Graduate Student Forum

Under Pressure & Voicing Up: Japanese Youth Tackling Gender Issues

Tuesday, 12 September 2023 | 9:00-9:45 a.m. (JST)
Zoom Meeting  登録はこちら
  • Peyton Cherry University of Oxford/Waseda University
  • Sawako Shirahase Director of TCJS

The category ‘gender issues’ (or gendaa mondai) encompasses many conversations Japanese youth are having now, particularly regarding changing gender roles and expectations in home, work, and school spaces. This presentation will examine youth community building around gender identity, sexuality, and relationships. In addition to my ongoing fieldwork, I will engage with existing literature on labour immobility (Allison 2013), precarity, intimate disconnections (Alexy 2020), and queer narratives in Japan. I will use these sources in combination with the personal experiences of my interlocuters to unpack how youth ‘voice up’ and become involved in groups focused on preventing sexual violence against women, LGBTQ+ awareness, and anti-discrimination. I suggest that ‘voicing up’ in Japan is defined not so much by ‘loud and proud’ or “post-closet discourses” (Ueno 2022, Seidman 2002), but by the creation of intimate community spaces. This project looks at how smaller-scale community involvement is both a byproduct and response to the “embodied meaning-making” of individuals (Wetherell 2012).


Peyton Cherry is a second-year student in the DPhil Anthropology programme, supervised by Professor Roger Goodman at the Nissan Institute of Japanese Studies. Peyton is currently based in Tokyo, Japan at Waseda University as a visiting researcher for the 2022-2023 year to carry out their fieldwork on perspectives of sexual harassment and understandings of sexual consent in Japanese society. Their focus is on youth action and lived experiences as people navigate how to ‘voice up’ and encourage mutual respect in a climate which expects people to bear their troubles silently. The research deals with agency, anthropology of emotions and the body, as well as boundary crossing and rule (or taboo) breaking.