Sexual Violence and the Role of Public Conversations in Japan: A Closer Look at the “Bakky Case”
Robert O'Mochain is an Associate Professor in a department of International Relations in Kyoto, Japan. He has taught and conducted research in various universities in Japan over the past twenty years. His most recent research interests include issues surrounding sexual violence and the success - or otherwise - of the #MeToo movement in Japan.
While the #MeToo movement has led to successful campaigns against sexual harassment in many parts of the world, results have been mixed in Japan. In spite of the fact that #MeToo has inspired a number of offshoot campaigns, many victims of sexual abuse remain silent. Greater attention needs to be directed at the reasons for this reluctance to pursue justice. One factor that requires greater scrutiny is the role of public conversations; that is, widely reported comments from prominent members of society which generate some level of discussion and which exercise some influence over people’s way of thinking on particular topics. If public conversations denigrate women by labeling them as sexually promiscuous or as failures in terms of normative motherhood, the result may be increased violence against women and greater difficulty for women who seek justice in the aftermath of sexual violence. This argument is developed in this article which explores the ways in which a set of public conversations during the 1990’s and early 2000’s may have helped to incite extreme reactions of sexual abuse by stigmatizing certain young women both in terms of masculinist norms of sexuality and of female reproduction. Through engagement with relevant texts and member-checking with gender activists, the author found that the failure to learn lessons from a case of pornography-related sexual violence in the early 2000’s (referred to as the “Bakky case”) means that women remain vulnerable, especially if they are stigmatized for “failing in their duty” to bear children. Prominent figures in society must refrain from initiating public conversations that can lead to the stigmatization of women who challenge traditional gender norms. This study is made so that concerned citizens in Japan today, and readers everywhere, can more strongly justify their insistence on public conversations that reflect principles of gender equality and respect.
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O'Mochain, Robert (2021) "Sexual Violence and the Role of Public Conversations in Japan: A Closer Look at the “Bakky Case”," Dignity: A Journal of Analysis of Exploitation and Violence: Vol. 6: Iss. 5, Article 4. https://doi.org/10.23860/dignity.2021.06.05.04
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