Pika-kazoku

5 touko

Laitetaan tähän jälleen yksi tuotos tekemistäni muutaman minutin kirjoitushaasteista. Edellisen jutun aiheena oli bushido. Tällä kertaa aiheeksi valikoitui ’Japanilainen perhe’ ja sen vertailu suomaiseen perherakenteeseen. Kuten aikaisemmassakin tehtävässä, kirjoitus piti tehdä englanniksi ja aikaa oli annettu vain rajallisesti muutama minuutti. Tällä kertaa tuli vain 18/20 pistettä, joten hieman parannettavaa oli. Aihevaihtoehdot olivat ehkä hieman hankalampia.

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Japanese and Finnish families
The views of Japanese family in this assay is based on the rough generalizations presented in the lessons and my own experiences through being a part of a Japanese family via my wife. The views of Finnish families are also only based on my personal experiences. The descriptions should not be considered as a rule or a fact, because in reality every family is fundamentally different and unique at some level.

Finnish family unit has a long history of equality. This is born from the fundamental ideals and culture in Finland that emphasizes fairness in life. Finland in the first country in the world to grant universal suffrage, making the men and women equal in politics and other aspects of life. Even the Finnish language supports this equality by not separating the genders. He / she / kare / kanojo are all translated into a gender neutral ”hän”. Thus, the Finnish family unit is based on equality between the husband and wife. Naturally, case by case differences are seen, and the workload is often divided by preference and ability and not shared completely 50-50. The fairness is also seen in that the married couple in Finland may have different surnames and the children may get the surname from either the father or the mother. On the other hand, the strict Family Register system in Japan does not allow this (unless the spouse is a non-Japanese national). Even more, the family register has an explicit ”head of the household”, thus creating innate power difference and inequality even in official documented form. There has been some voices to change this old system in Japan, that is ill suited for modern and more fluid relationships. Mainly the use of separate surnames has been a vital point, and would empower the women better in professional life. Unfortunately, the conservative (and male dominated) political power groups have blocked such cultural advancements. The patriarchal system has deep roots in the Confucianism teachings ingrained in Japanese culture.

Starting with the father, his main role in Japanese family is to provide the financial means. Traditionally, the men have better pay and more secure positions in Japanese corporations. Thus, the father is expected to work for a long time (the long time doesn’t equate to working hard or efficiently in Japanese companies), and bring the paycheck home. Contribution to housework, child rearing or generally matters related to home are not expected. My wife’s family is typical in that regard, that the father does go to work, while the mother stays at home. The absence of father in the home may deny male role models for the sons and daughters causing sons to become greatly dependent on mothers and rather feminine, and causing daughters to be unfamiliar with close relationship with adult men.

The mother in Japanese families, in contrast, is expected to run the everyday functions of the house. This has been prominent in ryōsai kenbo thinking since the Meiji restoration. The term translates into ’Good wife, wise mother’, emphasizing woman’s role in the family. She controls the children, the housework, the groceries and the finances of the family. The father may be the head of the family on paper, but often times it is the mother that holds the true power within the family unit… namely, the money. She may give only a small portion of the paycheck to the father as pocket money. This arrangement in like a son receiving weekly allowance from his mother. The Japanese men may be conditioned to this role from the very beginning by being closer to their mothers. They lack vital skills to manage a home by themselves, and thus see wifes as surrogate mothers. Generally, both of these kinds of roles would not work well in Finnish culture of fairness and would lead into adaptation to more equal system or in worst case, a conflict and breakup of the family unit.

The children are treated as equally as possible in Finnish families. No preference with the boys over the girls. Lately, there has been a trend of eliminating forced gender roles on the children. There are no rules that colour pink is for girls and blue for the boys. Girls are allowed to play with cars and boys make do family oriented activities, if they choose so. Generally, this trend is not seen in treatment of children in Japan, so far. Girls are pushed towards the cuteness and obedience from the start, whereas boys are allowed to skip the housework and are more treated with priority or higher status. These outside expectations may cause severe amounts of stress in the cases where the children do not personally fit to these strict classifications and would like to express their true self.

Hopefully, more flexibility will be allowed in the future to accommodate the atypical roles within the family unit, both in Japan and Finland. This should lead to more happy and fulfilled life for everybody.

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