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Let’s talk about you-know-what

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By Mami Fraser

I have a friend who always talks about cabaret clubs ("kyabakura") and the sex industry ("fuzoku"). He’ll regale me with stories about how he found a cute girl at this club, how he had a terrible experience at that “soapland,” and so on. I thought at first that this was just his thing, but when I asked around my male friends, I was surprised by how many of them were really into this stuff. Even the people you’d swear never went to sex shops turned out to really like them.

You don’t have to look hard to find examples of the sex industry in Japan. Every convenience store has a generous stock of pornography, often right next to the rack of children’s comics. Cabaret clubs are a huge industry, and there are countless kinds of bars that provide so-called “false romance” to paying customers. You can even have girls clean your ears for you.

You might think Japanese people’s openness about sexuality is limited to their private lives, but in fact it can be seen in the workplace as well. Many of my female friends have been harassed by their male coworkers, mostly at drinking parties. One told me her boss had asked her if she likes rough sex or soft sex. Another had to choose who she would sleep with in her team if she had to. Going to cabaret clubs and sex shops with male co-workers is also an established part of Japanese corporate culture, promoting bonding through the sharing of secrets — though, needless to say, women aren’t privy to the experience.

It may seem like Japanese people are simply more open about sexuality than their Western counterparts, but it’s actually a lot more complicated than that. In 2005, the Sankei Shimbun reported that Japanese sex education was too visual and “realistic,” and that it would promote early sexual activity. The education ministry, meanwhile, has received numerous complaints from conservative parents about the use of graphic material such as condoms in classes. However, it’s rare for parents to give their children a proper sex education at home because it’s “embarrassing” to talk about the subject with their kids.

When I tell Japanese people that I study sexuality, they usually gasp and stop asking further questions. It’s clear that many of them see sex as a taboo topic.

What is going on here? Sometimes people behave as if sex is unspeakably embarrassing, yet at other times they are totally open about it. Moreover, why is there such a huge sexual disparity between men and women?

When we look back through Japanese history, it’s clear that things haven’t always been this way. During the Edo period, men and women alike would look at "shunga," a form of sexually explicit images that depict heterosexual and homosexual relationships, but also sex with animals and even vegetables. Shunga images were an integral part of people’s lives, bought not only for fun, but also for educational purposes. Meanwhile, homosexual romances were frequently depicted in kabuki plays, which proved popular with all ages and sexes.

However, this openness gradually changed after the Meiji Restoration of 1868, as Japanese society grew increasingly Westernized and its system of morality, both sexual and otherwise, fell under the influence of Christianity. Of course, national traits that have been cultivated over centuries don’t change instantly. Instead, Japanese people came to a compromise, where on the surface they would see sex-related topics or activities as an embarrassing taboo, but inside they would enjoy them. The similarity with the well-known concepts of "honne" and "tatemae" — one’s real feelings and public front — is unmistakable.

This explains why sex shops don’t get exposed, even though prostitution is illegal. While many of these shops are essentially selling sex, it’s tacitly permitted because they claim that they are just massaging customers. On the surface, it’s platonic; inside, however, it’s anything but.

Another key point in understanding Japanese sexual morality is the patriarchy system. This can be traced back to 1898, when the household system law was enacted, putting in place a scheme that would last until 1947. This system was modeled on the hierarchies that had existed in samurai families, and reinforced male domination in Japanese families and society. Under the law, women were seen as men’s possessions and basically had no authority whatsoever, including over marriage, divorce and reproduction. The system provided a new source of sexual inequality between women and men.

If I were to say straight out that Japan’s sex culture should change, people would probably just dismiss me as an uppity feminist, or reply that this is all an inherent part of our culture. But look at the facts. We are the only developed country in the world where the number of new HIV cases is increasing each year. We have a worrying amount of abortions caused by unwanted pregnancies. And the inequality between men and women is still painfully apparent, due to entrenched standards of sexuality.

It’s fair to say that change is long overdue. But we need to start talking first.

The writer is a British-Japanese activist currently residing in Nagoya.

This commentary originally appeared in Metropolis magazine (www.metropolis.co.jp)

© Japan Today

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

59 Comments
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Most places in the sex industry are off-limits to foreigners

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If a consenting adult wants to sell him/herself and another adult wants to buy and the transaction is consummated in private, it's nobody else's business.

