Question 2: Language, sexuality and music – discuss the relationship between language, sexuality and popular music production (you can focus on one song or several, up to you)
Music is prevalent in our lives. As a matter of fact, all cultures have their own type of music. Popular music production these days are centralized around the notion of sex. Research has Read more →
Discuss briefly the hosting club culture in Japan with a particular focus on language and sexuality and/or desire by comparing the two documentaries we have watched in class – Tokyo Girls and The Great Happiness Space. Make sure to highlight the similarities and differences between the work of hostesses in clubs for men (as represented in the documentary ‘Tokyo Girls’) Read more →
I think the most obvious similarity that stood out to me was the fact both Tokyo Girls and The Great Happiness Space hardly involved emotions of the hosts/hostesses – and their jobs were centred on monetary gains. Their services were paid for, as quoted by customers in The Great Happiness Space that they were “not buying boys, but buying their time”. A point of difference was in the purpose of these visitations. For the former, men usually patronize these hostess clubs to close business deals, where hostesses play a role in facilitating their business transactions with clients. Their identity as women comes into play as they serve to bond men by acting as a topic of discussion – sometimes objectified, although no sex is involved. On the otherhand, female customers visit host clubs to gain emotional healing from e.g. stress they face at work – and it would be interesting to find out that their customer base comes mostly from the same line of service i.e. hostess, show-dancer or even call girl and Fuzoku ‘prostitute’. Both groups of customers enjoy the display of their power at these places – being served and having hostesses/hosts attend to their requests. Both occupations do coincide with 'gender-appropriate behaviour' (according to normative standards) as we can observe hostesses appealing with their femininity and hosts portraying masculinity through nampa 'picking girls up on streets' and accommodating to their customers' desired styles - be it humble and cool, or funny.
Hosts are usually locals, but we observe in Tokyo Girls, foreign women working as hostesses; which reveals a little about their cultural ideals – foreign white women ‘tall and slender’ being associated with prestige; customers sometimes also request for their silence and to just sit and smile.
Although sex is not required as part of the job, there are no hard rules as both hosts and hostesses do give in to occasional requests for such physical fulfilment. In The Great Happiness Space however, it was revealed that hosts usually don’t – for that would mean satisfying the main goal of their female customers’ visits. To make them long-term customers, both hosts and hostesses learn to provide their customers with pleasure and satisfaction without giving sex. They lie to keep the conversation going (in the case of hostesses – to boost men’s ego) and to weave “dreams and fantasies” (in the case of hosts); sometimes with the ambiguity of their language, and when the meanings behind ‘yes’ and ‘no’ (Tokyo Girls) are just not that clear anymore.
The idea of getting easy money is attractive but exactly how ‘easy’ is it for these hosts and hostesses. They go to work to ‘sell dreams’ and believe that it should be ‘nothing about me’ and all about my clients. While both slug their guts out in the name of fulfilling the certain desire or dream of their clientele, their gender or ‘sexuality’ plays an essential part in their approach to satisfying their clients.
Firstly is the act of ‘hunting.’ While the Tokyo Girls remained (docile) within the circumference of their workplace, the male hosts have recorded actively in pursuit for ladies on the streets. It is also interesting to note that this idea of man playing a more active role is reduplicated in Tokyo Girls in which the male clients would be the one calling them up for dinner and stuff while. This may be linked to the gender stereotypes of men as the aggressive pursuer; similar to the penetrator and the penetrated? We shall now look at the background of the clientele. While the males who visit the Tokyo girls come from a rather diverse background, some prestigious- like educators. The ladies featured in The Great Happiness Space were either prostitutes or club hostesses. To me, it seems like a case of having ‘same birds flock together’ in which the ladies seek refuge and comfort with men of ‘similar background’ who would understand where they come from and ‘accept’ them for who they are. It is also noticeable that the female customers had higher mentions of falling in love and having an emotional investment towards their favorite male hosts. In other words, the female clients accept the love they think they deserve- which they feel are in these male hosts.
However as daylight approached, we realize that they are not at all different. They are all living behind their respective masks. As they end their shift and reach out for the comforts of their bed, both express the need to love and yearned to be loved - fo’ real.
Against the backdrop of the hosting club culture in Japan with a comparison of the two documentaries - Tokyo Girls and The Great Happiness Space, there are a handful of similarities and differences which I will discuss in detail with references from Cameron and Kulick (2003).
