Table Topics: Can Cool Little Boys Wear Skirts? Gender, Parenthood and Sexuality (Ronald Saladin)
Fashion can be regarded as an extension of the body. The clothes we wear can convey information about our job, our hobbies, our religion etc. Fashion tells a story about ourselves and about our lifestyle as a whole. But what does it mean if, for example, fashion magazines for men start to boom in a society where fashion interest for the longest time was understood as something genuinely female? Does it mean that ideas of masculinity change? If they do, does masculinity become more effeminate? If fashion is part of a particular lifestyle, how do different lifestyles vary in terms of fundamental gender ideals? Can men who are interested in fashion be interpreted as a sign of changes of the fundamental gender order? Also, what role does the media play in generating new gender ideals? What aspects influence the production of media that addresses apparently different ideas about femininity and masculinity? These are some of the questions I want to address when diving into the world of Japanese fashion magazines trying to figure out how fashion, lifestyle, gender, the media and social developments in contemporary Japan are linked with each other.
Ronald Saladin has a background in Japanese Studies, Sociology, and German Studies. He graduated with a PhD on “Discourses on Masculinities in Japanese Lifestyle Magazines for Young Men” from the University of Trier in 2014. Currently, he is a senior research fellow with the German Institute for Japanese Studies in Tokyo (DIJ Tokyo).