They Made Her Wear Heels to Work. So She Started #KuToo

Artist Yumi Ishikawa is leading campaign to ban high heels requirements in the workplace
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 4, 2019 8:20 AM CDT
America Kick-Started #MeToo. Now, Out of Japan: #KuToo
Women are pumped to get rid of pumps at work.   (Getty Images/igor_kell)

Workplace dress codes can be annoying, but in Japan, there's a crusade to get rid of one mandate in particular, and it comes with its own hashtag: #KuToo. CNN notes the campaign and hashtag—a play on two words meaning "shoes" and "pain," and meant to play off of #MeToo—are the brainchild of artist and writer Yumi Ishikawa, who's seeking to abolish company rules that require women to wear high heels to work. Right now, businesses can pretty much make whatever demands they want on how their workers dress, without government regulation, and earlier this year, Ishikawa decided she'd had enough of what she considers a form of gender discrimination and harassment. She put up a series of tweets railing against women being forced to wear high heels to work, soon after starting a petition that as of Tuesday morning has more than 19,000 signatures.

In her own case, Ishikawa says she'd been forced to wear pumps while working at a funeral home, the BBC reports. "I hope this campaign will change the social norm so that it won't be considered to be bad manners when women wear flat shoes like men," she says. The Japan Times notes Ishikawa submitted her petition Monday to the country's labor ministry, in the hopes that it would spur a ban on such foot-torturing rules, and she says a labor official told her this was a first for the ministry in terms of "this many voices" speaking up about the practice. Still, a labor official says there are no plans to change the country's current hands-off policy on dress codes, insinuating it can't really be gender discrimination, as men are often required to wear certain items, too, like ties. "If common sense or ideas about manners in society change, the rules might be subject to change," the official notes, per CNN. (There's been similar pushback on high heels in the UK.)

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