Annotation: Suzuki, Nobue. 2007. Marrying a Marilyn of the Tropics

Suzuki, Nobue. 2007. Marrying a Marilyn of the Tropics: Manhood and Nationhood in Filipina-Japanese Marriages. Anthropological Quarterly 80(2):427-454

Suzuki expands Carla Freeman’s (2001) argument on globalization theory as being masculine and dichotomous by inquiring into the experiences and desires of Japanese men (citizens of a first-world country) married to Filipino women (coming from a third-world one). These Japanese-Filipino marriages, as discussed by Suzuki, illustrate men’s desire for masculinity, and for achieving the identity, which has been implanted in their imagination through the arbitration and disciplining of the Japanese state. Examples include through education that promotes marriage and family formation as central to the men’s socialization and the widely accepted, and reproduced idea of men being “corporate warriors”. Suzuki’s ethnography shows that Japanese-Filipino relationships are actually “surprisingly subversive and may not always fit into the fixed power structure of the First World/Third World binary” (429). For instance, Japanese men married to Filipino women are often regarded as “good for nothing,” because of their failure to secure marriage (to a Japanese woman) earlier. Filipino women, meanwhile, are viewed as an unlikely choice, because of, for example, their lack of linguistic and cultural competence, which may result in distracting Japanese men from their efficiency as “corporate warriors.” Japanese men’s desires have shifted, and men have looked at Filipino woman as the “Marilyn of the tropics” and as “women of the past who are also modern” (444) who share a genealogy with the First World West through colonization. At the same time, by marrying Filipino women, Japanese men are able to reassert their doubted masculinities (in Japan, being kekkon dekinai and shikkakusha). Through their comparative economic wealth, Japanese men are able to “rescue” Filipino women, and thus assert their first world positionality. These marriages may be seen as a subversion of the normalized path of social organization in Japan, and which may be “interpreted as challenge to national, racial, and class identities (448). As Suzuki concludes, “Men’s strategies… have tended to pursue their masculine and national ideals, privileges, and positionalities as scripted by gender and national regimes (449).

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