Tale of Genji; Injustice in the Heian Period of the Japanese Aristocratic Women

1460 Words6 Pages
Injustice in the Heian Period of the Japanese Aristocratic Women The way men and women were treated differently among Aristocrats in the Heian period clearly demonstrated the limited roles of women compared to men. Gender roles played a big part regarding to social mores pertaining to Japanese superstitions, public appearances, and social status. It was believed that a girl birthed from a nun would invite bad luck but with a boy, it would make no difference. Women also didn’t need to make public appearances as much as men did. Lastly, it was highly unlikely for women to climb the social status ladder compared to a man that could slowly but surely work his way up. The “Tale of Genji” and the “Tale of Ise” gave some examples that support the submissive social status of aristocratic Japanese women and how they were not equal to men. Selected chapters from the “Tale of Genji” painted a story of an emperor’s son-in-law who had an affair with his wife’s sister and took this sin with him to his deathbed. The Third Princess, the woman involved in the affair, birthed a son. The fact that she had a son later reveals the unfair gender roles of the child, compared to the idea of if she had a daughter. By choice, the Third Princess became a nun and it’s believed by the Japanese that “a girl might seem to invite bad luck [if] the mother is a nun. But with a boy it makes no difference.” (Tale of Genji, pg. 648) Through superstition, the gender of a child coming into an Aristocratic heritage makes all the difference for the future of the family. A daughter would have had different requirements growing up and it was believed that the family might have been cursed with bad luck because the mother became a Nun. The son of the Third Princess and Kashiwagi, Kaoru, grew up with exceptions to certain behaviors. Genji, the husband of the Third Princess, watched Kaoru growing up as a
Open Document