Oriental Lolitas. (the Back Half)

By Jones, Susanna | New Statesman (1996), February 3, 2003 | Go to article overview

Oriental Lolitas. (the Back Half)


Jones, Susanna, New Statesman (1996)


While paedophilia causes growing hysteria in the west, the Japanese, even in public, read comic books featuring schoolgirls in pornographic poses. Does it make any difference that it's just ink and paper?

A visitor to Japan might be surprised to see a grown man sitting on the train flicking through a comic hook the size of a telephone directory. The visitor might be more surprised still to glance across and see violent pornographic scenes depicting young girls. Scenarios include rape, incest and murder. The girl is usually submissive, innocent and weak, and the man a bully. If the female character isn't actually wearing school uniform, she will look young: tiny nose, big wide eyes, long eyelashes -- features designed to show her innocence. This is Loli-con (Lolita complex) porn and is a small but significant section of Japan's manga (comic book) output.

There is a type of manga for every demographic group in Japan. In most, stories tell of adventure and romance. They can have emotional depth and a strong moral message, often to do with the importance of individual responsibility. The schoolgirl is a major archetype of manga stories, and part of its tradition. In comics written for young girls, she is an aspirational figure, perhaps fulfilling her dream of becoming a ballerina, perhaps discovering that she has secret powers to save the world. To some extent, the pornographic manga takes characters that already exist and makes them into fantasies for men. Perhaps the surprising thing, to the westerner, isn't that this stuff exists -- the school uniform is a turn-on the world over, after all -- but that the guy reading it doesn't seem remotely embarrassed to be doing so in public. There are protesters, but generally the fetishisation of the schoolgirl seems to be acknowledged and tolerated, or at least put up with, in Japan.

A man in Tokyo can go to a sex parlour and live out schoolgirl/teacher fantasies in a room made to look like a classroom or a gym. He can chat to young girls in telephone clubs. Men can even purchase the unwashed underwear of teenage girls (though the prevalence of this tends to be exaggerated in the western media). Perhaps, in a society where women are gradually gaining more power and freedom, men are running scared -- turning to images of younger and less threatening girls.

Yet it is not always fantasy, and it is not all new. In real schools, it is not uncommon for male teachers to enter into sexual relationships with girls, and this has been so for a long time. In the past, it wasn't unusual for a male teacher to marry his favourite pupil when she became old enough. Men will openly admit to fancying young girls in uniform and have no fear that their friends will call them perverts. The boundaries are not clear. Despite the formality of many aspects of Japanese schools, they can be very touchy-feely places. When I taught in Japanese high schools, I was occasionally surprised to see a girl of 12 or 13 giving a male teacher a neck rub in the staff room. It may have been completely innocent, but to western eyes it seemed inappropriate.

In Japan, people are generally quite relaxed about nudity and children. Communal bathing is a part of Japanese culture and people are unselfconscious in front of one another (though at a mixed nude bathing spot you'd be unlikely to see many young women). Western viewers of Hayao Miyazaki's magical anime My Neighbour Totoro are often surprised and uncomfortable when watching the scene where the father takes a bath with his two daughters, aged 11 and four. We can't watch such a scene without an awareness of all the connotations of paedophilia. In Japan, sharing a bath with one's children is natural.

Culturally, much visual humour in Japan derives from nudity and bodily functions. One of Japan's most popular TV anime programmes, Crayon Shin-chan, started out as a manga.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Oriental Lolitas. (the Back Half)
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.