Locating Women’s Political Engagement: Democracy in Early Cold War US and Japanese Women’s Magazines, 1945–1955
How did US capitalist democracy become a model to be ‘exported’ around the world during the Cold War, and how did this impact US society and the countries exposed to these ‘democratizing’ efforts? The article approaches this question with a focus on gender and democracy by comparing texts from US and Japanese women’s magazines published between 1945 and 1955. The post-war development of women’s rights in Japan is often examined in the context of the US occupation’s ‘democratizing’ policies, yet it was more complex than a ‘liberation’ from above and influenced by local women’s groups of various political beliefs, intellectuals, and activists. At the same time, women in the US also faced a changing society after the war. The article aims to untangle the complex set of influences and narratives informing the discourse around women and democracy, outline parallels and differences between both countries, and examine the potential transfer of ideologies and narratives across national borders.