Bad Wives and Worse Mothers? Rewriting Femininity in Postwar Japan
This book examines the contribution of women's literature to Japanese literary feminist discourse of the 1960s by focusing on the work of three female fiction writers: Kōno Taeko, Takahashi Takako, and Kurahashi Yumiko. It considers how these writers defied models of normative femininity through their literature, crafting female protagonists who were unapologetically bad wives and even worse mothers. In the sense that both fiction writers and “women's liberation” activists sought to critique and subvert hegemonic discourses of femininity that confined women to the “traditional” roles of wife and mother toward a broader range of permissible expressions of feminine subjectivity, the book argues that women's fiction was part of a larger attempt to negotiate alternative discourses of gender during the 1960s. The book highlights the role played by Japanese women writers of fiction in laying the theoretical groundwork for a more explicitly political “women's liberation” movement and in the flowering of “second-wave” feminism in Japan in the 1970s.
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