The undeveloped side to Japan

Last week, Japanese companies came under criticism after introducing a new company policy; banning women from wearing glasses at work. This came just months after protests all over the country to put an end to mandatory high heels in the workplace. 

Over the years I’ve grown to love Japan in all its culture and history, so disappointment struck when I came across this news article. The first thing I do when I wake up is reach for my glasses. I put them on and suddenly everything becomes high definition. It’s my routine. Heels though, I’m not so fond of – I can barely walk a metre without twisting my ankles so having to wear them all day would end up with me on a hospital bed. 

So why did these rules come about in Japan? 

Firms say that wearing glasses ‘gives a cold impression’ and that high heels look ‘professional’, both of which aren’t good enough excuses considering the rule makers were probably middle aged men. In that case, all genders should be forced to wear glasses and high heels. It was never a matter of professionalism or looking friendly. It’s pure discrimination coming from people with ‘traditional’ views. 

One person told to remove her glasses was a nurse in a beauty clinic. She was forced to wear contact lenses all day, drying out her eyes and causing her work to be disrupted. I don’t know about you but I would definitely not want a nurse jabbing things into my arm when she cannot see what she’s doing. Likewise, a working as a receptionist was also forced to remove her glasses whilst her male colleague was allowed to keep his own. 

You would think an innovative, fast paced country like Japan would do more to solve gender equality. But no. In 2016, the world economics forum ranked Japan 110th of 149 countries for gender equality, coming after Liberia and Azerbaijan – places where women have less access to education and where female genital mutilation is still a problem – suggesting the gender gap is worse than we think. Women working full time in hotels are required to wear skirts and high heels despite long hours and hard labour.

Japanese actress and KuToo founder, Yumi Ishikawa, started a petition after being made to wear heels whilst working in a morgue. The petition attracted thousands of signatures yet there has still been no change. Japanese officials say that a uniform is essential for employees to remain safe – so far, I can’t imagine a single scenario where my blurred vision and high heels will get me out of any situation. 

If a woman wants to wear glasses in any way shape or form, let her do so. If she wishes to wear contacts or get laser eye surgery, it’s her choice. Perhaps you should evaluate yourself if you think a woman wearing glasses gives a ‘cold impression’ It simply informs us of the dangers and curiosities of the outside world. Similarly, if a woman wishes to wear high heels, let her do so – but don’t make it a necessity. If her job requires her to move around often she would most likely want to wear trainers – for ease and efficiency. Finally, if you had any trouble reading this article and are currently thinking, ‘Why is this a big deal?’, try walking around on tiptoes for a day whilst looking through a kaleidoscope. 

Why I don’t belong in a kitchen.

Although my guilty pleasure is watching mukbangs on Youtube or bingeing on the Food Network channel on a Saturday night, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that I cannot cook. The only times you’ll find me in the kitchen is raiding the fridge in the middle of the night on the hunt for sapid snacks.

According to Lorraine Pascale, “anything that goes in the oven is baking”, so with that being said, I took on the challenge of my first ever bake. No, not just some basic oven lasagne- I mean a real bake, a cake.

After a simple google search for the best yet easiest carrot cake recipes, I finally found one which was fit for me even though I just didn’t have a lot of the ingredients on that list and so, I switched things up a little:

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175g light muscavado sugar = 200g brown sugar (I don’t know what muscavado means)

140g grated carrot = an awful lot of hard work

100g raisins = NONE because who enjoys raisins in a cake?

1tsp bicarbonate of soda= 1tsp baking powder (I’m not technical in anyway)

1tsp cinnamon = 2tbs cinnamon to celebrate my Sri Lankan heritage

Everything else remains the same.

As I was doing this, I began to reminisce a song from my childhood. Stephanie from Lazytown sang “You gotta do the cooking by the book, you know you can’t be lazy; never use a messy recipe, the cake will end up crazy”. Well, I do hope Stephanie grew to her senses because adapting a recipe to my own needs DOES NOT make me lazy, and I definitely will not stick to the recipe because I am not a conforming individual and Stephanie should really just get out of my head and stop telling me what to do. Anyway, I digress. 

People often say that baking is easy since you whack everything into a bowl and it’s done. That is easier said than done. My sister peered inside my mixing bowl and said “You’re mixture’s split”. Since I didn’t know what that meant and I’ve done five more laps around the planet than her and have collected ever so much wisdom, I ignored her snarky comment and carried on. Nigella Lawson taught me how to grease my pan and lightly dust it with flour to stop the batter from sticking. So I did, less stylishly and more maddened than Lawson as by this point I realised why it had taken me 18 years to finally have the reason to use an oven. I don’t belong in the kitchen or have any interest in being in one. Long story short; I dusted the finished product in icing sugar (to cover the burnt bits) and presented a bog-standard looking carrot cake to my family.

CONCLUDING THOUGHTS: The perception of women having to “belong in a kitchen” died long ago, though there will always be people hinting about the concept to this day. I truly believe that in order to abolish this, all women must take their own fields of interest and exceed at it by taking full control. It doesn’t take a genius to say that I’m awful at cooking but only a fool will tell me that I am an awful woman because I cannot cook. I wish to exert my energy into passions of mine and stand down from the stereotypes that I have been labelled.