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Sep 07 2006

Thrones

Japan loves a throne. They have two principal kinds: automatic Toto toilets with heated seats that spray you with Lysol and blow-dry your butt, washing away to distant polluted shores the unseemly filth associated with having functional internal organs; and the kind that is ascended to. Which is more hilarious? You decide.

The spinster aunt more or less lives the sort of life wherein the concept of royalty is but peripheral curiosity, a jokey anachronism the purpose of which is to sustain tabloids with stories of meaningless hookups, divorces, and untimely deaths. It seems extraordinary that there still exist pockets of humanity who give enough of a shit about bloodlines that they will carry on about imperial succession to the extent that is apparent in Japan, but there it is.

I allude to the hoopla over a Japanese princess who, to the enormous relief of Parliament—which, in lieu of any viable alternatives, had been about to consider a widely-opposed bill that would allow stupid incompetents—i.e. women—to ascede to the throne—managed to produce the first male royal in 41 years. Thus resolving the ‘crisis.’

Why was the bill controversial? “[M]ale-only succession [is] the Chrysanthemum Throne’s defining characteristic.” Not Medieval enough for you? How about this: the ‘failure’ of one Harvard-educated princess (who bailed on a diplomatic career to marry into the royal family) to produce a son supposedly resulted in a debilitating lifelong depression. Or this: had the new prince been a girl, there was talk of resurrecting the ‘concubine system’ wherein the Emporer’s stable of female sperm receptacles would ensure, sooner or later, the desired result.

The manner, however atavistic, in which clans of super-rich resolve their inheritance issues is no skin off the Twisty nose, but if the proles are looking to these clowns to define their national identity—and what else are monarchies for?—this kind of Neanderthal shit needs to be blamed all day.

36 comments

  1. CarolS

    I know I’m just a gushing crazy-ass knitter, but God, I love you.

  2. Pinko Punko

    What is hilarious about this bad boy is that our BLAMEâ„¢ sensors were off the chart when we first saw it, and we predicted Blamers at IBTP would be mobilized.

    http://blog.3bulls.net/?p=1171

    Also, chickety check Kathleen in our comments- she noted that some a-holes wanted to bring back Royal Concubines so the royal sperms could be distributed more freely- it’s like doubling down!

    Because you came through as you always do, we offer up this foodly sacrifice.

    http://blog.3bulls.net/?p=1173

  3. Sylvanite

    The supreme irony in this is that the Chrysanthemum Throne has traditionally considered itself descended from the sun goddess Amaterasu Omikami. I blame the patriarchy.

  4. langsuyar

    Ah yes, it all makes perfect sense, you know, ascension and what was that you say *bends head a bit closer* WHAT? “Resurrecting the ‘concubine system’”??! WTF. Which fucking century are we in?

    Or better yet, which patriarchal culture that churns out popular media infested with real, literal, robotic sexbots (‘Chobits’ anyone)? Huh. I guess we’d be in Japan.

    Seriously though, as entertaining as royalty is, it definately influences the way a culture thinks about itself and if royalty is intent upon dragging itself backwards through time, more than an eyebrow should be raised.

    Oh the sheer TERROR of having a female figurehead of state! OH the whole COUNTRY will collapse! Just like England… oh wait and nevermind the fact that women have ruled Japan before. *sigh* Must be one of those irrational male backlash things having to do with retaining last vestages of symbolic power in a world increasingly stripping them of their God (whichever) given privilages over the stupid incompetents who manage to get Harvard degrees before becoming fetus incubators.

    Or something.

    Still, hard to say no when the Royal Family comes knocking to knock you up.

  5. femhist

    Well, a system of monarchy based in a male line of descent is, in fact, the original definition of “patriarchy,” so if we weren’t blaming the Japanese monarchy for this lovely bit of offal, we would be quite remiss and suspect in calling ourselves patriarchy-blamers.

  6. KTal

    I’ve heard that Japan is a patriarchy stronghold. Not surprised that some ass would suggest concubines. If Japan tried that with any success we’d find assbags over here suddenly extolling the virtues of Japanese culture.

  7. Pinko Punko

    Delicious sukiyaki and concubinage? Up with Japan! C’est snark.

  8. slade

    Well….at least the Japanese people overwhelmingly approved of a woman ascending to the throne. And the polling numbers for her heir to continue on that cushy throne went down only slightly.

