A Translation and Analysis of Japan’s Seminal Lesbian Studies Work
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I translated Kakefuda Hiroko’s seminal lesbian studies book “‘Rezubian’ de aru to iu koto” 「レズビアン」である、ということ (On Being a ‘Lesbian’) in order to critically analyze her assertions and theories. This publication made a great impact in Japan during the 1990s by alleviating feelings of isolation and catalyzing the expansion of media specifically geared toward sexual minorities. I chose to analyze this text as well as Judith Butler’s Gender Trouble for each author’s nuanced interrogation of how their readers can reconsider and challenge the realities we may take for granted. In this project, I seek to add to my understanding of what it means to be queer in Japan and provide insights to other readers with an interest in queer studies based on both authors’ theories to catalyze the development of more complicated understandings of identity. We should not limit ourselves to the insights of people who can convey their ideas in English. While Kakefuda touched on a wide variety of topics in her book, I chose to primarily dissect her interrogation of the Japanese family system, her problematization of using heteronormative language to describe lesbians, and the intersections and dissimilarities with Butler’s arguments in Gender Trouble.