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Kaleidoscope of the Heart: Show more respect to female professionals

Rika Kayama

The other day while browsing articles on the internet, the name of someone I've always admired caught my eye. She's a little older than me, but she's been leading theater groups and putting on plays since she was young. No matter how many times I see her shows, I always laugh and cry at them. Recently she's also been making appearances on TV as a commentator.

The article was about her personal life. She's recently divorced, and has cast a former partner in a play she's doing. Is she dating him or not, the article asked. I don't see an issue with that per se, but when I read further, it transpired the journalist asked the question directly and published her response.

"I run a theatrical company, so many performers come to my home," she said first. But it was her remarks afterwards that made an impression on me. "I've dedicated myself to drama for decades, but all anyone ever asks me about is my personal life. I've not offended anyone for it to turn out like this, but it happens anyway."

I knew exactly what she meant. She has poured her life's efforts into the stage. She wants to be asked about her craft, like "What's the theme of your next production?" But instead the weekly magazines bring up the same subjects: marriage, divorce, who's dating who and all manner of private topics. It's natural for her to say she wants to be recognized as a dramatist.

This isn't limited to someone working tirelessly in the theatrical business. No one spends their every waking moment thinking about love and marriage. People work, they pursue hobbies. There may also be lots of people with opinions on politics and society when they read newspapers or watch the news on TV.

Even so, especially for women, being asked questions like "Are you seeing someone at the moment?", "Do you get on well with your husband?" or "How did your children's entrance exams go?" by people around you is almost constant. Surely many women hearing these enquiries would think they'd rather have the respect to be asked about what they're doing or thinking.

Of course, as a famous theatrical figure, her private life will unavoidably attract attention. I understand that there are journalists and TV reporters who cover those aspects of her life. But wouldn't it be great if they at least asked something, like "What will your next show be about?" Just one question at least to show they hold her ideas and work with the respect they deserve.

(Japanese original by Rika Kayama, Psychiatrist)

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