Reimagined Middle-Aged Men: Japanese Salaryman Masculinities in Conservative Weekly Magazines in the 1960s

Sunday, January 7, 2018: 11:20 AM
Hampton Room (Omni Shoreham)
Samuel J. Timinsky, University of Wisconsin–Madison
In this presentation, I examine how general interest magazines radically altered white-collar masculinities during the mid-twentieth century in Japan. Motivated by the desire to attract new readers, many of whom had come of age during the tumultuous 1960s, major publishing houses including Kodansha and Shinchosha reimagined male subjectivity outside of the work space. At the same time, these publishers maintained their respective periodicals’ conservative, anti-communist character. By imagining a new, conservative, cosmopolitan male in the early 1970s, they sought to transform young male adolescence into capitalist adulthood. That is, by offering a vision of conservative middle-aged masculinity which included creative and expressive leisure, these publishers were reaching out to moderate but still left-leaning college graduates. Beyond their commercial impact, these changes in representations of middle-aged, white-collar men reflect broader changes in ideologies of gender within the capitalist bloc. Kodansha and company’s views of conservative masculinity were meant to strip the left of its monopoly on individuality. To accomplish this, they positioned the white-collar man in the home and reconstructed the home as masculine space. No longer did they confine male leisure to sex and drink; rather, male relaxation was diversified by publishers in the 1970s to include creative and expressive activities such as crafting and cooking. In this presentation, I analyze these depictions of men performing traditionally female domestic labor to show how such representations fit within the broader political context of conservative responses to the New Left and the looming threat of communism. I offer a view into conservative visions willing to tacitly adopt aspects of the New Left revolution rather than dismissing it as entirely incompatible with their ideology.