Flexible Femininities? Queering Kawaii in Japanese Girls’ Culture
While Japanese subculture — especially what is called ‘kawai? (cute) culture’ — currently receives global attention, it has been studied most frequently in the context of Japanese anime/mang? or its appropriation by Japanese contemporary artists (Ngai, 2005), and very few readings of kawai? highlight another ‘root’ of this phenomenon: Japanese girls’ culture. This paper will investigate the complicated relationship between the particular modes of feminine gender performance in Japanese girls’ culture and its politics of bodily flexibility. What this paper aims, however, is no? to define what the concept of kawai? is; rather, this paper intends to shed light on the way in which the media images of kawai? have been visualized as ‘the flexible’ in today’s socioeconomic context, and to explore what is at stake when such ‘non-normative’ or ‘unusual’ femininity comes to gain the desirable status of ‘flexible body’.
KeywordsLabour Force Survey Music Video Feminine Gender Gender Performance Japanese Girl
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.
- BBC News (2013) ‘Japanese singer Kyary Pamyu Pamyu talks instant stardom’, BBC, 4 June. Available online at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia -22762974 (accessed 26 October 2013).
- Brown, J. (2011) ‘Re-framing “Kawaii”: Interrogating global anxieties surrounding the aesthetic of “cute” in Japanese art and consumer products’, The International Journal of the Imag?, 1(2), pp. 1–10.Google Scholar
- Brutu? (1 May 2009) Tokyo: Magazine House.Google Scholar
- Butler, J. (1990) Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identit?. New York and London: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Duggan, L. (2003) The Twilight of Equality?: Neoliberalism, Cultural Politics, and the Attack on Democrac?. Boston: Beacon Press.Google Scholar
- Genz, Sté;phenie. and Benjamin. A. Bradon, (2009) Postfeminism: Cultural Texts and Theorie?. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, pp. 76–90.Google Scholar
- Haberstam, J. (2005) In a Queer Time and Place: Transgender Bodies, Subcultural Live?. New York and London: New York University Press.Google Scholar
- Harvey, D. (1990) The Condition of Postmodernit?. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
- AER? (15 November 1999) ‘Iatsu gyaru no honne: Otoko wo mushi shita busou fassyon’ [‘Truth talk of intimidating gyaru: Arming fashion in ignoring the guy’], pp. 32–36.Google Scholar
- Holland, Samantha and Julie Harpin (2013) ‘Who is the “girly” girl?: Tomboys, hyperfemininity and gender’, Journal of Gender Studie?. pp. 1–17.Google Scholar
- Jones, Charlie Rorbin. (2012) ‘Kyary Pamyu Pamyu covershoot: The PonPonPon has a laugh with Nicola behind the scenes of her Dazed covershoot’, Dazed Digita?. London: Waddell Limited. Available online at: http://www.dazeddigital.com/fashion/article/15088/1/kyary -pamyu-pamyu-covershoot (accessed 25 October 2013).Google Scholar
- Kawasaka, Kazuyoshi (2013) ‘Are LGBT rights becoming Americanised?’ (Im)possibly Queer International Feminisms: Second Annual International Feminist Journal of Politics Conferenc?. Brighton: University of Sussex, pp. 17–19.Google Scholar
- Keet, Philomena. (2007) The Tokyo Look Book: Stylish to Spectacular, Goth to Gyaru, Sidewalk to Catwal?. Tokyo, New York and London: Kodansha International.Google Scholar
- Leibetseder, Doris. (2012) Queer Tracks: Subversive Strategies in Rock and Pop Musi?. Surrey and Burlington: Ashgate.Google Scholar
- Macias, Patrick and Evers, Izumi (2007) Japanese Schoolgirl Inferno: Tokyo Teen Fashion Subculture Handboo?. San Francisco: Chronicle Books LLC.Google Scholar
- Martin, Biddy. (1996) ‘Sexualities without genders and other queer Utopias’, Femininity Played Straight: The Significance of Being Lesbia?. New York and London: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Martin, Emily. (1994) Flexible Bodies: The Role of Immunity in American Culture from the Days of Polio to the Age of AID?. Boston: Beacon Press.Google Scholar
- Martin, Ian. (2011) ‘The cute ‘n’ kooky world of Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, Japan’s newest pop idol’, The Japan Time?. Tokyo: The Japan Times, Ltd. Available online at: http://www.japantimes.co.jp/culture/2011/09/29/culture/ the-cute-n-kooky-world-of-kyary-pamyu-pamyu-japans-newest-pop-idol/#.Umuph46jrfv (accessed 24 October 2013).Google Scholar
- McRuer, Robert. (2006) Crip Theory: Cultural Signs of Queerness and Disabilit?. New York and London: New York University Press.Google Scholar
- Muta, Kazue. (2001) ‘Bai-bai shun to enjo kosai’, Jissen suru feminizum? [‘Prostitution and compensated dating’], Feminism in Practic?. Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten.Google Scholar
- ‘Soro soro Kyary Pamyu Pamyu ni tsuite hitokoto ittokimasuka’, Soushokukei Dansh?. (2011) Available online at: http://masafiro1986.blogspot.jp/2011/ 10/blog-post_11.html (accessed 24 October 2013).
- Statistics Bureau of Japan, Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (2013a) Roudouryoku chousa (Heisei 24-nen heikin kekka no gaiyou? [Labour Force Survey (2012 Yearly Average Result?]. Tokyo: Statistics Bureau, Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications. Available online at: http://www.stat.go.jp/data/roudou/sokuhou/nen/dt/pdf/ndtindex.pdf (accessed 16 October 2013).Google Scholar
- Statistics Bureau of Japan, Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (2013b) Roudouryoku chousa (Heisei 25-nen 4–6 gatsuki heikin (sokuhou) kekka no gaiyou? [Labour Force Survey in 2013 (Statistical Tables?]. Tokyo: Statistics Bureau, Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications. Available online at: http://www.stat.go.jp/data/roudou/sokuhou/4hanki/dt/pdf/ 2013_2.pdf (accessed 16 October 2013).Google Scholar
- Tanaka, Mitsu. (2005) ‘Issai toshi wo gomakashite…Sorega watashi no genten nanoyo’, Kakegae no nai, taishita koto no nai watakush?. Tokyo: Impact Shuppankai. [‘Faking my age… That’s Where I Started’, One and Only, But Small M?. Tokyo: Impact Shuppankai].Google Scholar
- Tyler, Carole-Anne. (2003) ‘Boy will be girls: Drag and transvestic fehishsm’, Female Impersonatio?. New York and London: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Vincent, Keith. (2010) ‘“Nihonteki miseijuku” no keifu’ [‘Genealogy of Japanese immaturity’], in H. Azuma (eds.) Nihonteki souzouryoku no mirai: Cool Japanology no kanouse? [The Future of Japanese Imagination: The Potentiality of Cool Japanolog?]. Tokyo: NHK Books.Google Scholar