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So what exactly is "sexual equality" anyway? The way I see it, sex is not equal and never will be. Women can use it as power, withhold it to mold behavior as well as get paid to have it or use it to make money. Women can strip, go on "compensated dates", make adult movies, sell their underwear, make photo books as bikini idols, etc etc. Not saying anyone SHOULD do these things but they are all options that men for the most part dont have.

What can guys really do that is sex related other than beg for it, lie for it or buy it? Seems really one-sided in favor of women to me. Or is this one of these "I want equality but not really" things where you want all the beneficial things but still use gender to "escape" all the things you dont want?

So what are we talking about here that the author is saying is painfully apparent? If we are talking about the availability of paid sex, men cant buy what women arent selling, so how is it mens problem?

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If a consenting adult wants to sell him/herself and another adult wants to buy and the transaction is consummated in private, it's nobody else's business.

Agreed, but how do you know for sure that the consenting adult really does WANT to be selling themselves. They could be forced into it for any number of reasons.

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We are the only developed country in the world where the number of new HIV cases is increasing each year

that's pretty shocking. not in the news unsurprisingly

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Usually they want the money they get from doing it. Which is fine. I don't particularly want to go to work every day, but I enjoy the paycheck.

If they're being coerced, that is illegal whether they're coerced into prostitution or coerced into window washing. It's the coercion, not the prostitution, which should be eradicated.

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Yeah, exactly they want to get money and dont want to work at McDonalds to do it. So it is an economical decision, its easier to lay on your back 2 hrs a day than to work an 8 hr shift and you make lots more money.

I just want to know what women who want sexual equality, what do you really WANT? to be equal it has to be the same, right? So your goal is either to help men be able to make money from sexual things too or to force all other women to stop doing what they are doing to make money and get things from men. Which is it?

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TravelingSales

It's the coercion, not the prostitution, which should be eradicated.

Corruption by itself is one of the hardest things to prove and prosecute. One of the reasons why not just the coersion part but human trafficking in its entirety is illegal.

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Not sure(blacklabel) got the gist of what the author was saying. I don't believe it is about sexual equality at all, it's about openness and perceptions on sex in Japan and how warped and needs to be changed.

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Ah yes, another outsider who doesn't understand Japanese culture but wants it to be changed. This is new!! At least she admits she doesn't understand it...

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"And the inequality between men and women is still painfully apparent, due to entrenched standards of sexuality."

This was the last full paragraph, where people who write for a living are supposed to sum it all up. The article was all over the place, so I took this to be the point of it all. No?

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actually, i don't think its about sexual equality and its unclear what argument the author is trying to make till the very end where she states:

And the inequality between men and women is still painfully apparent, due to entrenched standards of sexuality.

the problem is that men and women can never be "equal" its a biological fact. women get pregnant and have babies, men don't.

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I do not understand JTs obsession with "you know what". This article does not have a point.

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Think we all agree that the article is not that good. Plus there is a basic factual error in that the author says prostitution is illegal in Japan. It isnt illegal. It isnt illegal in the UK either, just most people think it is.

What is going on here? Sometimes people behave as if sex is unspeakably embarrassing, yet at other times they are totally open about it

Ill answer this question - The same thing as goes on in every other country in the world!! Some people are not comfortable discussing sex, others are. Simple.

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compared to developing countries in southeast asia where a lot of women are force into prostitution, japan's sex industry is way more modernized. I believe most of the women in japan's sex industry is by choice, where most of the women in southeast asian countries or not.

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This article doesn't actually make any sense if you read it all the way through. It's just a random stream-of-consciousness rant from someone who's getting a bit disillusioned of living in Japan, including a couple of statistics that don't really hold the argument together.

But what's the argument, love ? What's she on about ? What's the conclusion ?

It's like listening to someone who's had a bad day at work.

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Yeah, it says she is an "British-Japanese activist". An activist for WHAT? Not an advocate (helper) but an actual activist? British-Japanese and not Japanese-British? whats the difference? British by marriage or by parentage? is this an insider looking at her own culture, or an outsider passing judgement on someone else's?

