I'm not saying something is going to go wrong but if you are writing in to Dan about this; you are more than obsessed about this. Seems like you have already thought about where and how and with their parents present nothing can go wrong right?
There is nothing wrong with looking at woman and saying to yourself (to yourself!) that's nice and turn your head and pay attention to what you are doing. There will always be someone better looking than what you have currently so stop looking; stop thinking about this kind of stuff and put that energy and time into your partner. They would appreciate it.
I’m an alcoholic and a heroin addict and I just found out about this incredible place in Afghanistan where you can go and sit in a room with tables full of Black Tar and Wild Turkey. It’s totally accepted there! You just SIT and LOOK, you don’t have to do anything else. I can’t think of anything that could possibly go wrong by just checking this out... can you spot any flaws in my logic? ‘Cause I’d REALLY like permission from a columnist on the other side of an ocean.
Dear LIT, I have lived in Japan for over three decades and every single day of that time I have been completely disgusted by the attitudes men have towards young women. It has effected society in a VERY negative way, including the sexualization of young girls, and sex crimes like street harassment, stalking, groping, and RAPE are not taken seriously by the police. The reporting rate for sex crimes in Japan is around 4%, and hardly any cases actually make it to trial - so if you go to these concerts, if you pay money at these meet-and-greets, you are contributing to the culture that actively harms young women and allows horrible things to happen to them with very little chance of prosecution.
In fact, there was an article in the Japan Times just a few days ago on this very topic: https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2019/11/16/national/crime-legal/sex-crimes-japan-still-significantly-underreported-justice-ministry-survey-finds/#.XdNnmr9S_OQ
And the trial in the case of Shiori Ito, the female journalist who was raped by a famous male journalist, has ended, and a verdict is expected soon. He is very likely to get away with it because of all the negative publicity on her, calling her a lying tramp, which is exactly how chikan salarymen get away with groping schoolgirls on the subways every day.
Don't be THAT guy. Don't. Also? If I am out and about in Tokyo and I SEE your gaijin ass being That Guy, either perving on or harassing, schoolgirls, I'll kick your fucking ass. I've done it before. :)
Slow clap for @3.
Hence it's worth noting that Jeffrey Epstein, Bill Clinton, Donald Trump, Prince Andrew, et. al was/are hebephiles, not pedophiles.
It's 1 thing to be looking at women but an entirely different thing to be looking at minors. This is an adult man wanting to check out kids. I see this as a problem.
Um, is going to a meet and greet really going to satisfy this dudes desires? I guess I don't see what the upside is for this guy compared to what he can already get on the internet.
In the hopes of inspiring a conversation that it's meaningful (this particular LW feels fairly yawn) - how/what should age of consent laws work? I think we all know that some arbitrary age cutoff doesn't especially work - plenty of people are ready younger, plenty of people aren't emotionally/mentally ready to make the decision even by 18 (or later in a lot of cases). Is there a way to design "age of consent" laws - and/or adjust society - to minimize victimization?
LW- going back home is a good idea in your case.
The observations made by blondegrrl @3 are something I also noticed some 35 years ago while spending few months in Japan.
Seemingly a very safe, clean, and polite country, yet the obsession with schoolgirls was apparent in many ways, and I could never figure out why.
I have also witnessed some harassment incidents on Tokyo trains as everyone pretended to look the other way and leave the terrified woman to fend off the harassers on her own.
Apparently in such an uptight society drunken men were routinely given a pass while making a clumsy move or commenting about women in their vicinity.
Great response to LIT's question.
I heart Dan Savage.
That is all.
Oh, man, I remember the first time I read Dan's HTH column. I laughed until I was a little sick. Good times. "Can't - move- thumb...." Oh, and LIT, listen to Dan.
Hmmmm… I seem to remember WAAAY back when that Dan kinda used to advocate a little bump in grind with the young folk.
@10: In the great cosmic fluke of the century, MrB and I agree on that. And remember non-kids: Never post anything online that could be used as evidence against you in a criminal case involving minors
I think the key fact is that LIT recognized this aspect of his sexuality before moving to Japan, and this isn't equivalent of an attraction to twenty-something women in school girl uniforms at a kink venue. Moreover, while LIT describes this as a concert, I am guessing that this isn't the same as LIT seeing Britney Spears circa 1997 in a 10,000 seat arena, however weird that might have been, but something more intimate and rather creepy. And I shudder to think about what happens during photo shoots afterwards.
So LIT, stay away from these events and these very young women.
A hebephile friend of mine once told me he tried to think of girls he saw on the street as beautiful sculptures - completely inaccessible for any type of interaction. For girls he had to interact with in daily life, he treated them as friends and put them entirely in an ‘eww no’ bracket. Sexual thoughts got directed to strangers, as visual inspiration in a place where no interaction is possible. In other words, he’d accepted that hebephilia is like being into centaurs or vore - it doesn’t get to happen in the real world.
LW doesn’t seem to have accepted that, hence his current frustration. LW, perhaps you should really get to grips with why age of consent laws exist, and why young people are assumed not to be able to consent.
Dashing @6, exactly. There is nothing wrong with looking at WOMEN. The people LIT wants to ogle aren't women, they're children.
