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Capturing Contemporary JapanDifferentiation and Uncertainty$
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Satsuki Kawano, Glenda S. Roberts, and Susan Orpett Long

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780824838683

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824838683.001.0001

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Lightweight Cars and Women Drivers

Lightweight Cars and Women Drivers

The De/construction of Gender Metaphors in Recessionary Japan

(p.300) Chapter 12 Lightweight Cars and Women Drivers
Capturing Contemporary Japan

Joshua Hotaka Roth

University of Hawai'i Press

This chapter explores the correlation between the growing popularity of K-cars, known for their fuel efficiency and compact size, and the increasing number of female drivers in recessionary Japan. Drawing on ethnographic data as well as the online social networking site Mixi, it considers how the gender associations of certain cars and driving styles support the larger gender system in Japan and what happens when such associations start to break down. After providing a background on K-cars, the chapter discusses K-cars as a metaphor of gender and driving styles. It then examines how automobility is structured into the bifurcated styles of power and speed associated with masculinity and civility and safety associated with femininity. It shows that women drivers have embraced K-cars to fulfill their domestic roles, instead of departing from feminine roles and neutralizing formerly masculine images of driving.

Keywords:   driving styles, Japan, K-cars, gender, automobility, power, speed, civility, safety, women drivers

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