With Conchita Wurst's success at the Eurovision song contest 2014, 'transgender', 'drag queen', 'LGBT', 'queer' and 'gender bending' have become common terms in the mainstream media. To fans of Japanese popular culture, such phenomena have long been familiar from boys' love manga for girls (yaoi), cross-dressing and many other forms of gender bending in Japan. Yet at the same time, cultural stereotypes about Japan hold that the life-worlds of men and women in Japan are still highly separated. They conjure up a strict gender order that include beautiful, demure geishas, education mamas and restlessly toiling salaryman.
The Japanese Gender Research Group is headed by Dr Brigitte Steger and includes both academics and students. Some of the former and current members are Dr Angelika Koch, Dr Gitte Hansen, Hiroko Umegaki, Nanase Shirota, Christopher Tso, Rosie Dent-Brown, Beverly Chen, Wei-Chuan Chen, Hattie Jones, Nicola McDermott, Christopher Deacon, Zoya Street, Hannah Vassallo and Sakari Mesimäki.
The book Manga Girl Seeks Herbivore Boy: Studying Japanese Gender at Cambridge edited by Brigitte Steger and Angelika Koch (2013), is a collection of undergraduate dissertations exploring emerging and divergent gender issues in Japan.
Our promotional offer to send a free copy of the book to UK school libraries has now ended. We thank everyone for your interest in the book and hope the essays will inspire you to study Japanese society!
This collection of studies from the University of Cambridge provides fascinating insights into the diversity of gendered images, identities and life-styles in contemporary Japan – from manga girls to herbivore boys, from absent fathers to transgender people.
University research news article: Book review under the title 'Gender in Crisis'
Review (in English) in Masculinities - A Journal of Identities and Culture 2 (2014)
Angelika Koch interviewed in the Telegraph (22 January 2015)
Review (in English) in Social Science Japan Journal (2015)