by Carl Hansen
Wow! Whadda you know! With a single gratuitous burst of anachronistic condescension, Joan Itoh—the usually benevolent sage of Somi—emerges full-blown from her rice paddy as a kind of post-Aquarian W. Somerset Memsahib. I never would have believed it.
Now, I don’t hanker to get myself involved in any East-West confrontation, particularly as it concerns the female of the species—I’ve got more than enough to handle in that department already, thank you—but, just as Ms. Itoh was “forced” to tell the story of the perfidy of “the little brown wren” (a description, by the way, that strikes me as a masterpiece of patronizing fatuity), I feel obliged to come up with a few words for the defense.
First, let me say that there is absolutely no doubt in my mind, that the story Joan tells about John and Mary is true; that friend’s husband actually did takeoff for a few days of fun and games with a woman who was available and—what is more to the point—who was apparently everything his wife was not; i.e., neat, clean, trimly built, soft-spoken, affectionate and inevitably, being Japanese.
As Mary herself admitted, her marriage was beginning to come apart at the seams long before she ever came to Japan, and who is to say that John wouldn’t have found a playmate—right in his own home town.
It’s obvious from the tear-stained comment, “But, Joan, that girl isn’t even pretty,” that Mary, like many an American woman before her, hasn’t the vaguest idea of what it takes to really attract a man, and that she is also unaware that whatever it does take, the Japanese women have in man-pleasing abundance.
Why is it that foreign women—American women in particular – so consistently underrate the Japanese women, that is?
Haven’t they heard? Good heavens, Japanese women have been around – and attracting men from all over the world – for a long time and, happily enough, it looks from here like they’ll be around for a long time to come.
Methinks that even after all these years a lot of American women are still suffering from the “war bride syndrome,” a once common condition that reached epidemic proportions after World War II and which was characterized by a southern-inspired attitude of benevolent superiority.
In other words, the Japanese women were simply marvelous maids, but would you want your brother to marry one?
In fact, the attitude of a lot of American wives was not unlike that of the southern senator who is said to have disclaimed charges of racial prejudice by stating that he had nothing against Nigrahs, and then clinched the arguments by saving he’d lie proud to own one.
She is dedicated to the care and feeding of the male, yes, but chauvinism implies contempt of the opposite sex and this is one feeling definitely not inspired by the spontaneous thoughtfulness of the Japanese women.
Kindness begets kindness, amigos, not contempt, and if sewing a button onto a man’s coat turns him into a male chauvinist pig, I for one have been sleeping in the wrong part of the farm for years.
Yessir, when it comes down to it, I’ll take a soft-voiced little brown wren over a big cackling white hen anytime.
Come to think of it, I already have.