Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Jeepney Press January-February 2010 PAGE 5

by Alma R. H. Reyes

Oh yes, I am wise
But it's wisdom born of pain
Yes, I've paid the price
But look how much I gained
If I have to, I can do anything
I am strong
I am invincible
I am woman
—lyrics of “I Am Woman”

Eye of the Tiger

Tiger greetings to all!

Another year begins in Jeepney Press, and hopefully a promising one for all Filipinos in Japan, especially after what our families back home had experienced during the past year’s unbeatable record of natural catastrophies and massacres. After all, one cannot ignore that this year is the phenomenal year of national elections back home. Who will become the new president? Well…let’s leave that decision to the hands of the tiger. Probably, a tiger candidate will get the lucky (or unlucky?) vote. If you are born in 1902, 1914, 1926, 1938, 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986 or 1998, this is your year.

Tiger people are fierce and domineering on the outside, but noble and distinguished on the inside. They learn quickly and search for challenges, thus, they tend to change careers often. They can easily get depressed from unsuccessful efforts in business or work, but they are certainly fighters. Watch out, though, tigers are big spenders! They easily get attracted to luxury and can be impulsive shoppers. Doesn’t that sound like a typical Filipino trait? :)

Nikushoku kei or Soushoku kei?

And soon, the Valentine month is coming. Oh my, another luxurious array of chocolates, chocolates, chocolates—and, more women desperate to hunt for a partner so they have someone to date on Valentine’s dinner or can receive some “real” (not giri) chocolates from a true lover!

Speaking of Japanese women, have you been noticing any changes in the Japanese female behavior in the past years? Many foreigners who have never visited Japan, or who have stayed here for just a few days or weeks can hardly be able to grasp the real soul of the Japanese female. Generally, these foreigners are blinded by the finesse of the faint giggle—yup, accompanied by that hand covering the mouth—or the gentle hold of chopsticks, the slender fingers that wrap a cup of green tea, or the choreographed squat called the seiza—showing that vertical body line equated with poise, serenity and feminism…hontou ka naa? My favorite theory about the Japanese woman is “it’s all on the surface”—probably gentle on the outside, but a tiger in the inside! Yes, this year must be their year! And, as they say, this trait is clearly visible especially after they marry. So, watch out you Filipinos with Japanese girlfriends! Ha!

Lately, there has been much talk about soushoku-kei danshi and nikushoku-kei joshi (herbivorous males and carnivorous females). Personally, I find this concept very interesting and modern, since Japanese women were never referred to as “carnivorous” in the past. A typical Japanese woman is said to be the Japanese man’s “second arm,” tailing behind him and serving him endlessly. How many of us have frowned over scenes of Japanese men not offering their seats to women in trains? Or, Japanese men not giving way to women to step out of the elevator first, or not allowing women to sit down first in restaurants? Nakaka-frustrate diba? That’s why when I go home to the Philippines, I savor being pampered by “ladies first” treatment. In fact, having lived in Japan for so long, I often act surprised when a Filipino gives way to me to pass through the door first, forgetting that this is really the gentleman’s way!

However, female behavior in Japan is changing these days. According to a survey of Japanese women in their 20s and 30s, there are more women now who regard themselves as aggressive rather than passive. A nikushoku-kei joshi can also mean a woman who is more sexually active than her partner, and who approaches men without hesitance. She is also highly career-minded and financially independent, and does not feel that men ought to support them. Well, isn’t that new? Nikushoku-kei women are success-driven, aggressive in discussion, and do not believe in monogamous relationships. Oo la la…what does the soushoku-kei man has to say to that?

Be My “Gyaru”

The nikushoku-kei female phenomenon is probably the reason why there are so many gyaru in Japan now. You know who they are, right? Long, blonde hair with curly ends? Really dark, black eyelashes over touched by double or triple mascara? Strong make-up, dangling ear bangles, striking nail d├ęcor on fake nails so long they can pierce you? Short, short skirts in frills or belts hanging in every direction, brightly colored tights—some in checks, flower patterns, hearts, or character designs? And, of course they can’t be gyaru if they don’t talk like gyaru. Just walk down Takeshita dori in Harajuku one weekend and you’ll see them all. These gyaru are surely nikushoku-kei; they are no longer shy to project a bold appearance or appear outlandish and speak and laugh loudly. Considering the Japanese female’s long history of being the gentle, obedient and submissive woman, something in today’s era must have driven them to change all that, trying to tell the world that there is something else hidden behind that elegant kimono.

After all, did you forget? On Valentine’s Day, it’s the women who give chocolates to the men. And, in many relationships in Japan, it’s the women who chase the men. Yes, being a man in Japan is living like a king. Only that, the women here are no longer their passive princesses. Now, they can be their iron queens!

Good luck to every love-catching nikushoku-kei joshi and soushoku-kei danshi!

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