This is one of the essays I wrote for the translation seminar I go to.
We're given a theme each month, taken from a random sentence in the
book we use. Thought I would put more efforts in it if I thought I'd
put it up somewhere.
The Japanese society has undergone some changes. Gone are the days when you could rely on men to do men stuff and wear men clothes. On top of that, we cannot trust women to do women stuff and wear women clothes either nowadays. Instead, we have girls playing in professional baseball leagues, and groomed, well-pruned effeminate hairless men prancing about in their skinny trousers with Gucci clutch bags.
It still came as a bit of surprise when I came across a programme on children’s television about “nail art” one night; in it, a young man of the above mentioned sort was teaching a girl and a goose the art of, well, “nail art”. It was actually quite informative and useful. For example, it’s the universal law that after you spend 20 minutes doing your nails, they get scratches that just ruin the whole work. He taught us how to repair the damages those pesky scratches do to nails (cover the scratches up by glittery nail polish in lovely gradation). He kept saying, “Nail Art starts in mistakes.” If I can bear having long finger nails for more than a few days, I would definitely give it a try. “Now that’s lovely,” he’d say, looking fondly at his pupil’s work. Japan has come a long way indeed since the days of samurai and hara-kiri.
All of which is a welcome change. After all, God has been long dead (and so has Nietzsche, come to that) and even postmodernism is looking stale now. This is the twenty-first century, for the late goodness’s sake. We are supposed to be living in a modern, postmodern, possibly post-postmodern society. It’s high time we broke free from this misconception that gender is the inherent order of things. Silly, really, if you think about it, when women go to war and men’s job is to stay at home and look pretty for a certain African tribe.
This is, however, not to say that I’m violently opposed to gender roles. In fact, you could even say it can be quite productive for a society to have gender roles…in a society where men come rushing to you as you walk towards the bathroom with gloved hands and a big brush, shouting, “Wait, I’ll do that! Don’t take THAT away from us!”