In view of the similarities, it is clear that the hosting club culture works in a way that emotions are uninvolved such that the hosts and hostesses are monetarily driven by the high paying industry, where a lot of their work revolves around using language as a medium to entertain, bring comfort and provide companionship to their clients. Interestingly, through the use of language in this context, the hosts and hostesses are seen to perform their stereotypical genders. In Tokyo Girls, the hostesses adopt feminine interactional styles like high-pitched voice, politeness and being encouraging toward their clients’ masculinities. While in The Great Happiness In Space, the hosts adopt masculine interactional styles like assertive talk and being very direct since their clients prefer them to enact a certain form of masculinity. This implies that the hosts and hostesses will have to feed the desires of their clients and evidently, inter-relations between language and sexuality play out in a complex way where desires must be fed, for returning clients are crucial in their line of business.
In light of the differences, we can see that it lies in the clientele and the purpose of their visitations. In Tokyo Girls, the clients are predominantly businessmen attempting to secure business deals, where the hostesses will come into picture by facilitating their business transactions, while the clients forge homosocial bonds amongst friends and fellow business partners. Hostesses are engaged to accept, reflect and augment the men's egos, whilst listening and providing encouragements at all times. Additionally, these clients are also able to share a common topic through their engagement in 'breast talk', a form of banter that reaffirms their sense of masculinity to make them ‘feel like a man’, where they can relate to one another in an informal, nonhierarchical way. Conversely, in The Great Happiness in Space, female clients visit host clubs to gain ‘emotional healing’ and relieve their stress from work as hostesses, prostitutes and such. Expressed linguistically through compliments, sweet talk and endearments, the hosts sell lies and dreams of ‘love’ to their clients, providing them with the attention they desire. Cultural difference is another distinction where the hostesses in Tokyo Girls are foreign Western women associated with prestige and desirability for being tall, blond, slender and white-skinned as compared to the local hosts in Japan. Here, the foreign hostesses are viewed as a symbol of status and power by these Japanese male clients.
Generally, it is known that sex is not part of the hosting club culture and this is exactly how hosts and hostesses take advantage of the situation in maintaining a long-term relationship with their clients. In Tokyo Girls, the hostesses lie to keep the conversation going and consistently make the effort to boost their clients’ egos. Whereas in The Great Happiness Space, the hosts will likewise attempt to provide their clients with pleasure and satisfaction without satisfying the main goal of their clients’ visits (sex) by weaving dreams of ‘love’ and fantasies. In other words, these monetarily driven hosts and hostesses tend to adopt a variety of techniques in maintaining a long-term relationship with their clients to thrive in the hosting club culture in Japan.
In looking at the host clubs from both films, it is clear that one key similarity is how hosts are very aware and deliberate in using language to carry out their jobs. In “The Great Happiness Space”, male hosts are seen using pick up lines on women in the streets, with one particularly interesting utterance that went along the lines of “you can toy with us, you can have us”. This subversive statement sets the stage for the intimate relationship that could transpire. Apart from their excessive man-scaping, language is a primary means in which they present themselves to their potential clients. When interviewed, the male hosts reveal that the first stage of relationship building with their customers start with “cute gestures” and the documentary showed male hosts flirting with clients. The second stage was to scold their female clients and “telling them what needs to be told”. Their conversations now shifted to providing good advice for the girls and almost “keeping it real” with them. In “Tokyo Girls”, a telling incident that highlighted the importance of language in their self-portrayal was during a candid interview in one of the dressing rooms. Giving the interview in a lacklustre manner and airing her dissatisfaction with her male clients, she immediately adopted an enthusiastic and cheerful tone when taking an unexpected call from the very clients she was just complaining about. Cameron and Kulick (2003) further stress that the hostess has to use language to ‘accept, reflect and augment’ the male client. Clearly, language is a crucial device in initiating, maintaining and navigating this host-client relationship fraught with sexual tensions and intimacy.
A difference between the settings of both host clubs is perhaps the desires that the host has to fulfil. The male hosts leverage on emotions, sharing that “if she falls in love, she is hooked”. Trying to meet the needs and forming a ‘special’ bond with each individual client is high on the agenda for the male hosts. Further explaining that “all girls can be princesses”, it is reflected in the personal nature of their conversations and how girls will buy private booths to have a one-on-one conversation with their male host. For female hosts, their male clients are looking to be reinforced and have their egos boosted. Even though she is the object of desire, Allison (1994) has pointed out that her primary role is to ‘smooth the conversational path between men’, making them feel more masculine in front of their peers. As such, both host clubs pander to the different desires of their clients and it is a dominant influence on the discourse used by the hosts themselves.
