Tag Archives: history

Kimonos and Fake News

Spoliarium

I’ve been doing a bit of an informal survey after hearing a friend spout off what sounds like anti-Japanese sentiment disguised as facts. In an attempt to disparage the character of Japanese culture specifically and the Japanese people in general, she mentioned that the kimono was designed specifically for the woman to easily have sexual encounters with men at a moment’s notice. That is why what appear to be cushions or pillows are attached at the back of the outfit. This factoid (or to cut to the chase, this lie) seems to be designed to hurt the Japanese image by basically calling their traditional attire a sex attire and by virtue implying that Japanese women have a history of having loose morals.

I’ve been asking Koreans around me about the reason for the kimono’s design and most people reference this rather risqué explanation to different degrees, with some being more polite than others. This was very fascinating since the people I asked were mostly well-educated people who have visited Japan several times, if not lived there for several years. They mostly came up with the same explanation, although some expressed doubts regarding its veracity.

Now, I’ve read about kimonos, seen them worn many times first-hand, and been with people who had it put on. There are many degrees, but kimonos can be quite complicated to put on. It took my friends almost an hour to have it put on them, and this is with a professional assistant. When you see people walking around Japan with their Sunday best kimonos, these are mostly complicated attires with several layers. They are not the fastest things to take on and off. Probably the easiest and least layered kimono I could think of are the yukatas worn in the summer, but compared to the Korean hanbok, they are probably a little more complicated to put on and off, so I don’t understand this idea of “easy access.” As for the cushions or pillows attached in the back. They are otakos or oversized ribbons mainly placed there for aesthetic purposes. I would hardly consider them pillows. One of the reasons for putting so much material around women at the time was that it was considered ideal for women to have a straight, flat figure. It was simply the aesthetic at the time. And as for pillows and the idea of having women basically be on their backs, Japanese women, when fully attired in traditional garb will have a very complex hairdo. Back then, they would never rest their head on pillows for fear of ruining their hair, and instead rested their head and neck on what amounts to a wooden platform. The whole pillow/easy access thing is simply a fantasy.

But what lends it credibility is a bit of truth. One is that there is a history of courtesans and prostitution in Japan which does involve the image of geishas wearing heavy make-up and kimonos. But this is counter to the easy access image the rumor I’ve been hearing. Another bit of truth is that kimonos are usually tied from behind, thus women would often require assistance when putting on such complicated attire. Prostitutes would sometimes tie their kimono in front so they could easily put them on and off without assistance, but that it not the only sole reason to wear a kimono with the ribbon in front. Elderly people for example, would tie their kimonos in front to make it easier to wear them. In any case, there are many reasons why kimonos could be tied in front, but I think the originators of the easy access lie just latched on to the prostitution story and made it true for all kimonos.

But what is the purpose of the lie. I imagine it is a relic of anti-Japanese sentiment in Korea. I ask people where and when they first heard of this explanation and not many people could tell me exactly when. It seems to have been rooted in their childhood. Thus, even when I offer a counter explanation, some find it hard to divorce themselves from the old take. Perhaps it was designed to disparage the Japanese, and in doing so, boost Korean nationalist sentiment. This is not the first time I’ve seen this happen. In the 80s, children in the Philippines were taught that Armando Lite invented the ArmaLite (M16), Agapito Flores invented the fluorescent lamp, and Eduardo San Juan invented the Lunar Rover. There’s a possibility that Eduardo San Juan did exist as an engineer, but there is no record that he was the chief engineer for the Lunar Rover. And as for the other two, they are nothing but clever puns. But why make up the lie? They were designed to boost national pride, encourage children to take up science and engineering, and instill a bit of anti-American sentiment since all inventors were said to have had their inventions stolen and their credits removed, thus making the lies unprovable. I suspect the Japanese kimono lie was created in the same vein, especially since the Koreas were occupied by the Japanese the same way the Philippines was occupied by the Americans.

I believe this is an early attempt at “fake news” or propaganda. Unfortunately, with me trying to disprove the old “fake news,” I could be labeled as “fake news” as well. I’m not sure if propaganda had the same vicious back and forth cycle back then as well. I figure some lies just faded after people saw the light of truth and reason. But maybe I was being naïve in thinking they are not as persistent, after all, what was my friend spouting? And to bring it back to the modern era, I had my wife look up some of the anti-Japanese sentiments my friend was spouting including the kimono explanation online. True enough, she finds them in a Korean anti-Japanese site. Old “fake news” makes it to the modern age.

