Hebrew post - למה יפן?
אמרתי בתגובה לפוסט הזה
של יוסי גורביץ שאני מתכון לעבור ליפן עם סיום התואר. התפתח וכוח עם מגיבים אחרים, במהלכו מישהו צין שביפן יש קסנופוביה, מיזוגניה, חלוקה למעמדות ומוזרויות באופן כללי ביפן; התגובה שלי אפוא היתה מספיק ארוכה ומופורטת כדי להכנס לבלוג הזה. אם כן:
המאפינים השליליים האלה קימים, זה נכון, אבל הם קימים גם בארץ; אמנם ברמה פחות ניכרת, אבל קימת ועוד איך.
לגבי קסנופוביה: ברגע שמכירים אותך אישית הקסנופוביה נוטה להעלם. ביחוד אם יש לך שליטה טובה בשפה. מה גם שזה תלוי איפה אתה נמצא ועם מי אתה מדבר. גם אם לא, התפישה הזו של "אאוטסיידר" לא מלווה באיבה עמוקה כמו בארץ, ויש נטיה לגלות סלחנות כלפי זרים שלא מעורים בכללי הנימוס היפניים.
לגבי מיזוגניה: כן, זה נכון שיש פערים מגדריים עמוקים בחברה היפנית, אבל בניגוד לישראל, עושה רושם שהמגמה שם הפוכה ומשתדלים לעודד שויון מגדרי כמה שאפשר. חוץ מזה, צריך לזכור שמערביים נוטים ליחס מעמד נחות לעקרות בית (ומיזוגניה כפועל יוצא מכך), אבל מבחינת היפנים העיסוק הזה בד"כ נתפש כחשוב מאין כמוהו.
לגבי מעמדות: טוב, במדד הזה ישראל לוקחת. אני מאוד אוהב את הגישה האגליטרית שיש בארץ, את הפמיליאריות שבה אפשר לדבר עם מרצים ומעסיקים, אבל זה יחסית בקטנה.
עוד דבר שצריך לזכור זה שמערביים נוטים ליחס כל מיני תכונות מופלאות ללא־מערביים תוך התעלמות ניכרת מהמאפינים שלהם עצמם: מיחסים ליפנים ולהודים איזו רוחניות נאצלת מול החומריות המערבית, תוך התעלמות בוטה מההיסטוריה החומרית של שתיהן ומשפע המנזרים והתרבות הרוחנית המערבית בכללי, ומיחסים ליפן חבה למוזרויות כשבתכל'ס פשוט מנפחים מעבר לכל פרופורציה או תופעות שולים שנראות גם ליפנים כמוזרות, או דברים שלא יחודיים להם או סתם פיקציות תוך התעלמות בוטה מתופעות כאלה במערב שנוטות להופיע באתרים מסוג 4chan ו־Encyclopædia Dramatica. מעבר לזה, אני חושב שרוב ההבדלים כביכול בין יפנים ללא־יפנים מאוד תלויי מעמד: ישראלים מדברים על כמה שיפן נקיה וכמה שאנשים שם מנומסים, אבל זה כי הם באים בתור תירים ולא רואים את שכונות העוני – כשאני הייתי שם בקרתי בין היתר ברובע אואנו בטוקיו, שנראה בערך כמו דרום תל־אביב אבל בענק, ונתקלתי שם במישהו שעשן סיגריה תוך רכיבה על אופנים ופשוט זרק את בדל הסיגריה הגמורה לרחוב כשהוא סים – ובתור מקומיים הם מתעלמים מהמקומות ה"יוקרתיים" בארץ – השכונות הטובות של רעננה, ת"א וירושלים, למשל.
בשורה התחתונה, סדנא דארעא חד הוא, ואם ביפן היתה דת רעילה כמו היהדות האורתודוקסית ומצב מלחמתי בלתי פוסק כמו בארץ והמצב הכלכלי שלהם היה מחריד כמו בארץ, הם היו מתנהגים כמו ישראלים, ותכל'ס ישראל הולכת לאטה למקום שבו יפן היתה בסוף תקופת אדו\תקופת מייג'י עד סוף מלחה"ע II בערך. אבל ישראל הולכת ודוהרת לכוון הזה: אמנם החילונים הולכים ונהיים יותר חילוניים וככל הנראה מדברים היום במערכת החינוך החילונית יותר על שויון זכויות לערבים, למשל, ועל כל המקומות שבהם יש לתנ"ך פאק רציני באמינות לפי המחקר הפילולוגי, ההיסטורי והארכאולוגי, אבל החילונים הולכים ומתמעטים ככל שהפרנויה והעדר הגדרה עצמית אחרת הולכים ומחמירים; יפן, לעומתה, הולכת ומשתפרת בהיבט הכללי.
