Certain companies in Japan are banning female employees from wearing glasses—yes, glasses—and people are rightfully outraged.
According to the BBC the reasons range from well-being to appearance. Airline companies reportedly say it’s “unsafe” for women to wear glasses while retail companies feel that shop assistants wearing glasses gives off a “cold” impression.
This all sounds like a load of sexist B.S. to us, considering this no-glasses rule doesn’t apply to men.
Speaking with the BBC, Kumiko Nemoto, professor of sociology at Kyoto University of Foreign Studies, called out the ban. “The reasons why women are not supposed to wear glasses… really don’t make sense. It’s all about gender. It’s pretty discriminatory,” she said. “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.”
The discussion spread to social media in Japan, and eventually, overseas as well, where both women and men expressed their shock.
“Apparently Japanese women are being told not to wear glasses to work as it makes them look ‘cold’ and ‘unfeminine.’ Sometimes it’s hard to believe that we’re about to go into 2020 and men are still trying to control the way women look,” wrote user mjistotallyrad.
“How sexist and ridiculous. I need to wear glasses or contact lenses every day I like. No employers should dictate that,” wrote Twitter user Karina Cabrera Bell.
The ban is the latest in work dress code news out Japan to make international headlines for being sexist. In June, many learned that in some companies based in Japan, women are forced to wear high heels to work—after a petition was started that would make it a law to ban companies from having that rule, CNN reports. The petition eventually collected over 21,000 signatures and was submitted to the health ministry. The response from health minister Takumi Nemoto: he said forcing women to wear high heels at work was “necessary and appropriate” in the workplace, according to Reuters.
It’s not just unfairness over what they can and cannot wear to work that women in Japan are dealing with. A 2017 report revealed women in Japan take on over 75 percent of unpaid work and caregiving compared to men. Japan also has the third highest gender pay gap among the 36 countries in the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development.
Here’s the thing—inequality with household responsibilities and childcare as well as the gender pay gap are global issues that need to be fixed. But to start banning necessities, such as eyewear, is another level of disparity between men and women that cannot be tolerated.
Let’s hope that now that news of the ban has gone viral, the companies that have prohibited their female employees from wearing glasses will start to “see” what’s wrong with that decree and do the right thing.