Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Details

Mackie, V. C. 2007, 'The Transformation of the Gendered Discourse of Rights in Post-War Japan', in L. Mayali & H. Scheiber (eds), Emerging concepts of Rights in Japanese Law, The Robbins Collection, Berkeley. pp. 49


What does it mean to say that the law is gendered. Gender refers to culturally and socially constructed relationships between men and women, cultural constructions of masculinity and femininity, the power relationships between men and women, and the use of gender as a metaphor for relationships of power. The law may be implicitly or explicitly gendered. That is, legislation may make specific mention of gender equality or gendered difference. Or, it may on the surface appear to be neutral, but have different effects on individuals who come from different backgrounds, histories, social locations and embodied experiences. The law may be gendered through the overarching logic of the Constitution, through legislation. through administrative policies and through the micropolitics of administration. On this continuum from legal text to everyday micropolitics, there is a continuum from greater to lesser transparency. Whlle we can gain an understanding of the constitutional and legal systems through an analysis oflegal texts, when we move to the realm of the everyday micropolitics of administration we need to employ methods closer to ethnography. In this chapter. however, I will mainly be interested in the changing configurations of discourses on gender and rights inJapan in the written documents of the Constitution and selected legislation in postwar Japan.