Report: Numerous Japanese Employers Told Women To Avoid Wearing Glasses

As you might expect, this did not go well

Glasses have sparked contentious protests in Japan and online.
LeeChangmin/Creative Commons
By Tobias Carroll / November 9, 2019 6:00 am

One would hope that, in a world of increased gender equality and an ongoing debate over the harm that gender roles can do in society, outdated concerns about gendered attire in the workplace would go the way of the dodo. According to a new report by Miriam Berger for The Washington Post, a pair of articles have uncovered rampant sexism in Japan — notably when it comes to glasses in the workplace.

If your reaction to this news is that a lot of people must be deeply angry about this, you are correct.

Berger’s report neatly summarizes the findings of the two articles in Nippon TV and Business Insider Japan. It suggests a pattern of sexist behavior across a host of industries: 

One receptionist recalled being told that glasses for her were not allowed, while a male receptionist was permitted to don corrective eyewear, Business Insider reported. A nurse at a beauty clinic developed dry eye from long hours in contacts but also was not allowed to wear glasses.

An article at The Guardian notes at least one societal factor that may be responsible: “Japan was ranked 110 out of 149 countries in the World Economic Forum’s latest global gender gap report, well behind other developed countries.”

Frustration over the initial reports’ findings have led to an abundance of righteous anger on social media. Forbes reports that “The hashtag #メガネ禁止 (#GlassesBan) was trending on Twitter by Wednesday, with men and women saying they disagreed with the policy.” The Forbes article also makes a good pragmatic argument about barring people from wearing glasses when they need them: namely, that this can lead to serious safety issues. 

What will come next from these protests? Hopefully, a world where anyone who needs to wear glasses to do their job can wear glasses to do their job.

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