It's not what girls can do

Lisa Matsumoto “Joshiryoku” Metropolis July 2018, p.42


(…) When I moved to Japan for high school, I was suddenly hit with the foregin word joshiryoku*1. It was in classrooms, it was in magazines, it was in TV. And carrying around a handkerchief was considered one of the highest forms of joshiryoku.
A handkerchief is the first and most basic step towards improving your joshiryoku, or “girl power,” according to magazines, because it allows you to enhance your feminity. You can lend your handkerchief to someone in need, wipe rain off your clothes or wipe your mouse at a restrant. But don't forget to choose a nice handkerchief that gives off feminine vibes, for maximum girl power!

Joshiryoku literally translates to “girl power” but in Japan it means something far from that. Girl power speaks to what girls can do*2., their aptitude and potential. Joshiryoku, however, is what a girl must do, their responsibity and obligation. Joshiryoku is not about being a strong independent woman but rather having bandaids in a little pouch. It's about taking care of your appearance and wearing makeup(but not too much). It's about reading between the lines and being attuned to people's feelings. Irt's being able to cook, sew and stay keenly aware of the latest fasion trends. This is Japanese girl power: being Ms. Perfect.