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A Twist!

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I saw the movie ‘Wind River’ a few days ago.  The movie piqued my curiosity when I saw Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olsen starring as leads. I thought it quite unusual to have two actors who are featured in the Marvel Avengers franchise work together in a totally unrelated film. It seemed a tad distracting.

The movie was surprisingly decent. It was a murder mystery, although the mystery was fairly straightforward. And although the film was set in Wyoming, the wilderness and the issues regarding Native Americans echoed those of Canada’s First Nations’, particularly the way the government often has a lackadaisical approach to their problems. The film makers didn’t portray Native Americans as cartoons either. They portrayed them as real people with real concerns. The film’s focus in particular happens to be one that haunts my hometown as well, the victimization and disappearance of Aboriginal women and how authorities and society in general seems to not care about them. The RCMP doesn’t often put too much effort finding missing Aboriginal women despite the number of reports. A more comprehensive report on the violence that Aboriginal women suffer can be found at the RCMP’s own website.  It is silly how there would be days of news coverage for missing women of other ethnicities but most Aboriginal women don’t get much coverage should they ever disappear. So with all of this in mind, I was quite pleased by how the movie seemed to focus on this issue. Although a couple of instances with the male gaze was a tad inappropriate and unnecessary.

The whole thing didn’t play out like a typical theatrical release. It seemed to be more suited to something I would watch on television as opposed to the big screen. The mystery was not that complicated either and there was so big twist in the end, so the story was not that memorable. Or so I thought.

As the credits rolled, there it came in bold letters: Produced by the Weinstein Company.

That was a twist of M. Night Shyamalan proportions. A movie that champions the plight of women, particularly of Native Americans who are often marginalized, bringing them to light much like the #Metoo movement has brought to light abuses not just in Hollywood but in many places in the US and around the world… that movie just happens to be a property of the same monster that victimized countless of women and whose actions inspired the #Metoo movement in the first place.

Bravo ‘Wind River,’ bravo.

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Get Over Yourself

Loie

Look, America doesn’t have a monopoly on being the light of democracy, the beacon of hope, the shining city on a hill. Actually, it’s far from it. Since they elected their current president, with one tragedy after another, I keep hearing “we are better than this,” “this is not us,” and “not all Americans.” Now I do agree that Trump and his supporters are not ALL Americans, but I disagree with everything else. Particularly with what’s happening right now at the American borders, the separation of immigrant children and their internment in abandoned Walmarts, this is exactly what America is.

People often say that America’s original sin is slavery and white supremacy. But even that statement ignores a much earlier sin, the displacement and genocide of Native Americans. But just looking at the Trump presidency as a microcosm, there is a pattern which is very similar to the rest of America as a whole. The vilification of Mexicans, the Muslim ban, the attack on NFL players, the blatant disregard to the crisis in Puerto Rico, the splitting and internment of immigrant families… one key they have in common is the absolute vile treatment of people of color. If you’re not white, there’s a great chance you might have a shittier American experience. And again, not all of America is to blame for what is happening. But it is very telling that despite the crisis on the border being the top news item for a couple of days now, instead of Trump losing popularity, he actually gains favorability. Not only that, he appears to have more power among his political party. Being disgusting towards young, immigrant children and putting them in internment camps is proving to be quite good for Trump. Americans might like telling themselves that they are the land of the free and the home of brave, but those same free and brave people often allow awful things to happen right in their own backyard. This is not the first time Americans kept an internment camp. They did so just a few decades ago.

After the Muslim ban was announced last year, there were lots of protests. It was great to see people standing up for their Muslim brothers and sisters. Eventually, the courts ruled that the Muslim ban was unconstitutional, and the president’s own words betrayed the hateful intent of his policy. But since then, there hasn’t been much collective outrage and action over the many injustices which Trump has orchestrated. Why didn’t Americans march for Puerto Rico? Aren’t Americans marching every day for Flint, police shootings, school shootings, or any other issues? Heck, even when the Muslim ban was finally partially enacted, there was nary a protest. Did people just get tired? Were people distracted? Did the free and brave people have other plans that day?

