Friday, May 27, 2005
Wednesday, May 04, 2005
Oni Yome--Demon Wife
I have noticed a disturbing trend in the Japanese media recently. The newest "trendy" topic in a long list which recently has included "young mama"-teenage mothers, and "enjo kosai"- teenage prostitution is the glamorization of the Oni Yome, basically, women who treat their husbands like shit.
I believe that the root of the current infatuation can be traced back to a now hugely popular blog by a beleaguered salaryman by the pen-name of Kazuma. About 2 years ago he started his blog chronicling his wife's seemingly unending selfishness and her quest to make his life a misery. One story he posted was that his only dinner one night was the crusts that his 2 year old daughter refused to eat. Another was about the time that his wife made him ride to the other side of Tokyo after work one night on a scooter in the pouring rain to buy a certain vegetable that was on sale that day only. Never mind that she was at home all day and just didn't want to go out in the rain.
With 3.2 million hits so far, there is no denying the popularity of the site. Judging by the comments left on his site, a lot of his initial audience seemed to be men in similar situations that could empathize with his situation. However after a while a number of women started chiming in saying that they admired his wife and aspired to be just like her.
Now there are Oni Yome weekly articles in women's magazines where women write in trying to outdo each other with the bitchiness they afflict upon their husbands. Being an Oni-Yome has become something to be proud of it seems, with celebrities now on variety tv shows revealing all. Just this past weekend I was appalled by a show with a bunch of female "talents" (the term for people with no apparent talent and are just famous for being famous) wallowing in their game of one-upmanship.
The most disturbing anecdote was by an American "talent" named Kayla or something like that-who incidently is the most annoying woman on Japanese television- regaling the adoring all-female audience with a story of how she, fed up with her husband coming home late and expecting dinner, served him canned dog-food disguised as hambuger! "The next night he came came home and said, 'Gee that hamburger was good last night, can you make that again?'" This is worrying enough as it is, however another woman on the panel was disappointed because, her story of her having fed her husband "only" cat food, was beaten by this story!
I don't know how much of what these people say is true-Japanese television is notorious for faking most, if not all of their shows that purport to show real people doing and talking about real things-but that is a story for another post. It is also hard to believe that poor Kazuma's stories are very authentic anymore considering the amount of publicilty he has attracted, through television and magazine interviews, although he never shows his face. It is unlikely that his wife is in the dark about it anymore which makes one wonder if either Kazuma is exaggerating his post-success stories or if his wife is now deliberately trying to come up with new schemes, possibly collected from the magazine articles that her own behaviour spawned.
Regardless of how authentic the stories are, the popularity of the Oni Yome, with women claiming that they strive to emulate this behaviour, probably says something about the state of Japanese society today, I am just too disturbed to speculate as to what that is.