All of these things are important to know to figure out what is the point of this whole thing.

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JA Cruise, I agree. I think the writer is saying that westernization (Christianity) and sexual inequality are two reasons why sex is viewed the way it is in Japan today (openly talked about, yet taboo at the same time).

With that said, I do think what she is saying makes sense, but why is she telling her story to WESTERNERS, and not the people of JAPAN? If she wants things to change in Japan, there's no sense telling us foreigners about it is there?

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Many of my female friends have been harassed by their male coworkers, mostly at drinking parties. One told me her boss had asked her if she likes rough sex or soft sex. Another had to choose who she would sleep with in her team if she had to.

This has nothing to do with openness and everything to do with sexual and emotional immaturity. Most people get over this in high school.

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One told me her boss had asked her if she likes rough sex or soft sex.

I can't believe he made her choose. It's like asking if you like pizza or coke.

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When I tell Japanese people that I study sexuality, they usually gasp and stop asking further questions

Don't feel bad. This happens to me too.

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Most places in the sex industry are off-limits to foreigners

Not true. You can see Chinese hookers and Russian escorts all over the place.

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Sex and love are totally different. If you can't distinguish the two you are in trouble and confused.

-many women do not know what love is anymore, but still search (even yearn) for it. Women are more commercialized/socialized by the media --> many end up bitter/unfullfilled.

Men actually have it easier, but can be fooled into the sex/pornography thing visually much easier.

-both problems arise from the commercialization of sex/love. And they are very good at getting your money. Old formula works well and goes after human's inherent mental weaknesses (similiar to addictive drugs).

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Blacklabel-- There's a lot of truth to what you're saying, and I agree somewhat. However, there is something wrong when it IS that easy for women to just spread their legs to make a paycheck. It's not supposed to be that way. And the women who fall into this aren't always doing it because they're lazy or because they really want to. And the kind of power it gives is not a healthy one. Why is it that women can only have "power" when it comes to matters in the bedroom? Generally if a woman sleeps around or is involved in the sex industry, they're considered to be trashy. If a man sleeps around? That's natural, it's accepted in most circumstances. Sex is considered a conquest for men (not ALL men, let me be clear) in most cultures, and a barganing chip for women since apparently we cannot do much else to get any leeway. However a man can get it is not as much of an issue as it is for women. That's the part that shows inequality, to me anyway.

Japan does seem to be somewhat "two-faced" about sex in some ways, but besides the porn in the conbini, like someone said earlier it's not that different from elsewhere in the world sometimes. However, I feel like many young people are completely uneducated about sex. The porn and whatnot, sure, readily available. Useful information about it? Not so much.

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Kokorocloud- Yeah I definitely feel what you are saying, a lot of good points. I dont know, just I think that to attain power and money is a lot of hard work and/or time and effort usually. Men dont really have any option, we have to work (even at jobs we dont like that dont pay much) in order to make it through life. We dont have any of the "easy way out" options that women have available to them such as getting paid for sexual services, using sexual favors to get ahead in the workplace, getting free dinners/dates/gifts etc.

Women are quite capable of attaining power and money too, if they can look past all the easy way out methods and put the same (or a little more) effort into it all that men have to in order to get where they want to be. But often instead of trying to get power, some women just sleep with a powerful man. Instead of getting money themselves from hard work, they just get money from guys. Instead of getting educated and getting a good job and working hard, some decide to get married instead to avoid all of that. But then they complain when their husband comes home from work expecting sex, a meal and a clean house?

All in all, its a hard life for most of us with lots of choices and lots of ways to get to the top. People just have to make their own choices and live with the results of them, right?

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Ms. Fraser, do you really know what -- specifically -- is going on inside the shops you're referring to? (I mean aside from it culminating in the customer's orgasm?) I see an awful lot of generalizing here. For most of the places that operated under license, no sex occurs, at least according to Bill Clinton's definition of the term.

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I actually can't determine what Ms. Fraser knows or doesn't know about sex in Japan from this article - it kind of reads like a 5th grader's essay on something or other. Maybe if it had footnotes we could learn something.

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Blacklabel - 100% agree. Great comment. If roles were reversed Im sure plenty of men would seek the easy way too. But they arent reversed, and this is the way it is. Personally when I have ever been in a relationship where sex became any kind of bargaining chip, or something I felt like I was being 'given' rather than two people who want / love each other do together, Im right out of there.