However, LIT may be ironically in the right place. "Schoolgirl" fashion is ubiquitous in Japan. I had a male friend who visited years ago and said he didn't flirt with anyone because he couldn't tell whether they were 15 or 35. Sounds like LIT could ethically ogle "schoolgirls" who appear to be teenagers but are in fact grown women. In fact I suspect many of the "schoolgirls" at these concerts are adults. And LIT wouldn't be touching them, merely fantasising about them, as he is already doing, just not in such close proximity.
That said, LIT's attraction isn't to adults who dress youthfully; it's to youths. And he knows he is playing with fire here. So yes, like the omnipotent comment god @2 says, perhaps LIT's best option is to remove himself from the situation and go back to his wife. Before he goes, he could pick up a couple of cute schoolgirl outfits for her to wear.
“Yeah, I mean, sexual crimes and sexual harassment are so rampant in Japan that women need their own separate train cars, but it’s culturally acceptable here, so Dan, please give me permission to indulge my totally inappropriate desire for barely pubescent girls?”
Sorry, no. Go back to Europe.
Yikes. Just yikes.
LIT mentions "acceptance" more than once. It must be a real mind fuck to finally feel accepted as a hebephile, but he should realize that sexual exploitation of children across Asia is a PROBLEM, and people are working to eliminate it. Don't be part of the problem. Don't be Gary Glitter.
@5 Bill Clinton is not a hebephile. He's a sexual assaulter/rapist, but he's not a hebephile. Hebephilia is attraction to pubescent girls. Monica Lewinsky was many things but she didn't look like a teenager. All of the other women that Bill assaulted were not pubescent either.
I think we need to use this phrase correctly. Being into someone younger than you is not the issue. The issue is being into someone who is in high school (or where the main attraction is the just out of high school aspect).
Imagine being so disgusting that you attempt to write a sex columnist hoping he will give you permission to rape children.
Furthermore, anyone who constantly splits hairs between pedophiles and hebephiles is not to be trusted around women and children either. If women your own age see as as to much of a loser to be around, start working on yourself, not creeping on kids who are too young to realize what a huge loser you are.
@20 - So noted.
@21: It's not splitting hairs, it's using the correct term. Using correct terminology is important in all scientific disciplines, including psychology.
Holy rationalization Batman! Just because you feel like it’s accepted where you are does NOT make this ok. If you moved with your wife to a country where domestic violence was “accepted,” would you start beating your wife? Don’t do this thing. Stay off the slippery slope. Stay away from young girls.
It may be harsh to say, but I really hope the LW doesn’t have any daughters.
@23: Believe what you want, but if you are that worried about people thinking you may like fucking 12 year olds instead of 13 year olds, I still do not want you around children.
Because it seems like people way too concerned with using a less technically accurate term for raping children may be more likely to rape children.
Why don’t guys who have this date 19 yr olds who ‘look young’ ? Still creepy but not illegal.
@25: We use different terms to describe theft crimes (embezzlement, robbery, extortion) so using terms for sexual deviancy is no different. It's not what we "believe", it's what we study about the topic.
I didn't know this about Japan.
Attention Japan: This is fucked up.
Hey Japan: Stop censoring your porn and start censoring this kind of behavior.
p.s. By "censoring your porn" I mean that Japanese porn has the genitals pixelated.
@27 and @23 both have points here. Yes, words mean things and using the appropriate word matters. That said, there is the idea out there that hebephilia is the "less bad" version of pedophilia and therefore is less of an issue. An idea that is actively encouraged by a lot of hebephiles to justify crossing the line when a pedophile wouldn't. "Sure they're underage, but it's not like they're kids!" The porn industry's love of the "barely legal" genre also feeds into this in my opinion.
I know this is a complicated problem with no easy solutions but one thought I just had is how the schoolgirl uniform in Japan includes a short skirt. It seems like whenever an outfit includes a short skirt it gets fetishized (catholic schoolgirl, cheerleader, etc). I know that women can wear whatever they want, men should be able to control themselves etc, but with this being such a large societal problem it seems like the schoolgirl uniform should be changed to something that is harder to sexualize.
I actually give this letter writer credit for writing in. He says he's conflicted; he says he is considering going back to Europe. He is married and his wife knows about his attraction. They have no children, and I don't know if this has anything to do with his hebephilia.
His letter makes it sound as though he understands and intends to respect boundaries but that he's more conflicted about the fact that going to one of these concerts and/or to the photo sessions will reveal him to be a pervert. He appears to be trying to do the right thing.
Dan's response was appropriate and his final words ("And if going home is the only way to avoid temptation, go home") take the situation very seriously. If LIT was hoping to get permission/absolution, he didn't.
But I don't see how beating up on the guy because he had the nerve to write to an advice columnist for a true ethical dilemma is going to do any good.
31-- Nah, the attraction comes first. The sexualization comes after that. It's not the short skirt. It's the fact that a girl is wearing it. If the skirt was longer as was the case for decades in the Catholic school uniform, it would still be sexualized. (Nuns/teachers would come around with a ruler to make sure the skirt was the requisite length.) A quick google on Japanese school uniforms shows that while some have shorter skirts, a fair number of the skirts come down to the knee. Women/girls covered head to toe in a burqua, still sexualized.
