chapter  9
18 Pages

When pillars evaporate: structuring masculinity on the Japanese margins


People desire to be dynamic, to travel, to be free, to be alone. People desire to settle down, to be loved, to have family and security and certainty in their lives. Men and women alike must negotiate these conflicting desires, but the unbalanced nature of gender relations has often excluded women from the issue. As Enloe (1989: 21) puts it: ‘in many societies being feminine has been defined as sticking close to home. Masculinity, by contrast, has been the passport for travel’. Enloe’s principal subject is international travel, but I would extend her observation to include more mundane forms of mobility, such as the simple journeying between home and workplace. To stay, or to go; to keep still or to move: these are issues for both genders, but the history of gender relations has perhaps made the issue of mobility/stasis more marked for men than for women.