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Encounters with AgingMythologies of Menopause in Japan and North America$
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Margaret Lock

Print publication date: 1994

Print ISBN-13: 9780520082212

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520082212.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CALIFORNIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.california.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of California Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CALSO for personal use.date: 28 June 2022

Odd Women Out

Odd Women Out

(p.171) 7 Odd Women Out
Encounters with Aging

Margaret Lock

University of California Press

The social construction of gender in Japan has, particularly over the past one hundred years, emphasized a rather marked role separation between men and women: women are biologically suited for life “inside” while men are consumed by the world “outside.” The assumption in Japan that all women will marry, have children, and devote their lives to the care of the family is so deeply internalized that the few women who do not fit into this mold attract attention. In the present sample, 3 percent have never been married, 2 percent are divorced, less than 1 percent separated, and 4 percent are widowed. Perhaps kōnenki presents particular problems for these women since, because it inevitably signals the end of fertility, it may heighten any ambivalence about not having led the kind of life expected of a Japanese female.

Keywords:   role separation, Japan, gender role, kōnenki, fertility, Japanese female

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