Document 8A: Mary C. Leavitt, "Nihon no shimai ni tsugu [A Message for My Japanese Sisters]," Part I, Jogaku zasshi 36 (25 September 1886): 111-12. Translated by Rumi Yasutake and Kazuhiro Oharazeki.


   The following is the written message to Japanese women prepared by Mary C. Leavitt separately from her lecture for the first public meeting for women's education sponsored by Iwamoto's Jogaku zasshi [Woman's Learning Magazine] (see Document 7). Obviously, she desired to liberate Japanese women from the conservative pressure that had been restricting activities of American missionary women. In this communication, Leavitt argued that women were only responsible to God, and that Providence did not require a woman to ask for male approval to use her God-given talents. This message was translated into Japanese and published in three installments in September and October 1886--after Leavitt's public lecture meeting and her departure from Japan. While Leavitt refrained from directly confronting the conventions of the local missionary circle by her actions, she made her argument through this piece. The second and third installments appear as Documents 8B and 8C.

Japanese-language original

[p. 111]

Dear Ladies;

   As I had promised before, I would like to contribute my humble thinking on the issues of women and women's work. If you find anything helpful, I hope you will translate it into your language and show it to Japanese women by publishing it in your useful magazine.

   The first thing that comes to my mind in thinking about these issues is as follows: God created women, placed them under His will, and gave us various talents. Since this is how God created us, I think that women do not need to ask men to wish that we exist; neither do we need men's permission to use our God-given talents. Because we are responsible only to God and should ask Him what we should do. Then the divine answer immediately comes to us and tells us to follow the path prepared for women, that is, to become good mothers and good wives. If this is the best and loftiest aim for women to achieve, should we call such women, who paint her lips, put on makeup, and console their husbands at their leisure, good wives? No, never. Should we call these women good mothers? I would say again that we should not.

   If Japan wants to have a decent reputation in the world, she first needs to educate her women. Japanese women have already taken the first steps toward education but have not completed the path. Japanese women must eventually reach the gates of universities; otherwise, they will lose their hope for the future before attaining their highest happiness. Then, does it mean that Japanese women can make progress only after the government offers them educational opportunities and removes various obstacles? It is not what we want to see happening. Japanese women should be aware that in Western countries, the Christian education of women has brought about a number of dramatic and good changes.

[p. 112]

Japanese women should identify themselves as Japanese subjects and have a patriotic spirit so that they can rouse themselves to a fresh attempt at carrying out their duties as wives and mothers.

(to be continued)

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