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123 The headline of a July 17, 1994, article in the Okinawa Times asked the question , “Have You Heard the Term Ame-­jo?” According to this first in a series of articles on ­ women who date American soldiers, “When a Japa­ nese man drives past such a ­ couple walking together, he yells ‘Ame-­jo’ at her.” Ame is short for “American” and jo means ­ woman. The term refers to­ women who date American soldiers, especially to ­ those who date them exclusively. The article explains that jo has a separate meaning in Okinawan dialect as a shortened form of jogu, to like or prefer; hence, “a ­ woman who prefers American men.” The article goes on to tell the story of a ­ woman who waits on the shore in central Okinawa to meet an American. She had traveled on vacation to Okinawa where she got to know an American soldier. ­ After returning to the United States, he proposed to her, but she ­ couldn’t commit to marriage and had been living for the past several years traveling back and forth between Tokyo and Amer­ i­ ca. The article concluded that Americans in Okinawa ­ don’t want to miss the chance to have a Japa­ nese girlfriend, and that Japa­ nese ­ women prefer American men ­ because they seem gentler and more easygoing than Japa­ nese men. PREJUDICE AGAINST ­ WOMEN WHO DATE AMERICAN SOLDIERS In my view, ­ these ­ women’s experiences of romantic love seemed to differ­ little from ­ those of other young ­ women. The only difference was that the men they happened to meet ­ were from another country. But Okinawan C H A P T E R S E V E N GI Brides Their Lives ­ Today 124 Chapter 7­ women I interviewed who had dated American soldiers in the 1950s and 1960s said that the term Ame-­jo was conflated with pan-­pan meaning whore and hani (“honey”) meaning mistress. The antipathy ­ toward ­ women who date American soldiers persists­ today, and not only in Okinawa and mainland Japan. In many places,­ people disapprove of local ­ women dating foreign men, and this attitude does not seem to have changed much with the times. In 1994 I did a study of American bases in Germany, which has the largest number in Eu­ rope. I was told that Germans have a generally favorable opinion of them. At Bonn University, I interviewed a student from southern Germany where most are located. “The town of Giessen, where I grew up, is close to an American base. My ­ mother said decent girls ­ don’t date American soldiers, and told me never to go out with them.” The student was in her mid-­ twenties, about the same age as my ­ daughter. Although Germany is much closer racially and culturally to the United States, I was hardly surprised to hear the same attitude expressed ­ there as in Okinawa.­ People in countries where foreign military forces are stationed tend to view them as a separate male group, and a negative attitude ­ toward­ women who associate with them seems to be common throughout the world. As noted earlier, prejudice against ­ women who work in base town bars is a major reason. But it is not the only reason. Society tends to accept men’s enjoyment of sex, ­ whether their partners are of the same race or not. But ­ women’s enjoyment of sex is often frowned on, and all the more so if her partner is of another race. SELF-­RELIANCE Unlike other Okinawans’ opinions of ­ women who have relationships with American soldiers, the attitudes of the ­ women themselves ­ toward their marriages would seem to have changed considerably over time. The levels of education and economic status among younger ­ women respondents in the survey ­ were much higher than ­ those of ­ women in their fifties and sixties. The younger ­ women ­ were also far less dependent on their husbands. This difference was con­ spic­ u­ ous among members of the Okinawa Prefectural Association of Washington, D.C., interviewed in the 1990s. Active members included older ­ women, as well as ­ those in their twenties and thirties. As in associations elsewhere, members enjoyed performing eisa GI Brides 125 festival ­ music and Okinawan classical dance. But the younger wives also brought their husbands and ­ children to participate. ­ Women who married American soldiers in the past considered it their duty to follow their husbands and adopt American culture. The younger ­ women ­ were more in­ de­ pen­ dent and, in contrast, encouraged their husbands to become familiar with Okinawan...



https://muse.jhu.edu/chapter/1995433