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Househusbands and Breadwinning Mothers: (Un)doing, Displaying and Challenging Gender in Japan

Ofra Goldstein-Gidoni (Professor, Tel Aviv University)

October 13, 2023 / 7pm-8:30pm

Format: Hybrid

Room 301, 3F, Building 10, Sophia University

The paper presents a study of Japanese heterosexual couples self-defined as “role-reversed couples” (fūfu gyakuten). As the term suggests, these couples are surely not representative of the normative gender division between work and care in Japan. In fact, in the Western Anglo-American context, role-reversed parenting has been recently described as “statistically rare,” but of growing practical and theoretical significance.

The paper will present these couples against a shifting background in Japan, which includes the growing participation of women in the workforce and an ongoing vibrant public discourse about re-defining the role of the father in the family, largely encapsulated in the popular neologism ikumen.

Examining couples who respond, challenge, confront, perform and even negate what they perceive as their ascribed “roles,” the paper will pose the question of doing and undoing gender at its focus, the presentation will aim to challenge or problematize the allegedly too-narrow binary opposition of doing/undoing.

Prof. Ofra Goldstein-Gidoni teaches at Tel Aviv University in the Departments of Sociology and Anthropology and East Asian Studies. She is the former Chair of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology. Her current research focuses on family, gender, “new fatherhood” (ikumen), househusbands and breadwinning mothers and the relationship between work and family – WLB - in Japan; Her latest book Housewives of Japan: An Ethnography for Real Lives and Consumerized Domesticity was published in 2012 by Palgrave Macmillan (second edition in paperback August 2015). Since 2021, she acts as Secretary General of JAWS (Japan Anthropology Workshop). From October 2023, Prof. Goldstein-Gidoni will be the head of the Zvi Yavetz School of Historical Studies at Tel Aviv University.

This talk is organized by David Slater (Professor of Anthropology, Sophia University).


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