A Few of my Furry Friends!

It’s kind of sad, but I have more feline friends than human ones at this point. I’m back to paying regular visits to the shrines down by Uken Beach and have a posse of regulars who flock to me as soon as I exit my car or dismount my bike. Other people feed them for sure, but no one else brings tuna fish… so I am definitely their fave ūüôā Here are six of them, with a few details about each in the captions! Crazy cat lady… what?

Introducing: Thomas, Merckel, Bethany, Elf, Simone, and Bertha.

 

My Problem With #YesAllWomen

I’ve been thinking long and hard about this. I agree with most of what it has to say and don’t deny any of it. However, I¬†have a few issues with the movement,¬†and I say that as a woman, a feminist, and someone reasonably well-versed in the realities and psychology of rape culture.

First, I feel like #YesAllWomen is dangerously close to straight up fear-mongering. Every woman has her own quiver¬†of experience with sexual harassment and assault, and I am no exception to that. There are certain realities in our culture that absolutely should be addressed and changed. But do I really walk around every day in fear of being assaulted or harassed? Do I really view every man as a potential rapist, as many of these activists are claiming I do? Hell no! And what a sad, misguided way to look at the world and to teach our daughters, especially in privileged American society (which is where many of these voices are coming from.) Now, if I lived in India or South Africa, or even in the American inner city, it would be a different story. But I don’t – so why are you¬†insisting that all women live in some sort of fearful haze? I know I am not the only one who doesn’t.

Secondly, there seems to be an underlying effort to undermine the notion of common sense. I think we all know that while we should be able to dress however we want, wearing a miniskirt with condoms in my purse¬†will be more inviting¬†for some rapists in the same way that leaving my car unlocked with the iPod in the glove compartment will entice more burglars. Awareness¬†and acknowledgement of this reality does not make me anti-feminist or victim blaming. It just makes me not¬†naive. However, it¬†must also be noted that while¬†I’ve been harassed when¬†dressed like a skank at a party, I’ve also been harassed when dressed like a prude at the library (and even at church!)¬†So¬†I completely agree that wardrobe choices are a¬†dumb¬†point of burden in rape cases and the question should not¬†even exist¬†when a violent crime has been committed against you. #YesAllWomen is right in this way. However,¬†I feel like the movement¬†is encouraging women to stop being aware of these things, and to do whatever we want¬†– that¬†we can walk around naked with our legs spread without consequence, and that it’s a form of victim blaming to learn¬†self defense¬†because it puts the burden of prevention on the woman, not the man.¬†Huh? That makes no sense to me! It ends up just sounding really ridiculous – as if we were telling¬†people we should leave our doors unlocked with the gun on the table because the murderers should just stop murdering. You don’t say.

#YesAllWomen is¬†shaming an entire gender in the hopes of eliminating rapists worldwide by¬†emphasizing the¬†fear that women apparently live with every day.¬†It spreads the¬†message that all men fall on the Rapey & Misogynistic spectrum somewhere, and that it’s anti-feminist for us to make our own¬†decisions and use common sense on how to best protect ourselves from¬†this omnipresent threat. “View every man as a threat – but don’t do anything logical to calm your fear¬†because that’s not your responsibility and it’s not how the world should work! Let’s just change the Rapey Male Species¬†with our hashtag of guilt and then we can walk around freely from fear… naked.”

In all seriousness… I completely agree that we should teach our boys not to rape, rather than blame the victim for getting raped. You can count on the fact that my boys (if I have them), will be taught to respect women for their intelligence and humanity, and both my hypothetical sons and daughters will be taught the power of “no.” I want to balance their worldview with ideals of how things¬†should¬†be, but also the reality of what¬†is, and how to deal with that. Candy is delicious and it should be okay to take some¬†from an old stranger… but it’s not… so get your own candy. I want them to know that alcohol¬†can make¬†both men¬†and women¬†do things that are out of character and potentially dangerous, and the decisions made while intoxicated can ruin lives. I¬†don’t¬†want them to be afraid or to¬†shelter¬†themselves, or to blame themselves when something goes wrong ¬†– ¬†I just want to help them be¬†smart. And while #YesAllWomen no doubt agrees with all these things, I feel that¬†it¬†focuses too much on instilling fear and¬†resentment¬†by telling women they don’t have to be (or shouldn’t have to be) smart anymore. While¬†I get the idealism behind that point, it still irks me.