אגב, מה שהכי אהבתי כשהייתי ביפן, מבחינת האנשים שם, היתה שהתפישה של עצמם כחלק מחברה באופן כללי, הבנה שהם לא חיים בואקום וחושבים כל הזמן על איך המעשים שלהם משפיעים על הזולת, הובילה ליחס בין אישי הרבה יותר נינוח וחיובי. לא היתה האוירה הנוראית שאני נתקל בה כל הזמן בארץ של "כל דאלים גבר".
מעבר לזה, המנטליות שלהם באופן כללי מאוד מזכירה מנטליות של אנשים עם אספרגר, מכל מיני בחינות (יש להם את אחוז האנשים עם אספרגר הכי גבוה מבין המדינות המפותחות), וזה מאוד מדבר אלי, כי לי יש אספרגר בעצמי. כשהייתי שם הרגשתי שאני יכול להתחבר למנטליות ברמה שמערביים אחרים לא יכולים.
חוץ מזה, יפנית מאפשרת הרבה יותר חפשיות במגדור השפה בהשואה לעברית, שדורשת התאמה בינרית ברמה הדקדוקית ולא רק הפרגמטית. בתור ג'נדרקויר, אני רואה יתרון משמעותי בחופש לדבר בשפה כזו, שבה אני לא חיב לפרט אם יש לי בן־זוג או בת־זוג ולהשתמש פשוט במלה "koibito 恋人" (מלולית "אדם־אהבה", שזה בטוי הרבה יותר נוח ומכליל גם פוליאמורים בהשואה ל־"significant other" באנגלית), ולא לפרט אם אני מדבר על "היא" או "הוא" אלא להשתמש בבטוי המקובל והניטרלי "anó hito あの人" (מלולית "הבן־אדם ההוא", מונח הרבה יותר שגור מאשר "they" השנוי במחלוקת שאני משתמש בו באנגלית). כשאני רוצה לבטא הזדהות מגדרית אני יכול לעבור בין גרסאות שונות לכנוי גוף ראשון מ־ore 俺 הגברי במובהק דרך bóku 僕 הגברי\טומבוי המנומס יותר ל־atashi あたし הנשי במובהק. יהיו מי שירימו גבה, אבל ה"שגיאה" תהיה רק ברמה הפרגמטית ולא הדקדוקית והמעבר יהיה לגיטימי לחלוטין במעגלים החברתיים שאני כנראה אתחבר אליהם, וירגיש לי (ומרגיש לי היום) הרבה יותר טבעי מאשר מעבר ללשון נקבה בעברית.
עם זאת, היו דברים שלא אהבתי בחברה היפנית כשבקרתי שם. הייתי שם כשקרה הטבח בברנוער, ואחד המארחים שלנו, בן אדם מאוד סימפטי בסה"כ, שמע במקרה על הסיפור ברדיו וסיפר לי מה קרה (בצורה משובשת להפליא: לדבריו, היתה אסיפה של הומוסקסואלים שפרצו אליה קבוצה של דוסים, פרצה תגרה ושלושה ילדים מתו), והפטיר: "ביפן זה לא היה קורה, יפן היא מדינה שלוה." (מישהו כנראה לא שמע על אום שינריקיו
...) בשיעור יפנית באוניברסיטה שנה שעברה המורה אמרה על קטע שכתבתי, על איך שאפשר לראות את המכנה המשותף של בני האדם כשלומדים בלשנות מודרנית (כי השאיפה של המחקר היום היא למצוא מה משותף לכל השפות באופן כללי), משהו בסגנון: "אתה אומר שכולם אותו דבר בעקרון, אבל פה בארץ לא מלמדים על אבולוציה, מלמדים על בריאת העולם ועל אדם וחוה, וביפן זה לא ככה." עניתי לה שכשבודקים למשל את התגובות שמקבלת מהדורה אקראית של הקוג'יקי
באמזון היפני נתקלים באמירות כגון: "היפנים צריכים לדעת מאיפה הם באו," ככה שבתכל'ס אנשים כאלה יש בכל מקום. עכשיו יש להם בכלל בעיה בגלל שינזו אבה המטונף, המקבילה היפנית של ביבי, וגל הלאומנות שבא בעקבותיו, אבל אני חושב שהוא יעבור בתכל'ס – זו תופעה זמנית שנובעת מהעליה של בני דורו לשלטון.
