I’ve turned on my automatic hot bath. I plan to soak in it for 15 minutes and process through my issues and determine how to resolve them. In the meantime, some quick notes.
I was in Fukushima city the last two days for the mid-year conference (研修) given to all JETs in Fukushima Prefecture. It gives us a chance to meet with one another, see what activities JETs from all over the prefecture have been utilizing, and listen to lecturers from nearby universities on their research on what might be useful to English instructors. We had 3 lectures: the first on cross-culturalism, the second on the roles and duties of ALTs, and the third on The Collaborative Classroom.
The lecture on cross-culturalism was accessible in terms of understanding. The most frustrating thing about it was when the lecturer showed research on gendered speech that displayed a scale with masculine and feminine extremes labeled “You da man!” and “You’re a lady”. Okay, yes, there are people that may speak at both extremes. The sample size of the research showed a significant gender difference between Western women and men, whereas there was little difference between Japanese women and men. Okay, I understand the generalization. But then the lecturer continues to summarize, or rhetorically questions, the results saying that “Japanese men speak more feminine…? and Japanese women speak more masculine…?” Stop right there. Consider this: An English-speaking white man who is married to a Japanese woman is engendering speech patterns of the men and women of his spouse’s ethnicity. Did he just emasculate Japanese men, and make Japanese women into dragon ladies?? It sounds pretty imperialistic. I would love to know how he describes his own speech patterns.
If making himself feel like a white savior was not the intention in his subconscious thought, may I suggest a better way at phrasing the conclusion of these results?
Why not just say that Japan has more gender-neutral speech patterns between men and women? This satisfies my frustration with cultural and gender appropriation. I don’t like it when people see Asians as a passive, effeminate race, and I don’t like it that masculinity and femininity are on two extremes that can only exist interdependently.
This is not the lecturer’s research, btw. When asked where he got his results, he cited a Japanese researcher’s name.
The second lecture touched on second language acquisition, and I was very happy to hear the Japanese lecturer drop names such as Krashen and Larsen-Freeman.
The third lecture was 90 minutes of encouraging teachers to build a rapport with students, and introduced ways to let the students be comfortable with you as a teacher, such as activities that lets them be their own rivals, rather than comparing them against their peers. Good content… very boring presentation.
Overall, an okay conference. The best part was venturing out in the after hours and finding a gay bar. I found one on a gay site (because lesbian sites are nonexistent), and figured I would visit it and try to get some info out of the bartender. Our meeting was very funny. I walked into a slightly dim, green-lit bar that could probably seat 10 people, decorated with kitschy props. Very camp. No one was there, not even a bartender. Eventually, someone came through a door. He froze when he saw me.
“Good evening. Is this a gay bar?”
“Is it all right for girls to be here?”
“Hai” (still frozen)
“I’m from America and I wanted I come to a gay bar.”
“Ah, hai, have a seat. I’ll be right back.”
I picked a seat at the bar, and waited, and he came back with some senbei mixed with peanuts. I ordered a screwdriver, and he gave me Orangina mixed with Vodka. We proceeded to have a conversation about his coming out, his partner, their separate living situation, and his bar patrons. We talked about lesbians, FTMs, my sex habits, how my name means ネコ (cat, or bottom), but that I’m actually a タチ(top)、no, リバ (reverse, or either), and how sorry he felt for me in Aizu Wakamatsu, even as he kept encouraging me that gays are there, and lesbians are just closeted. He did mention that Aizu women are cold, but very warm-hearted. My type, perhaps! He tried calling a friend to come by the bar, but the friend wasn’t picking up. My tall, white, professor-and/or-chub-chaser friend stopped by later, and I helped translate a super gay conversation between the both of them. My interpreting went so well that they almost took off their pants to compare dicks. Almost.
Anyway, he gave us a tip on a local cafe owned by a gay couple that’s popular with women because the owner has a “pretty face”. Not sure if it’s still around since the last time he’s seen them was 3 years ago!
So much for quick notes.