Asahi Shimbun, wrote about her victory at the World Championships at the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin: “Then marriage. “

This trend continues today. Yuki Suzuki, who played in Japan’s Nadeshiko professional women’s soccer league and coached the sport until giving birth to her son, is frustrated by strict gender definitions.

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Ms. Suzuki, now 34 years old, said, “Girls are advised to be ‘girly and girly’.” I think we have to change the basic culture of Japan when it comes to women.”

Even if girls can play, there is still a slight bias against boys. The boys’ volleyball and basketball teams at Kurumi’s high school train in the gym three days a week, while the girls’ team spends the other two days.

Kurumi said, trying not to worry about unequal treatment. He didn’t resent his coach for forbidding him to bring heavy equipment to practice.

“I’m sure the coaches are interested in me,” he said. “But I know I can take him.”

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