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  • Print publication year: 2003
  • Online publication date: September 2009

7 - Liberation


Liberation from the toilet

According to the masculine consciousness which shapes our understanding of sexuality, men are unable to see a woman as an integrated whole who has both the emotional quality of gentleness and the sexuality which is the physical expression of this gentleness. As far as men are concerned, a woman is split into two images – either the expression of maternal love: a ‘mother’, or a vessel for the management of lust: a ‘toilet’.

Tanaka Mitsu's manifesto for the group Tatakau Onna (Fighting Women) in 1970 was a sign that women wanted to find new ways of participating in political activity. They wanted to be active as women, and they were ready to fight for the issues which stirred them: they were opposed to attempts to change Japan's abortion law; they were concerned with Japan's place in the international relations and the political economy of East Asia at the height of the cold war; they supported the struggle of the farming women of Kitafuji who were trying to stop the encroachment of military bases on their land; and they supported immigrants from other Asian countries in their struggles against the Japanese Department of Immigration.

Tanaka's article, ‘Liberation from the Toilet’, provided an impassioned condemnation of the conventions of sexual behaviour whereby women were condemned to be ‘mothers’ or ‘whores’.