[Featured image: The closest thing to a beach atm – Omotesando station]
The situation with big supermarkets in Japan is the following:
- You buy what you want and put it in a basket.
- The cashier scans the price tags and puts the products in a differently coloured basket.
- You pay, the cashier gives you some plastic bags, you go to a counter nearby and tidy up your stuff.
- You are good to go.
But what happens if you bought female products like sanitary napkins? As soon as the cashier notices it, puts it in a non-transparent dark coloured bag, and even closes the top part with a sticker, so that the contents are visible in no way. The cashier’s hand movements were so spectacularly quick, avoiding a single glance from other customers was of utmost importance.
When I got back home, I expressed my surprise to my Asian roommate and her answer was: “But it is obvious that it should be hidden, I want no one to know! Why would anyone?”. I tried explaining my logic to her, but she was persistent on her opinion, so we reached no conclusion.
OK, I get that the female private parts are a sensitive topic that most women are not comfortable talking about. I get that all of us don’t want to vaunt about it either. But is it that big a shame that even at the super market we should completely hide it? Every woman has it, that’s where the mother functionality derives from. When you have to deal with the menstruation cycle, sometimes it may be hard, uncomfortable or even gross. But every woman has it, every grandma had it and every girl will have it. Fear of buying tampons etc is an emotion close to the fear of buying condoms. However, if we don’t accept it and don’t learn to talk or ask questions about our sex’s private parts, we may come across much more serious health-related issues, far exceeding in importance some trivial social shame.
Buying tampons or condoms, wearing no-sleeved blouses, wearing no make up: everyday things like that are no a norm for females in Japan and such a behaviour will probably give you some weird looks. I am ok with that, because as a foreigner I usually attract the attention just for existing. But what about a rebellious Japanese girl who got bored of all those rules and norms ?