@32 Do any good? The question is, do any good for whom?
"the schoolgirl uniform should be changed to something that is harder to sexualize"
"I don't see how beating up on the guy...is going to do any good."
Agreed. Couldn't hurt to beat up on the entire nation of Japan though.
@BDF No, there is no way to ethically attend these concerts because Japan's idol culture is exploitative and predatory both of their young "talent" and of their impressionable fans. Supporting it in any way is not ethical. There is a lot out there on the web if you care to Google but basically, these girls as young as tweens are paraded in front of horny adult men to be ogled and are worked long grueling hours for relative pennies compared to their managing companies. They must present an innocent and sexually naive image so their contracts often include virginity clauses and prohibit them from dating. Many of them are indeed underage and some VERY underage. Did you miss the part in the letter about how their parents have to be present during the handshake events? The managers promote an illusion of closeness with the fans that encourages fans to spend their entire life savings on following the band and buying their merchandise. Their business models deliberately pray on the mentally unbalanced fans who believe they're "special" to their idols so their have been several incidents of fans overstepping their boundaries and groping or attacking their idols. One of the reasons adult Japanese women are so infantilized (as your friend describes) is because middle school girls are seen as a female sexual ideal. And the reasons is simply that they are considered pure and sexually naive. A lot of their songs have suggestive themes about their "first experience" and how they need "a teacher" etc. etc. But my point is that even aside from the severe squick factor the industry itself is harmful and nobody should give them any more money.
Good points in favor of no uniforms at all then!
nocute @ 32
Thank you so much for your eloquent, thoughtful post. The way I read this letter it seems like LW also knows his best option is to go back home.
If this case came up in SAA group discussion most if not all participants would be in favor of the go home option. Sometimes we know the answer and need to hear it from others.
Jokers and yikers, you’re dealing with a seemingly decent person who know they have a problem and are confused and tempted by the sudden realization of the legality of all that in a foreign culture.
Honorable mention to Theo @ 21, 25
Sometimes absolute moralists prove to be the conflicted person they're so afraid of.
Thank you so much, I think I need to go throw up now.
@34 The sexualization of the schoolgirl uniform is socially constructed - it has nothing to do with the clothes themselves. Just rearranging deck chairs.
@34: Sportlandia, if it does people good to deride letter writers and write them off as lost causes for asking for help and advice, I don't know what to say about those people. It certainly discourages some people from writing in with genuine problems.
Many commentors are projecting an awful lot onto the lw, without seeming to have really read the letter. Fearing, as Beeteedee does @24, that LIT will molest his daughter--ignoring the fact that he says he's childless, and Theodore Gorath @21 saying "Imagine being so disgusting that you attempt to write a sex columnist hoping he will give you permission to rape children"--what was the point of that? LIT wants to attend creepy-sounding "concerts" and take a photo with underage girls whom he has sexualized; that's upsetting to many people and indeed, the slippery slope scenario may exist, wherein today it's concert and meet-and-greet photo opportunities, and next month it's a "date," but LIT asks if he should go to the concert, not if he should rape a child.
Maybe it makes Theodore Gorath feel better or self-righteous to write that, just as curious2 wants to "beat up" the entire nation or culture of Japan, but neither makes this man's problem go away, nor does either offer helpful advice from becoming a predator.
@40 - I did not ignore that the LW is currently childless. “Have” can refer to present circumstance (whether he “has” daughters now) or to future actions (whether he “has” any daughters with his wife in the future). I used the latter. Besides that, I don’t see how my comment was much different from Dan’s advice, which was not to attend this concert to avoid temptation. The fact that his environment has apparently tempted the LW to consider activity that he would not engage in otherwise (his letter reads as if he would not consider attending such an event in Europe, if there were one) is concerning.
Notice that he expresses no concern for the girls-he doesn’t want to cheat on his wife or break the law, but he does not mention any concern about how a girl might be harmed if he finds himself unable to resist temptation and acts on his desires. Maybe he did and it got edited out, but as the letter stands, it’s a big red flag.
And you know, the LW might actually be writing to Dan because he wants someone to tell him not to go, because that may be what he needs to set the issue aside.
@40 I've mentioned the broad disparity in who gets benefit of the doubt versus who gets worst-case-scenario. There's a pretty clear trend. Frankly, I think people shit on LW's or other posters because it makes them feel good; but yes to the counterpoints they bring up - it makes people less inclined to ask questions undoubtedly. There's a certain Nth-wave feminist thought that thinks what has happened in #MeToo - the change of focus from victims sharing their stories to identifying perpetrators - will ultimately lead to reduced reporting of sexual assault, as perps are less likely to own their misbehavior (for fear of enhanced punishment) and even victims being less likely to report (because they feel the punishment may be too severe).
@raindrop - For someone who claims to be so concerned about accuracy, you sure are making big guesses as to the limitations of certain people's sexual proclivities. We have no information on whether any of these men are into small children. Let's not claim we do.
@43: You're right. All we really know is that Jeffrey Epstein was a hebephile.
