After #MeToo: The #KuToo Movement

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The #MeToo movement, as a popular women’s rights protest, calls for the rights of women in the workspace and seeks to reduce the rate of sexual and verbal harassment against women in the workspace. Starting back in 2006, the creator of this movement, Tarana Burke initiated the campaign primarily for minor communities of women within the United States. The movement spread across the whole world as a form of protection and protest for women’s rights in the workspace. 

#KuToo is a new movement started in Japan in 2019 as a new form of women’s rights protesting, receiving much attention both in and out of the country. For a similar reason as the #MeToo movement, #KuToo specifically targeted the presence of heels for women in work. The majority of companies in Japan incorporate the rule of wearing heels for women. To women like the initiator of this movement, Yumi Ishikawa, this policy seems unfair and unreasonable. Ishikawa is a Japanese actress, as well as a part-time funeral parlor. She sees the problem with mandatory heels in the workspace as not only physical discomfort, but it is also a cultural stereotype and tradition that people have been practicing for generations. #KuToo movement reflects on the #MeToo movement and at the same time, plays on two Japanese words kutsuu and kustu, which means shoes and pain. The presence of heels in the workspace in many countries reflects on the stereotypical understanding of formal appearances for women. Neglecting the discomfort women might feel wearing heels, especially on occasions that require much movement and standing. As it is not only a health problem, many people in Japan refuse to see this issue as gender discrimination. (Japan ranks 110th out of 149 in the World Economic Forum’s gender-equality ranking)

 

Contemporary Issue 

Although nowadays in our society, women hold higher status and gain more respect than the previous time, women are still considered as a minority group of people in many ways. The stereotypes of women’s appropriate attires in the workspace or public areas remain underestimated. High heels at work and short shorts and crop top in public stay as a significant tag on women who seek freedom in dress and expression. The society still holds high expectations regarding how female dresses. Offensive statements and descriptions are often made if one dresses uniquely or is too “inappropriate.” 

 

Resolution 

 However, an increasing amount of companies around the world began to adapt informal dress-wear in the workplace. Countries such as the United States and the United Kingdom became the first to adopt the business-casual dress code within the workspace. Moreover, the Philippines became the first Asian country to ban the high heel policy in 2017. #KuToo movement has brought much attention to women’s rights in workspace over online social media and platforms. With more attention to the issue regarding women’s rights, businesses and companies now pay more attention to the actual ability of the employees rather than focus mainly on the appearances and dress code for them. 

Featured Image via Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters

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