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Japan’s national Gender Equality Law was introduced in 1999, followed by the passage of municipal gender equality ordinances throughout the country. A backlash against feminism then occurred as a reaction to the perceived “invasion” of feminism to local political arena, caused by the municipal gender equality ordinances and educational projects. The past decade marked a turbulent time during which people were galvanized by this mainstreaming of feminism.
This paper is based on over seven years of fieldwork since 2005, centering on the conflicts between feminists and conservatives in local communities, particularly concerning Gender Equality Ordinances in Ube City in Yamaguchi prefecture and Miyakonojo City in Miyazaki prefecture. Yamaguchi (Sociology and Cultural Anthropology, Montana State University) conducted in-depth interviews with anti-feminists on their version of events connected with this backlash, by meeting with conservative assembly representatives, journalists, and activists. she highlights the question of who the anti-feminist conservatives are, and why they attacked feminism.  Yamaguchi examines the voices and activist strategies of this grassroots conservatism, whose leaders are the reporters of newspapers affiliated with right-wing religious groups. She also discuss the voices of local politicians, citizens and feminists who acted in response to, or against, the backlash in local communities.
These concrete cases highlight power relations and tensions between the center (national/urban) and the periphery (local/rural), the problems facing gender equality policies, along with the current state of academic feminism and feminist activism. Yamaguchi also discusses the need for feminists to address the harsh realities surrounding women’s labor, as the lack of information on it in fact contributed to the dominant imagery of feminism as a movement limited to elite, privileged, academic feminists.

This talk is co-sponsored by the Triangle Center for Japanese Studies and the Department of Women’s and Gender Studies at UNC-Chapel Hill.
Free parking is available at the FedEx Global Education Center after 5:00pm.
DATE:  October 22, 2013
LOCATION:  FedEx Global Education Center, Mandela Auditorium, UNC
TIME:  5:15-7:30pm

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