Matriarchy is alive and well in Japan and South Korea
Both Japan and South Korea have histories so richly entwined, it would be difficult for a foreigner not to recognize the apparent similarities of each country’s respective cultures. Their relationship is one of shared cultures and traditions but at the same time complicated. There is much to be said about Japan’s treatment towards Korea throughout the first half of the 21st Century. Instead of dwelling on the past however, the focus shall be directed towards how matriarchy secretly rules both countries.
While Japan and South Korea may still be primarily male dominated countries, in terms of politics and business, at home matriarchy reigns supreme. The historical structure of both countries is such that the patriarchal system has dominated how both countries have been run. Thus the status and treatment of women in both countries is a complex one.
Women in the workplace are seen as inferior and do not share an equal status unless they have been highly educated. Society’s expectation of women in both cultures is that, if they have careers, they will give them up for a family.
Although, as tradition dictates there is more pressure placed on the men to have children to carry on their family name. This need derives from the idea that a man’s name is important and must be continued. The added pressure to start families and have children is placed more so on the sons rather than the daughters. There is a greater need for men to start having children and due to parent’s and grandparent’s expectations to see their grandchildren and great grandchildren respectively.
For only children, this can be even more burdensome. As son’s receive better treatment as compared to daughters and this can often result in the ‘prodigal son syndrome’ whereby the boys are raised as kings and spoilt. Mother’s in Japan and South Korea place a greater emphasis on raising their sons well due to this ideology that their sons will carry on the family name. What is interesting to note is that, in South Korea women do not have to take their husband’s last name but the children do.
Without a doubt, whether in Japan or South Korea, the women wear the pants in the family. Men may bring home the bacon, but not only do the women cook it, they sauté it, BBQ it, bake it and stew it. Women are in charge of the family finances and husbands actually have to ask their wives for an allowance to go out. It is easy to admire this as it empowers women. Even though, it is a society where the role is women is stereotyped, women reign supreme at home.
Due to the great pressure from familial and societal expectations, these men become suppressed; mentally, physically and emotionally. The common attitude amongst Japanese society, when something becomes to tough, is that “it can’t be helped” and thus they just have to deal with it.
One positive aspect of the changing times, is that women in Japan now have more freedom to chose when they can start a family. There is still this unspoken conservatism in every aspect of life, but society is slowly changing. Moreover, because there is less pressure placed on them to start a family and less of a stigma for women to get divorced and raise children on their own.