News

October 2013 FEW Meeting Recap: The Marginalized Majority – Media Representations and Lived Experiences of Single Women

Recap “The Marginalized Majority – Media Representations and Lived Experiences of Single Women” – October 10, 2013
By Christina Hanazawa-Gallagher, Vice President of FEW


Does Single Equal Unhappy?

Are single people destined to be unhappy? It’s less a question than a statement in a media landscape awash with the hyper-feminist or sexually free woman. Nevertheless, “Why do I always have to account for my singleness?” is a question that intrigued FEW October speaker, Kristie Collins, author of, “The Marginalized Majority: Media Representations and lived experiences of single women.”

The curiosity eventually led her to survey self-identified, single women ages 28-65 about their single identity. Somewhat surprisingly, despite media constructs that marriage equals happily ever after, the survey revealed that women ages 50 and over who had never been married were the happiest.

The  Marginalized MajorityCollins calls the idea of a soulmate a “North American concept,” whereas in Japan women seem to make more calculated choices
about marriage. “For many women in Japan, if they want to stop being single they can,” she said. But more often than not, it’s an either-or decision: to continue with their jobs or get married. Ironically, Collins said the young women in her media and gender studies class at the University of Tsukuba were very responsive to notions of women’s equality. But reality is often different. “(Most) will apply to jobs that they will do for four years before they get married,” she said.

In addition to Japan still being a traditional society when it comes to women’s roles, Collins sees media as partially to blame. She analyzed three popular television shows depicting women at different stages of success in their careers. When the option of marriage came up, the moral dilemma of love versus career sidetracked even the overachievers. “There should be an option C, “ she said. “Women in Japan need to see more examples of women who go back in the workforce.”

Despite decades of broadcasting female-centered shows on television, Hollywood isn’t fairing much better. “Media create templates that help us make sense of our lives, give us characters to fit into,” said Collins. “If no single women are happy in life [on TV], how do you [as a single women] tell them you are?”

According to 2011 statistics, 31.5 percent of households in Japan are single-headed households, while the female average marrying age is 30. By contrast, in the United States, 27 percent of households are single-headed, yet the average female marrying age is 26.9. Even if people are waiting longer to marry in favor of their careers, it doesn’t mean singles necessarily have it easier in the workplace.

In Japan at least, single women are often perceived as the ones who have more free time to work longer hours, while married women seem to be given some kind of invisible pass to return home earlier, said Collins. She recommended having allies at work. “It is important to understand that everyone has important things to do outside of the workplace.”

Ultimately though, no matter what your relationship status is, Collins said it comes down to a common truth, “We all arrive in the world as single individuals, and, to all intents and purposes, we all depart that way as well,” she said. “I am not actually advocating for being single. I am advocating for being happy.”


About our speaker
IMG_3722
Kristie Collins is an associate professor in the faculty of humanities and social sciences at the University of Tsukuba, where she teaches gender studies, literature, and intercultural communication.

To learn more about her book “The Marginalized Majority: Media Representations and Lived Experiences of Single Women,” click here.

News

September Strategic Partner News

Check out the latest member offers and opportunities from our Strategic Partners here! Our Strategic Partners are committed to bringing the best services and products to FEW members. And go to our Strategic Partners page to learn more about all of FEW’s Strategic Partners, who not only support FEW’s activities but also provide professional and personal services […]

Published on 4th September 2017

July Meeting Recap: One Size Doesn’t Fit All

By Lisa Matsumoto, Public Relations & Communications Intern The 2016-17 FEW year ended with our monthly meeting on July 13, where we were joined by guests and members to hear about the endeavors of longtime FEW member, Melanie Uematsu. Melanie was born in Germany and studied fashion design in Berlin and London. Fascinated with Japan, […]

Published on 3rd September 2017

June 2017 Women’s Start-up Club Recap: Mentorship and Networking

The FEW Women’s Start-up Club wrapped up the year on June 29, with a timely presentation on mentoring and motivation for entrepreneurs by Patricia Bader Johnston. Patricia’s career in Japan has spanned the public sector, including the Canadian Embassy, and the private sector, including positions at Goldman Sachs and Japan Tabaco, corporate decision-making as a […]

Published on 1st August 2017

Event Recap: Few & Mirai no Mori Concert For a Cause

What a night!  On behalf of all of us at FEW, a great, big thank you for joining us for Concert For a Cause! On a balmy, summer night, FEW members, friends and performers got together at British pub 2nd Half in Takadanobaba for a night of music to raise funds for Mirai No Mori, an NPO providing […]

Published on 14th July 2017

How I Got Here: Joanna Sato

I look through the windows of my Japanese home at the cityscape of Tokyo and I see how my life has been a series of navigating varied landscapes. The landscape I inhabit now is very different from the one of my hometown in the south of Poland, where my journey began. I first left home […]

Published on 30th June 2017

Upcoming Events