Unless Americans can exorcise their demons, they really shouldn’t be allowed to wax poetic indulgently about being American. Americans can’t say, “this is not who we are. This is not what we do.” No, this is exactly what you do. America is the one person in the room with the most guns who regularly lets bad things happen to minorities. That’s just how it is. And I don’t want to sound too high and mighty, but as a Canadian, we have a long history of sins against our Native populations as well, but you will never hear me say that that is not what we are, that “we are better than this.” Canadians are vile towards their Native populations. That’s what we are, and we should be better than this.

I love Americans. I have friend and family in the US. My nieces are Americans. I really hope that their future America would be better than this. The America I see in the news is the ugliest I’ve seen in years. It can be ugly for people like me and my nieces. As a person of color, I’ve seen racism rear its ugly head in Canada and even here in Seoul. But as Americans, I worry about my nieces. I can handle racism. I’m old and I’ve seen it enough times to know how to roll with it. But they are still far too young. And judging by how the US government and Trump supporters are being vile towards child immigrants, it is apparent that not even children are spared from the dark ugliness of the American experience. In truth, my nieces are raised in a fairly privileged lifestyle. I like to think that they’re growing up in an environment where deplorables have very little chance to make contact with them.  But despite all of that, I fear that it only takes one ugly accident to ruin a person’s day if not a person’s life.

In any case, Americans really do need to get it together. This has gone on far too long. People used to joke that “Trump is bad, but at least he’s not building internment camps.” Well, the camps are now here. What do you do? Where are the free and brave people?

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Winnipeg, I love you.

Forces_aligning

Yes, I do feel it, forces lining against me. Friends are nowhere to be found as well. I sound like a high school kid, I know. And that’s part of my depression. I should be too old to sound like a high school kid right now. In any case, it’s a good thing my wife is here with me. We might have our problems now and then, but she truly is my silver lining lately

Saw this on Vice News the other day. It’s a bit out of nowhere. I’m watching news on Ukraine, then the plight of the abandoned English interpreters in Afghanistan, then boom, something from my old neighborhood… the Aboriginal gangs of Winnipeg.

God bless Vice News actually. They actually do stories which other news outlets choose to ignore since it doesn’t fit their narrative. Anyway, I was a bit surprised with the resurgence of Aboriginal gangs in Winnipeg. The last time I heard of the Indian Posse was back in the mid-90s. Then the Hell’s Angels came to town and the Indian Posse as well as other Aboriginal gangs sort of disappeared. And the last time I had any conversations with locals regarding crime and gang activities in the city, it was mostly Asians involved in gang activity, not Aboriginals.

I’m really glad they did this story. I’m also glad that they also looked at the systematic racism that the First Nations have suffered and continue to suffer through. It’s something that is quite common knowledge with anyone who’s open-minded enough to take even the most superficial look at the subject, but you still get people arguing against the “benefits” Aboriginal people get. Canada can be the most inclusive, most generous country in the world. The country prides itself in its multiculturalism. Around 95% of landed immigrants eventually become citizens and truly believe they belong in Canada. Yet it’s a big shame that many Aboriginal people see themselves as marginalized, or worse, their rights downright ignored. No wonder you see poverty, substance abuse, and gang violence.

I would go into a rant about the Canadian government abusing the environment and harming Aboriginal communities in the name of the almighty dollar, but unfortunately the history and list of grievances would be too long (Alberta oil sands is one of the biggest news at the moment). I leave that to the conscientious reader.

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Worry Sex Children Japanese Shooter

True_Love

Random thoughts:

It’s funny how what was an all-consuming thought last week is now almost a blip. Don’t get me wrong, I still worry about things and how the events from last Monday will affect me, but now I got other things in mind… trivial yet consumes me more. And isn’t that the biggest luxury of all? Being free to think and obsess over the trivial things?

Speaking of all consuming, Norm MacDonald is right. Men don’t think about sex every six seconds. They only do so once in a while. The problem is, the minute men think about sex, it’s all they could ever think about. It takes an orgasm to get them all sleepy and out of that funk. And no, I’m not saying I’m currently thinking about sex.