Why the obsession with calling these people the correct name? They are all morally unacceptable. To me, distinguishing between the ages of the victims is the first step of making it seem as though lusting after older children is somehow “not as bad” as lusting after younger children. I think they should all be lumped together so it’s clear to these sickos that we, as a society, think it is ALL disgusting and wrong. Raindrop- why are you so worried about what they are called? That’s weird. Maybe think of taking up another cause! Because your constant harping on the proper nomenclature is highly suspect.
Wait until LIT hears about Thailand....
@42 there's also an Nth wave feminist belief that any relationship with a man is slavery by default, so I take that with a grain of salt. There are a lot of reasons rape and sexual assault don't get reported, but anyone worried about the punishment being "too severe" would never have come to the police before MeToo either. Police are notoriously bad at handling rape cases, check on the thousands of untested rape kits or the handling of cases like Brock Turner.
I think people in this forum respond to a specific type of question very negativity, the "should I do this thing that I know is a bad idea and will definitely hurt others?" The answer seems obvious to an outsider, but when you're caught up in your own head it's easier to overthink and justify it.
It would be a better world if we could approach everyone from a mindset of compassion first, and I think Dan did a great job of walking the line between "obviously this is a bad idea" without shaming him for having desires he can't help. The issue is not that he's an ephebephile, the issue is that he wants to but himself in a tempting, dangerous situation.
"curious2 wants to "beat up" the entire nation or culture of Japan"
No I said "beat up on" which you know very well means something different.
And even by "beat up on" I was self-deprecatingly alluding to my constructive criticism @28 to the Japanese culture, which (obviously unlike beating up Japan) could have beneficial effect.
In other words, you mischaracterized my statement.
45-DanFan-- Why the obsession with making the distinction between pedophile and hebephile? Because accuracy matters. And accuracy in distinctions of sexual attraction matter in a forum that deals with sex and sexual attraction. You could say that an attraction to feet and an attraction to lingerie are both fetishes, and you'd be right, but if a letter writer asks about how to handle one, he doesn't want to be given answers that deal exclusively with the other. I could give example after example.
As to moral acceptability, I find it very important indeed to distinguish between having the attraction and acting on it. Is someone a repugnant person for sometimes thinking of committing murder? Maybe so, but given that most of us have at one time or another dreamed of the perfect murder without ever taking steps towards a credible plan or moved beyond the fantasy stage, it's a moot point. Actually plotting a murder and acting on it is a different story. More to the point, fantasizing about cheating on a spouse, being attracted to others outside of the marriage, even those among us who hold monogamy as a dear value generally see no harm in acknowledging the attraction. Look at the fundamentalists. They admit attraction all the time when they say it's wrong to be alone with a member of the opposite sex without a chaperone.
The PEOPLE are not morally unacceptable. ACTING on it is. Dan's advice is on how to avoid the slippery slope towards action while remaining compassionate towards the letter writer himself. It's not always easy, but I hope to be as compassionate.
@ 45 - There's already a perfectly useful word that puts those categories together: underage. In this instance, though, since the LW specified that he was a hebephile, we're running with that terminology.
We've had this debate a few times before, once initiated by me, who's pretty much exclusively into 40+ overweight men. I was also told I definitely had to be a pedophile for insisting on this, but the truth is I'm a translator, and using the word with the correct meaning is important to me. So as far as I'm concerned, saying that someone's "constant harping on the proper nomenclature is highly suspect" makes me doubt the accuser's capacity to develop an opinion based on more than knee-jerk reactions. And this is definitely a matter where knee-jerk reactions don't solve much - we all already know that no one should do this; what we lack is precise understanding of the psychology of those who do (and this letter gives us a lot of great insights, we should be grateful for that) in order to develop proper strategies adapted to both the (potential) offenders and their (potential) victims.
BDT- your @ 24 starts with a big “holy rationalization” statement which comes across as your opinion on this issue. You’re right to state that the new environment “has apparently tempted the LW to consider [this] activity…is concerning.” It is also concerning to him, which is why he wrote the letter. That he did not explicitly express concern for the girls is likely due to living in a country where this culture is accepted.
It may have blinded him, and he needs to be reminded of it on an ongoing basis.
Pedophiles and hebephiles do not necessarily make for terrible parents as some suggest here. Yes, you have to be cautious, take precautionary measures and remain accountable at all times. You may want to alert the neighbors if your child is playing with them. To some it may even help once the connection between the vulnerable young person and the possible harm hits home. Some parents harm only their own child without any advance indication. It’s terrible yet happens.
As someone who have talked to people attracted to minors, I understand where they come from and their struggles, and see commonalities with other addictive/destructive/abusive behaviors, sexual and otherwise.
I would never leave my own children or grandchildren alone with them, and yet I’m willing to help them stay accountable and have a life.
In no way I’m advocating for the legalization of sex with minors of any age.
"Is someone a repugnant person for sometimes thinking of committing murder? Maybe so..."
I don't think so, I think there's a big difference between thoughts and deeds (as you go on to say well). The latter can be wrong, the former might just not be optimally psychologically healthy. (Or maybe it is, I dunno, perhaps I'm biased just because I never thought of killing anyone. Er, anyone who didn't run a country who invaded another country.)
