The Too-Good Wife: Alcohol, Codependency, and the Politics of Nurturance in Postwar Japan. Social drinking is an accepted aspect of working life in Japan, and many women are left to manage their drunken husbands when the men return home, restoring them to sobriety for the next day of work. In their attempts to cope with their husband's alcoholism, the women face a profound cultural dilemma: when does the nurturing behaviour expected of a good wife and a mother become part of a pattern of behaviour that is actually destructive? How does the celebration of nurturance and dependency mask the exploitative aspects not just of family life but also of public life in Japan? The Too-Good Wife follows the experiences of a group of middle-class women in Tokyo who participated in a weekly support meeting for families of substance abusers at a public mental-health clinic. The dilemmas of being female in modern Japan and the grace with which women struggle within a system that supports wives and mothers but thwarts their attempts to find fulfilment outside the family are analysed. The central concerns of the book reach beyond the problem of alcoholism to examine to women's own processes of self-reflection and criticism, as well as the deeper fissures and asymmetries that undergird Japanese productivity and social order.
The Too-Good Wife
PublisherUniversity of California Press