‘Innocence to Deviance: The Fetishisation of Japanese Women in Western Fiction, 1890s to 1990s'
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Since the mid-nineteenth century, there has been an enduring relationship between Western imaginings and the Japanese woman. Dressed in kimono and made up as a geisha, she has often been used in illustrations and cartoons as an archetypical gendered symbol of her country, often to the exclusion of all other symbols. Even when writing on the modernisation of Japan in 1899, as P.L. Pham notes, J. Stafford Ransome 'found space amongst pictures of shipyards and engineering buildings to include pictures of Japanese women posing in kimonos.' In more general descriptions of Japan in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, such as those by Basil Hall Chamberlain, Douglas Sladen, Robert Grant Webster and W. Petrie Watson, the 'state of Japanese womanhood' or, more accurately, how the Japanese man was seen to respond to and treat Japanese womanhood, was often used as a metonym for the state of Japanese civilisation. The common estimation was that, rather than the Japanese man, the quintessentially feminine Japanese woman deserved the exceptional kindness and chivalry of the Western man.
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