    The cousin who suggested the return to the concubine system….may his flag never rise again.

    And the new little bouncing boy….may his spermies run slow and exhaust early.

    I remember when the career woman married into this ruling family….I thought to myself, “Girl, you better have some damn sharp knives with you.”

  9. jbeeky

    Oh Japan! What rubes! I mean, to create a power structure that caters to males and to have presidency, oops I mean monarchy passed down from dumb male to dumb male no matter what actual intellegence they may possess? I mean, so if the son of this son is a complete moron and can barely speak coherently he rules because his father did? How lame!! How can they…oh wait. Damn.

  10. jc.

    Just heard on the radio that “our” swedish king is number 108 (or so) in the “if bad shit really happened” emergency succesion to the British throne list. His son is ranked in this royal order ahead (because of his penis)of his older sister who is the heir to the swedish throne.
    However even in “we are so much more enlightened than everyone else” sweden it took a fair amount of public controversy and a law change to allow the first born princess to be the heir over her later born (male) brother because in sweden up until then (the late eighties or early
    nineties) it was illegal for a female to be the numero uno monarch (because there was this bitch queen who renounced the Lutheran throne and moved to Rome to be catholic which just goes to shoiw how undependable women are as monarchs you see).
    Anyhow, do you think the whole concept and practice of monarchy may be a little outdated?

  11. Mandos

    As a (Canadian) subject of Her Majesty the Queen, I agree that the insittution is a silly anachronism—and a vestigial sign of captivity that antagonizes the francophone population. But there are worse things. In the USA, the President is invested not only with a political role, but one as Symbol of the State. Dislike of the president can be far more easily transmuted into disloyalty. In Canada, the Queen isn’t really very present—there is a vice-monarch which our elected representatives appoint, usually some harmless famous person. The current and previous ones were minority women.

    And the new little bouncing boy….may his spermies run slow and exhaust early.

    I prefer a more positive future for him because I am such a bleeding heart: maybe he might be the father of a female occupant of the Chrysanthemum Throne, if the Throne continues to exist…

    If not now, then.

  12. Sophie

    Dear Twisty,

    Please do not accuse Japan of being ‘medieval’ in this case. Medieval Japan had empresses and they ruled during the Heian period, a golden age of Japan. There are good hints that older Japanese civilizations (wiped out by enlightenment, of course) were matriarchies.
    http://www.carillion.eastkingdom.org/HEIANintro.html

    ‘Modern’ Japan seems to be a bad place for a women to try to be… different from the patriarchal norm. There are words for men and words for women, for example.
    Check out this http://www.pliink.com/mt/marxy/archives/000988.html about Japanese women media if you want to get a feeling.

  13. stormcloud

    The cousin who suggested the return to the concubine system… may his flag never rise again.
    And the new little bouncing boy… may his spermies run slow and exhaust early.

    *LOL!*

    Remember Patriarchy/Monarchs…
    You can always be sure of who your mother is, but not so your father.

    I wonder how many of the ‘royal’ lines had unrecorded/unnoticed deviations? Possibly even this Japanese one, with the Harvard princess – perhaps she was smart enough to go out and get some ‘grade A’ sperm!
    You go grrl; fuck up their male lineage!

  14. firefall

    I thought Royal Families were intended to give everyone else something to feel superior to, and to point and laugh at? (cf the Windsors)

  15. maggiethewolf

    Their gender preferring is embarrassing. If they don’t have the good sense to be embarrassed, I’ll be embarrassed for them.

    A monarchy is embarrassing too. I hate that shit. It’s soooooo infantile.

    I even hate when parents call a daughter “princess.”

    A princess is someone paid to be purty while real people work the fields and factories to feed and clothe that purty affectation.

    Oh, is my inner commie showing?

  16. Hawise

    I must admit to a weakness- I dig the royalty thing. I don’t much care whether it is male or female royalty, it’s all good. I go for the Machiavellian evilness of the old-style when the Kings and Queens were top of the heap but often poorer and with smaller armies than their subjects. They succeeded or failed due to their wits and the loyalties of their friends. Queens like Eleanor or Aquitaine and Catherine de Medici would run rings around their male counterparts and they did it under the workings of a patriarchy that would crush even the most seasoned blamer. Japan was a much more female friendly culture before the West came in to change how their society worked. Modern succession rules are mostly just that- modern and post-Western contact. I blame the Western patriarchy for that.
    All being said, I am glad she had a boy so that the media and politicians can get off the subject and onto more relevant matters. She deserves a break from the pressure but she was an educated adult when she chose to marry into the Imperial family and it wasn’t like no one warned her what a mess they were likely to be.

