Monday, July 27, 2015

List of Kimono Wednesdays protest issues, concepts, and related history

Please see my original post for background: Monet's La Japonaise Kimono Wednesdays at the MFA.

People keep asking me to explain what precisely the protest is about and I've given up. After talking with some folks this weekend about the protesters' concerns I decided to compile a list of everything they’ve mentioned in their materials and signs and provide links to Wikipedia and other sources for further education. Some issues that are related are grouped together. I have located some Japanese sources, but please note that the Japanese links may not be as helpful as the English links because they may not provide context on these concepts from an American perspective. The list ended up being longer than I expected so I alphabetized it for easier reference. Yes, I used to read encyclopedias for fun as a child. Wikipedia is pretty much a childhood dream come true. ^_^ Happy reading!

  1. AAPI underrepresentation in media and culture
  2. Ableism障害者差別
  3. Asian American (nisei Yuji Ichioka is credited with coining the term
  4. Asian festishism | アジア人フェチ
  5. Black Lives Matter | 日本語
  6. Classism
  7. Colonialism | 植民地主義 / Postcolonialism | ポストコロニアル理論 / (See also Colonial mentality)
  8. Complicity
  9. Critical art theory
  10. Critical gender theory
  11. Critical race theory
  12. Cultural appropriation
  13. Cultural insensitivity
  14. Decolonize Our Museums
  15. Dehumanization of women
  16. Erasure of Japanese narrative
  17. European feminine beauty ideal (see also Eurocentric Beauty Ideals as a Form of Structural Violence: Origins and Effects on East Asian Women)
  18. Exoticismエキゾチシズム
  19. Feminine女らしさ
  20. Genderqueer | ジェンダークィア
  21. Hibakusha | 被爆者
  22. Hiroshima & Nagasaki atomic bombings | 日本への原子爆弾投下
  23. Historic discrimination against AAPI (see also Racial inequality in the United States)
  24. Homophobiaホモフォビア / Transphobiaトランスフォビア 
  25. Human zoos | 人間動物園 
  26. Hyphenated Americans
  27. Indigenous rights movements
  28. Intersectionality (Update 2/14/16: I don't remember if I saw this word used in the initial Kimono Wednesdays discussions but I introduced a friend to this term and they found it helpful in understanding the protest.)  
  29. Ivory tower
  30. Japan's Prime Minister Shinzō Abe | 安倍晋三
  31. Japanese American internment camps (I prefer the term incarceration camps per Densho’s terminology convention) | 日系人の強制収容
  32. Japanese denial of war crimes | 日本の戦争犯罪
  33. Japonisme | ジャポニスム
  34. June 24, 2015 Tokyo protest | 日本語 
  35. Kanagawa Treaty | 日米和親条約 / Commodore Perry | マシュー・ペリー
  36. Kimono | 着物
  37. Lived experience
  38. Mark Wahlberg beating of two Vietnamese men | 日本語
  39. Minstrelsy
  40. Misogyny | ミソジニー
  41. Model minority myth (see the 1966 New York Times article where the myth originated)
  42. Murder of AAPI women
  43. Museum studies | 博物館学 / Asian underrepresentation in museum workforce / Lack of diversity at the MFA 
  44. Orientalism | オリエンタリズム
  45. Otherness | 他者性
  46. Patriarchy | 家父長制
  47. Pearl Harbor | 真珠湾攻撃
  48. People of color 
  49. Pillaging of artifacts | 略奪芸術 / Provenance disputes at the MFA
  50. QTWOC (Queer Trans Women of Color) - as far as I can tell this is primarily used as a Twitter and Tumblr hashtag
  51. Racism | (アメリカ合衆国の人種差別)
  52. Remilitarization of Japan  (see also The Japan Times opinion piece ) | 日本国憲法第9条
  53. Respectability politics
  54. Reverse racism (article provided by protesters)
  55. Sexism性差別
  56. Sexual assault | 女性に対する性的虐待 / Sexual harassment | セクシャルハラスメント / Rape (AAPI under-reporting of rape) | 強姦
  57. Slavery | 奴隷制
  58. Solidarity
  59. Stalkingストーカー
  60. State-sanctioned violence against people of color米国警察の異常な暴力
  61. Sureshbhai Patel police brutality incident | スレシュバイ・パテル
  62. Systemic violence and brutality against people of color
  63. Tokyo firebombings | 東京大空襲
  64. US Women's World Cup win over Japan Twitter celebration | 日本語
  65. US military presence in Japan | 日本国とアメリカ合衆国との間の相互協力及び安全保障条約
  66. Vietnam War | ベトナム戦争
  67. Vincent Chin | ビンセント・チン
  68. Violence against black & brown bodies
  69. Western imperialism | 帝国主義
  70. White allyship
  71. White culture
  72. White fragility
  73. White institutional racism 
  74. White male gaze
  75. White privilege
  76. White supremacy / white supremacist murders
  77. Whitewashed Japanese textbooks歴史教科書問題
  78. Women | 女性
  79. Yellowface / AAPI misrepresentation in film and television - Fu Manchu, exoticized sex worker, Mr. Yunioshi

