Home Alone

| May 1, 2002 Issue

Home Alone, Aaron Paulson, World Hum
One man's experience with living in Japan exposed him to a strange gender-role reversal--at least in the Japanese sense. Aaron Paulson, writing for the travel Web site World Hum , relates how his status as a work-at-home husband (in a country where the only legitimate work for males involves a daily commute to an office) brought some undue attention from neighbors, teenagers, people on the street, businessmen, and even from the Japanese authorities--all curious about the gaijin who, in their eyes, played the role of the wife in his marriage. The culture shock was confusing on both sides, and a bit unnerving to the writer. The experience also provided a lesson in how the entrenchment of gender roles is still very strong in some parts of Japan. However, it was not a total horror, as the author relates that "half a world away from disapproving friends and family, safe in the anonymity of an adopted hometown where no one even knew my name, I could relax. I could be just one of the girls."
--Julie Madsen
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