אבל בתמונה הכללית, היתרונות עולים על החסרונות באופן ניכר, ביחוד בהשואה לישראל. בהשואה למקומות אחרים (קנדה ואיסלנד בעקר), אולי לא; כרגע אני שואף לעבור ליפן, ואולי בהמשך "לשפר תנאים". כשיגיע הגשר, אחצה אותו.
More on oppression and privilege
Last Saturday I had the unnerving opportunity of bringing my four-pronged division to the test before two fully-privileged people: my father and brother. They are both straight, cisgender males whose mother tongue is Hebrew, and completely white-passing. (My grandmother on my father’s side, whose parents came from Ukraine, looks quite Asian, which I strongly believe is the result of Tatar or Altaic heritage; my father, being the eldest of three sons, does not look Asian in the least, but his middle brother has Asian-looking eyes, and the youngest has olive-ish skin; my brother and I have slightly almond-ish eyes, which often makes people think I’m part-Japanese when they hear I speak the language.)
I brought up, à propos of nothing, that Ellen Page had come out. I really love Page’s work and pretty much squee’d like a fangirl when I heard about it, so I asked them if they’d heard about it. First off, they were irritated by my apparently implied assumption that they’d know who Page was (the latest reference I could give was ‘the girl from Juno’, although I was much more impressed with her work in Hard Candy), and by my assumption that they could have come across on the popular Israeli portals Walla! or YNet, finding it rather far-fetched (apparently, I have a tendency to overestimate what ‘common knowledge’ includes; just a few months ago I was shocked to discover the names Homer, Virgil, and Ovid are not to be assumed to be included in this category).
Then they started talking about how pointless this information was, my father repeatedly claiming he doesn’t care with whom people sleep, and all this ‘commotion’ around this is just plain counter-productive. It took me repeated attempts, while my brother was constantly groaning about it, to make him shut up for a second and so much as accept the possibility that there definitely is an issue (despite his interjections asserting the opposite, uttered repeatedly and loudly), that acting is a profession notorious for being difficult for GSRM people (yes, I brought up race, which made them dismiss my claims even further), and that damn straight representation is important―the whole controversy
regarding the lack of representation of non-Ashkenazi Jews (and, previously and currently
, the lack of representation of women) on the upcoming banknotes was there for a reason. He kept insisting that the whole ‘commotion’ (e.g.
the Pride Parade; I had to explain, not at all for the first time, that it was not half as provocative as the media likes to show, and I should know―unlike him, I had actually attended one last June) was counter-productive and that obviously it would be harder for someone who ‘flaunts their sexuality’ to get work as they’d be seen as provocators; I tried to explain that I was not even talking about provocative displays, but so much as mentioning a boyfriend when everyone in the office is talking about their girlfriends (I wasn’t even talking about saying ‘Interested in [same sex]’ or a non-cis gender identity on Facebook, as even some cisgender heterosexual people don’t bother giving that information), which I doubt made any impact. It was incredibly hard for me to explain that it’s important for all the GSRM teenagers who might otherwise commit suicide (the suicide rates among GSM teens are abysmal), amidst all the silencing, and I struggled to explain what they really cared about ultimately: how this could influence me, and, more importantly, how it could influence them.
It was a long, loud, circular argument I had to have with two people who seemed to refuse to reach any other conclusion save their presupposed one. They finally decided this was getting nowhere, so I retired to my brother’s and my room, finally understanding why GSRM people hate white, straight, and cisgender people the way they do; I’ve had very few encounters with NTs so incredibly stubborn they refused to understand my ‘when in Rome’ attitude towards NT behaviour, insisting instead that by clinging to the ‘Asperger’s label’ I would ‘never fit in’.
