Arguing for the Girls of Enjo Kosai

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Although the United States is a western culture filled with various ideas of sexuality and intimacy, opinions on morality, and twisted forms of law and justice, its citizens have often presented expressions of horror and disdain toward the sexual practices of youth in Japan. Stereotypically, foreigners often imagine the teenage girls of Japan in skimpy schoolgirl outfits with extreme make-up and hairstyles, selling their frilly panties for souvenirs. Is this biased view of young Japanese womanhood even remotely accurate? Many would respond to this question with an unfortunate sigh, nodding their heads. But one must question the intentions behind these acts-- the driving forces of these girls. According to an article in the Journal of Japanese Studies, it seems that many girls do not sell themselves for the sex or intimacy, but rather cold, hard cash. One of the many practices in which these young women take part is known as enjo kosai, roughly translated to mean "dating assistance." This business is very similar to an escort service, and while it is often viewed as a means of childhood prostitution, rarely involves any form of sexual contact. The clients, usually middle class men in their forties or fifties, pay the girls to go on a sort of ‘date,' with them in exchange for expensive designer goods or large sums of cash meant for their purchase. In the film Platonic Sex, the main character begins working as one of these women, earning herself handfuls of money, usually just by flirting with the customers. It is very important to understand, while attempting to make sense of the girls' intentions that the practice of Enjo Kosai began to quickly emerge postwar in an attempt to hold onto economic prosperity. The practice seems to be closely bound to a consumerist subculture centered on designer labels and expensive price tags. Financial independence for these girls, usually from middle class families themselves, means a world of new opportunity. They are not selling themselves to men for survival or out of need, but rather out of want to be in a state of high society and to secure their place in a fast-paced world. Still, even after examining and pondering this idea, many foreigners would still question the legality, morality, and history behind Enjo Kosai. Couldn't this hurt the girls emotionally? How in the world is this legal? Why are the Japanese men so severely attracted to the image of these underage girls? Japanese society itself is very different from that of the west. A culture once known for their strict views on union and arranged marriages, Japan's views on sexuality can now be expressed on the streets through the selling of gang-rape manga and porn vending machines. The attraction of Enjo Kosai seems to largely be built of the "schoolgirl" fantasy of Japanese men. In their culture, men blame this desire on the idea of ‘tamaranai,' a sense of uncontrollable attraction towards the school uniforms of young girls. The girls of Japan, looking to earn money, know this principle and can often be seen wearing sexed-up versions of this attire with their clichéd pleated mini-skirts, gleaming white knee socks, ribbons and ‘cute' grinning expressions. A book on the subject by author Millie Creighton continues to delve into the questionable reason Japanese men find this look so attractive. While in western culture, such sexual attraction to the look of young girls would be viewed with scorn and remarks about pedophilia, Japanese men strictly brush off any notion of their ideas being wrong. They yet again turn toward another social theory, this one known as ‘roricon.' Roricon is the basic belief in a Lolita complex; the schoolgirls image translates into a real-life fantasy for these men, something of a pornographic dream. Also known as Lolicon when used in manga (comics,) or any other pornographic material, this Lolita complex is a huge selling point for young, (and usually underage,) girls. For some reason unknown, (and...
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