When we compare these two films, there are a lot of similarities that exist about the job-scope of the hosts and hostesses. Hosting is a form of “water business” (Cameron & Kulick 2003: 63-65). This means that the income received by hosts and hostesses are instable and vary from day-to-day basis. Their income amount depends very much on how much they can drink or talk and make their customers drink or spend on them. For hosts, they would blatantly go out onto the streets to pick up ladies (“nampa”). Ladies who are interested would follow the hosts back to the clubs. Hence, other than having a likeable appearance, the skill to make a strong impression through their pick-up lines are vital too. As for hostesses, they may call up their customers to ask if they would like to bring them out for dates (“dohan”). Clubs earn commissions from dohan and the hostesses get to enjoy dining and shopping experiences with the customers.
Although the customer base for hosts and hostesses is different, what they desire is generally similar. Both films revolve around the word “dream”, which is precisely what customers are seeking out for from these hosts and hostesses. These “dreams” are desires of different forms. Male customers are mostly businessmen, who come to hostess clubs for work or personal reasons. They could be trying to build relationships with their clients (Cameron & Kulick 2003: 63-65), or simply to seek emotional refuge and break free from stress at work or home. Female customers are mostly prostitutes (“fuzoku”) or call girls. They go to host clubs to seek acknowledgement and attention, which are something they could not get while servicing men during their work. To build up their “dreams”, customers would try to show their best side to impress the hosts and hostesses. It could be flaunting their strengths, talents or wealth. To play along with the customers’ “dreams” or “fantasy”, hosts and hostesses would always compliment their customers to show that they are “attracted” to these qualities shown. When talking to customers, they must engage in the conversations attentively. Hosts would normally listen to the working or life woes of their customers and provide advices. Hostesses would never touch on topics related to customer’s work or wife. Even if the topic is boring or offends the hosts or hostesses in some ways such as “breast talk” (Cameron & Kulick 2003: 63-65), they cannot show direct signs of resistance, rejection or unhappiness since they are getting paid by these customers. In fact, hosts and hostesses must master the art of subtle refusal. This applies when they may be taken advantage of physically by their customers too. The talk between customers and the hosts or hostesses is like a mind game. Both sides may know what each other ultimately desire, but they do not satisfy each other immediately. Customers seek for hosts or hostesses’ attentions. Hence, they would shower them with gifts or open more bottles to financially worship them. They would use means of deceiving to say or show how much they “love” or favour the hosts or hostesses, in hopes of getting their ultimate desire (i.e. sexual or emotional) fulfilled. However, they may not be doing this only to one host or hostess since they do hop around various clubs. On the other hand, hosts and hostesses would deceive and act to keep the game ongoing and have the customers hooked on to them for as long as possible. It is this idea of hoping for further develop of their desires, this idea of “maybe”, that keeps enticing and making these customers come back. This two-way game talk of deceiving and transaction usually makes both parties sceptical of what each other say. However, this does not stop customers from spending money to have an enjoyable time with the hosts and hostesses.
In this path of money-making, hosts and hostesses do get lost sometimes. For the hosts, they may become distrusting to what people say and believe that they may never find someone to settle down with. For hostesses, in order to drink more, they may spend their earnings to rely on drugs. While trying to excel in this job of deceiving or pleasuring people, they may lose their true selves ultimately since they are always using a pretended speech.
The most obvious difference between these two films is that “Great Happiness Space” takes on the perspective from local Japanese hosts. However, in “Tokyo Girls”, the perspective is from foreign Western ladies working as hostesses in Japan. Thus, there is bound to be some cultural differences. For example, these foreign ladies who are used to being straightforward in their home countries need to adapt to Japanese’s culture of being mild and endearing to cater to men’s desires of being masculine (Cameron & Kulick 2003: 63-65). In general, Japanese men are seen as respectable or admirable if they could have a blonde lady beside them. This form of “exotic possession” builds up the ego of men. This applies to how foreign men are interested in geishas too. Japanese businessmen like to interact with foreign hostesses to flaunt or practice their foreign languages. Thus, hostesses who knew more than one language (i.e. English) are more popular.
Hosts and hostesses took up the job due to several reasons as well. Based on the films, the common reason among hostesses is to earn fast money to do whatever they want after that. For hosts, the reason could be more than just money. It could be their pure interest in girls. Hence, they want to make a change or experience for themselves. As mentioned above, hostess clubs act more as a venue for men to bond together. However, female customers seek for more of an individual pleasure to have fun. In the hostess clubs, we can see that male dominance is constructed or built on through the interactions between customers and hostesses (Cameron & Kulick 2003: 63-65). A distinct role-switch is seen in host clubs where female customers are the demanding ones and hosts must cater to their desires. However, where hostesses are expected to be subtle with customers, hosts can “scold” their customers. Female customers do not mind being “scolded” as they see this as a form of love and care from the hosts. For hosts, it is fine if they had sex with their customers. However, hostesses primarily talk to customers and do not engage in sexual activities with them. Those who do may risk getting fired by their mama-sans.
