In this presentation, I examine how women’s decisions about marriage and family have impacted official discourse about women’s role in national re/production. I use the very public pronouncements about the low-birthrate society made by male politicians as a starting point for thinking about how and where to locate political agency among women. Analysis of discourse makes women’s political actions visible through the responses that they evoke among political men. Statements by male politicians and policymakers suggest that they see women as resisting gendered citizenship obligations and disrupting “gendered” roles for which there may be no policy fix. Through control over the occurrence and timing of “common” life events, Japanese women have made visible their position at the center of the nation’s demographic discourse, and are articulating a gendered consciousness that has influenced political discourse on their role in maintaining the common good.
Sherry L. Martin is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Government at Cornell University.