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Femininity, Self-harm and Eating Disorders in Japan: Navigating contradiction in narrative and visual culture

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Gitte Marianne Hansen


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From the 1980s onwards, the incidence of eating disorders and self-harm has increased among Japanese women who report getting mixed messages about how to be women. This book examines the relationship between normative femininity and women’s self-directed violence in contemporary Japan. To theoretically define the complexities that constitute normativity, the book develops the concept of ‘contradictive femininity’ and shows how in Japanese culture, women’s paradoxical roles are thematised via three character construction techniques that broadly derive from the doppelgänger motif. It then demonstrates how eating disorders and self-harm are included in normative femininity and suggests that such self-directed violence can be interpreted as coping strategies to overcome feelings of fragmentation related to contradictive femininity. Including novels, artworks, manga, anime, TV-dramas and news stories, among others, the book analyses both globally well-known Japanese culture such as Murakami Haruki’s literary works and Miyazaki Hayao’s animation as well as culture unavailable to non-Japanese readers. The aim of juxtapositioning such diverse narrative and visual culture is to map common storylines and thematisation techniques about normative femininity, self-harm and eating disorders and to show how women’s private struggles with their own bodies have become public discourse available for consumption as entertainment and lifestyle products.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Hansen GM

Series Editor(s): Goodman, R and Stockwin, J.A.A

Publication type: Authored Book

Publication status: Published

Series Title: Nissan Institute/Routledge Japan Studies Series

Year: 2016

Number of Pages: 210

Print publication date: 16/12/2015

Online publication date: 22/12/2015

Acceptance date: 01/05/2015

Publisher: Routledge

Place Published: Oxon


DOI: 10.4324/9781315695921


Library holdings: Search Newcastle University Library for this item

ISBN: 9781138905306