Studying Sexuality Abroad
Gender and sexuality are deeply impacted by society. It’s fair to say that the way we look at sexuality in America is not the same way it is seen abroad. UAlbany Senior, Scarlet Brown, had the opportunity to study Japanese language, sexuality, and culture at Kansai Gaidai University in Japan.
Brown found the experience eye opening. She loved her host family, enjoyed taking three classes exclusively in Japanese, sightseeing, and working under esteemed professors. Brown even enjoyed learning the specific dialect of the area surrounding her university. Brown is a double major in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and Japanese Studies. While abroad she gathered important knowledge for her thesis on gender and sexuality in Japan. Brown acknowledged that globalisation has melded western and eastern cultures, but she reported “there are clear differences.” Queer culture has been policed in the United States. Brown discussed the criminalization of queerness in our country and the way it shapes queer culture, with events like Stonewall. “It’s about fighting back,” Brown states, “Japan isn’t like that.” In Japan pressure comes more from family values than policing. She gathered that as long as one fulfills their family duties by marrying and having children, no one minds if queer behaviors are expressed on the side.
Brown pointed out the importance of a traditional family structure in Japan. Her host family also fit a traditional mold. She cited the incredible time commitment necessary to be a salaryman in Japan. It would be extremely difficult to build a career and foster a close relationship with children. Because of this most mother do not work and most father’s are not close with their children. Brown mentioned that it was unusual that her host mother held a part time job.
When asked what she would do if she was given another semester to study in Japan, Brown said she’d study persecuted communities in Japan such as people of Korean descent and the indigenous people of the Hokito region. It would give a wider lense of sexuality and culture in Japan.