Met an old friend last week. I haven’t seen him for about eight years or so. He’s now got two kids. This got me looking at my other old friends. Most of them have kids now as well. Heck, one of my old roommates has three. I don’t know how a person could afford three kids in this economy. Anyway, sometimes I feel left out. Like I should be moving on and having kids at some point. Then I remember how unstable my life can be and how demanding children are. Glad none of my orgasms ever became people.

I just learned yesterday that a girl I know in Japan is a bit of a nut… a Japanese right wing nut. It’s one thing to honor the dead and respect a bit of your culture and history, but it’s another to honor the war criminals from World War II. I honestly don’t know how anyone in Japan can take politicians and people like these seriously. Look: there was a war. Japan was one of the bad guys. Maybe some soldiers did it for God and country. Maybe some were forced. But they were the bad guys and they did some pretty horrible things. Sure, the Japanese government has “apologized” many times, but they’ve also turned back on their apologies as well. And people still honor war criminals like they deserve it.

I guess the reason why the Japanese don’t get so villified and that they sometimes get a pass for flying the Rising Sun Flag is because the media hasn’t really made enemies of them as much as they did the Nazis. It’s why Japanese educators think they can just skip the horrors they did on history books because it’s not played on the media much. Look at the last few years. How many games have been made involved shooting Nazis? How many games have been made involved shooting Imperial Japanese?

And speaking of shooting. Korean men are required by law to serve two years in the military. One man went berzerk yesterday and gunned down twelve people. He must’ve really hated the place because he only had two months to go before he could resume civilian life. And to this day, they still cannot find him. There’s a popular reality show here about life in the military. It shows comoraderie and how Korean men are toughened up in the barracks. I never liked the show because it’s all boring machismo bullshit which inadvertently wanders off to the latent homosexual. Plus, it’s a reality show. I guess they glossed over the parts where they sometimes make soldiers go insane.

How’s that for a random thoughts?

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Sex Stories for the People

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Saw an application for a job writing for a Website. It calls for writing of a sexual nature, be it health, relationships, stories, etc. Like any warm-blooded man, I’m interested in sex. Heck, I could spend days talking and writing about it. But then I looked at the Website and I noticed that most of the entries are submissions of people regarding their adventurous sexual encounters, a Penthouse Forum of sorts. And that’s when I lost interest. I’m not one to judge the joys of reading sexual fiction, and yes, they are mostly sexual fiction, but I realize I don’t have A. the urge to write such fiction (the imagination, yes. the drive to create fiction designed to turn readers on, no.) and B. the real experiences that are truly unique and exciting. In fact, I think while most of my stories could be considered interesting, I don’t think they’re very exciting.

Well, looking at A. I’ve never been one to share stories and such. I’ve never felt the need to brag, nor have I ever felt the need to share stories “that’ll get my buddies going.” It’s just not my style. Sure, I’ve shared pornography in my youth, but I don’t watch videos in the basement with my friends. That happened once and I had to excuse myself after one of my friends started getting too comfortable with himself.

As for B. Most of my sex stories are kind of sad. Here’s an example. I’ll skip descriptions and flowery language and just go right to the meat and bones.

A friend of mine was with someone who he had been with a few times before. They don’t really know much about each other except for the fact that they like how things worked when they both don’t have their clothes on. Now, that friend thought he was the luckiest guy in the world. The woman, he thought, was a nine. Best of all, it was stress-free relations with no strings attached. Wonderful.

One night, after a few minutes of doing what they do, he laid down on the bed and started getting sleepy. He dozed off for a few minutes and woke up with her looking straight at him. She was right next to him, naked and just relaxing. He asked her, “Hey, what are you looking at?” expecting something cheesy like, “oh nothing, just looking at you. I love looking at you sleep” or whatever. Something women would say.

She said, “I’m just thinking of my baby in heaven.”

This startled him and he asked what she meant. He was half-asleep and he wasn’t sure if he heard her right.

She said, it was nothing. “Forget about it.”

He left her apartment wondering what that was all about, whether he imagined the whole thing, or if some tragedy led her into being what she is now, an attractive woman willing to sleep with him. The whole story brings to mind all the circumstances that led people to our lives, whether it be good, bad, or tragic. In my friend’s case, he wondered if a “baby” being “in heaven” led one to him.

Now, how does that story sound? Does it titillate?

 

 

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