The 44th GJS SeminarPurchasing Pleasure: Sex-Positive Industries and Feminism in Japan Today

Date and time: November 20, 2017 (Mon.), 3:00-4:00PM
Venue: Lobby (1F), Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia, The University of Tokyo
Speaker: Alexandra Hambleton (Assistant Professor, Faculty of Foreign Studies, Bunkyo Gakuin University)
Language: English

Abstract: Is it possible to imagine a form of sex-positive feminism in a Japan that denies women active sexualities? This presentation examines representations of female sexuality in post-growth neoliberal Japan. I question why feminist conceptualizations of women’s right to pleasure have failed to make inroads in a Japan that clings to a pronatalist, pro-growth ideology as the result of growing anxiety over the country’s economy and future. The growth of an adult industry catering to women may have been born out of a desire on the part of companies to expand their customer base, yet also indicates an interest in sex-positive discourses on the part of female consumers. Examining a number of female-friendly adult companies, I contemplate whether this phenomenon can be considered feminist, or if it serves as an example of what Andi Zeisler (2016) has termed “marketplace feminism”. The pro-sex industry may be thoroughly commercialized, yet it also offers a space in which women may explore discourses of sex and pleasure that were not previously available.

Organizer: The Global Japan Studies Network (GJS)
Co-organizer: Institute for Advanced Studeis on Asia (IASA)
Contact: gjs[at]