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Joshiryoku: How Is Girl Power Defined In Japan

Jyoshiryoku, or Girl Power, in Japan

When I think of “girl power,” I think of independent badass women, who have control over their lives and finances, are physically strong and healthy, and have their own unique style and way of thinking. The nuance of the Japanese term “joshiryoku” (literally, girl power) is, however, far different and describes the “power” to be the all-encompassing “feminine woman.” If you’re referred to as someone that’s “joshiryoku takai” (high-level of “girl power”) you likely have a spotless home, cook elaborate meals, always have your nails and makeup done perfectly and are a great socializer. You’d be a good wifey and you embody old-school femininity.

When it comes to health, maybe your “joshiryoku” level is high if you order juice cleanses or frequent an oshare hot yoga studio. Deadlifting twice your bodyweight is most often considered scary and having calluses and chalk on your hands from lifting is certainly not feminine. Diet, drink juice, and hold the pink dumbbells. Many women are led to believe that’s enough “girl power.”

When I think of “girl power,” I think of independent badass women, who have control over their lives and finances, are physically strong and healthy, and have their own unique style and way of thinking.

As in the west, it’s all-too-common for women in Japan to avoid picking up the weights as to avoid the societally ingrained fear of “getting too big.” It’s becoming rare to find strength trainees in Japan who train for anything other than aesthetics, given the popularity of weight loss services such as Rizap. If a man can bench press three plates, he’s seen as an advanced strength trainee and not to be messed with. See a woman benching more than her body weight? She’s a weirdo. Societal expectations and misunderstandings …continue reading