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    Amae - Dependency

    Kyouri Kai

    Knowledge :

    Amae - Dependency

    Post by Kyouri Kai on Fri 22 Feb 2008, 2:38 pm

    Amae means basically dependence. In Japan, mavericks and lone-wolf types are very much frowned upon. When Japanese go off alone to a foreign country or somewhere, many rapidly become insecure. It's no exaggeration to say that Japanese (particularly women) think on a more childlike level. Again, this is a double-edged sword. Japanese women undeniably have a lot of charm that comes from this. But it has its drawbacks as well. Douglas MacArthur made a remark that the Japanese should be treated like they're all 12 years old. And that was 60 years ago. That sounds condecending of course but these days you don't exactly see a large number of western women carrying around Mickey Mouse pencil cases and Hello Kitty notebooks well into their 30s. Women are taught to act and look cute, not sophisticated. Japanese pop music sounds like it was written by elementary school students, and pop-stars ("idoru", from idol) are here today, gone tomorrow. At any rate, amae is a fundamental characteristic of Japan--one (the 'kobun') presumes on a superior (the 'oyabun') in a group, and a vertical, symbiotic relationship is created. It often occurs when one joins a company or school, and a person needs something and to get integrated into a comfortable niche very quickly. The underling gets a channel to move upward and the superior gets someone to do their bidding. And as part of a group, success is shared by all, and guilt is diffused when something goes wrong. In the latter case, it can be detrimental because it's impossible to find out who is responsible, or for anyone to take responsibility. Amae has several other manifestations. Women are always portrayed as frail, delicate, or dainty in pictures, tv, movies, and music. And in adult videos women are treated like trash who are just asking for it. When movies are dubbed in Japanese, the women's voices are always ultra-soprano; the men's are very low. The same for women announcers. And regarding all the overblown praise you still hear ad nauseum about Japan's "lifetime employment system", in reality it only applies to about a third of the Japanese workforce, namely elite white collar workers and unionized blue collar workers in large companies. It does not apply to women, and it certainly does not apply to foreigners. Women are relegated to being "Office Ladies", or "OL", doing minor clerical duties, making tea, and being wallflowers (shokuba no hana). When they reach their 30s or if they marry they are coerced to quit. With Japan's population in decline and needing workers however, this may finally be changing. A take-charge woman in Japan will not get as much help or attention as a cutesy airhead who always needs the help of some big, strong, kind Japanese man. And why are things like this? Perhaps it's because some men might actually have an even bigger ego-deficit than the women, despite appearances.

    taken from Japanese Culture: A Primer for Newcomers