  17. Sara

    Small digression: Your description of the Toto toilets reminds me of having read somewhere how someone in Japan developed a capsule one could take daily to improve (or eliminate) the smell of one’s poo, you know, so one could honestly say one’s shit didn’t stink.

    This transpired at least ten years ago. It was big fodder for the obnoxious morning DJ set for about a week, and then I never heard another word about it.

  18. nitpickchick

    I am equally appalled and cynically unsurprised at the hoopla over the latest sprig on the Chrysanthemum Throne lineage.

    But Twisty, there really are two *principal* sorts of thrones in Japan.

  19. Rain

    Picking up on Sara’s digression: yes, there are such pills. They were developed due to the rapidly aging population. In most nursing homes, taking these herbal supplements is a standard procedure, especially for the bed-ridden and diaper-wearing ones.

  20. karenology

    As Sophie pointed out, Japan used to have empresses, in the halcyon days of yore no less. This smacks of nothing more than insecure jerkbags grasping at straws to keep their crusty ol’ boys club, in the face of increasing prominence of wimmin’ folk.

  21. Mandos

    Japan used to have empresses, but their children were not allowed to inherit. Their nearest male blood relative on their father’s side was the Crown Prince, as I understand it. The conservatives are objecting to a trend that they fear would lead to an empress passing the throne to her own child.

  22. Carpenter

    Ah monarchy, its as stpid now as the day it was first invented. If I was Japan I wouldnt be campaigning to allow female monarchs, I’d be campaigning to toss the Chrysanthemum Throne into a botomless pit.

  23. Mandos

    Monarchy wasn’t necessarily that stupid when it was invented.

  24. Violet

    Shinzo Abe, who is considered the front-runner to succeed outgoing Prime Minister, Junichi Koizumi, has plans to remove Article 24 – the gender equality claus – from the constitution. He and his fellow hawks believe that Japan’s declining birthrate is due to the “selfishness of women”. Here is an excerpt from a Japan Times interview with political analyst Minoru Morita who is one of the ruling party’s fiercest critics:

    Some time ago, an LDP panel studying reform of the Constitution criticized its Article 24, which guarantees gender equality, for contributing to the ruin of society and family. Shinzo Abe, widely considered the front-runner to replace Koizumi when he steps down, reportedly said, “A [gender-free] concept which ignores the value of marriage and the family is linked to the destruction of culture.” What are your views on this issue?

    MM: There are many female LDP lawmakers with extremely rightwing opinions — many with opinions similar to those of Abe. Thus, it is unthinkable that many LDP lawmakers would oppose Abe; everybody will fall in line.

    Many LDP members believe that the declining birthrate is due to a reduction of barriers to women’s participation in society or the quickened pace of gender equality — that women are expanding their legal rights and thus holding back from motherhood.

    This is a complete misunderstanding. The cause of the slowing birthrate is that people’s livelihoods are more impoverished. Japanese citizens have suddenly become poorer. That, and the fact that Japanese youth are exceedingly unhappy in comparison with their parents’ generation. Such people refuse to bear children because they believe their offspring will experience yet greater hardship and unhappiness. This is a more serious issue than just changing the law, or the Constitution, and hoping that people will give birth……..

    http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20060903x1.html

  25. Beth in Michigan

    Excellent, I’ve been wondering when you were going to throw some blame on the Chrysanthemum Throne. Thank you, Twisty, you do not dissappoint!

    On the one hand I’m sad that Kiko had a boy because I was really hoping for an Empress Aiko with half-baked daydreams of Zydeco Coronations dancing in my head. On the other hand, I’m kind of happy for her sister in law Masako, maybe they’ll get off her back now. HA! Right.

  26. Blamerella

    I always thought it was weird that the princess was depressed about not producing the Almighty Bepenis’d Heir. Surely they are aware that the gender of the child comes from the father?

  27. mrs_enid

    The only other writer I’ve ever read that regularly used the word atavistic is Hunter S. Thompson. He’s not one of your influences I take it?