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I'm just saying - we should look into it more. I mean the church doesn't approve of it (which means it's got that going against it), but still....

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Blacklabel-- You are right, except I really wonder about women being totally capable when often, the women that sleep with the powerful men give into that option only because their hard work didn't get them anywhere. Obviously this is not all cases, and YES, there are women that do this. They exist. But it is not the norm. There are scores and scores of women who work themselves into the ground to get where they are, but for some, even that doesn't pay off. They are still stuck under that cliche glass ceiling. Another way to look at it too is that some women who DO manage to get good positions and jobs are often accused of having to sleep with someone to get there, not by their own merit. Why is that? Why would a woman want to get anywhere near the top if she's going to be wrongly accused of bed-hopping her way there?

It's kind of a vicious cycle with men and women. Sure, women can get free gifts and dinner dates and all that-- but they will never be seen for more than that, and that can have a psychological effect, despite it seemingly being "the sweet life". A lot of men assume wrongly that women are only interested in them in order to get somewhere or get something. By the same token, a lot of women assume men are only in it for the sex, and wrongly use it to their advantage. So there is a lack of understanding on both sides. That's the only thing that's "equal" about the whole thing.

If the roles were reversed, I don't think men would want the so called easy way out either. I know a lot of women wished it didn't have to come to that.

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The essay is too long but it says little. I do not know anything about sex but the article does not educate me.

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There seems to be a lot of banter about men buying dinners etc for women. I don't think I've come across many British men who are willing to pay for a dinner or buy presents. In fact they have the easy way out by claiming benefits. Japanese men will claim on company expenses but Americans are by far the most generous and probably vunerable to 'high maintenance' women (who don't ever want to work)

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From the article: "You can even have girls clean your ears for you."

I highly recommend having your ears cleaned. Not only does it feel good, you can hear better!

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2Nessie::))))) i was laughing so much:)) thanks, its great:)

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What is the writer of this article trying to say anyway? I was offended that an example of 'sexual openness' was sexual harassment. Perhaps the author's point is that Japanese people may seem sexually open to someone not familiar with the culture but in reality sex is a taboo topic and many people here are sexually repressed.

And I'm a bit shocked at people saying that men and women can never be equal. Equal does not mean the same. Equality means having the same value in society and having the same rights. So yes, equality between men and women can and should be achieved.

I agree with what kokorocloud said about it being a vicious cycle. Women are seen as being inferior and viewed sexual objects and therefore some feel that their main power lies in their sexuality. Therefore some women feel they must use this sexual power to get ahead. Thus making men see them as sexual objects. The cycle continues...

In order to change, laws have to be created with the idea that women ARE equal to men so that women can have the same opportunities as men. And sexual education in schools must also reflect this equality. For Japanese to really have openness about sexuality, this embarrassment and shame has got to go and then real communication can start.

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Kokorocloud: Good points again. Yeah you are right, if the roles were reversed I dont think men would want to take the easy way out either. But some men, just like some women that do now, would probably take it if it were available to us. So its kind of good its not an option so that we dont have to make that choice, cause I would probably take it :-) I dont know about the whole sleeping with someone to get ahead thing, you can tell when someone (man or woman) has no business being at the level they are, and you just know they got there somehow that was shady in nature. I was on the train the other day and this woman was loudly complaining to 2 of her male coworkers about her woman boss saying that she was incompetent and must have slept her way to the top. Then, 5 mins later this 22 yr old girl was telling about how SHE was sleeping with her supervisor so that she could get out of doing work that she "didnt feel like" doing....

Dolphingirl: So we make a law that says men and women are equal? Isnt that then making us NOT equal because now you have the law to give you things that you havent worked for or earned? You said equal is not "same", yet you then describe it as SAME value and SAME rights? ummm, then thats "same" isnt it? I am all for equality, but not for forced equality that actually gives an unfair advantage to the group supposedly being made equal. Whew thats hard to follow isnt it?