@47 You'd be surprised at to the extent that "I don't want my assaulter to go to jail" prevents a lot of reporting. Even domestic violence victims who successfully extricate themselves from an abusive relationship still don't report. And anyhow, in 9 cases out 10, the victim is better off that their assaulter is not given jailtime. If we had a way for people to "take responsibility" and "pay their debt to society" that didn't include jailtime (which, for the record, don't do either of those first two objectives, but do ruin lives, guilty or innocent). We have a problem in our society in which our "justice system" no longer serves any meaningful societal goal, and paired with broad cultural differences in our society, it's going to take a lot of very difficult work to recreate a system which serves both to dissuade criminality and to deliver actual justice to victims.
Theodore @21, ephebephiles are no more attracted to teenagers because women (or men, there are gay ephebelphiles too) their own age have rejected them than gay men choose other men because women don't fancy them. Quite the opposite in most cases, but I digress. This is something that is hard wired in their brains. And the hair splitting is important. Paedophiles are attracted to children who haven't even reached puberty yet, while ephebephiles are attracted to people who are sexually mature -- just. Does not mean age of consent laws aren't there for very good reason and shouldn't be observed regardless of one's own desires. Which it sounds like this man has done, so kudos to him for knowing these desires would be immoral to act upon.
It sounds like this is touching a nerve for you. If so, I'm very sorry you had that experience.
Curious @28, when I was in Japan I spent a night in a hotel and checked out their porn menu (laminated, and in every room) for laughs. The models were not dressed in black lacy lingerie
and sporting come-hither glances. They were all dressed in schoolgirl type outfits, looking wide eyed and innocent, some even clutching teddy bears. It was seriously disturbing.
Parker @31, good suggestion. Japan, like Curious says, sort your shit. Don't put teen girls who look like your country's 35-year-olds into harm's way by standardising a "slutty" garment. Teen girls who are horny will find ways to sexualise themselves soon enough, schools don't need to be complicit in this societal ephebephilia.
Nocute @32, word. LIT, I applaud your ethics and restraint.
Basidia @35, no, I did not miss that part; but if 18- and 19-year-olds are making good money by pretending to be 14, then their "parents" will certainly aid in that deception. Thank you for sharing more about this loathsome concept.
DanFan @45, it's not an "obsession," it's a discussion, which few people will even think about once they've surfed away from this comment thread. Based on several of your recent posts, you seem very sex negative. Why are you here, let alone describing yourself as a "fan" of someone whose attitude to sex is so different from your own?
BabyRae @47 and CMD @52, yes, thank you. LIT is a human being struggling with a dilemma. Like Fichu said, we would all be in jail if thinking about murder made us guilty.
"the schoolgirl uniform should be changed to something that is harder to sexualize"
Blaming clothing for the hebephile's urges and actions? We're making progress toward eliminating "what she was wearing" as a defence for sexual assault; this sounds a bit like that.
There's a group in my local kink community. At play parties, the women all dress in the same school uniform, brat the "teacher", and get spanked or caned, or tawsed if they're really "naughty". It's not my cup of tea, but they're all grown-ass adults who seem to have successfully sexualized school uniforms (and corporal punishment) without harming children, so... whatever.
@54 it doesn't surprise me in the slightest. I'm saying that people who weren't going to report because they didn't want their attacker to go to jail didn't come to that conclusion because of me too. Stockholm syndrome, fear of retaliation, making excuses (they were drunk!), and self-blame are all more significant than "other people are more comfortable talking about their assault now." I agree that the for-profit prison system is broken, but saying 9 out of 10 victims are better off if their attacker doesn't see jailtime at all is a wild statistic to cite without evidence.
Or to put it another way, it's not "I don't want my attacker to go to jail" it's "I don't want my attacker to go to jail because XYZ." The XYZ of it is the challenge.
Sorry if my comment was taken the wrong way by some. Let me try to clarify. Clothing can never be blamed as an excuse for sexual assault. Period. But when we discuss urges, things get more complicated. Correct me if I’m wrong but a short skirt is generally considered a “sexy” article of clothing. When a woman wants to get dressed in a sexually attractive way, a short skirt is often a part of the outfit. Again that in no way blames the woman if she is sexually assaulted. Period. It just seems to be a mistake to pretend that all clothing holds the same level of sexual attraction. There is a reason that tons of teenage boys became imprinted on Leia’s metal bikini while watching Star Wars and not one of her other outfits, it was designed to be sexually attractive. It would probably not be a good choice of attire for the workplace or for that matter a school uniform. Outfits exist on a continuum, and short skirts fall closer to the sexy side than longer skirts or pants. I’m not saying getting rid of short skirts would magically solve the entire problem, I’m just saying it might be smart not to require school girls to dress in an article of clothing that is clearly being sexualized.
Japanese men have a host of sexual issues around porn and ill behavior toward women, it's resulted in low marriage and birth rates. A couple of years ago there was a big 60 Minutes segment on very average western men who went there and married some babes.
Okay, but my point is don't be a Japanese Man...
