Front Page, Chinese Style Beijing '95

In Japan, exploring the "mother/ daughter conflict" is a major component of feminist counseling. Kiyomi Kawano of the Japanese Association of Feminist Counseling explained that mothers are responsible for raising their daughters to fill traditional roles. Women dissatisfied with the traditional female role of caring for others often feel a sense of fear, shame, anomie, and guilt for opposing their mothers' views. The Japanese center holds consciousness-raising groups with the view that it is normal to explore nontraditional ways of living through self-realization and self-discovery. The talking itself is therapeutic, Kawano explained, since women in Japan are encouraged to chatter and engage in small talk, but are not accustomed to the joy of meaningful talk. "In therapy they increase their vocabulary for defining their own experience. They gain objectivity about their own lives, like that gained by stepping far enough away from a painting to get perspective. A new and vital eye emerges.

Feminist therapy questions the goal of helping women adjust to the world the way it is, said panel participant Merle Hoffman, president of the Choices Mental Health Center in Queens, N.Y., and publisher of this magazine. "To work for change is a flight into mental health."

--Ronni Sandroff

Go to Beijing '95: Special Report.

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