The proportion of female students at Waseda was about 30% at the time, higher in the literature department, and lower in the engineering department. Somehow Waseda didn’t appeal to female students because there had been a strange general notion that Waseda students were from the less privileged background than those at rival schools and therefore emanated unsophisticated air.
Women at Waseda rarely appeared in the street-fashion pages of frivolous magazines I sometimes purchased. There’d be women from Keio and Sophia, and both schools were known to have wealthy, cosmopolitan youth stylishly dressed on campus. They’d strut in heels and held Loui Vitton or Prada bag, wore impeccable make-up and radiant smile.
Women at Waseda were called “Wase-jo,” an abbreviation of “Waseda Joshi (female).” They said there were three sexes in the world – men, women, and Wase-jo. The stereotypes of Wase-jo were:
These attributes were traditionally considered unattractive in women, and the term Wase-jo had become derogatory. But to me, Wase-jo was exactly what I had aspired to become.
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