She is alienated in the sense that others will dictate inspect and manage her

She is alienated in the sense that others will

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She is alienated in the sense that others will dictate, inspect, and manage her work. On the reverse side, however, it is precisely through this work that the woman ex- presses, identifies, and constitutes herself. As Al- thusser pointed out, ideology can never be totally abolished (1971: 170); the elaborations that women work on "natural" food produce an obento which is creative and, to some degree, a fulfilling and per- sonal statement of themselves. Minami, an informant, revealed how both re- strictive and pleasurable the daily rituals of moth- erhood can be. The mother of two children-one, aged three and one, a nursery school student, Minami had been a professional opera singer before marrying at the relatively late age of 32. Now, her daily schedule was organized by routines associated with her child's nursery school: for ex- ample, making the obento, taking her daughter to school and picking her up, attending Mothers' As- sociation meetings, arranging daily play dates, and keeping the school uniform clean. While Minami wished to return to singing, if only on a part-time basis, she said that the demands of motherhood, particularly those imposed by her child's attend- ance at nursery school, frustrated this desire. Secretly snatching only minutes out of any day to This content downloaded from on Fri, 14 Feb 2014 02:28:12 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
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204 ANTHROPOLOGICAL QUARTERLY practice, Minamimissed singing and told me that being a mother in Japan means the exclusion of al- most anything else.1" Despite this frustration, however, Minami did not behave like a frustrated woman. Rather she de- voted to her mothering an energy, creativity, and intelligence I foundto be standard in the Japanese mothers I knew. She planned special outings for her children at least two or three times a week, or- ganized games that she knew they would like and wouldteach them cognitive skills, created her own stories and designed costumesfor afternoon play, and shopped daily for the meals she prepared with her children's favorite foods in mind. Minami told me often that she wished she could sing more, but never once did she complain about her children, the chores of child-raising, or being a mother. The at- tentiveness displayed otherwise in her mothering was exemplified most fully in Minami's obentws. No two were ever alike, each had at least four or five parts, and she kept trying out new ideas for both new foods and new designs. She took pride as well as pleasure in her obento handicraft; but while Minami's obento creativity was impressive, it was not unusual. Examples of such extraordinary obentw cre- ations from an obentw magazine include: 1) ("do- nut obentv"): two donuts, two wieners cut to look like a worm, two cut pieces of apple, two small cheese rolls, one hard-boiled egg made to look like a rabbit with leaf ears and pickle eyes and set in an aluminum muffin tin, cute paper napkin added, 2) (wiener doll obenro): a bed of rice with two doll creations made out of wiener parts (each consists of eight pieces comprising hat, hair, head, arms, body, legs), a line of pink ginger, a line of green parsley, paperflag of France added, 3) (vegetable
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