lifestyle

Women who attract 'chikan,' and women who don’t: An illustrated guide

39 Comments
By Fran Wrigley

"Chikan" -- men who grope women in public in Japan. Also refers to the act itself.

An illustrator who posted a cartoon claiming to show the difference between those who easily attract sexual harassment or assault and those who don’t has, as you might expect, sparked a heated debate in online and offline communities. Critics assert that focusing on a woman’s appearance and clothing amount to blaming the victim, not the attacker. The artist on the other hand says the work is based on statistical evidence.

Japan’s problem with "chikan" is widespread. In surveys conducted by train companies, as many as 70% of young women say they have been groped, mostly on commuter trains. Some train lines have introduced women-only cars at busy times to counteract this, and there are poster campaigns in stations proclaiming, “Chikan is a crime” and “Beware of chikan“. The positioning of these two statements is worthy of attention. The first warns men not to commit crime. The second statement warns people (usually women, although men and children are victims too) not to become a target of crime.

So how does the illustration that’s doing the rounds on Twitter fit into this?

Let’s take a look at the artist’s description of the image first: “The difference between people who attract ‘chikan’ easily and people who don’t. According to statistics, this is how it is”, writes the artist, who goes by Twitter username @Nakashima273.

Now, look at the picture at left and see what you think.

From left to right, the scale shows “easy targets” to “difficult targets”.

Those most at risk from "chikan," the notes below the image tell us, are school students in uniform, and meek-looking women in demure clothing. Women who wear loud clothing, or who look tall or powerful, are less likely to be attacked.

The suggestion that a woman in modest clothing is more likely to be groped in public than someone who is “provocatively” dressed might fly in the face of what many people believe – that showing your body, like the woman on the far right is, means a woman is somehow “asking for it”.

In a follow-up tweet, the artist linked to a Japanese blog post which states: “Suspects in sex crime cases were asked why they chose that person [to attack]. Fewer than 5% said they targeted someone because they were wearing provocative clothing. In rape cases, the most common reason given was ‘they seemed like they wouldn’t report it to the police’ (45%). In indecent assault cases, the most common reason was ‘they seemed meek; I didn’t think they’d be able to stop me’ (48%).”

“Ayako Uchiyama, who led the research, said ‘It’s often thought that [women] who wear provocative clothing will be targets [for sex crimes], but that’s not the case.'”

Although these particular statistics seem to have been reblogged for many years (e.g. here and here), the source link is always the same one, which is now dead. With its “meek women are easy targets” heading, the reblogged paragraphs could be Internet scaremongering. It’s hard to tell.

But the debate Nakashima’s image has merited is real enough. Many Japanese netizens were appalled at the age of the kids in the picture.

“I can’t believe even elementary school students get attacked by 'chikan.' What is the world coming to.”

“Elementary school students are the easiest target?! That’s a different crime altogether, isn’t it?”

Others paid attention to the woman on the far right.

“Of course no one’s going to hassle a girl that looks as terrifying as that.”

“Lady Gaga!”

“Sunglasses. Sunglasses are the best countermeasure.”

More commenters shared their own experiences.

“When I started high school, I stopped being a target for 'chikan.' I started wearing makeup and the attention stopped completely.”

“Funny how I know loads of women who say they’ve been groped on the train, but never met a man who says he’s molested anyone.”

The illustrator is protesting against the notion that women who wear revealing clothing are more likely to be assaulted – or somehow to blame if they are attacked. But some commenters disagreed with the way the artist made this point.

“Talking about people who attract 'chikan' easily is looking at it the wrong way. It’s like saying the victim is in the wrong.”

Another commenter added, “'Chikan' aren’t just a threat to women, they’re a menace to society as a whole”.

This “we’re all in this together” mentality is echoed in another kind of anti-"chikan" poster you can see in train stations in Japan now. In this short manga-style story, a young woman yells “Chikan!” Two other passengers are seen reacting: “Did she say 'chikan?'” “That’s a crime!” A member of the train crew asks, “What happened?” as he comes to help. The text underneath encourages people who see sexual harassment or assault happening to speak out: “With everyone’s courage and voice, we can eliminate 'chikan.'"

Sources: livedoor, via squallchannel, @Nakashima723/Twitter

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39 Comments
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As far as appearance goes, women carrying tasers and/or AK47s tend not to attract chikan...

-1 ( +8 / -9 )

Men who grope women are not behaving like secure, mature or capable human beings. Instead they are emotionally and sexually immature. They are not capable of equal, healthy interactions with women. Instead they maintain control and have a great deal of trouble letting go and enjoying themselves in intimate situation. Healthy sexual expression for all of us is important if we want to be emotionally and physically strong. Therefore proper display of affection including adequate physical affection is essential for proper cognitive, physical, and emotional human development. In the end human behavior reveals our level of self-confidence and maturity.

