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About that thing.

While ranting about the Japanese writing system, I noted that the language and its modes of conveyance had been used to keep class and sex structures in place. Today, while studying for one of my kanji quizzes, I noticed that the character for samatage or 'obstacle' is a single kanji containing the pictograms (radicals) for 'woman' and something along the lines of 'strong' or 'arm'.

This cannot be said dryly enough:

What a surprise.


  1. Is it entirely a bad thing, though, for a strong or armed woman to be considered an obstacle?

  2. When that's your definition, it's incriminating to say the least; and given Japan's social history, well, let's just say it's a lot worse than using 'mankind' to refer to all people, both in current social context and in terms of etymology.

    Feminists over hear get up in arms over the whole 'man' thing (which itself used to be solely unisex in Old English and still has that meaning today), and I can understand why, though I think they're slightly mistaken in their response to it. Anyway, if there is some basis for critique there, how much more in the case of samatage?

    Yes, it allows something like power to women, but obstacles are meant to be overcome or subdued and are generally disliked. It's very difficult to find any subversive feminist reading here, and the intent is surely lacking.


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