If you can provide Japanese terminology for things I wasn't able to figure out, please leave a comment. If you can find a Wikipedia or other well-written source that would be great too. Thanks.

If I've missed anything, please let me know!

This post was made possible in part by Google Chrome and Google Translate! どうもありがとうございました!

  • 8/2/15 1:05am: Updated to include issues from these signs. Added ableism, classism, homophobia/transphobia, sexism.
  • 8/4/15 6:10pm: Added Asian American and people of color.
  • 2/16/16: Added intersectionality.

Related posts


  1. This is an excellent and comprehensive list. Thank you for your hard work in putting it together. It provides a good visual image of why this protest has been so difficult to understand.

    1. Hi Jan! You're welcome. I had told someone over the weekend that I thought I could come up with a list of 20 issues that had been raised by the protesters and was very surprised as I went through their signs and materials that the list ballooned to nearly 80. But once I got started figured I might as well finish the research and share it!

  2. Hi Keiko. I've been a silent reader of this blog and decided to drop a note to say thank you for compiling this list.

    When the protest first broke out, I was appalled and upset that the MFA put up this event without providing any educational information for the visitors. It seemed like another publicity event. It was quite careless in my opinion. Now the protests have heightened and I can't seem to see the point of it anymore. How wonderful things would have been if the MFA had done its part in educating their visitors and those who tried on the kimono on the historical background of the period. They only distributed the flyers after receiving complaints. It's such a shame they didn't think it thoroughly enough.

    1. Hi novemberbaby! You’re very welcome. Thanks for unlurking!

      There is a lot of stuff the protesters left out of their version of events at the MFA and their version of history which is why I've done my own research and talked to the MFA.

      The Boston Globe reported that the flyer the protesters said the MFA was handing out was an internal memo. It isn't clear to me that if it was being given out to all of the public or if some staffer gave it to them in a misguided attempt to explain the museum's position. That was a serious mistake. I forgot to ask MFA staffers I’ve talked to about it.

      I went on weeks 4, 5, and 6 and the Spotlight Talks were providing more of the education that the protesters had pushed for, although still wasn't satisfactory to them. Myself and many other Japanese Americans and Japanese don't agree that the history lesson of the West forcing Japan to open to trade was a necessary part of the event and I've also learned in the past month that what the protesters think of as relevant history is how the West sees it (since they're all Western-educated), it is not how Japan sees it. They don’t seem to view themselves as victims of the West. The Kanagawa Treaty ushered in an era of modernization that they might not have been able to get to on their own given the political climate at the time.

      La Japonaise is celebrated in Japan. They are crazy about Monet’s work and very proud of the influence Japanese artists had on his work and the work of his contemporaries. I think that would have been more interesting to discuss than the “West as aggressor and appropriator” narrative the protesters have been pushing. The protesters also seem to conflate japonisme and orientalism which are not the same thing and as far as I’ve been able to understand from the art history reading I’ve done, La Japonaise isn’t considered an example of orientalism.

      I have worked in the arts so I know that there isn’t always adequate time and resources to give everything you do the attention that perhaps it deserves. It does seem the MFA could have planned the event better but I don’t see it as the white supremacist crime that the protesters make it out to be and I think they’ve lost a lot of credibility with the way they handled the protest. I’ve heard other people who had agreed with them in the beginning say they took it too far.

  3. Hi Keiko,

    I found your blog and signed up for updates right before I went to Japan for a month (and decided to just ignore my inbox for once), so I've been working through all of your posts on the protests slowly (but surely!). Just wanted to thank you for being so through and thoughtful in all of your posts! I think that there are a lot of complex issues and visceral reactions that are underpinning people's (re)actions and I think you've done a great job examining each side.


    1. Hi Chikae, Thank you for reading and thanks for your kind words! I thought I was done writing about the protests but I continue to hear from people and I've been working on a wrap-up for the past month that I hope to post soon!