4 ( +9 / -5 )

Where is the article "Men who chikan and men who don't"?

18 ( +21 / -3 )

Critics assert that focusing on a woman’s appearance and clothing amount to blaming the victim, not the attacker.

When reading something like this, he tendency is to feel the victim is blamed ............ . . . .However, being aware of potential 'signal's via clothing, etc" ,* that women may inadvertently be sending to the "chikan" is important. .................. . .. Just like telling people , especially women "don't walk down a dark, wooded road on your own at night" or to the general public "lock your door" or "don't keep 1st floor windows wide open at night.".......,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,.Prevention awareness is the 1st step to safety.

4 ( +9 / -5 )

"In surveys conducted by train companies, as many as 70% of young women say they have been groped"

What the heck is wrong with Japanese men?

2 ( +9 / -7 )

This is hardly surprising. In essence the blogger is saying that groping (and all sex crimes) are more about power than they are about sex. Attackers choose targets they think they can dominate.

Where I think the blogger has gone wrong is that he has focused on looks rather than attitude. If we teach young women to be confident, to not be afraid of speaking out, and to feel powerful then that would be a more effective deterrent than focusing on physical factors.

I know girls who are 5'3", dress conservatively, and who positively project an aura of, "Don't mess with me or you'll be coughing up your testicles". Size, dress, etc. are not the real issue. Confidence is.

... and nothing hurts confidence more than a society that believes that what you wear is more important than what you think about yourself.

11 ( +13 / -2 )

It's totally true. whenever I'm on a crowded train and I see a normal girl I control my urges.

But when she's hot, I just can't control myself.

And it's not my fault. It's not my responsibility. I just can't control myself.

-5 ( +10 / -14 )

Agree. Where is the blog on men who and are chikan? Can we tell them by how they dress? How about whether they are meek or in your face? Do most wear business suits? Is their hair long or short?

One thing is a given. These men have lousy love lives. So either they are the meek and sullen types or the aggressive would be alpha males who thing they are God's gift to women. Guys who do not get it or get it randomly both have lousy love lives. Quite a large selection. Anyone for an illustrated guide?

0 ( +3 / -3 )

And it's not my fault. It's not my responsibility. I just can't control myself.

And I'm sure a hot woman's bf/hubby nearby just can't control his fist when it meets your face, or his foot when it meets your buttocks xD.

In all seriousness though, why on earth would you want to put your hands on a complete and utter stranger in the first place? Attractive or not you don't know who they really are, where they've been, where they've come from, and just who might be with them. It would never be a good thing for anyone to try and grope me in Japan because I would not hesitate to break that hand. I know the consequences for doing that, but it would be a consequence for the groper and if there ever is a next time they'd remember the potential consequences of such stupidity.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

JTDanMan is being sarcastic people, thumb him up. ALL women, no matter WHAT they were, and men too, have the right to wear what they wish and be molest free. End of.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

I know girls who are 5'3", dress conservatively, and who positively project an aura of, "Don't mess with me or you'll be coughing up your testicles". Size, dress, etc. are not the real issue. Confidence is.

You can't do much about your size, and certainly attitude is important, but dress also does help with the perceived "aura". You need to project your confidence, or the chikan can't see it.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

Just a heads up, when a headline says "An Illustrated Guide" I expect to see PICTURES that are different from the thumbnail under the headline.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

...anyone else note that the most disturbing thing about this "research" is that (according to the picture) the most likely to be groped is like, 10 years old?

4 ( +8 / -4 )

Time for a scientific study on the topic, with undercover policewomen.

This sentence from the article should be boldtype:

Although these particular statistics seem to have been reblogged for many years (e.g. here and here), the source link is always the same one, which is now dead.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

..anyone else note that the most disturbing thing about this "research" is that (according to the picture) the most likely to be groped is like, 10 years old?

It doesn't say they are the most likely to be groped, only that they are the easiest targets.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Basically what the image depicts is a scale from left to right: Innocent ---> Arrogant. It doesn't need rocket science to make the connection that innocent-looking women are more easily being targeted. The problem with this statement is that it looks like a call for women to be arrogant and dress like a western diva wannabe. It's like saying it's the fault of the woman,which is wrong.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

It doesn't say they are the most likely to be groped, only that they are the easiest targets.

The artist who made it said it was based on statistics. I doubt there is a statistic for "easiest target" that is unrelated to being most likely target.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Chikan problem can be solved by deploying Womens Only trains easily!! What gropers are doing is a Human Right Violation and against Vienna Convention !!!

A Physical action and humilitation in public needed against gropers by J-COP and public.

-5 ( +4 / -9 )

.... if perverts are groping 10 year olds, then, I really am sorry for this world's future. It is a trauma for a 20 year old, let alone for a kid.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

I was going to post that I really don't understand Japanese culture, but then I started thinking about the recent news that a town in northern England is reporting over a thousand cases of rape and prostitution among pre-teen girls, and how can I say that I don't understand English culture?