What opportunities need to be created for women? Are you not allowed to get an education and work in nearly any career field there is? In my opinion, it is all there for the taking for all of you

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Blacklabel: I don't think 'forced equality' is the answer either. What I mean is that laws and education should be based on the idea that women and men are equal. And there is still discrimination against women in Japan so no, women in Japan do not have the same opportunties as men. For example, some companies expect women to quit their job after getting married, some women are not able to be promoted to higher positions in their company and if a woman has children, she is expected to be the primary care-giver.

You seem suggest that Japanese women are 'taking the easy way out', by choice and this is not the case. (Plus, I don't see how providing sexual services to make a living or to get ahead in one's company is 'easy'!) Of course, some women might choose to use their sexuality to gain power, to advance their career or to take advantage of men, but I imagine many are forced to do so because they don't have other options.

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Not sure how a women can talk about the Japanese sex industry unless she has worked in it.

Like the dialog of Blacklabel and Kokorocloud

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2namabiru4me: me2, i liked their dialogue and i think they they are both right any how:)

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Blacklabel-- That is truly sad, what you heard on the train. Interesting that it puts both of our points into play here. The one girl (it isn't always men making the wrong assumptions) assuming that her boss must have slept her way to the top, and the other using it to get out of things. There is something wrong with the world when this is what cultures think. The fact that in both cases sexual promiscuity = key to success in the case of women in particular is the issue, and that is what really needs to change. So I still don't think being able to just sell one's body is really an advantage- more like a hindrance. Women shouldn't have to deal with that crude equation, and neither should men. Yes, as long as women either don't have confidence in themselves (or, as we've said, just don't care) and offer it up, there will be men to cash in on it and fall into the trap. But men also should understand that these jobs exist because they continue to fund it. So the next time one complains about having to empty their wallet and how women are always putting them through the ringer for sex, they should think about what drove the women to go through with it, what really put them there. Why is sex our only advantage? And yes, women are allowed to study and go into whatever field they wish (in most places). How far they go, however, typically depends on the men above them.

(Also, if the roles were reversed, I would hope that you wouldn't make the bad choices!! Haha.)

dolphingirl-- I agree, it still exists heavily in Japan. I think Blacklabel was right in that women have tons of opportunity now-- but elsewhere mostly. Japan is still light years behind in some respects (and this is not me bashing Japan. As a woman who works here, I both love Japan and understand that in the eyes of some men, I am automatically limited because I am female, never mind being a foreigner), and though it's changing, the rampant sex industry mentioned in this article and even just reading other articles on JT shows that there is a problem. Some young women and girls think that sex and/or marriage IS easier, they can use men and get that new handbag or pair of shoes or maybe even just pay their rent, or pay for their next meal, because it's not such a big deal, why bother trying so hard to get a really good job-- the culture revolves around the salaryMAN.

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Ms. Fraser is just Japan bashing. Japan is very sexually mature and sophisticated.

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Fraser makes some interesting points, but unfortunately does not back them up with any supporting evidence, making this article very weak. The generalizations are too much regarding a very interesting topic. The complexity surrounding sex is Japan is similar to other countries and follows the patterns exhibited in many other countries whether it is the US, France, etc.

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kokorocloud: if "bad choices" were actually available to me that didnt involve any gay stuff and made me more money with less actual work, there is no telling what I would do :-) But I think the selling of sex is the chicken vs egg concept. Do women sell it cause they know men will pay for it or do men buy it cause its available to them that way? If women are really upset about it, they should pressure their gender to stop taking money for it, then men would probably respect women as a whole more. As far as the workplace, I can only go as far as the man above me lets me go too, I dont feel that is specific to women. But as a man if I get held down not much I can do. But women (if they so choose) have the option to inject potential sexual services or sexuality into the workplace dynamic as another way to get what they want.

dolphingirl: yes I agree with you about the treatment of women in the Japanese workplace, have heard of that first hand. I kinda forgot we were talking about JAPAN in all this, the talking about sexual stuff got me off track (as it usually does to guys).

