feminism in my family

June 1, 2020





Do you share your thoughts about feminism with your family? I rarely talked to my family about feminism. Rather, I didn't know much about feminism before, and maybe I didn't notice that I unconsciously talked about something related to feminism. That's how much the idea of ​​feminism actually fits into our lives. I realize now that the words that were mere complaints and small discussions at home were related to feminism.





I have four family members, my mother, father, sister, and me. My mother is a housewife working part-time, my father is a salaried worker, and my sister and I are students. My mother does all the housework and my father earns the money for the family. This job role is completely constructed and divided by gender. Before I knew about feminism, I thought it was normal. But now, when my mother talks about inequalities in my family, I feel like my mother lost a lot of things such as her education, career, and what she wants to do in order to support our current life although my father doesn't sacrifice as much. I also feel that my mother tries to provide opportunities for us and believes in our future. So, here I would like to share the conversations related to feminism with my mother and what I thought about it.





My mother often says that she is the least "free" person at home. She has a job called housework 365 days a year and has no breaks. At home, my father doesn't participate in any housework even on weekends and holidays, and he goes out alone or watches TV while drinking coffee. I have never seen my father washing his dishes. Housework has always been a heavy burden on my mother because my father never participates in housework. I write these things like it is other people's affairs, but I rarely do housework either. Even though I occasionally do housework, my mother works every day. She also said, "Even if I do housework every day, the only money I earn is a small amount from my part-time job." Before I learned about feminism, I didn't understand her feelings about how she couldn't make money by working every day as a housewife. I never wondered why housework wasn't worth money, because that was my normal daily life.





When I recently talked to my mother about housework, she said that she didn't want us to think mothers doing housework is normal and she didn't like the relationship that we all have, always depending on her. She said the equation "housework = a mother's job" is an illusion. My mother also said that she didn’t want to stop doing all the housework itself, but rather told me studying should be prioritized over doing household chores now. My mother couldn't go to college for many reasons, so she wants us to study a lot at school and to become independent and earn money for ourselves in the future. However, I realized that housework is also one of the important jobs in society. Therefore, I feel that it would be nice to erase the concepts of "easy work" and "free work" that have been used as housework in my mind. And the value of housework should be properly recognized in society in the future. I know that it’s difficult to value housework by money unless we don’t live in a capitalist society. However, I feel that it would be nice that housekeepers are evaluated by people around them, have a good rest and be alone when needed, and ask for help when they feel things are hard. Moreover, I think the idea of gender roles should be outdated by now, such as the thought that women and mothers are supposed to do housework. Now I have more future choices that were more rare and difficult to pursue for my mother and other women in that generation, so I’d like to pursue my career. But still, I’d like to keep respecting housework even though I choose different future options. 







On another note, my mother wants me to lose weight. Before I knew about feminism, I followed her words and I skipped dinner and didn't eat carbs. I always thought I was fat and I was not confident in how I looked. The other day, when I came back from studying abroad, my mother told me that I was fat and that I should lose weight. I actually became larger, but I didn’t think that I had to lose weight. I replied, "I'm the one who decides what I want to do with my body, don't say that." And she said, "That is just wishful thinking and you always can’t lose weight by yourself. And you can't get the job you want if you don't lose weight.” I don't want to work for a company that makes visual judgments, and I would like to be evaluated based on my ability and way of thinking. Therefore, I never thought about losing weight for job hunting. My mother has lived in a society full of lookism*, so she just gives advice based on her reality and the experiences she has been through. She perceives that society values lookism and the belief that “women are flowers in the workplace.” I don't want to be "successful" in such a society, so I’d like to make an effort for my abilities and my thoughts. When I want to lose weight, it's not for society, not for others, but it’s for myself. I told her that losing weight is only for health reasons and for my self-esteem when I think about my body. And she understood what I said. It was a moment I felt the importance of talking and having a discussion with others.


*Lookism = Discrimination and prejudice based on appearance and visual evaluation.