A lot of things happen in this world that don't make any sense to me, but at lest this "chikan" thing doesn't involve rape and prostitution of little girls.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

"Chikan problem can be solved by deploying Womens Only trains easily!!"

I agree and do not understand why there aren't more "women only" cars. Unless lesbians are on the rampage (that's sarcasm) women only cars eliminate the chance of groping. A small side is that women only cars also protect the occasionally innocent man who has his life destroyed by being wrongly accused of groping.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Let's see now, the first time I became a target of a "chikan" was in my home country. I was.... THREE years old!! I was a quiet, imaginative little girl who liked to play outside and was often alone and unattended. The perp was a "respected neighbor." I can list more...move to Japan and the "chikans" were usually on the subways or in the launromats. I was in my early 20's and wore relatively mild clothing. I think my unassuming attitude and my inabilty to speak Japanese was a real factor. Not that the blame rested with me, but certainly learning to become more assertive and more cautious led me to be targeted less. The pervs just went elsewhere. But, another thing that happens in other countries is where men do cat calls and whistle at women. If they do not respond, they get called "b...h." This is also annoying and intimidating.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

@Stranger: Good call, slightly less disturbing, but still pretty bad that they're even possible targets. Cheers!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Honest Dictator

In all seriousness though, why on earth would you want to put your hands on a complete and utter stranger in the first place?

I don't. Its just beyond my control.

UK9393

JTDanMan is being sarcastic people, thumb him up.

I think people understand, or at least I hope they do. And they just don't think its funny.

If not, I despair for humanity.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The Olympics should help. Large and strong foreign women will institute behavior-changing tactics on chikan. It will be messy for a while.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

@Farmboy: I don't think the average creep that does this has the balls to touch a foreigner, let alone an athletic one.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

It's NOT the woman's fault. It's the man's fault.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

More Jp guys have gone pedophilic than before as you see more early teenagers on TV or stuff.

TV "idles" are the one of the biggest reasons, and some cartoons, comic books and video games follow that.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

The artist who made it said it was based on statistics. I doubt there is a statistic for "easiest target" that is unrelated to being most likely target.

Without seeing the statistic, there is no way of knowing. It could have been something along the lines of "we asked 100 men to arrange these images in order of what they thought would be the easiest to most difficult girls to target for a groping".

0 ( +1 / -1 )

This is one of those things that is so frustratingly confusing about Japanese society. These girls who have been groped would rather stay quiet than report it and get caught up in what the public eye thinks about them. I think those who grope should should be publicly shamed. That would carry a lot of weight in Japan.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

“Talking about people who attract ‘chikan’ easily is looking at it the wrong way. It’s like saying the victim is in the wrong.”

And there you have it. How about dealing with the root of the problem - the filthy chikans themselves!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I saw a plane clothed woman detective nail a guy. It was wonderful. She was tall, sexy, and strong. Ouch

1 ( +1 / -0 )

If you are a PERVERT, I guess it doesn't matter what women do. Get treatment for the sicko's and let women dress with current "trends/styles" as they please.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The problem is ...........society still tends to encourage boys/men in Japan that women are for their enjoyment even though the there is a equal rights law on the books. Some women even believe this too. Of course it you treat a women as a person no matter where you are it is easy to develop a relationship. I have to agree that riding the trains with smelly salaryman in the morning is rather terrible -- so we need more "fresh" cars. I'd gladly pay extra to ride in a less crowded car -- not a green card but a regular car with limitd.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

hmm farmboy has an interesting idea,,, perhaps tasers in every car that only respond to the women's anatomy.

and i have to agree- the guide should be on the how to spot Chikan - not on the who attracts chikan based on questionable internet evidence from a link long dead.

we do not want Japan to be in the same light as India where women are afraid to walk the streets

0 ( +1 / -1 )

In all seriousness though, why on earth would you want to put your hands on a complete and utter stranger in the first place?

Never been to a Japanese snack, soapland, cabaret, or club before?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The artist completely missed the point and risks spreading a false message. The sexiness or amount of clothing has nothing to do with the likelihood of being harassed. The only inference we get from the survey is that the demeanor of the potential victim has an influence on the chance of getting raped. The picture should show 5 equally dressed women in different postures, from shy to confident.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

In all seriousness though, why on earth would you want to put your hands on a complete and utter stranger in the first place?

Wanting to and actually doing it are two different things. Unless you believe in thought crimes. Most people have no problem separating their desires from their need to respect other peoples personal rights. Unfortunately there are too many in Japan and elsewhere that have trouble with that distinction.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

JTDanMan: Underreporting is obviously a problem. ...

Yah. How long's it been since JT posted the article about severe underreporting of crime REPORTS by major Japanese POLICE DEPT.? Add that on top of likelihood of reports ever being made.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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