Title

The Interstitial Feminine and Male Dominance in Rashōmon

Publication Date

Fall 2015

Journal

Journal of Japanese and Korean Cinema

Volume

7

Issue

2

First Page

113

Last Page

132

Abstract

Kurosawa Akira’s 1950 film Rashōmon is frequently understood as an

exploration of truth in the face of four irreconcilably conflicting

testimonies. Frequently missing from the critical conversation is

the originary crime of rape committed against the wife which is

an absent presence in the film: despite its suppression, we are

keenly aware of its essential role in driving the narrative and its

simultaneous effacement from what we see on the screen. The

trace it leaves exists in, and because of, the historical context of

Article 14 in the Japanese constitution, yet this promise of gender

equity in Japan was not achieved in Rashōmon. This unrealized

promise provides one avenue for apprehending the rape’s

implications. Linguistic intimations and visual hints, subtle yet

omnipresent in the male narratives that seek to occlude the wife’s

tale of rape, ask the audience to consider the role of the wife and

the crime against her in the face of a stifling phallocractic order

that seeks not liberation but the status quo in which the male

narratives are dominant. In this way, the visual and linguistic

confront the sexual power dynamics at play in Rashōmon and

offer both a record of the difficult struggle gender equality will

face, and an intimation that the struggle might succeed.

DOI

10.1080/17564905.2015.1087146

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