Daimaru, a department store in Osaka, Japan, is reconsidering the use of voluntary badges that denote menstruation that were instituted at the request of an employee.
The badges were originally meant to spark compassion for female employees who are enduring their monthly cycle, though, like many good ideas, it has seen some unintended consequences. Not the least of which is the discomfort of fellow employees as well as customers.
“If you saw a colleague was having her period, you could offer to carry heavy things for her, or suggest she takes longer breaks, and this support would be mutual,” said Daimaru spokesperson Yoko Higuchi.
— WWD JAPAN (@wwd_jp) November 22, 2019
While the use of the badges was voluntary, some people felt that it gave customers way more information than they needed to know. This criticism has prompted the department store to reevaluate their use, though they readily admit that they will not completely do away with the idea.
“It was never the intention to share the menstrual information with their customers,” said Higuchi. One anonymous employee admitted that customers were concerned about the unorthodox badge, and some even called in about “harassment.”
This controversial move comes on the heels of another bizarre decision in Japan to “ban” women from wearing glasses in the workplace. Some companies attempted to prevent female employees from donning the eyewear because they claim it causes a “cold impression” of the women. It’s not clear whether the “ban” is an actual company rule or merely a socially-accepted practice.
Professor Kumiko Nemoto believes that the practice is antiquated and discriminatory, claiming that it puts the appearance of women in the workplace above actual productivity.
“The reasons why women are not supposed to wear glasses … really don’t make sense,” she said, according to BBC. “It’s all about gender. It’s pretty discriminatory. It’s not about how women do their work. The company… values the women’s appearance as being feminine and that’s opposite to someone who wears glasses.”
But it’s not just glasses that Japanese women are struggling with.
A recent petition launched by writer and actor Yumi Ishikawa seeks to end mandatory dress codes after she was made to wear high heels while working in a funeral home. The incident sparked a hashtag on Twitter that mirrors the “#MeToo” movement, according to a report on BBC.com.
Supporters tweeted the petition alongside the hashtag #KuToo in solidarity with her cause, mirroring the #MeToo movement against sexual abuse.
The slogan plays on the Japanese words for shoes “kutsu” and pain “kutsuu”.
Professor Nemoto once again decried the policy as making how female employees look more important than how they do their jobs.
“Women are evaluated mostly on their appearance,” she suggested. “That’s the message that these policies are sending, at least.”
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