My father followed me into the room, continuing the argument there. He claimed that I was overstating the scale of the problems GSRM people face in the media, citing the famous black and gay actors in the mass media (primarily Ellen DeGeneres), and claimed that anyway, mass media wasn’t all that influential as people claim it to be, citing himself as an example (which, in retrospect, sounds incredibly ironic, given his unwavering conviction that Pride Parades were all gaudy, provocative, and disruptive, unlike, apparently, practically every large-scale demonstration in Israel ever, or at least in the past few years). It took tremendous efforts to get him to understand that it does fucking matter, even to me personally: I can’t get married in this country to a male, which he said wasn’t much of an obstacle as I could fly abroad (yes, Israel recognises civil marriage, including same-sex ones, performed abroad, but somehow it didn’t register that this is very much a hassle straight people don’t face―even straight couples who want to have a civil marriage need only to fly to nearby Cyprus, while a same-sex couple needs to fly across the fucking Atlantic, but I chose not to pursue this point), and that if I wanted to move in with my hypothetical significant other, if I showed up with a girlfriend I’d be greeted warmly, while if I showed up with a boyfriend I’d be much more likely to be rejected. To that he asked why anyone has to know, which I pointed out was a ridiculous question―of course it’s a boyfriend I’d be moving in with, what else could he be? Besides, why would I have to hide, while a heterosexual couple would not?
My brother, who was groaning about the loud argument while he was trying to do his math homework (it sounds petty, but he takes 5 units of math for his bagrut
, which requires rigorous practice, and he takes it very seriously), came to weigh in, asking what the whole argument really was about. He tried to calm me down and analyse the situation, pointing out that neither of them actually cared in particular about this subject, which they don’t see as particularly relevant to them―the whole suicidal teens issue was far removed from them. I tried to point out that they should care even on the level of very basic empathy; when they tried to point out they had a limited capacity for empathy, having many other issues to attend to in their daily lives (my father, in particular, pointed out, ‘I care a lot more about divorced fathers,’ being a divorced father himself and friends with many divorced fathers who were treated poorly during and after their divorce; I said that if he mentioned a legal victory for divorced fathers, I’d empathise and share his contentedness), so I clarified I was talking about an expression as simple as watching an atrocity on the news and saying, ‘Oh, that‘s awful.’ My brother insisted that their strong reaction was due to my (repeated) assumption that something that was not common knowledge was so, which I flat-out rejected based on their unusually strong reaction, in particular to the contents of what I was saying and not the manner in which I said it. I would have been fine if it were just the manner they had issues with (to some extent; quite often they, and particularly my brother, are very irritated when I find out they have no knowledge of something that is a firm pillar of human culture, in particular Western culture, even if I don’t make a fuss and assume an error of judgement solely on my part), but their ‘everything is fine if we say it is and we don’t care if it isn’t after all’ attitude horrified and enraged me.
Ultimately, after constantly pointing out that while it’s very nice that they don’t care about the issue (even though they seem to certainly do, or at least my father does, given how low he set the line between legitimate expression and ‘provocation’), it doesn’t change the fact that those are very significant issues for a lot of people. I even managed to explain that GSRM people definitely are discriminated against in the acting industry: open auditions are hardly ever open (when no race is specified, it really means the producers are looking for someone white), and white-washing is done much more frequently and with far less controversy in adaptations as opposed to when the opposite happens (I didn’t even get to bring up the most problematic issue of Monochrome Casting
), and, after about an hour of constant arguing, having finally made this (in part) a personal issue of them refusing to listen to me, I managed to get my message across.
