Black Faces, Witches, and Racism against Girls

  • Sharon Kinsella

Abstract

Between summer 1998 and summer 1999 kogyaru suntans began to get darker. The personality of the style veered from that of the slatternly coquettishness of dropout schoolgirls toward that of moody punk divas. Girls involved in this climactic phase of Shibuya, Center Gai street fashion used self-tanning crème and tanning salons to tan their skin as dark as they could, if possible to a chocolate brown color. Dark skin was highlighted with pearlescent colored eye shadow and lipstick, which, until the beginning of the decline of the look in late 2000, was used to paint thick white rings around the eye sockets and over the mouth. White-socketed girls redefined their eyes with dark eyeliner and false eyelashes cemented with lashings of mascara. The glamorous big hair of kogyaru style, streaked or dyed light red brown, made way for heavily highlighted whitish-blonde hair arranged in shaggy dos, and in some cases tonged and piled-up into bouffant arrangements. This powerful assemblage was overlaid with colors: metallic lame face glitter on the cheeks and around plucked arching brows; glittering face stickers in the shape of tear drops, stars and hearts; and equally well-encrusted fingernails and painted extensions. White-on-brown was accessorized with any of a range of generally theatrical props, from ubiquitous clusters of artificial tropical flowers strung on bracelets, necklaces, and hair slides; to colored contact lenses; temporary tattoos; cowboy hats; character merchandise and bulky ethnic jewelry.

Keywords

Europe Azine Explosive Smoke Avant 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Notes