Yeah forced equality doesnt work, because it ends up swinging the pendulum too far the other direction usually and people resent it. I still think it is easier to sleep with some dude once or be a stripper than to work 4 eight hour days that it takes me to make the same money, but thats just me and what do I know? :-)

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Reading through the article, it seems like the author is advocating for more and better sex education in Japan (if there is any at all) which can only be a good thing. Most Japanese people seem to be disturbingly uneducated on things such as safe sex, yet know exactly where they can go for porn and fuzoku. I'm not saying things are better in other countries, but they are different. Most American men don't really visit prostitutes and if they do, they use condoms. Here, it's just not the same. I'm not going to judge, but I do think they should at least be protecting themselves and their families/future families. Sex and business should never mix, that can only lead to trouble. That kind of behavior is something that will have to change if Japan wants to pull itself out of the financial slump. There's a big pool of female labor talent going to waste right now because women here just get sick of putting up with the harassment, meet a nice guy and get married. I think the author was trying to connect all these points to the conclusion that Japan needs to start teaching sex education and gender equality at an earlier age. You can usually get a pretty good idea of a society's values by how it treats it's least respected residents (usually women). I know I've learned a lot about Japan that way.

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Blah, Blah, Blah Japan isn't as repressed as the US in sexual attitudes, thank god. Whatever a couple allows in their relationship is their business. Personally my wife could care less if I go to a hostess club with a client, it's not really my thing. A soapland visit would not cut it by any means however. Sexual harassment on the other hand is never ok and in this respect Japan has a ways to go.

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Wait a minute.... those massage joints were actually sex joints? And here I thought it was just the way they massaged in Japan.

Japan flashes sex signs and scantily dressed women all over it's cities but nobody wants to talk about it. Hard to believe a non religious people could act so christian towards sex talk.

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Japan is in the Victorian age in more than one aspect. Sexuality here in Japan is eerily alike to sexual attitudes in England's Victorian period (wow the 1800s). There is a sexually strict and repressed front, and a libertine and depraved backstage, coexisting in apparent harmony. However as history has proven, once women are treated as equal in social value (or close enough) to men in both law and society, things change. Sexuality comes front, it becomes healthier (sexual education does help) and people have a more real power of choice (yet as ever, murky by ignorance). For professional women, Japan is a time warp the moment she gets off the plane. I agree with Dolphingirl (08:00 PM JST - 15th October), but I add the following:

Saying that women sell sex by choice is a typical knee-jerk reaction from men in patriarchal structures where women are seen as inferior creatures and do not have the same rights as males. Women here in Japan have an expiration date set at 25 years old (Christmas Cake). Women are expected to quit jobs when they marry (even professional women are socially pressured to quit) and give birth within the first two years of marriage. Women have a -waiting period- before they can have a child from her second husband or else, the child will be under the authority of the ex-husband. The list goes on and on. Then you have Japanese males as promoters and users of the sex industry here, to the point that they don't even feel guilty at buying sex and don't seem to mind their spouse knowing. Women here are taught that intelligence in a woman is shameful and squealing kawaiiii is preferable than giving an opinion of her own. Intelligent women are called kowai (scary), something young girls dread to ever be called. Children are sexualized and women must remain childlike to be attractive. Blacklabel's self-inflicted blindness perplexes me. Yes, women have equal value to men. Yes, women are different, but difference does not mean inferiority. Yes, women have a vagina but that does not mean women are meant to be for sale. Selling sex does not empower anyone. As in any market system, the power is on the buyer's side. Demand defines the market - remember that.

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Great article, but there are a few basic errors and bad assumptions or generalizations made for the sake of titillation. While Japan is homogenous in many ways, it is far less homogenous than this article makes it out to be. It also makes several absurd conclusions about the rise of Japan's HIV rate, ignoring the fact that it is hundreds or thousands of times lower than many "developed countries". But nice try.

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They still have homosexuality in Kabuki, in addition to new forms of theater today. People still look at shunga, though not universally as this article flippantly implies. By this logic, every Greek and Roman in classical times was a pedophile because some were. But the issue of harassment and sexual attitudes in Japan is a very important topic to bring up and explore in future articles.

