Geographical Review of Japan
Online ISSN : 2185-1727
Print ISSN : 1347-9555
ISSN-L : 1347-9555
The Meaning of Maleness in Public Space in Japan
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2002 Volume 75 Issue 13 Pages 813-830


While gender studies of geography have already incorporated socio-cultural aspects, little attention has been paid to the link between sexuality and studies of men. This study aims to clarify how the male category is constructed in public space in Japan by adopting the viewpoint of Japanese sexual minorities. The literature on sexual minorities helps us understand the potential disconnection between observed gender identification (“sex of appearance”) and invisible gender. Using this perspective, I discuss how maleness is understood in public space.
First, I show the relevance of public space to “sex of appearance.” In public toilets and public baths, “sex of appearance” is a direct indicator of observed sex. In hospitals, public offices, workplaces, and schools, a gap between “sex of appearance” and invisible social sex becomes an issue for sexual minorities. Because typical assumptions dichotomize gender, sexual minorities are unable to claim a comfortable social space.
Next, I investigate how “sex of appearance” applies to men. A uniform aspect of male “sex of appearance” means oppressive heterosexuality directed toward women, and the subjects who define the meaning of male “sex of appearance” are not only women but also men.
I conclude that maleness is essentially defined by the “sex of appearance”, rather than actual sexuality. This explains the creation of “women-only” cars in contemporary Japan. This also suggests that homosexual and heterosexual men share the commonality of male “sex of appearance.”

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