Ummm... short skirts are not a "required" part of the uniform. It's a thing mostly in anime and fetish outfits, but as far as I know, not in real life. I wore a similar uniform in middle school in Korea (their schools are so similar that the picture of my school in my yearbook looks just like the high schools that appear in anime shows), and the official requirement was that they fall to just below the knee. My fall/winter uniform consisted of a pleated skirt and matching vest, thick black stockings (if teachers could see your skin through them, they weren't thick enough), white blouse, and a blazer. My spring/summer uniform was a short sleeve sailor shirt with a skirt that also fell below the knee, and was so shapeless it was as erotic as a barrel. Most schools followed similar models, and often the only way you could tell which school the uniform was for was by the colors and patterns of the clothing. My fall/winter uniform, for example, was navy blue/forest green plaid with a navy blue blazer, whereas a neighboring school was black/gray plaid with a black blazer.
I could probably fill a book with all the strict rules we had about appearance (no jewelry unless you had a legit note from your parents that it was for religious reasons, for example. If you had pierced ears prior to middle and high school you had to let the holes close up. Teachers would check). I usually call my yearbook my collection of mugshots because that's what it looks like - hardly anyone is smiling, everyone is wearing the same thing and has the same haircut, photos were taken directly facing the camera with a stark white/gray background.
I've heard things have changed since then - I once looked up my old school and found they had a website with a community message board, and there was a post from students thanking the administration for relaxing their stance on what color socks students could wear (for comparison, I was once slapped in the face for wearing the wrong kind of white socks during a uniform inspection). But I would be very surprised if things have changed to the extent that short skirts are mandatory, especially in Japan, which tends to be even more conservative and resistant to change than Korea. There were certainly girls in my class who would roll up the waistbands of their skirts so it looked like they were wearing short skirts, but they got in trouble if they got caught like that and it was not the way they were intended to be.
My point is, there seems to be a misconception here that Japanese people are deliberately putting their kids in sexy outfits. They are not, in fact most tend to be overly conservative lest their daughters grow up to be sluts or entertainers (in my experience, Asians generally have an attitude of "it's fine for other people, but not MY kid"). The sexy outfits are mostly for those who work in the service or entertainment industry. Anime is not an accurate representation of real life, any more than the abundance of brightly-colored hair and eyes are. And I would bet good money that the parents who have their kids do concerts and meet-and-greets are not representative of the general population, any more than Hollywood stage moms are indicative of the average American parent.
Frankly, this is why it cracks me up every time people here in the US comment that school uniforms would solve all the problems with dress codes and enforcement. From personal experience, not only would it not solve anything, it would just create more.
Yes 100% to Jina's comment. School uniforms in every country I've seen are designed to be as unsexy as possible. The miniskirt versions are the domain of porn, Halloween costumes, and anime. The uniforms aren't the problem, it's the sexualization of youth and innocence. If we changed them overnight to overalls and chunky sweaters I guarantee there would be "sexy" versions in less than a day.
I'm not sure LIT would be doing anything wrong going to the aftershows and ogling the performers. If he could keep it at that... It's not as if he can speak Japanese or interact with these teens. People might think there is something wrong in the teen performers being so flagrantly put on show and sexualized. I'm not sure what the answer to that is--since it seems to go on in an atmosphere that's conducive to the abuse of women--not a 'safe' atmosphere--but then this isn't something that can be laid at LIT's door. And I'm wary of characterising a whole culture as sexist or abusively regressive / unevolved.
@7. Sportlandia. I don't think it's going to satisfy his desires.
@16. Bi. It's not clear from LIT's letter how far he's taken his hebephile interests 'in play' in his marriage. Have he and his wife had sex, for example, with her dressed as a (Japanese) schoolgirl? Is this something she would do, or would she balk at it--does she want to dismiss the thought of his having these impermissible desires at all, especially so long as he suppresses them? I think it would probably be better and more rewarding for him to indulge his kink in play and thoroughly nix any suggestion of contact with kids and teens in his actual life.
@21. Theodore Gorath. You seem to think that it's desires or urges, rather than actions, that are disgusting and worthy of censure.
@32. nocute. I didn't think he was writing in for permission to go to the concert afterparties. He was asking whether he should go or not.
Lots of people seem to be happy to tar Japan with a very broad brush as having a fucked-up relationship to adult het dating, female agency, girls and girls' right to a non-sexualised and -fetished adolescence. I guess some East Asian intellectuals think about America: 'the reason there are so many homosexuals in America is because feminism has challenged and warped naturally-prescribed gender roles'. I'd think this kind of characterisation about as accurate and insightful as some of the more prejudicial takes on Japanese culture as a whole.
Jina and BabyRae changed my mind about school uniforms. As much as I hate them as part of my disdain for regimentation, it does seem to me that freedom of wardrobe expression ends up in kids clothing being substantially more sexualized than when in uniform.
As Jina @ 61 (I was waiting for your post on this issue) rightly points out, uniform is not the issue. Neither nurses uniform nor firemen heavy attire aren’t that sexy either, unless sexualized.
