HARVARD EAST ASIAN MONOGRAPHS
Cover: Gender Struggles: Wage-Earning Women and Male-Dominated Unions in Postwar Japan, from Harvard University PressCover: Gender Struggles in HARDCOVER

Harvard East Asian Monographs 321

Gender Struggles

Wage-Earning Women and Male-Dominated Unions in Postwar Japan

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Product Details

HARDCOVER

$39.95 • £31.95 • €36.00

ISBN 9780674035690

Publication: February 2010

Text

275 pages

6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches

15 halftones

Harvard University Asia Center > Harvard East Asian Monographs

World, subsidiary rights restricted

In the formative years of the Japanese labor movement after World War II, the socialist unions affiliated with the General Council of Trade Unions (the labor federation known colloquially as Sohyo) formally endorsed the principles of women’s equality in the workforce and put in place measures to promote women’s active participation in union activities. However, union leaders did not embrace the legal framework for gender equality mandated by their American occupiers; rather, they pressured thousands of women labor activists to assume supportive roles that privileged a male-centered social agenda. By the late 1950s, even Japan’s radical socialist unions had reestablished the primacy of conservative gender norms, channeling women’s labor activism to support political campaigns that advantaged a male-headed household and that relegated women’s wage-earning value to the periphery of the household economy.

By showing how unions raised the wages of male workers in part by transforming working-class women into middle-class housewives, Christopher Gerteis demonstrates that organized labor’s discourse on womanhood not only undermined women’s status within the labor movement but also prevented unions from linking with the emerging woman-led, neighborhood-centered organizations that typified social movements in the 1960s—a misstep that contributed to the decline of the socialist labor movement in subsequent decades.