Their Lives Today
The Japanese term “ame-jo,” meaning women who date American men, carries a tone of disapproval. Such an attitude persists in Germany and other countries with U.S. bases. It contradicts the attitude of acceptance toward local men who date foreign women. The attitudes of Okinawan women toward their marriages have changed considerably over time. Among interviewees, younger women with higher levels of economic status and education were far less dependent on their husbands than older women. Older women felt more pressure to follow their husbands and adopt American culture while younger women encouraged their husbands to learn about Okinawan culture. Older women worked to help with household expenses while younger women sought jobs to develop careers even if they were still struggling with English. Within their marriages women cited differences in culture, rather than language, as a cause of misunderstandings. Some even said that their lack of complete fluency in English might have helped avoid conflict by preventing them from saying hurtful things. Older women felt more isolated in America, missing the closeness with relatives in Okinawa. But both younger and older women complained about complicated ties to relatives there, preferring their privacy in an “individualistic” America.
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