Japanese life expectancies for men and women: A “patriarchal” society?
by, 1st-May-2008 at 02:53 PM (1153 Views)
By Denise Noe
113-year-old Kaku Yamanaka, the oldest person in Japan recently died. For those unfamiliar with Japanese names, Kaku was a woman. Japan boasts of long average life spans with the average age at death being 85.81 years old for women and 79 years old for men.
That Japanese women tend to outlive their men for a full six years is a point to give one pause. Japan is frequently thought of as one of the world’s most deeply “patriarchal” societies. It is a society in which, until fairly recently, women were expected to walk behind their husbands. They were expected to wash their husbands’ feet and scrupulously obey them. (To what extent this is still the case I do not know.)
Yet Japanese women live a good many years after men. Why?
It seems to me that this points to several things. One is that, as is of necessity true everywhere in the world, those jobs in Japan that require the most physical strength and are the most physically dangerous, are usually filled by men.
It also indicates that male dominance is often a cover for greater male responsibility. Men in Japan bear the burden of financial support and this burden may lead them into a life that is seriously unbalanced and leaves them little time for the joys of the families that they are supporting. Phyllis Schlafly once observed that most husbands are easier to please than most bosses. The relative life expectancies of men and women in Japan appears to shore up that point.