Feminism in Japan from the 1990s onward was linked to popular culture, focused on girls and young women in Europe and the US, and was disseminated through the media. Young women’s activities in Japan were also featured in the media, particularly a brand of feminism that became known as the “Girly Movement.” However, in Japan’s case, it cannot be denied that in some ways the movement was less a call for change than it was fodder for the media, turning images of women into objects for consumption.
Laws such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Act of 1986 and the Basic Act for a Gender Equal Society of 1999 were passed and a gender-equal society seemed to be on the way, but in reality, there remained a pervasive sense of incongruity between the individual and society, as seen in the marital and family systems, social norms of heterosexuality, and conventions of femininity and masculinity.
Now, in the 2020s, social changes are stirring as small voices raise dissent to connect through the Internet and gain strength. Feminism, which was thought of as only for women, is extending a helping hand to anyone who feels out of place in society. In recent years, the word has begun to be used in the plural form: feminisms.
Ways of thinking about and understanding feminism differ depending on people’s generation and era, nation and ethnic group, environment, and values. The message of pluralistic feminisms is the importance and necessity of members of society mutually acknowledging diverse ways of thinking.
In this exhibition, works by nine artists, each with their own perspective, offer a window into expressions of feminism in Japan, and how artists perceive gender, the body, society, and what lies beyond.