  28. maggiethewolf

    This might be a Mission Impossible mission, but I’ll risk it, just for the joy of cuing the Mission Impossible theme music in my mind: duh-duh-duh-duh-duh-duh-duh-duh…bada-duh!

    I cite Mission Impossible, because I’m afraid what I’m about to write will be framed and consequently dismissed as a just-so, on-whose-say-so, or so-you-say story. Egads, someone might even try to psych me out with an evo-psych descriptor. But I know the risk. And I know, if I fail, that all records of me will be destroyed.

    Here’s why I hate monarchy. It is the most possibly patriarchal arrangement. It presupposes that things work best with a high mucky muck and it endows that high mucky muck with insane authority. If we must have a monarchy, this should be requisite: that once a week, the queen or king stand before the people, remove the royal bloomers, and hold them high, so that all can see their utterly unroyal skid marks.

    Now, heirarchy does serve purposes. Cities couldn’t be built without dominance and submission. Until you have thousands of people willing to endow one person with authority and subsequently submit to that authority, you can’t build a bridge. Otherwise, the thousands would sit in a big circle and bicker. Then that circle would splinter and the pieces would scatter into smaller circles, which would commence new bouts of bickering. So, heirarchy gets things built, but if you ever catch your breath when a high mucky muck walks into the room, punch your gut and visualize the skid marks in their undies. They’re there. Trust me. I know.*

    *Not that I’ve looked.

  29. Mandos

    Now, heirarchy does serve purposes. Cities couldn’t be built without dominance and submission. Until you have thousands of people willing to endow one person with authority and subsequently submit to that authority, you can’t build a bridge. Otherwise, the thousands would sit in a big circle and bicker. Then that circle would splinter and the pieces would scatter into smaller circles, which would commence new bouts of bickering. So, heirarchy gets things built, but if you ever catch your breath when a high mucky muck walks into the room, punch your gut and visualize the skid marks in their undies. They’re there. Trust me. I know.*

    Only if you have a really expansive definition of dominance and submission. Authority and responsibility aren’t really D&S. Authority for no purpose and held without responsibility are D&S, at least as I’m taking it in the context of this blog. If I’m wrong, then you’re right: it is absurd.

    On the other hand, I do think that D&S is at minimum a reflection of greed, and as long as you have a large number of humans, you will have one or two greedy people at least, and maybe one of them will be clever. And as soon as you have that, either they become dominant or society moves to stop them. If society moves to stop them, then it must yield up further authority to central figures, who thus become even more susceptible to becoming dominant…

    In the context of monarchy, though, setting up a single figure with authority possibly made sense in the past. A lot of crowns started out as First Among Equal Chieftains—a dominant check on other dominant figures.

  30. Mar Iguana

    Mandos, to give you, and others, some relief from the gaseous pain of speculation, may I suggest you seek fact? To that unfashionable end, you could try reading Gerda Lerner’s, “The Creation of Patriarchy.”

    What you seem to mistake for “that’s life,” is merely a system. It had a beginning, therefore, mercifully, it has an end. I, for one, am optimistic about seeing life as we know it end, none too soon.

    Die patriarchy. Die

  31. Mandos

    I’ve read a number of theories as to the origination of patriarchal systems. To save time, is this a fair summary of Lerner’s?

    http://www.rit.edu/~tnlgsh/CreationofPatriarchy.htm

    The question is, could dominance have existed without this particular historical origin (assuming this is a fair summary of Lerner’s relatively familiar theory)? I contend that dominance could have come to be and could continue to exist without it, as merely a reflection of greed and the reactions to greed.

  32. Mar Iguana

    Question one: Yes

    Question two: No

  33. Mandos

    “Question two: No”

    Your answer implies that not only did domination HISTORICALLY emerge from gender, given Lerner’s theory, it can ONLY EVER emerge from gender. No? Being slow, I’d like to make it explicit and clear.

  34. Mar Iguana

    You don’t understand the word no.

  35. Mandos

    I understand “no” perfectly well—but wasn’t intelligent enough to deduce what you were saying “no” to and wanted to make sure, since I said several things that together could be interpreted as a single large question.

  36. Mary Kay

    No, but seriously Twisty, those high tech toilet seats are teh bomb! We spent 10 days in Japan a couple years ago and I really liked’em. Tres cool to get up in the middle of the night, wander into the bathroom, and sit down on a pre-warmed toilet seat. And the warm wash and blow dry is pretty keen too.

    MKK

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