Memoirs of a Geisha

Romantic epic. Actually, the story of a high class call girl who finds love. A Japanese version of Pretty Woman? An interesting film, a very sad and tragic story. As I watched this story, I could not help but think how riled up multiculturalists would be at this injustice of slavery of women. And yet, what a major hypocrisy and how imperialistic it would be (according to their own standards) to criticize the Japanese culture for how they organize their male female relationships differently than we do in the West. Who are we to criticize another culture they say – unless of course, it is THEY who are criticizing a culture that THEY do not like – then it is all of a sudden okay to criticize what is otherwise sacred. Such hypocrisy betrays the truth that there is an absolute morality that is NOT a social construct that is relative to cultures. Sure, applications of morality may be relative, like what constitutes modesty, but things like murder or slavery are not justifiable on any cultural paradigm because there is an absolute standard that judges all our little standards. Of course, by Christian standards Geisha lifestyle is immoral objectification and prostitution of women, but one would have to confess Christianity to have the only valid means of criticizing it. Try as they may to justify it, the Japanese culture reveals its reduction of women to objects of male gratification when they say, “Geisha means artist. And to be a Geisha is to be judged as a moving work of art,” or “We sell our skills, not our bodies.” “With those eyes, you must be a great commodity.” “You must be able to stop a man with a single look.” I couldn’t help but think of the statement that a man must have made high heels for women because they hurt so much, when they would show the Geishas wearing their ridiculously high block sandals, an Eastern version of the high heels. And the “eel in the cave” story about sex for the young girls says it all, when the older woman explains to the young, that “every once in a while, a man’s eel likes to explore the woman’s cave.” Every once in a while? It’s really more like “all the time,” if we are honest, and of course that is the point, when they try to cover up the Geisha world as art and companionship and “not courtesanship” they are self-deceiving. The line “I want a life that is mine,” that the heroine expresses because she has fallen in love with someone other than her paying customers, and the response of her mentor, “We become Geishas because we have no choice” is no doubt the feminist egalitarian heart of the story, but feminists and egalitarians should still be angry because of this: The end of the story is the girl fulfilling her dreams of being the “long term” prostitute of a particular man (I don’t remember the fancy euphemism in Japanese that they use). This was a man who gave her a moment of grace in the midst of her miserable life. A man who gave her a snow cone when she was crying in the street as a little girl. This man would be the one she would do everything in her life to be with, “until I am his,” as she says, “Every step I have taken has been to be near you.” Well, that’s romantic and all, but then she explains as they walk away in the Eastern sunset that she is his long term Geisha, which isn’t as much as being a wife, but hey, it’s what she strove for etc. Well, this is still slavery to multiculturalists, but who are THEY to criticize another person’s choices or culture? Well, I would say that biblically, it is very unsatisfying in the story precisely because IT IS NOT MARRIAGE. Only marriage can satisfy the longing for human love in this life, not mere sexual relationship, and that’s the truthful power of Western fairy tales and Romances. Marriage is the “ever after” because it rings with truth. Of course, because of our narcissistic humanism, we have destroyed marriage, but the ideal is still real even if we only experience varying shades of that reality because of our falleness. And you know, I actually appreciated the statements of the beauty of a woman as a work of art, because I think it is both true and natural that a woman is an object of beauty. I absolutely spend hours adoring my wife’s beauty. BUT I don’t believe that woman should be reduced to a mere object for the sheer convenience of men. THAT kind of reductionism is wrong. We are BOTH object AND person, not either/or. I would like to take a moment though to say that I think the Western fairy tale that makes a love between two people the redemption of life is also seriously untruthful. Another human person can be a contact point with transcendence, a human is touching the eternal, but even that is a shadow if it is not rooted in the eternal transcendent of the Living God. Many Western Romances are also forms of idolatry because they ignore the transcendent, they are salvations of immanence. But this world is not eternal, it is not infinite, only God is, so it is folly to suggest that human love is the ultimate. Human love is a self-deception of meaninglessness without the Love of God, the living God of love who gives meaning to our human love.