I also recently talked about sexual harassment with my mother. The topic is familiar and relevant to me because I'm going to look for a job. *Shukatsu Sekuhara is a social problem because college students are not protected by the system of neither universities nor companies even though they are sexually harassed in interviews and **OB visits. I realized that my mother and I’s perceptions of sexual harassment are different. I believe that all the responsibilities are in the perpetrator and the victims should not be blamed at all because they haven’t done anything wrong. But my mother thinks that there is also a problem with victims themselves. It was a shock when I knew that, but I thought my mother had a reason to think so. At first, I was shocked at the difference in our perception and I thought that my mother was an enemy. But I noticed that it was wrong and I regretted my way of thinking. I actually asked her again about that, and my mother's opinion is that the perpetrators were bad after all, but victims had to defend themselves to survive and not to be blamed by society. In today's society, those who can be victims are forced to defend themselves. However, at the same time, there are people who raise a voice against sexual harassment in the movement such as ***flower demonstrations and #MeToo. I talked about these feminist movements and confirmed the definition of second rape with my mother. I think I was able to share a little about the structure of sexual harassment and the image of society that feminists are aiming for. Through this conversation with her, I noticed that it was necessary to imagine why others think the way they do or ask directly the reasons behind their thinking, and not to point out the wrongness of what others say and force my own justice. 

* Shukatsu Sekuhara = Shukatsu - job searching, Sekuhara - sexual harassment


**OB Visit = A visit to alumni to learn about working conditions with a certain company


***Flower demonstrations = A campaign to protest against sexual violence since April 2019 to change into a society not to allow sexual violence. Held on the 11th of every month, people spoke up in all prefectures during the year. The flower demo made a big movement for #MeToo in Japan.





In this way, I used to think that feminism was a taboo to talk with others and I couldn't talk so much, but surprisingly it is a topic that can be discussed. It made me realize that the complaints my mother and I have been saying at home are related to feminism in one way or another. And although there are differences in age and ways of thinking between my mother and me, I noticed that we can have solidarity by sharing our attitude to oppose sex discrimination and sexual violence. I used to think that my mother's way of thinking was totally different from mine, and I didn't try to understand where she was coming from. Maybe I was the one who made it difficult to understand others’ ideas. I didn't have any imagination or empathy for the reasons and backgrounds of my mother's complaints. Moreover, we are different people, and each person has a different way of thinking, so I don't think we could completely understand each other even though we are family. However, talking about feminism reveals the structures of inequality that have been affecting and confusing both of us, and our enemies are not those in front of us, but the social structure and the “normality” hidden in our society. When I talk with my mother about feminism, I notice that I’m in the structure of inequality and I can be a perpetrator and a victim of discrimination when I listen to the voices never shared. Therefore, I want to keep sharing the idea of ​​feminism with my family, and continue to have my thoughts of strong resistance against gender discrimination and sexual violence. And I’d like to make the common recognition that is an important core belief and commonality that grounds us even if there are differences in generations and ways of thinking.





I feel I can have a meaningful dialogue by paying attention to the following when I struggle with the difference of the other person’s ideas. When you talk to your family about feminism, it is better not to deny what they say. If you are not satisfied with their ideas, let’s ask why first. It is also better not to interrupt their words and blame the  “generation gap” for your disagreement. Although dialogues are not always going to go the way you want them to go, I think that it is possible to have a good dialogue with them if you see your family members as different individuals and respect them as a person. I hope this article will help anyone who wants to talk about feminism with someone important to them.



telling, - 『ルッキズムから抜け出したい

Business Insider - 『就活ハラスメントにNO、国が初の指針。大学生団体「抑止力ない」と強い実効性求める

Business Insider - 『大学は就活セクハラ対策を現役学生らが訴え。「前例がない」とスルーされた過去も

フラワーデモ - 『フラワーデモを記録する


Images and Illustrations by Akari

English Edited by Hanayo

Edited by Eli, Hikari Sawada and Hikari.


Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Please reload

Follow us on Instagram!


  • Black Facebook Icon
  • Black Twitter Icon
  • Black Instagram Icon
  • Black SoundCloud Icon
  • Black YouTube Icon
©Copyright 2020 honeyhands. All Rights Reserved.