marriage

Roger Federer is, gasp, the other man in my marriage

federer_otherman

Yes, I feel a bit Lady Di. There were three of us in our marriage. Roger, stop beguiling my husband!

 

Gay couples divided by immigration law

Incredibly emotional video about US citizens in relationships with foreign citizens and the difficulties of staying together. I am amazed at how little awareness many people have about this aspect of marriage inequality. So many liberal people assume US citizens can get married “somewhere.” Yet state marriage does not provide immigration benefits, retirement benefits, health care, property rights, or any other basic legal protection routinely afforded to the non-gays.

I won’t give up my individuality

Mostly the Tokyo Pride Parade was about fun, community, and visibility. There were a few political statements that struck me as especially relevant.

Above these incredibly young kids are posing with a sign saying, “自分らしさをあきらめない” (Jibun rashisa wo akiramenai, which means “I won’t give up my individuality”). Go, kids!

Below, there’s a message linking visas and marriage. I also love the woman with the rainbow umbrella, super colorful dress, and sign that says “God doesn’t bless marriages.” As part of an international couple, I feel the inconvenience of Japan and the US’s lack of immigration rights for gay spouses.

Male maid cafes

The Japan Times features a wonderful Christmas Eve story about the growing popularity of male maid cafes. What I love is that this trend of men assuming the maid costume is presented as having nothing to do with sexuality or gender identity.

1. Men like dressing as women, and it’s becoming more acceptable.

Behind this nascent trend, observers say, is that more men are beginning to enjoy dressing as a woman from a fashion viewpoint, and society is becoming more tolerant of the practice.

2. There are not enough women workers.

It started when one of the regular waitresses quit.

3. Male customers feel more comfortable being served by men.

“Men who are not used to being served by women can feel relaxed and talk to the ‘maids’ easily because they are male,” said Chaan Sarin, who heads the cafe’s waitstaff.

4. For the maids, cross-dressing provides stress-relief from work. It’s only temporary, the girlfriend does not know, and this personal therapy will be ended with marriage.

“I become a totally different person to release my stress from work. I have the feelings of a man and I will quit once I get married,” he said.

5. Manga makes them do it.

More male fans are also dressing like their favorite female characters in “anime’ animation and computer games.

6. Publishing houses are helping men look better in drag.

Cashing in on this trend, Osaka-based Yu-time Publishing released the book “Otokonoko no Tameno Henshin Gaido” (“Guide for Boys to Transform Themselves”) in October 2008.

7. Tolerance is related to looking pretty, and new media sources allow men to be prettier women today.

“People began to accept men dressed as women, saying it is OK as long as they are beautiful. At the same time, as there is more information nowadays on how to dress like women, men have gotten dramatically better at it.”

Japan has the most awesome combination of extreme kinkiness and feigned innocence.

My favorite new blog in Japan

Satellite of Love

OMG. I discovered perhaps the most delicious, exhibitionist blog in Japan, Satellite of Love by a part-Japanese Swedish model. She is frank about her abundant sex life and her opinions about Japanese men, marriage, and girlish fun. Did I mention that she illustrates her stories with images of Japanese male idols? Plus, she posts almost daily! I am in heaven.

Yesterday’s post had some priceless advice for foreign ladies in Japan:

“Here’s a note for any girl interested in dating in Japan: Date a hairdresser. hairdressers in Japan are usually straight, usually not shy, usually really fun, and you can get your hair done for free if you guys start dating. That, and they’re interested in different kinds of hair, so if you’re not Japanese, your hair is sort of a bonus for them. 🙂 Funny, but true. I’ve dated 3 Japanese hairdressers and they’ve all been great.”

I am hooked!

Marriage and Election Charm

Taro Aso, election campaign

On, no, he didn’t! The always gaffe-prone Prime Minister Taro Aso, one week before the election, told a group of university students that poor men are too low status to get married. This was in answer to a question about Japan’s unprecedentedly low birth rate.

Young people “better not get married with little money. .  It seems rather difficult to me that someone without any pay can be seen as an object of respect (worthy of a partner).”

To clarify matters, Aso cited his own experience. “I was late to marry even though I was not quite poor. I can’t say carelessly because I think it depends on the person.”

“Not quite poor” obliquely refers to the fact that his grandfather was prime minister, and his family is one of Japan’s richest, built in part on war-time slave labor. Despite his unfathomable wealth, he is known for his inability to read kanji.

Sadly, this walking disaster’s main challenger is another former prime minister’s grandson, with a shockingly expressionless face and what seem like dead fish eyes. No wonder there is so little excitement.

Marriage Hunting, or Failed Heterosexuality?

Konkatsu bra

This image is priceless: it’s a “konkatsu bra” in which inserting a ring stops the marriage deadline countdown and plays a congratulatory wedding march. I love how Japan always introduces new sociological terms, and this one is a winner. “Konkatsu” is a combination of the words “wedding” and “activity,” and means “marriage hunting.”

In addition to negative reproduction rates, Japan also has remarkably low marraige rates: from 1975 to 2005, the numbers of unmarried people have risen 14% to 47% for men aged 30 to 34 and from 8% to 32% for women.

Sociologist Yamada Masahiro and journalist Shirakawa Tohko invented the term and sold over 170,000 copies of their book Konkatsu Jidai (The Era of Marriage Hunting). The authors believe that marriage must be actively sought. There are now konkatsu magazines, a television show, bars, shrines, and even a special section of the Nippon Ham Fighters baseball stadium catering to this new goal.

Supposedly women are too busy focused on careers, while men are less aggressive because of money concerns and job insecurity. One woman quoted in the Wall Street Journal article, despite her failed efforts at marriage hunting, somehow imagines that “marriage is like permanent employment.” Apparently, women far outnumber men in “marriage hunting” events.

I find this term and newly defined phenomenon incredibly funny. Maybe Japan would have better luck with its marriage rates if it allowed and actively promoted gay, lesbian and trans marriage. Or maybe marriage is just not that desirable. My guess is that the government will next promote out of wedlock procreation. Gambate, Nihon!

Parodies of “Gathering Storm” Anti-Marriage ads

A “Gathering Storm” has created a flood of parody ads discussing the apocalyptic potential of gay marriage. These two are some of my favorites. Have you seen any good ones?

There’s also Rachel Maddow’s commentary on the National Organization for Marriage’s “2M4M” campaign.

And Steven Colbert’s news report and parody:
http://www.colbertnation.com/the-colbert-report-videos/224789/april-16-2009/the-colbert-coalition-s-anti-gay-marriage-ad

And here’s a link to the original scare video with paid actors talking about their fear:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4AzLrn5JVIo