No, he shouldn’t go to the shows nor after shows. He seems to be already triggered as it is and he knows this is likely to be a slippery slope for him, hence writing a letter to an advice columnist.
With the exception of a commenter or two no one suggested a Jihad on Japan anytime soon, and even the possible suspect/s denied of ever intending it to come across that way.
If you ever visit the country and mingle with the locals you’ll find out that they are fully aware of the “rorita,” Lolita, complex, so prevalent in their society.
@66. CMD. I can't believe the exploitative sexualisation of adolescence is any more pervasive in Japan than it is in the US or Western Europe. It's maybe more normalised, more overt rather than tacit ... but more pervasive? This could only be a perception born of distance, unfamiliarity and the sort of in-/out- group thinking that's attractive to everyone (possibly most of all to members of sexual or social out-groups in their own majority context).
If going to the shows or meet-and-greets is going to send the LW into a state where he loses his head and pitches himself into importuning, or sexual contact with, teens, he shouldn't go. (I would think the teen starlets are pretty heavily chaperoned themselves). I think it's good he's acknowledged himself, but he should hold himself to a high line to avoid abusing girls.
"They (sic) shows are not illegal but everyone knows who goes to them and why and I feel very conflicted about it."
That "everyone" includes the parents who pimp their young daughters out. And, at the same time, help perpetuate the lack of agency for Japanese women who continue to be judged by their looks (anyone following the ridiculous eyeglass, ban?).
Why would LW want to torture himself psychologically by surrounding himself with "things" he cannot have, except as fantasy? I just see someone who would gladly shell out tons of money for the merest hint of the pretence that he is actually engaged in a personal relationship (say, the way clueless guys hit on attractive baristas, etc., in the delusion that they're the only ones).
The only slippery slope I imagine is that, once he's opened his wallet, he won't be able to stop. And that loss of income harms his family,
Harriet @ 67- my cultural assessment is based on observing four countries in different geographies. You are right that there is an overt sexualization of teens all over the place nowadays, yet in Japan it was already rampant way before Victoria’s Secret decided to hire only teen-looking models somewhere in the 90’s. (Their 1980’s catalogue models looked a bit older as I recall.)
That such shows as described by LW are acceptable in today’s Japan and supported by the fans/market is an indication of that deeply rooted fixation.
Jina @61, thank you. I'm slapping myself for falling into the trap of believing Japanese school uniform skirts are short, because that's what "schoolgirl style" features.
Harriet @63, have you ever been to Japan? You wouldn't be wary of characterising the entire country as sexist if you had experienced it. Seriously, take the words of people who've visited or lived there. It's on a whole different level to the youth fetishisation of the West.
@CMDWannabe - ha, I must be becoming predictable! Not surprising, though, I guess. Living in Korea was (and still is) a huge influence on me, and I love talking about it. :D
BiDanFan @71 - I think it's an easy mistake to make, since Japanese media itself pushes the image so hard. It's pretty standard in anime to show school uniforms with short skirts, and longer skirts are in fact usually shorthand for girls who are in gangs or are otherwise delinquent. The only anime I can think of that showed uniform skirts at a realistic length were Ranma 1/2 and a lesser-known and extremely underrated Miyazaki movie called Whisper of the Heart.
Harriet @63, what BiDanFan said @71. Japan is ranked one of the worst countries for gender equality for so many reasons. And it is very much so a cultural issue: East Asian culture is extremely patriarchal, so by default men are right and women have to take whatever they're given, even if it's sexual harassment or assault. China and Korea have made a few strides towards gender equality, but they still have a long way to go. Japan, as I said before, however, is very resistant to change, and has made much less progress. It's still expected for women to give up their jobs and become housewives once they get married, for example. And can you name any female Japanese politicians or CEOs? Neither can I, because they hardly exist.
If you would like to see for yourself, I highly recommend a Netflix show called Aggretsuko. Besides being absolutely hilarious, relatable and cute (Retsuko is a Sanrio character, in the same universe as Hello Kitty), it's a Japanese woman-written, woman-made show that's a satirical look at the difficulties of being a single young woman in Japan. A lot of things in the show - women being expected to wear uniforms in the office or get tea for the boss, the pressure to be pretty and get married, etc - are fairly accurate and elicited a "holy crap, they still make women do that in Japan???" reaction when I first watched it.
One thing the show did not cover - probably because sex is not a thing one talks about in public in Asia - is how rampant sexual harassment and assault is. I don't think I know a single woman (myself included) who lived in Asia who wasn't groped or sexually harassed at some point. It's so common there that it's not only completely normal to assume that male teachers are ogling their students, it's a common joke in lighthearted teen anime (Mr. Kimura in Azumanga Daioh is a prime example, look him up. Except in real life it's gross and not funny). When I was in middle school, it was common knowledge which male teachers were the pervs and which ones were safe to be around. I also had a high school teacher who openly talked in class (and keep in mind this was an all-girls class, since classes were segregated by sex) about how he liked women with big butts "like two lunchboxes!", and another who would pat girls on the backs and shoulders so he could feel their bra straps. I'm not even going to go into the ones in elementary school who would put their arms around me or hold my hand.