  1. 2.
    The yamamba is a mountain witch of prodigious strength who lives as a bitter recluse in the mountains. Her superhuman power was often made available to assist men. See Mariko Tamanoi, Under the Shadow of Nationalism: Politics and Poetics of Rural Japanese Women (Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 1998), 122.Google Scholar
  2. The yamamba has been adopted as a proto-feminist figure by some women, such as the novelist Ohba writing in the 1970s. See Minako Ohba’s story, “The Smile of the Mountain Witch,” in Stories by Contemporary Japanese Women Writers, ed. Noriko Mizuta Lippit (London and New York: M. E. Sharpe, 1982), 182–196.Google Scholar
  3. 5.
    Read more about the complex interaction of “cross-dressing and cross-ethnicking” (132) in girls’ theatre in the colonial period in Jennifer Robertson, Takarazuka: Sexual Politics and Popular Culture in Modern Japan (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998), 89–138.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 8.
    Toshio Miyake, “Black is Beautiful: Il Bourn Delle Ganguro-Gyaru,” in La bambola e il robottone: Culture pop nel Giappone contemporaneo, ed. Alessandro Gomarasca, (Torino: Einaudi, 2001), 111–144.Google Scholar
  5. 10.
    Midori Nakano, “Yamamba,” Japan Echo 27, no.1 (February 2000): 62–63.Google Scholar
  6. 12.
    Ōnuma Shōji, Minzoku (Tokyo: Kawade Shobō Shinsha, 2001).Google Scholar
  7. 13.
    Dick Hebdige, Subculture, The Meaning of Style (London: Methuen, 1979).Google Scholar
  8. 21.
    Ōnuma, Minzoku, 2001 (no page numbers).Google Scholar
  9. 23.
    See “Shōjotachi no shingo, ango, ryūkōgo,” in Dacapo (October 15, 1997): 88. Researchers Maruta Kōji and Fujii Yoshiki likewise found little evidence of a “schoolgirl language” and conclude that it was a fiction of the mass media. See Maruta Kōji, “Giji-ibento to shite no enjo kōsai,” Osaka jogakuin tankidaigaku kiyō 30 (2000): 210. Laura Miller examines the controversy over girls’ language in “Those Naughty Teenage Girls: Japanese Kogals, Slang, and Media Assessments,” Journal of Linguistic Anthropology 14, no. 2 (December 2004): 225–247.Google Scholar
  10. 30.
    Ōtsuka Eiji, Shōjo minzokugaku (Tokyo: Kōbunsha, 1989);Google Scholar
  11. Yamane Kazuma, Hentai shōjo mōji (Tokyo: Kōdansha, 1989);Google Scholar
  12. Honda Masuko, Ibunka to shite no kodomo (Chikuma Gakugei Bunko, 1992);Google Scholar
  13. Yamane Kazuma Gyaru no kōzō (Tokyo: Kōdansha, 1993);Google Scholar
  14. Masubuchi Sōichi, Kawaii shōkōgun (Tokyo: NHK Shuppan, 1994),Google Scholar
  15. and Kawamura Kunimitsu, Otome no shintai (Tokyo: Kinōkuniya Shoten, 1994).Google Scholar
  16. 31.
    Marilyn Ivy, Discourses of the Vanishing (University of Chicago Press, 1995), 66.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 36.
    Akasegawa Genpei in Mori Nobuyuki, Tokyo joshikō seifuku zukan (Tokyo: Kuritsusha, 1985), 208.Google Scholar
  18. 37.
    Mori Nobuyuki interview, Ryōgoku, Tokyo (March 20, 2003). Mori’s approach bears a family resemblance to the ethnographic diagrams generated by urban folk studies or modernology (kōgengaku), pioneered by Kon Wajiro during the 1920s. Interestingly, Kon himself apparently noted a similarity between his own method of intensive visual observation of his subjects, and that used by “botanists and zoologists.” From Harry D. Harootunian, History’s Disquiet: Modernity Cultural Practice, and the Question of Everyday Life (New York: Columbia University Press, 2000), 186. Mori’s zoological taxonomy of schoolgirls exploits the dehumanizing potential of this older disciplinary ambiguity.Google Scholar
  19. 38.
    Descriptions of girls as a “numerous and undifferentiated pack, devoid not merely of humanness and individuality,” were, in common with accounts of their primate-like behavior, somewhat reminiscent of wartime racial stereotypes propagated in Allied media, of the Japanese per se. See John Dower, War Without Mercy: Race and Power in the Pacific War (New York: Pantheon Books, 1986), 93.Google Scholar
  20. 39.
    Kohama Itsurō, “Shutai to shite no shōjo,” in Shōjoron, ed. Honda Masuko (Tokyo: Seikyūsha, 1988), 98–97.Google Scholar
  21. 49.
    The actual and the fantastical relationship of young women with black American soldiers in the Occupation period became a self-conscious theme of feminine photography (e.g. Yoshida Ruiko’s Hot Harlem Days, 1967)Google Scholar
  22. and fiction (e.g. Ariyoshi Sawako’s Hishoku [Colorless], 1967), by the 1960s. And, as Nina Cornyetz has documented in “Fetishized Blackness” (1994), hip hop attracted clusters of girl fans through the 1980s.Google Scholar
  23. 53.
    Sabine Frūhstūck, Colonizing Sex: Sexology and Social Control in Modern Japan. (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003), 41.Google Scholar
  24. 54.
    John Lie, “The State as Pimp: Prostitution and the Patriarchal State in Japan in the 1940s,” Sociological Quarterly 38: 2 (1997): 256–257.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 55.
    John W. Dower, Embracing Defeat: Japan in the Wake of World War II (New York: Norton /The New Press, 1999), 126–130.Google Scholar
  26. 56.
    Sheldon M. Garon, Molding Japanese Minds: The State in Everyday Life (Princeton University Press, 1997), 197.Google Scholar
  27. 59.
    Nina Cornyetz, “Power and Gender in the Narratives of Eimi Yamada,” in The Woman’s Hand, ed. Paul Gordon Schalow and Janet Walker (Stanford University Press, 1996), 444.Google Scholar
  28. 63.
    Enthusiastic, that is, about the emergence of active girls, but less interested in organized opposition to institutional sexism. See Ōtsuka Eiji, Etō Jun to shōjo feminism-teki sengō subculture bungakuron (Tokyo: Chikuma Shobō, 1998).Google Scholar
  29. 64.
    Phil Cohen, “Subcultural Conflict and Working-class Community,” in Working Papers in Cultural Studies 2 (Birmingham: CCCS, 1972), 23.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Laura Miller and Jan Bardsley 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sharon Kinsella

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations