Event Title

Analyzing Academic Discourse on Enjokosai: The Schoolgirl and the Researcher

Presenter Information

Tomoyo Joshi, Oberlin College

Location

Science Center A254

Start Date

9-26-2014 3:30 PM

End Date

9-26-2014 5:00 PM

Abstract

Enjokosai, or ‘compensated dating’ as it is known in English, has been an ongoing controversial issue within both Japanese and Western academia. Particularly in the late 1990s, scholars, journalists, and the general public all had vested interest in enjokosai: why would these young women ‘sell their bodies’ for money? In this paper, I analyze English- and Japanese-language discourse—forms of representation and habits of language that produce specific fields of culturally- and historically-located meanings—on enjokosai, looking at the ways in which academics understands and constructs enjokosai as a social, cultural or moral issue. First, I examine how enjokosai and its participants have been depicted in academia. How have scholars’ findings informed the general public about enjokosai, and how has their interest actually legitimized enjokosai as a social issue that can and should be studied? Second, I argue that the interpretation of Japanese sources by Western scholars not only perpetuates Japanese society’s expected sexual behavior of adolescent girls as having to be pure and untainted but also adds a layer of orientalism—the imagination, emphasis and exaggeration of the [Asian] Other in relation to Western dominant ideologies or lifestyles—that cannot be hidden in the language of academia: only in a work-driven patriarchal Japan would people create a system in which ‘schoolgirls’ engage in sex to get pocket money. Third, I question the relationship between academia and the subjects studied: what is so interesting about young women’s sexuality? What does it mean to study constantly the sexually deviant Other? Ultimately, I argue that scholars’ persistent attention to enjokosai and, more broadly, to young women’s sexuality, emerges out of a need to regulate the bodies of women.

Notes

Session II, Panel 5 - Beauty, Femininity: Challenging Academic Discourses

Award

Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellow (MMUF)

Project Mentor(s)

Ann Sherif, East Asian Studies

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Sep 26th, 3:30 PM Sep 26th, 5:00 PM

Analyzing Academic Discourse on Enjokosai: The Schoolgirl and the Researcher

Science Center A254

Enjokosai, or ‘compensated dating’ as it is known in English, has been an ongoing controversial issue within both Japanese and Western academia. Particularly in the late 1990s, scholars, journalists, and the general public all had vested interest in enjokosai: why would these young women ‘sell their bodies’ for money? In this paper, I analyze English- and Japanese-language discourse—forms of representation and habits of language that produce specific fields of culturally- and historically-located meanings—on enjokosai, looking at the ways in which academics understands and constructs enjokosai as a social, cultural or moral issue. First, I examine how enjokosai and its participants have been depicted in academia. How have scholars’ findings informed the general public about enjokosai, and how has their interest actually legitimized enjokosai as a social issue that can and should be studied? Second, I argue that the interpretation of Japanese sources by Western scholars not only perpetuates Japanese society’s expected sexual behavior of adolescent girls as having to be pure and untainted but also adds a layer of orientalism—the imagination, emphasis and exaggeration of the [Asian] Other in relation to Western dominant ideologies or lifestyles—that cannot be hidden in the language of academia: only in a work-driven patriarchal Japan would people create a system in which ‘schoolgirls’ engage in sex to get pocket money. Third, I question the relationship between academia and the subjects studied: what is so interesting about young women’s sexuality? What does it mean to study constantly the sexually deviant Other? Ultimately, I argue that scholars’ persistent attention to enjokosai and, more broadly, to young women’s sexuality, emerges out of a need to regulate the bodies of women.