Japan, swimsuits and being uncomfortable
Commentary, June 29th, 2018
I admit it – I have a thing for swimsuits. I love one piece swimsuits and how they look on a woman’s body. Like many in a similar place I find I’m naturally drawn towards the Japanese Gravure and AV models.
But there was something that popped up a few months ago that got me thinking and searching. The UN has been expressing concerns about Japan’s fondness for youth, something that comes across as kawaii. In particular they’ve been concerned how anime and manga often portrays characters whose wide eyed looks and youthful bodies hints at underage sex and even occasionally depicts it.
Japan’s been pretty robust in its defence, pointing to how the west has subverted the term “pedophile” away from its correct definition (a sexual attraction to prepubescent children) to include attraction to anyone deemed “too young”. They argue they have legislation and mechanisms in place to protect children from appearing in porn.
I started to look more deeply into questions of consent and the age at which models start to appear, at which point I got a little concerned. It transpires models will sometimes start their careers at 14 or 15. They’ll pose for kawaii and cosplay, then progress through swimsuits and occasionally onto something stronger. Tapping into the US market means by the time someone is shooting porn they’re over 18.
It’s the grey area that is unsettling. Gravure models are sexy, that’s the idea. They play to an idea of cute that’s intended to tease and titillate. They stroke the ego. Yet there’s little doubt in my mind that some of the images I encounter are of girls who would not be of legal age to do this kind of shoot in my own country.
aybe twenty years ago the idea of finding a woman who was 16 or 17 attractive would’ve been fine to a Brit. There were countless Page 3 models who started their careers at this age and not an eyebrow was raised. Then came legislation that effectively outlawed glamour modeling for anyone under 18. At a stroke early topless images of Samantha Fox and Maria Whittaker (to name a few) was made illegal and as a society we moved on. We adjusted so the idea of seeing a young teenager in a deliberately sexualised posed became uncomfortable and abhorrent.
Japan isn’t the UK. It has its own moral codes and legislation and I don’t have a right to object to a culture that is different to mine. At the same time, I’m on the internet. I’m browsing and searching and coming across content that my culture says is morally wrong. I have an obligation not to consume this content and, if necessary, report it to the authorities.
My suggestion is if you come across anything that sits uncomfortably, if the model seems a little too young, hit the back button. Whether you decide to go that extra step and report it, well that’s for you to decide.