My father reassured me that they weren’t trying to ignore me and went to sleep; my brother and I continued to discuss the issue. I brought up an earlier talk I had with him and my father, during which I explained to them what non-binary genders were and the very basics of the division of sex, gender, and sexual orientation, the history
of the notorious sissy villain
character (personally, I think many instances of the ‘sissy villain’ are, in fact, once again, a class issue, creating a contrast between the down-to-earth, rough, independent, manly, ‘all-American’ hero and the villain with the ‘refined’ upper class mannerisms that is so engrained into American culture, but that’s another issue), and we discussed the Pride Parade and other displays of GSRM-ness; he insisted that a lot of gay men deliberately ‘exaggerate’ their campness (I insisted that it’s very likely they just like it that way, they were somewhat incredulous, and we left it at that), and when I insisted that he give me examples he could only think of one kid he knew, who is very flamboyantly effeminate. I pointed out that this goes to show just how lacking his familiarity with the GSRM community is, as most gay men actually want to ‘amp up’ their masculinity and be very aversive towards camp gay men. He asked what he could do about the issues I pointed out, and I pointed out the most basic things he can do, such as boycott films and such that he knows treat women and GSRM people like shit, show support to GSRM people around him, and, on a more advanced level, he could donate money or attend protests. He asked me if what he was doing now was not enough―he’s a guide in a youth movement (roughly the equivalent of a Scout leader) and often goes to great lengths to help the kids he mentors, and there’s a limit to what he can do―and I said what he was doing was wonderful, and I took that into account when I decided to point out only the most basic things he can do (or even avoid doing). I even pointed out that this could actually be a good theme for a session with his youth movement. After that I went back to what I was doing and he went back to the living room study a little more.
Then it hit me that I forgot to point out one of the main reasons he should care. I came up to him and said that aside from the prospect of having a GS(R?)M child in the future, he could never tell when he might become the oppressed group in the future, pointing out Martin Niemöller’s famous poem. I mentioned only the first line, and he got upset that I was ‘doing it again’ and that he had no idea what that poem was; after the initial shock, I recited it for him and went back to our room. Before this happened, despite my decisively
negative views of the trip to Poland (note: the language I used back then was the result of profound frustration with aspects of Jewish Israeli culture I was perpetually exposed to and my youth; I still find these aspects enfuriating, but fortunately I’m a student in TAU now, meaning I’m usually in a far more sanity-friendly environment), I was still of the opinion that he should go, as he was adamant on going for ideological reasons, and I wanted to see him stand by those ideals; now, however, I am vehemently against him going, realising that if they didn’t so much as teach them this immensely famous poem in class, there is no fucking way in Hel they wouldn’t try to brainwash him into the kind of (usually mostly unfounded) paranoia privileged people have and turn from a privileged person to an active oppressor, even if on a small scale.
So yeah, I managed to raise awareness. But for fuck’s sake, it should not be this hard.
Last Monday a group of young men and women in their 20s-ish were sitting around the plaza in front of TAU. I approached them and said, ‘Considering the number of blonds here [almost all of them, if not all of them, were blond or at least sandy], I suppose you’re from somewhere in Scandinavia...?’ hoping to practice my... well, some language. It turned out I was correct; they were from Denmark, and I struck up a conversation with a group of men among them using the little bit of Danish I had learned from learning Swedish, watching Borgen, and making the necessary alterations.
It turned out they were part of a Bible study group; I asked which denomination they were from, and they said they mostly varied, but were predominantly Lutheran. I said I like how liberal the European Lutherans are, compared to their American counterparts, as the former for instance, allow same-sex marriage while the latter do not (not being well-versed in the intricate minutiæ
of the Lutheran faith, that was the one example I could think of, and it turns out my data was outdated
). The one person among them who did most of the talking laughed in slight embarrassment and said that while this is the official position of the Church of Denmark, he was not so convinced that it was such a good idea.
At that point, I thought, ‘Alright, they’re fair game now,’ and said they should pay a visit to the department for Old Testament studies in the university and hear what they have to say about the issue, and began to point out all of the faults in their faith: the rampant plagiarism from Mid-Eastern religions (in fact, the academic consensus is that Yahweh was just another Semitic pagan god who had a particularly influential cult); the discrepancies between the philological, chronological strata of the text as opposed to its own position on when it was written―the most glaring examples are the presence and lack of provisions for the well-being of the Leviites, who were priests in various temples scattered around Palestine who lost their jobs once the worshipping was concentrated in Jerusalem during the Two Kingdoms era, in two different books in the Pentateuch, which is why the academic consensus is that this is evidence that the books were written during two separate periods during that era, several centuries after the Wandering in the Desert, when they were allegedly written, and that the oldest book in the Old Testament was actually Judges (I could have given a specific example I like in particular, namely the development of the word asher אֲשֶׁר, meaning ‘in the place where’ in Judges and ‘that, which’ later on, based on Guy Deutscher’s fantastic book The Unfolding of Language in its expanded Hebrew edition, but I assumed they didn’t speak the language); and the glaringly obvious hole in the assumption that Yahweh is an omnibenevolent, omnipotent, transcendental god who cares deeply for the poor, that somehow obscure and downright horrifying laws such as ‘if a woman accidentally touches the scrotum of a man while he’s fighting with another man, cut her hand off’ before ‘teach the poor math and geometry so that they can keep track of their finances and measure their own fields’.
