In coherent society women are trying to obtain equal rights with men, stating their ability to perform the same tasks and be of the same importance as men are. However, even in the age of tolerance, it is still difficult for them to do it. Not so long ago, the situation was even worse. Throughout the history of our world women have always been suffering from biased attitude. There were periods when women were taken only as a thing which belongs to men, having no right to have their own point of view.
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The stunning fact is, that even at the beginning of the 20th century the situation remained the same, though there were some attempts to improve it (Osaka para. 2). Women suffered from the consumer attitude and inability to realize themselves in this word. Totally satisfied with such state of affairs, men did not try to change something.
The situation was even worse in countries, where feudal traditions were still strong. The movie Memoirs of a Geisha by Rob Marshal describes the fate of a young Japanese woman which had to live under difficult conditions of Japanese society. Being deprived of the right to have their own life, women had to accept their role and satisfy men, which were materializing them in order to show that they were superior.
To be a woman in Japan meant to be rightless and wordless creature. Traditionally, women in Japan were considered to be just a good wife and mother. (Miller 165). Very often, they were treated as some kind of entertainment for men. They had to obey any mans order and were not allowed to make important decisions. Such attitude to women was traditionally accepted in Japan, where relations of subordination were very strong and respected.
The whole life of a common Japanese man was devoted to following traditions and instructions and the life of a woman was not an exception. The movie Memoirs of a Geisha also describes this fact, showing the viewer difficulties of a womans life. Scene with Chiyo asking a question to the customer which is surprised with her knowledge, is the best example of the attitude towards women which was accepted in society. She had not to know all these facts, being just a thing for entertainment.
However, it was absolutely different experience to be a Japanese man. In countries like Japan all power belonged to men only. That is why, it is quite logic that they took only man as their equals. Moreover, a man was the head of the family, that is why he could do everything he wanted and it was considered to be the good way to take care about his close people. A woman considered to be a mans property that is why a man could do everything he wanted with her (“Tradition & Change – Examining Gender Roles in Japan” para.11).
Punishments of different kind were very popular for wives which infringed some law or tradition. These offences were taken as a threat for a mans reputation. The question of honor was of the great importance for Japanese men that is why we could imagine how severe punishments were. Everything in society was made for a mans benefit. Even such phenomenon as geisha. The movie shows this side of society, underlining the consumer attitude of men towards these women.
To understand the movie and state of affairs in Japanese society of that time better, it is necessary to understand who geishas were. First of all, it should be said that geishas were not the same as prostitutes, though they often called themselves in that way to attract more customers. Geishas were entertainers and they were good at art, music and dancing. It was a very complicated process to prepare a geisha and usually girls were taken in their childhood.
This fact is shown in the movie, especially when trainings and different peculiarities of becoming a geisha are shown. That is why it was a great honor for a girl to become a true geisha. This fact can show how blinkered the conscience of a girl was, if she considered such fate to be a great luck for her. However, not all girls were satisfied with it.
The movie shows an attempt of young Chiyo to escape. Being not sure in her forces and knowing that it was almost impossible to do it, she still tried, hoping to obtain freedom. This scene shows signs of incipient conscience of a free woman, which was doomed to live under strict rules
However, not all women were the same as not all women were geishas. Chiyo can be taken as an exception to the rule. Being also treated as a good, she still wants some better fate. The movie shows her otherness. We can observe a great number of other geishas which share common views and follow all the rules.
They are satisfied with their role and have their illusions of being free. Chiyo is not the same. First and foremost she is a woman. She has all the things needed to become the best geisha, though her soul is rebellious and she has dreams about her own man. The movie can also be taken as an attempt of a young woman to change her destiny and find her love, overcoming all obstacles on her way.
The film also introduces the issue of pragmatic relations. Very often the question whether true love can be bought rises. The whole movie is an example of a trade between men, which are customers, and women, which are sellers. They sell their emotions, feelings and attitude. However, watching this video, it is possible to assure that all these feelings are artificial.
Geishas are taught to be nice and sweet. Nevertheless, the only true feeling in this movie is Chiyos love. She loves attachedly and with all her heart, hoping for new meeting and reunion with her beloved one. She humiliates herself with the Colonel, knowing that it is the only way to see the Chairman again. This action is a clear evidence that true love cannot be stained and it can cope with a great number of different obstacles. Moreover, true love is forgiving and the end of the movie shows it.
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Having watched the movie and analyzed the data, it is possible to come to certain conclusions. It became clear, that women in Japan were taken as a remedy to entertain men. They had to be obedient and always be in the shade of men.
Things were even worse with geishas. Being trained to entertain men, they had no other choice. The movie Memoirs of a Geisha shows the life of a young girl which was sold and brought up as one of these girls. However, she was different. Being deeply in love, she fought for her feelings, trying to remain a true woman.
Memoirs of a Geisha. Dir. Rob Marshall. Perf. Ziyi Zhang, Ken Watanabe, and Michelle Yeoh. Sony Pictures Entertainment, 2005. DVD.
Miller, Robbie. “The Quiet Revolution: Japanese Women Working around the Law”. Harvard Women’s Law Journal. 26.2 (2003): 163 – 215. Web.
Osaka, Hurights. Overview: Human Rights in Japan. Web.
Tradition & Change – Examining Gender Roles in Japan. Web.