Nice Girls Marry Last?

Oct 24, 2011 19:14 댓글 없음


Makeinu Special

You are a single, twenty-something Japanese career woman. Recently, two men have made passes at you. The first suitor is around your age. With a low salary and boring personality, he’s definitely not a catch. He invites you to a local izakaya. The other suitor is a sophisticated, older, married man. He offers to treat you to an upscale fugu restaurant. Who do you choose?

Be careful, the answer could determine your future, according to Junko Sakai, author of Makeinu no Toboe (The Howl of Losing Dogs), a best – selling book released last fall. If you choose the young, “moldable” man, you will marry him (or someone like him), have children, and become what Sakai calls a kachiinu (winning dog). But if the dashing older man wins your heart, this first indiscretion will lead to a series of steamy affairs and, as a result, your marriage prospects will be poor. Ultimately, you will be single, unmarried, and like Sakai herself, a makeinu or losing dog.

Makeinu no Toboe, which details the lives of these Japanese old maids in the making, has become an international sensation, striking a chord with a generation of women and forming the basis of a healthy cultural debate. The backdrop for this phenomenon is a Japan with rapidly changing social mores, where women choosing to marry later, or never, have become increasingly common. This trend is not limited to Tokyo; our very own Fukuoka is a real makeinu town, and ranks third in the number of unmarried women in Japan.

Although pitied by their married kachiinu sisters, the new legions of makeinu have plenty going for them. They possess an air of mystery and a spontaneous attitude. With cash to spare, they pamper themselves with frequent haircuts and facials and follow the latest designer fashions. Time not spent raising children is devoted to their careers (ideally in media), but also to learning new dances, languages, or traditional Japanese crafts. Savings are put aside with the hope of one day buying a home to decorate and share with a faithful pet while waiting for Prince Charming who may (or may not) sweep them off their feet. A life without a loveless marriage. Where’s the shame in that?

Before you write off the makeinu as just another strange Japanese phenomenon, take a closer look at the western world. There too, increased money and freedom have created a generation of women who are single and fabulous. In London, “singletons ” are represented by the movie Bridget Jones’s Diary. In New York, Sex and the City’s Carrie Bradshaw questions the existence of true love. And what is Boston’s Ally McBeal other than the uber-makeinu? The iconic status of these characters and their impact on the social dialog of our time attests to the universality of this phenomenon.

Indeed, women around the world should connect with their inner bitch and assume the label “makeinu” for themselves. Although created in an ironic concession of defeat, it has become empowering, a fool-proof answer to the eternal, exasperating question: “why didn’t you get married?” In a country that often acts as if people have no identity until they’ve been labeled, countless unmarried Japanese women have found a label they can wear like a badge of honor or a Louis Vuitton bag perhaps.

The makeinu of Japan are howling emphatically into the night: “weユre here, we’re staying, and whatever you think, we haven’t lost to anyone!”

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