He said he’d never heard of all of this before and asked if I subscribe to these beliefs, and I assured him that I did; he wanted to discuss this more, but alas, we both had to go, so I gave them this blog address, shook their hands, and dashed off.
I really, really hope this incident caused one more cisgender heterosexual white European male to realise he does not have any right to arbitrarily deny rights to another group, as he has no grounds to do so. All in all, I feel I’ve done good.
Last Tuesday I attended a screening of a documentary film about the Falun Gong’s tortures at the hands of the PRC regime, followed by a few lectures on the subject, held at TAU. The subject matter itself was obviously utterly horrifying, but that’s not what I’m going to discuss, but rather MK Moshe Feiglin
giving an enfuriating speech after the documentary was over and leaving without Q&A or even staying for the lectures.
He talked at length about the importance of freedom, in particular within Judaism, that prompted him to raise his voice in protest against the ghastly atrocities in the PRC, despite the massive damage that Israel might suffer for having their ties with it ruined. He went on to talk about how he was trying to promote liberalism in the Israeli political arena, and how the Old Testament was the foundation of the ideas of freedom that inspired the American Revolution and apparently whatever bullshit that happened to cross his mind at the time. All this despite the fact that he’d proudly exclaimed in a newspaper article that he was a ‘proud homophobe’ (even after meeting some GSM representatives), that his primary concern was with the rectification of Jewish law in the state (the whole ‘liberalism’ bullshit is a fairly recent publicity stunt; I still have the fliers from his movement from before the ‘switch’ to prove it), that he’s part of the coalition, no, part of the party leading the coalition
that willingly maintains ties with China for purely economic reasons despite the fact that the Bank of China financed terrorist attacks, and that the Old Testament hardly talks about freedom at all―as a matter of fact, the Founding Fathers were mostly atheists, agnostic, or deists, and the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights were likely inspired by European precedents and the Iroquois Constitution
. Being unable to say anything (although I wish I had heckled anyway), I laughed in his face from the audience and pointed out the bullshit he was saying to my friends sitting around me.
When this arsehole gets his head out of his arse and puts his money where his mouth is, namely by quitting the party he’s in in favour of founding a new one and support separation of religion and state and same-sex marriage (or, y’know, just join the fucking Green Leaf Party
)―only then will I have a shred of respect for him. Until then, he’s just another arsehole yearning for more privilege and an active oppressor.
Having read a lot of the Tumblr blog For Lack of a Better World in the past month or so, I came to the conclusion that a lot of the discourse used there does not apply for Israel and other places. Aside from the issue of conscription and circumcision, there is also the issue that while Jews are the privileged people here, they have been very much oppressed elsewhere, making the whole privilege discourse more complicated; their primary oppressor in the collective memory was Germany, and, unlike slavery, ended only 69 years ago and there are still people around who remember it, but, unlike the U.S., Germany has done everything in its power to compensate the Jews (it has even stayed silent when it most certainly should have said something for years and years, for fear of being branded as anti-Semetic again), and most of the oppressors are long gone, making the historic context that is very much relevant for African-Americans mostly void for Israelis; the primary oppressed ethnic group in Israel, the Arabs, have proven themselves to be violently dangerous to Jews in Palestine in the past (and not-so-distant past), further complicating the whole privilege discourse; and much of the historic load assigned to brownface and cultural reappropriation has been gravely missing in Israeli culture. A similar case can actually be made for Japan, with a very, very low percentage of foreigners and no historic background regarding Western forms of racism, and in other fields.
Nevertheless, there most definitely are points in which these issues are relevant everywhere, and I shall continue to immerse myself in this eye-opening discourse.
So here’s to the swift end of the patriarchy.