Permitted and Prohibited Desires: Mothers, Comics, and Censorship in Japan

Permitted and Prohibited Desires: Mothers, Comics, and Censorship in Japan

Permitted and Prohibited Desires: Mothers, Comics, and Censorship in Japan

Permitted and Prohibited Desires: Mothers, Comics, and Censorship in Japan

Synopsis

A fascinating exploration of the varied culture of sex and sexuality, power and gender dynamics, in contemporary Japan.

Excerpt

Desire is both of and beyond the everyday. In an ad for running shoes, for example, the figure of a man jogging at dawn on the Serengeti Plain both evokes a fantasy of escape and invokes a disciplinary norm to stay fit. The bottom line for the ad, of course, is to create a desire to consume, the promise being that with the purchase of these shoes, the consumer can realize yet also transcend the daily exhortation to perform.

To say this differently, there is something both real and phantasmic about desire. Yet this notion seems contradictory. Isn't there a difference between the desire to be fit, for example, which is realizable, realistic, and, in these senses, real and the desire to escape routine everydayness, which, for most of us, is inescapable most of the time? But is exercise real or phantasmic? Certainly not everyone works out, and even those who make exercise a part of their reality may do so in order to pursue a fantasy about themselves. And are escapes from daily routines phantasmic or real? An escape from the everyday is far more realizable for some people than even fitness. But here too what is fantasy blends into (and becomes indistinguishable from) the real: A vacation away from work may be a means of ensuring a higher level of work performance when one returns.

Looking back at the ad, we can see that the desires structured here reflect a certain perception and experience of the world: one that demands hard work, values high performance, and pleasurizes the foreignness of other worlds. It is in terms of this worldview that the desire to run hard is not so distinct from the desire to travel to the Serengeti Plain. One involves a daily workout, the other large sums of money acquired from years of saving or a high-powered job. Both are signs of hard work that, captured through desire, suggest both the realization of a fantasy and the phantasmal quality of the real.

My objective in this book is to contemplate how desire as something that segues both into and out of the realities of everyday life is configured through relations of production and consumption in late capitalist Japan. Specifically, I am interested in one domain of productivity: the home, where women, as mothers, have . . .

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