May 27, 2009

Yanmama: Japan's Having It's Own Jamie Lynn & Bristol Moment

According to neojaponisme, my favorite source for gaijin analysis, Japan is having a yanmama boom. Whether the yan in yanmama is from "young" or from yankii, the Japanese equivalent of white trash, a few young celebrities are having kids really young and staying in the public eye as yanmamas. There are magazines and shops dedicated to the trend, so it must be real.

Whether it's a trend, or just the Tokyo Establishment's temporary fascination with same thing that always happens when working class 19-year-olds have unprotected sex, end up in shotgun marriages, and have to both keep working to make ends meet, it counts to me as substantial change.

When I was a missionary in Japan twenty years ago, we'd help out once a week fixing things, teaching English classes, and playing with the kids at a home for single mothers run by another denomination. The single moms, whether unmarried or divorced, or just abandoned by their husbands, had all been either dumped or forced into this institution by their families, or they had nowhere to go--and that's where this place was, in the middle of nowhere. They were doing alright, as well as they could, but it felt like part of Japanese society just could not handle the existence of a family without a dad attached, even a deadbeat one.

And that's one aspect of the yanmama boom that feels all too familiar: the insane double standard for dads. There's no such thing as a yanpapa boom, and no hint that Japanese society takes their responsibilities as dads too seriously.

the yanmama boom [neojaponisme]

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