In conclusion, the job of hosts and hostesses is very difficult and stressful as they need to adjust and adapt to different customers’ liking. Their job is not just trying to look good and dress well but involves the profound art of talking. This industry would probably always be on demand as customers seek for a place to rest, to be understood and to heal emotionally.
What is safe enough to be a safe word?
Sadomasochistic sex, is sexual preference whereby participants enacted fantasies that may involve humiliation and pain. Hence it is commonplace for such participants to agree on a ‘safe word’ so that if either one feels excessive pain or discomfort they would know that it is time to stop. Why does one need a Read more →
Julie and Mike are into sadomasochistic sexting. Which among these emojis is most likely their ‘safe emoji’? Why?
Sadomasochistic scenes are a case of sexual activity where the word ‘no’ does not actually mean ‘no’ (Cameron & Kulick, 2003). Sending sexual messages especially with emojis can, therefore, be messy and parties involving themselves should Read more →
WHAT’S MY SAFE EMOJI???
According to Cameron and Kulick (2003), during consensual sadomasochism (SM), it is common for sexual partners to decide and agree on a ‘safe word’ prior to engaging in this erotic power role play. The purpose of a ‘safe word’ is that its utterance during SM by one of parties acts as a signal to the Read more →
SM SEXTING 101
Q1. Emojis have taken texting and its related forms to a whole new level. Emojis that conveys happiness? Done. Emojis that emits sadness? Done. Emoji to say ‘baby-i’m-horny, let’s sex text?’ DONE TOO. Bless technology! (Or maybe just the iPhone because (some) Android… there, there)Vanessa Marin even gave us 50 Example Sexting Ideas You Read more →
The three top entries in Urban Dictionary on the definition of ‘locker room talk’ seem to have a general consensus that ‘locker room banter/ talk’ (henceforth LRB) tends to concern taboo subjects not usually permissible in polite society, such as comments of a sexual nature, often with sexist and maybe even racist connotations. However, the definitions do differ pretty markedly Read more →
Q-1: Julie and Mike are into sadomasochistic sexting. Which among these emojis is most likely their ‘safe emoji’? Why?
Characterised by or deriving sexual gratification from both sadism and masochism, sadomasochistic sexting can be regarded as the tendency to derive sexual gratification from inflicting pain, suffering or humiliation to own self and others through the use Read more →
Q2. Locker room banter
Reading the top three entries for ‘locker room talk’ in UrbanDictionary, it appears that the writers have glossed over the subtle, underlying interpersonal functions it serves, as well as its severity. However, one thing that remains true in these entries is their indication that ‘locker room banter’ consists of language that is ‘crude’, ‘offensive’, and Read more →
Sadomaschistic (SM) scenes involve the enacting of fantasies that often involves humiliation and pain. The consensual participation in such scenes requires mutual communication and understanding. Oftentimes, the parties involved will establish a ‘safe word’ before engaging in any sort of SM activities. The purpose of the safe word is to provide an ‘out’ for either parties in the enacted scenario; Read more →
The microphone emoji is most likely to be their ‘safe emoji’. A safe word is used frequently in BDSM sexual acts. Due to the nature of the sexual act, ‘no’s and ‘stop’ does not actually mean stop. In fact, this is all part of the activity, to increase pleasure and reality of the BDSM act. At a time like this, Read more →
In this case, emojis displaying facial expressions and exclamation mark and the water droplets are ruled out as they may Read more →
Q1. Julie and Mike are into sadomasochistic sexting. Which among these emojis is most likely their ‘safe emoji’? Why?
The pickle or cucumber looking emoji would most likely be Julie and Mike’s ‘safe emoji’ for sadomasochistic (SM) sexting.
With reference to Kulick and Cameron’s ‘Language and Sexuality’, in the SM scenes, participants must decide on a ‘safe word’ in advance. As long Read more →
Julie and Mike are into sadomasochistic sexting. Which among these emojis is most likely their ‘safe emoji’? Why?
Sex is nothing new to us, it is a topic that everyone knows of and understand how it works. In order to spice up their sex life, people are always finding new ways to pleasure themselves and their partners. Due to technology advances Read more →
Sadomasochism is defined on the Merriam-Webster online dictionary as “the derivation of sexual gratification from the infliction of physical pain or humiliation either on another person or on oneself”. It is a common practice for partners who engage in sadomasochistic play to agree on a ‘safe word’ beforehand, as this ‘safe word’ would allow one party to Read more →