Patriarchal Traces in Japanese Girls’ Fiction: Beyond the Loss of the Father to Patriarchal Mothers and Resistant Daughters

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Japanese Studies


As World War II ended and a new democratic society was beginning in Japan, significant changes were made to the patriarchal system, changes such as the recognition of women’s rights and the dismantling of the Japanese family system which in turn affected youth culture. Against this backdrop, particularly within the genre of shōjo shōsetsu (girls’ fiction), new representations of the father, mother and shōjo (girl) emerged. Portrayals reflected not only the loss of power experienced by patriarchal figures after the defeat, but also the rise of new patriarchal mothers and resistant daughters. This article traces how changes in depictions of patriarchal authority in the genre reflect not only masculine humiliation around the war defeat, but also a contemporaneous rise in mothers whose intervention in their daughters’ life decisions saw an increase in less compliant daughters. It demonstrates how, although post-war shōjo fiction was founded on the loss of the autocratic patriarch and has since struggled to depict a more co-operative family man, as reflected through the genre, the loss of the father figure also helped sow the seeds of new forms of womanhood, and of girlish resistance and independence. These elements reveal a continued fight for democratic freedoms in post-war Japan.

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