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For the past few days, the rising outrage among Japanese women over the tradition of Giri Choco has caught the attention of several global tabloids. According to this tradition, also dubbed as “forced giving,” women hand out “obligation chocolates” to their male colleagues on Valentine’s Day, reported The Guardian. The men, in turn, are supposed to reciprocate on 14 March or White Day. For a growing number of people, the pressure to avoid causing offence by spending a fortune on chocolates for coworkers has become unbearable. While chocolates form an integral gift among couples on Valentine’s Day, to exchange these delicacies out of obligation only leaves you with a bitter taste, and of course a lighter wallet. Moreover, this practice also highlights how many are still okay with a custom under which women must appease male colleagues.

SOME TAKEAWAYS

  • Giri Choco is a tradition in Japan for women to hand out “obligation chocolates” to their male colleagues on Valentine’s Day.
  • Perhaps it is a way for women to be thankful to their male colleagues.
  • What use are gratitude and acknowledgement, if it comes out of obligation?
  • Even in a deeply patriarchal society like that of Japan men have begun to realise that by being nice to female colleagues, they aren’t doing them a favour.

What use are gratitude and acknowledgement, if it comes out of obligation?

There are many ways one can perceive this absurd tradition. Perhaps it is a way for women to be thankful to their male colleagues. Or it is a way of acknowledging your love (platonic, in this case) to your male colleagues. But what use are gratitude and acknowledgement, if it comes out of obligation? Also, according to Sora News 24, almost 40 per cent of male and female office workers see the practice of Giri Choco as a form of power harassment, and rightly so. Times have changed, and today it is not okay to expect women to appease male colleagues on any grounds.

Keep in mind that this exchange is centred on obligatory or forced giving, where a woman must oblige male colleagues with a gift because of her gender. The obligation overrides their free will in the name of tradition. It enforces an inferior status on women, telling them that they must feel thankful if their male bosses coworkers treat them right, or are helpful. Even in the 21st century, a man must feel he is committing an act of chivalry by simply being polite and courteous towards a woman working by his side. On the other hand, working women must always count their blessings for having a positive working environment. They must then put in money and effort to express their gratitude for it, so as to ensure that men continue to be nice to them.

Even in the 21st century, a man must feel he is committing an act of chivalry by simply being polite.

So how does this work? If a woman doesn’t offer a male colleague a Giri Choco, wouldn’t it motivate him to be mean to her? Or to wreak her career, simply because she failed to show her gratitude? Such traditions focus more on appeasement of superiors, etc, over performance. Women often have to appease colleagues and superiors in office, who still see them as others. They think they are doing them a favour by allowing them to work with them and not making their professional lives a misery.

That both men and women today feel uncomfortable with this tradition shows how the office culture is gradually changing. Even in a deeply patriarchal society like that of Japan men have begun to realise that by being nice to female colleagues, they aren’t doing them a favour. They are their equals. No amount of Giri Choco can match the sweetness of this realisation.

Picture Credit : Choc Le’

Also Read : The Female Condom Demystified: All You Need To Know

Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section.  The views expressed are the author’s own.

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