This has a lot to do with male entitlement, which is a result of the aforementioned patriarchal culture that has been enforced for literally thousands of years. Rape and sexual assault in general are hugely underreported in Asian countries because all the blame immediately goes to the victim for "asking for it" in some way. There used to be an unusually progressive Korean TV show about a female lawyer who mostly took cases for female clients, and I remember one episode was about a woman who was attacked in her own home by two men who forced their way in, tied her up, and raped her. She went to the lawyer for help, and the rapists retaliated by posting nude photos they'd taken of her around her neighborhood, and threatened to send them to the newspaper if she didn't shut her mouth. That's how much power men have over women: the rapists had the power to openly blackmail the victim, and it was considered completely natural for the neighbors to immediately shame her.
Tl;DR Rampant sexism is indeed very much of a cultural thing in Japan, but hopefully one that it slowly changing as we all move towards globalization.
Thanks for your informative posts. I’m glad to hear that short skirts aren’t actually part of the uniform, just a part when it has been intentionally sexualized I guess. Oh well, so much for an easy avenue to help curb the problem. Yes hopefully things will change with modernization but I wish it would change faster.
@72. Jina. Japan is on a par with Afghanistan? Somalia? Mauritania? 'One of the worst'? I think sexist attitudes pervade all cultures. They stymie female autonomy and, in various moralised forms, can also bolster and create the conditions for female agency (think of Barbara Bush). I'm still wary of saying that there's more, or worse, sexism in one equally culturally and economically developed country than there is in the States. This isn't trying to excuse the sexual harassment of schoolgirls--it's more suggesting that the exploitative and intrusive sexualisation of girls' adolescence isn't unique.
But I do take what you and Bi and CMD say on board about Japan being bad in this way.
At the same time ... it will always be easy to psychoanalyse any fixation one doesn't have, or to speak confidently in sociological terms about any culture to which one is an outsider. I am a complete outsider to het porn, which I find near-incomprehensible. Two of the most popular hard het-porn categories are 'stepsister' and 'schoolgirl'--fantasies whose actual realisation I would find near-criminal. And sort-of ... um, Japanese? Now, I could psychoanalyse these fetishes. I could say, 'well, the normative user of het porn is blue-collar, that's to say, an educational failure. School would have been a scene of repeated discipline and humiliation for him. There must be a sense in which, jerking off, he gains psychic compensation, achieving a sense of mastery over a context where he was previously subjected'. How would I expect my analysis to go down? Say among people like EmmaLiz? Well, badly--I'd expect it to be greeted by something like a Bronx cheer. That's a bit like how I take any shotgun characterisation of Japanese gender politics. (A better analysis is that, for some people, schoolgirls are just sexy, in the way that for me long uncut cocks are sexy. The LW is a case in point--he finds schoolgirls sexy).
LW's key sentence: "It's making me crazy."
That sounds like someone who does not feel in control of his sexual desires, whatever we may think of those desires. He's not saying he's afraid he's hooked on underage porn, he's saying he's not sure what he'll do if he goes to one of these concerts.
The LW seems to take some responsibility for his desires, but when he says "it's making me crazy," he's choosing not to be responsible. He's using the magical "it" to give himself permission.
Is a hebephile the same thing as a pederast?
As for "making school uniforms harder to sexualize," that's well on the road to blaming the victim because of what she was wearing. Sexualization has a little to do with particular clothing but way more to do with imagination and repression. Seeing a woman's bare ankle aroused a lot of Victorian men (who then complained about how overly revealing women's clothing was....).
Harriet @74 - that's okay, you can believe whatever you want. :) However, your beliefs won't change facts like:
- Japan is ranked worst for gender inequality amongst G7 countries. It was also ranked 110th out of 149 by the World Economic Forum in 2018. The same survey ranked Japan at 125th for political empowerment in 2017. So yeah, perhaps not the worst of the worst, but pretty bad for a country that prides itself on being advanced and a world leader. And that doesn't even go into the everyday sexual harassment and assault that I wrote about earlier, which women live with on a regular basis.
Examples of how lenient the Japanese criminal justice system is on men:
- look up the 1989 murder of Junko Furata if you dare. She was a high school student who was kidnapped, raped, and tortured for over a month by four boys, and eventually died of her injuries, alone and naked, in a freezing cellar. The details of the torture she went through are too numerous to post here (not to mention pretty damn gruesome), and when her murderers were arrested, the police refused to reveal their identities because they deserved to be "protected." All four of those men completed their sentences as of 2009 (three of the four received sentences of less than 10 years) and are now free men living perfectly normal lives in Japan.
- Issei Sagawa, who, as a university student in France, killed and ate his classmate Renée Hartevelt in 1981. After being declared legally insane and deported to Japan, he has since lived as a free man after checking himself out of a mental hospital and became a minor celebrity for a while, writing books, making appearances, and writing restaurant reviews. It wasn't until the early 2000s that his celebrity status started to decline, and in 2011 he was quoted as saying "that being forced to make a living while being known as a murderer and cannibal was a terrible punishment."
Honestly, I'm usually the first person to defend East Asian cultures and practices, but it's silly to pretend that Japan in particular doesn't have a problem with sexism and gender issues.
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