Soaking in it


I arrived at my island school this morning to find no students. Apparently the weather (strong winds and rain) was too dangerous, and they all had the day off. But one of the quirks of the Japanese school system is that weather too dangerous for students is not too dangerous for staff, even though the students come by bus from other parts of the (very small) island, and all the staff come by car from up to an hour away, crossing the long, exposed-to-wind-and-rain bridge from the mainland en route. So the staffroom is full but the rest of the school is empty.

Anyway, this means I have the day off, more or less. I still have to sit in the staffroom this morning, and at my desk in the main office this afternoon, but I’m left to my own devices. I’ve been using the time to catch up on my Japanese studies, since the JLPT is coming up in a couple of months and I want to pass level 2 this time.

I was plodding along quite happily, writing out corrections and going through listening scripts from an example exam paper, when I found this lovely dialogue. It’s a conversation between a new employee at a company (a woman) and a slightly more senior employee (a man), which takes place during the lunch hour.
Here it is in its, with my translations in italics:

Man: Say, what are you reading?
Woman: Oh, this? It’s a computer manual. It’s difficult.
Man: Really? You’re keen, aren’t you?
Woman: Yes, but I want to do something so that I can use the computer by myself.
Man: Yeah, it’s difficult until you get used to it, isn’t it? If you like, I can give you a hand.
Woman: Really, would that be alright? That would be great!
Man: Sure. Have you read “Computers Without Tears”?
Woman: No, I haven’t read it.
Man: Well, how about “Computer Advice”?
Woman: Sorry, I haven’t read that either.
Man: You don’t need to apologise. But, reading those is certainly better than reading the manual ten times.
Woman: Is that right? I read nothing but magazines and romance novels.
Man: Haha. That’s OK. Whichever one has the most pictures will be easier to understand. Well, I’ll bring them for you tomorrow.
Woman: Thank you very much. I’ll try to read them.

(emphasis mine)

If you’re interested, the question was:

What kind of books is the woman going to start reading from now on?

1) Computer manuals
2) Computer handbooks
3) Magazines
4) Romance novels

I’ll leave it as an exercise for the reader to work out how the script could have been trivially rewritten so as to not be offensive to half the people taking the test. It annoyed me so much that it threw off my studying for the morning, and I had to come here instead.

Sexism – we’re soaking in it.


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