We won't be silenced anymore 私は黙らない#0428 (ENGLISH version
On April 28th, 2018 B.G.U. members joined the rally against sexism held in front of Shinjuku Alta. . Following the sexual harassment scandal involving top Finance Ministry bureaucrat, Junichi Fukuda, the government's unjust response and Japan's victim blaming culture became painfully clear. One woman's allegations apparently not being enough, the Finance Ministry called for more female reporters allegedly sexually harassed by Fukuda to come forward. This is with complete disregard to the negative backlash and disgusting comments victims must face. Although Fukuda has formally resigned, this absolutely does not solve the root of the problem. There are way too many Fukudas out there that go on unpunished. There are way too many victims who have silenced themselves for the fear of being shamed, criticized, and ignored. The Japanese government’s own figures show that more than 95 percent of rapes are not reported to the police (http://www.gender.go.jp/policy/no_violence/e-vaw/chousa/pdf/h26danjokan-8.pdf). One third of women in Japan have experienced office harrassment and 68% of them suffered in silence (https://japantoday.com/category/national/one-third-of-working-women-in-japan-sexually-harassed-study)
To publicly end this silence, speakers of various age, occupation, gender, sexuality took the stage and spoke out against sexism. One of the speakers was our very own writer, editor, and translator, Rikuo Kanda. Read his speech below...
Hello, everyone—I am Rikuo Kanda. I write and edit for a free feminist zine called B.G.U.
I do not stand here with the intention of taking the spotlight away from all the strong women here today. I have come in support of all women who battle sexism in this patriarchal society. Furthermore, I have come with thoughts on what I and other men could do for feminism, and how we could assist in creating a world free from sexism.
Feminism is a movement that was started and led by women—and I have no desire or plan to change that. Things need to be done to change this sexist society, but I firmly believe that the feminist movement is not something for men to lead—for we have stolen the credit of works by women throughout history. This world will not change if men are to lead feminism. However, as sexist offenses are constantly repeated by us, I am also aware that we cannot watch feminism from the other side of the road.
So—what can we do as men? I believe it starts by confronting the other men around us. We must learn to take action when we witness sexist acts. Those who commit sexual harassment is, without any doubt, guilty. But bystanders, who watch and stay silent—are they not guilty, too? Perpetrators will not change if other men do not speak up.
Many may still think, “with patriarchy planted onto men to the bone, they are incapable of speaking up against their peers’ acts of sexual harassment.” We have recently witnessed the failure of the ministry of finance in adequately handling a sexual harassment case of its own. They are not only incapable of speaking out against their workers, but are failing to admit to the perpetrator's crime. When asked about former vice-minister of finance Junichi Fukuda, who recently resigned due to sexual harassment, Tarō Asō the minister of finance answered, “Does Fukuda have his rights?” aggressively. What they cannot see is the rights of the victim—the rights of the female journalist who was harassed by Fukuda.
There are no excuses for these people. We all have a female figure we hold dear in our hearts: the little sister who always counts on you, the big sister you’ve looked up to, the grandmother who is in any circumstance by your side, and of course—your mother, who with her strong body, brought you into this world. There is a special woman in any man’s life. Imagine them being the victims of sexual harassment. Think about their daily battle against sexism in schools, work, and everyday life.
Could you, after giving thought, still carelessly say, “can I touch your breasts?” I certainly cannot.
Do not forget about the women in your life. The next woman you will meet will have a father—may have a brother, too. Let your peers know if they do not understand that.
A world leading anthropologist and primatologist, as well as a United Nations Messenger of Peace, Jane Goodall has said, “What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.”
Join me, in pursuing the courage and leadership these activists have brought to this groundbreaking event today. Step by step, let us make a difference. Let us change this world into a more equal place.