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Blacklabel-- Oh I'm not saying men don't get held back. They do. It's the reasons why. Typically a man won't be denied a promotion simply because he's a man. Others have shown examples here where women lose out simply because they're pregnant or some times not even that much-- simply because of their gender. And who give women that option to supposedly use sex as a means to get past potential roadblocks? You're right, it is akin to the chicken and the egg concept. But most women do not go into a job thinking "Well if I don't get higher because of my brains, I'll just use my body". Do all men during the hiring process think, "Well I'm not sure if this woman can do the job... but if she agrees to have sex, that might be different"? That's an unfair assumption, just like it's unfair to assume that all women supposedly even have that option, and it's 100% their decision. That's just not true. Yeah, they can say no. But the point is that the option should not exist in the first place. In the places where it does happen, who is giving the women the option?

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Azrael: So, all these women working in sex joints, hostess bars, as strippers, making adult movies, etc didnt make a CHOICE to do that as a better way to make money compared to working a real job? At a minimum, McDonalds and 7-11 are always hiring, they cant work there instead? Even if those are the only places they are qualified to work, that is more than likely just the result of a choice to not focus on education/hard work and looking for an easier way instead. So the end result of life is that each choice that is made either increases or limits future options that are available to you.

If something is for sale, yes- demand defines the market. But if something is simply not for sale that is the end of that. Playboy magazine could not exist if no women were willing to take off their clothers for money. If society as a whole thinks something is "bad" (drugs, porn, whatever) you dont make it available for purchase and then criticize the people who buy it. You make it unavailable to people and then problem solved. Sometimes you have to save people from themselves by not giving them options to do undesirable things.

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Kokorocloud: Yes you are right with the unfair assumptions and the hiring process comments, I totally agree with you. Yes, men who are weak minded and who cant get any women without the power of being the "boss" ARE the ones who allow women who are so inclined the option to inject sexual favors/sexuality into the workplace. Sexual harassment laws have thankfully been enacted to prevent that from happening unilaterally but still doesnt cover when the woman chooses to let it happen to advance her status and/or career.

But even the concept of sexual harassment is a land mine issue. Some women use it to deflect unwanted attention from undesirables but when the attention is from a desirable person then the same actions/comments are ok? So its basically a leap of faith, if you want to hook up in the workplace (like a lot of people do) you had better be really sure that the other person likes you (or my choice: just dont do it at all). Cause if they dont like you as much as you hope, you are going to get smacked with sexual harassment. Think about people who get married from the office. If she didnt like him when he asked what he asked in the beginning it would have been sexual harassment, but because she did his action/comments led to a relationship/marriage. Thats a big gamble, but also another topic for another day :-)

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There is being holistic and then there is being "all over the place". It might be just because its too brief, but I find this piece to be in the category of "all over the place." I think I would like to sit down and talk with the writer, but I have so many issues with the "weak" connections made between so many things, from history to today and from work time to private time, that this is actually very frustrating to read.

The writer might have good reasons for connecting these things, but they sure are not presented well here. Blacklabel on the other hand...the writer could learn a lot from Blacklabel.

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Sometimes you have to save people from themselves by not giving them options to do undesirable things.

Which is exactly my point. I wish it really were as easy to tell women and girls "okay you don't have to do that to get by, you can make something of yourself", but when it's so engrained in culture and some women ARE forced into it, how is it possible? Society makes women into inherently sexual beings-- this was around long before sex shops and adult films. As long as there are corrupt people, men and women, you can't make that call or say it's easier for one group over the other. I apologize if I started to come off blaming men soley for it, because that is definitely not the case. And I agree, women shouldn't be so willing to strip and work in these places, but you can criticize the people who buy, as they are perpetuating it. If certain men didn't buy it and/or make lucrative businesses out of it, women would not make money off of it, would they? Haha, like I said before, vicious cycle.

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investigator: why thank you, just trying to promote conversation here and learn why others think the way they do. Yeah I would have liked the writer to have connected the dots a little better on what she was really trying to say. As far as the questions at the drinking party, I am sure for everytime someone is offended by those type of questions, someone else is hooking up by asking the same thing. Its too arbitrary for my taste, so I just dont attend those type of things if I cant trust the women who are going to be there to not turn an "off work" event into a "working time" issue.

Kokorocloud: game, set and match. You are exactly right. Im still not too keen on the word "forced" to do it, but I will compromise and say that it could be considered forced if decisions that were made or things that happened to them in life prior to that kind of led to it being the most likely result, thats close enough for me.