Portraying¬†all men as rapists and all women as victims is NOT the answer. All men are¬†not¬†potential rapists – the same way all black men aren’t thugs, all Muslims aren’t terrorists, all gay people don’t have AIDS, and all teenaged¬†girls aren’t bullies. Sweeping generalizations never do anyone any good. There are better ways to empower and instill change!

Asian Food Porn 3.0

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Featuring Saturday night dinner with friends at Sushi Zen in Yomitan: the Zen Roll! Most of the rolls I ordered (especially the Typhoon Roll) were decadent and way too large to eat without cutting up or taking bites.

Sushi Zen is Japanese-owned but for American customers only – no Japanese allowed unless they have a membership. Totally odd concept to me… But it was yummy!

Osaka & Nara: First Trip to the Mainland

One of my good friends from the U.S. is half Japanese. Much of her family still resides in Japan, so she had long planned to spend a couple of weeks this May and June visiting the country. Luckily, I was able to meet her and her husband for a weekend in Osaka. It was off to a great start when I realized that my airplane was pink:

Peach Airlines, you're adorable

Peach Airlines, you’re adorable

We spent Friday night and Saturday mostly in the¬†Shinsaibashi district. It is very much as you would imagine a large Asian city – lots of bright colors, large signs, trendy indoor shops, and gaudy figures. We ate a lot of¬†yakitori¬†(fried meat on skewers) and I even tried chicken heart (off someone else’s plate, of course… I am not brave enough to order that on my own!) Honestly, it wasn’t half bad. The one food that I did not try and should have was the Osakan specialty¬†takoyaki, which is basically a round, fried octopus fritter. Yum? Anyway, I do apologize for the lack of food porn photos!

Saturday evening we visited Osaka Castle, which was one of my favorite attractions. It played a major role in the unification of Japan in the 16th century. During World War II, the arsenal became one of the largest military armories, employing 60,000 workers. Bombing raids targeting the arsenal damaged the main castle tower and killed 382 people. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to go in, but I found it to be strikingly beautiful. I also loved that the grounds were populated with fat lazy¬†cats ūüôā

Following our excursion to the Castle, Alisa and I enjoyed a night out with some of her friends. We enjoyed peach shisha, mojitos, and mostly American music (which I found interesting) at a Shinsaibashi lounge known to be a social hub for the international community. Many nationalities were represented there, though I was certainly the only white American girl in the building!

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The next day was logistically interesting, but quite¬†memorable. We rode the train for an hour before arriving in picturesque, ancient Nara, the land of temples, shrines, and Bambi’s. There were deer everywhere¬†–¬†in parks, on temple grounds, in busy shopping areas – just waiting to be fed with a pack of biscuits you could purchase for less than 200 yen. As an avid animal lover, I was completely delighted by this.

Then of course, there were the temples. We only had time for two, but I feel like they were the main two. First we visited Kofuku-ji Temple, established in 669 by a wife wishing for her husband’s recovery from illness. It was an important center for Buddhism and retained influence over the imperial government, even by “aggressive means” in some cases. ¬†The second was Todaiji Temple, which is dated back to 729 and serves as the Japanese headquarters of the Kegon school of Buddhism. It currently houses the world’s largest bronze statue of Buddha.

It was sweltering outside, and since we had checked out of the hotel already, we had to tote all of our belongings with us, but the sites (and the deer!) were completely worth it. All in all, a wonderful weekend in Osaka!