DOI link for Disabled Heroines
Disabled Heroines book
In Japan, disability policies have significantly evolved over the last 15 years. They aim to promote disabled people’s ‘social participation.’ In the media too, representations of people with disabilities are evolving, towards a more positive image of disability. Yet, little research has investigated the representations of disabled people in television dramas, which are an important part of contemporary Japanese popular culture. Focusing on the subgenre of ‘home dramas’ (dramas revolving around family issues), which is mainly intended for a female audience and centred on female characters, this chapter aims to entwine the issue of gendered representations with that of disability. It analyses the representations of disabled women in four recent Japanese dramas. It focuses especially on the issues of sexuality and motherhood for disabled women which, while still a taboo in Japanese society, are key elements in these dramas. It shows that, while the introduction of such themes on Japanese TV appears original indeed, the way of portraying disabled heroines is very normative in terms of gendered representations (cuteness, vulnerability and mutual support for women, absence of male characters…). It suggests that these dramas, rather than promoting a new vision of disability per se, use disability as a fictional tool symbolizing social constraints weighing on all women.