Now, we just have to go back like 1000-2000 years and see whose idea it was first. Did an enterprising woman say "hey I bet if I take off my clothes, men will pay for it?" or did some enterprising guy say "hmm, I bet if I ask her to take off her clothes she will probably say no. But if I offer her some money (or a cow or goat or whatever it was at that time) will she now do it? Then will other guys pay ME more to see it then I had to pay her to do it?" Hmmm...Lets get the time machine ready and take a trip back to the past :-)

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Hahaha, it would be interesting to find out, wouldn't it. I wouldn't be surprised if it happened both ways.

I feel as though the writer of the article as trying to come to some sort of conclusion in the same ballpark as we've all been discussing, but... it's hard to tell.

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Blacklabel at 08:10 AM JST - 16th October: Azrael: So, all these women working in sex joints, hostess bars, as strippers, making adult movies, etc didnt make a CHOICE to do that as a better way to make money compared to working a real job?

Blacklabel: I am glad you understood right away. Perhaps you are acquainted with the term Glass Ceiling. As Kokorocloud explained, the whole system starts with the sexualization of women, which to an extent is inevitable considering mankind must reproduce in order to survive. In this context, Japan has created a social hierarchy in which women are subservient to men and they are effectively denied progress and security in work careers. Sexual harassment is seen as -playful- attitudes at work, women are not considered capable of being full-fledged professionals and are quickly removed from the workforce when they marry. Sex workers have, as you yourself stated, basically few options. So according to you, all Japanese women in low-brow works should be working at MacDonald's but how many MacDonald's may Japan have? Regardless of the name of fast food joints and others (underpaid, part-time, no-progress workplaces) you may check out the statistics for female employment in Japan and reconsider how much choice is available.

There is the cultural factor, too. Children in Japan are heavily sexualized to the point that women must remain childish to be sexually attractive to Japanese men. Women on TV and magazines always have a simpering, clueless expression (read kawaii). Both men and women patronize this, by socially ostracizing Japanese women with intelligence and opinions foundered on reason and assertiveness is considered an awful trait in a Japanese woman. So what must a Japanese woman do to survive in this society? Check out the statistics of what highschool girls choose as future careers when polled at school. Technical careers are barely there because intelligence in a female is bad (in Japan). Then there are men of your same opinion (a vast majority of Japanese men, it seems) that consider women are meant to be sexual workers by nature and at the same time scorn them and gloat. The saddest part is, this Japanese chauvinistic attitudes by both male and female Japanese is projected out of Japan. Then foreign men look at Japanese women the -same way Japanese males do-, not the way they would picture a female compatriot.

When I read discussions like this, a profound sense of pity arises in me. I wish things were different in Japan. I wish human rights had a deeper reach into the Japanese collective conscience. I know a handful of dignified Japanese women, professionals, most of them have worked abroad, some married foreigners. They have a whole different spirit. I wish more Japanese women had the courage to be like them, but that is being unfair. In their own context, it's hard to miss that they do not know.

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Azrael: You got from what I was saying that I think "women are meant to be sexual workers by nature" and that I and others scorn them and gloat? Total opposite, I am the one advocating that women should actually STOP taking the easy way out, try to get an education and work hard at a real job. That includes fast food or manual labor if that is all they can do because they ignored their opportunity at education/learning a skill. Anything is better in my opinion than them just giving up and and making money laying on their back or suckering men. If you dont study, dont make any effort, make excuses and give up the first chance you get, then you end up in a crap job, that goes for men or women.

To be held back by the Glass Ceiling, you gotta get to it first and most people give up well before it even would affect them. If you accept people's image of your gender or race or if you know and fall in line with the stereotype then of course you arent going to get anywhere except where people expected you to. To be treated equally, you should have to work equally as hard, be equally as skillful and equally as educated as the person you are competing with.

Your last two paragraphs, excellent comments and I agree with you 100%, that is some good discussion and great that you have that kind of caring and empathy for those in those situations. So do I, I just dont feel sorry for those who would rather sell sex or take another easy way out to make money instead of studying and then working hard like most everybody else does.

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I've always thought of myself as pretty liberal. A guy holding a board advertising "Axxx Sxx" in the middle of Sunshine Dori on a busy Saturday afternoon surrounded by school kids seemed a bit uncool.

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