My dad told me they were an old style traditional couple and... in Japanese society men are considered... I guess higher or more important. I thought it was kind of sad. I mean he's a lawyer and she's suppose to be some Medical... something with a masters degree. He's sitting on the couch with a glass of wine while she sitts on our wooden floor next to him. I... was dumbfounded.
Most Helpful Guy
I think there are two issues at hand here:
1. It is true that Japanese society still tends to be quite patriarchic in some instances.
2. However, more importantly, this is a huge cultural misunderstanding I believe. Contrary to the western world, where sitting on the floor is considered "strange" and "lowly" and an act of humiliation, sitting on the floor is considered completely normal and natural in east Asia. My girlfriend is from South Korea and she regularly sits/kneels on the wooden floor in our apartment, although we have more than enough chairs. Whether she watches TV, reads, or even when she eats dinner on her own, she sits on the floor. I found this quite odd in the beginning as well but once you get your head around the fact that it really has nothing to do with being humiliating or shameful, you can understand this much better. My girlfriend even told me that in Korea, people sometimes cook together while sitting on the floor (cutting veggies etc.). That is also why nobody is allowed to wear shoes inside and why hygiene is considered very important. The floors in Japanese or Korean homes often tend to be so clean you could actually eat from them. The sitting on the floor is really just a cultural preference. The same goes for bowing as a means to greet by the way. In the western world, many people feel like bowing to someone is humiliating. In east Asia, it doesn't necessarily have to be like that. It can some occasions (such as apologizing) but it can also be a simple gesture, like the way we shake hands (most east Asians prefer not to have too much body contact).
So while the situation you've described might have had an aspect of sexism in it, the sexism was certainly not as strong as it may seem to you as a western person. It's also possible that the guy's wife simply felt like sitting on the floor while he felt like sitting on the couch - the two things are considered equal (like sitting on a couch or sitting in an armchair for us westerners). For example when my girlfriend's parents invite their parents (so her grandparents), they usually let the grandparents sleep in their marital bed while the parents sleep on the floor in the living room. They don't do that because they're poor (they have a big couch they could both sleep on) and they also don't do it because they want to act like slaves towards the grandparents but simply cuz it doesn't matter to them. Sleepin western style (bed) and eastern style (floor) is both totally fine to them.2
- Show AllShow Less