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November 19 2008

"Satsu Says" - culture and homosexuality. An article on Buffyfest about how Satsu's culture deals with homosexuality and how it relates to her relationship with Buffy.

Huh... I dunno much about the instances she mentioned, but my impression of how homosexuality is viewed in Japan is not nearly so wildly positive. It's definitely different than the way it gets treated in the US, in that there isn't the "Christian" (apologies to Christians, you know what I mean) taboo against it, so there isn't that sense of it being immoral. It seems to me that it's kind of viewed as a joke, and something you keep to yourself, and if you're a decent person you'll live an ordinary un-strange life and keep your weird little gay thing to yourself. A friend of mine who was active in the gay scene in Tokyo for a while was quite shocked how the vast majority of guys were married or said they probably would get married (to women). I don't think he met anyone who was open and out to their families and friends. Lesbians are practically invisible (again - comparatively). While the prejudice is not as severe as in the US, there is also far less openness... so that article struck me as very very rose-tinted glasses. There may be exceptions to the rule, but I'd say it's a lot harder for your average gay person in Japan to live a totally open life than for your average gay person here, where very open and vibrant communities can be sought out.

But maybe I'm way wrong? Any Japanese people on this board want to weigh in?
I thought this was interesting, if superficial. While we have cultural forces that work against, say, gay rights, we also have openly gay people in Congress, such as Barney Frank, and rumors of many closeted gays as well. And as we go around the country, you will find gay people leading cities, in positions of authority, and in our cultural icons: Ellen DeGeneres, Rosie O'Donnell, etc. It is becoming safer to come out- look at Wanda Sykes, and history is not going to be reversed on this, despite the recent setbacks in CA and 2 other states.
catherine: I have never been to Japan myself but have both heard anecdotal accounts and read at least one article---I can't remember where it was, I think it was in a social studies anthology of an old girlfriend---that would back up your impressions. I don't want to in anyway bash Japan or the Japanese, and we cannot forget Prop 8 in the recent US election, but the first thing that came to my mind when I read that article was how far removed it was from what I'd heard.
Oh, I totally agree, no Japan-bashing, and the US is hardly a gay nirvana yet! But I do think that Japan is... well, "behind" when it comes to accepting difference. I lived there for several years, and I went to a seminar with a friend for gay foreigners in Japan. This was ten years ago, mind you, but at the time the presenter said, on the upside there is no gay bashing here. On the downside, you're better off not telling people you're gay.

But the funny thing in Japan... or so it seems to me... is that people suspecting or even knowing that you're gay isn't the problem - it's only a problem if you "flaunt" it (are open about it). That doesn't only apply to being gay, in fact. I was involved with someone that I probably shouldn't have been with, and we were very secretive until I found out that pretty much everybody in our workplace knew about it. I suggested to him that we just "come out" and he struggled to explain to me that it was only acceptable as long as we were "sneaking around." Being open about the relationship was what would have broken the social contract, not the relationship itself. Discretion is the real virtue.
As I said elsewhere, every culture has a set of moral values about sex, they just differ.
I was just upset with Buffy because she accepted comfort from Satsu, but had no intention of getting into a real relationship with her. It seemed like Buffy was using Satsu, and even if Satsu didn't mind, that's beside the point.
Well, that type of casual invovlement doesn't work for me personally but I don't think it's wrong if it's mutual. OWhich this wasn't, Satsu was potentially serious about Buffy. But she did go ine yes open so...what I'm saying is we all have agendae in life and no 2 people are ever in 100% synch and where you draw the disapproval line is above my pay grade.

And heck, maybe Satsu needed a new toaster.
It just seemed to me like a Parker move. You know, the one night stand and move on. True, Buffy's not a predator (in the sexual sense, not in the slaying monsters sense), but she did say no to Satsu and then went ahead and slept with Satsu anyway. Afterwards, Satsu felt like she had to go elsewhere, because staying would be too painful. Also, Buffy had relations with subordinate in her command structure, which is a long-time no-no, and for good reasons.
And of course, the real question is, what are the long-term implications of this behavior? Since on Buffy, choice has repercussions.
I think comparing Satsu to Parker like that is unfair. Buffy in S8 is much more mature and emotionally aware than Buffy in S4, and she knows what she's letting herself in for.

(By the way... ;-) )
stormwreath : I think quantumac was comaporing Buffy to Parker, using Satsu.
I suspect stormwreath knew that, too (some rather vocal people in other places across the 'net actually get pretty vicious about it.)
The article is very off from my experiences with East Asian cultures. I've spent 3 summers in South Korea and, while there's a fairly active gay/lesbian underground scene (especially in the college areas around Seoul), most Koreans truthfully believe that there are no gay Koreans... even though they have gay pride parades and film festivals in Seoul every summer. *shrugs*

The thing I've come to realize about Japanese culture (though it doesn't seem to be the same in Korea), is that it's much easier to be trans there than in the US. But gender (and being transgender/transsexual) has nothing to do with one's sexuality, which is the point that this article, and a lot of people these days, seems to be confusing.

I still need to get to this point in the comics. I've only read the first ten, I think, but I'd heard about the whole Satsu thing months ago. Sad to know that it didn't end up going anywhere though :(
Yet. It's not like Satsu's been confirmed as written out of the series for good. It's fair to analyze what we've been giving so far, but way too many readers are discussing it as if Buffy/Satsu will never be touched on in the comics again.

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