Traditional gender norms and women's political participation: How conservative women engage in political activism in Japan

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'Traditional' gender norms, which prescribe the primary roles of women as mothers and wives in the home, have been identified as one factor that hinders women's political participation. If so, how do anti-feminist conservative women in Japan, seen as the defenders of 'traditional' gender norms, participate in political activism? To answer this question, I examine three issues using statements made by Japanese conservative women themselves: the content of the gender norms they uphold; the constraints they perceive due to their upholding of such gender norms and how they overcome them; and if and how their gender norms can encourage their political activism. My findings demonstrate that conservative women variously manage to make space for their political activism without betraying their commitment to traditional roles at home. Moreover, when intersected by their conservative ideology, their upholding of 'traditional' gender norms can prompt them to take political action. Based on these findings, I suggest that paying close attention to women's agency vis-à-vis gender norms as well as their political ideology can help us attain a better understanding of how exactly 'traditional' gender norms influence women's political participation in a specific context.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)45-61
Number of pages17
JournalSocial Science Japan Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes



  • Anti-feminism
  • Conservative women
  • Japan
  • Traditional gender norms
  • Women's political participation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)

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