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On cultural norms

On cultural norms published on

Daigakusei-sensei got distracted toward the end of class today.

Daigakusei-sensei: I think, if I went to live in another country, I wouldn’t want to go to one that was dangerous… more dangerous than Japan, I mean…

The Pierced American: Don’t go to the US!

Me: Well, but Sensei, I think that only leaves Switzerland…

Daigakusei-sensei: Really?

Fuzzy-san: Yeah, I think so.

Screech-san: But I think maybe Japan is getting dangerous! I saw on the news that someone was murdered in Toyota recently –

Daigakusei-sensei: Really?!

Screech-san: Yeah! But – see – there’d been a bag tied around the person’s head, but it was gone when the police found the body? But they found the bag in Okazaki! So they think the murderer lives in Okazaki!

Daigakusei-sensei: Oh, no… Japan really is getting dangerous!

Me: *head explodes*

Daigakusei-sensei: Aie! *reproachfully* Hime-sama*, you scared me, screaming like that! – oh, it’s time for lunch! Bye, everyone!

Me, in English: There might be one murderer somewhere in Okazaki! One!

The Pierced American: Yeah, it’s pretty weird when you realize stuff like that…

The Bicycling American: You know, I’ve never felt unsafe in Japan, but when I go back to the US right now, I get so paranoid. I start crossing the street when I see a group of people just, you know, hanging out – I mean, any of them could have a gun!

Fuzzy-san: *worried* So in the United States, do you really see, you know, gang violence in the streets all the time?

It’s too hot, so I went and bought some men’s boxer shorts to wear for pajamas. It’s occurred to me that, though there are always girls hanging around the mall and train station wearing cut-off jean shorts that cover up much less than the boxers, I would definitely get arrested if I went out in the boxers. Because though the jean shorts cover up less than the boxers, they’re still jean shorts, and therefore coded as outerwear. Whereas the boxers are coded as underwear, and are thus obscene. What’s the sociological term for this phenomenon?

Incidentally, I wear a men’s XL in Japanese sizes. That’s an American women’s 14-to-16. I still have no idea what I would be in Japanese women’s sizes, as I have yet to find a store that carries women’s garments in sizes above XL.

* Yes, people are still calling me “Hime-sama.”