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extra credit - tokyo girls vs. the great happiness space


Tuesday, Apr 17, 2018 - 01:27:03 pm

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 →

Categories: food for thought
The main difference between Tokyo Girls (TG) and The Great Happiness Space (TGHS) is that in the former, the girls are seen as exotic creatures as they are white , while the men from TGHS are generally locals. Both groups of hosts differ from prostitutes as they do not solely provide sexual pleasure - rather their main aim is to provide company and companionship. In TGHS, the women seeking male hosts are portrayed as desperate to be 'healed' in some way due to the emotionally and mentally draining nature of their jobs, many of which are related to the 'night life scene'. In TG, however, the male customers seem to want this relationship with their hostesses to boost their male ego and sense of masculinity.
I guess both the documentaries show how the clients want their hosts to perform their stereotypical genders. Both documentaries, the hostesses and hosts are expected to be there to provide company to their clients. However, in the Tokyo Girls documentary, they hostesses are expected perform their stereotypical gender; using feminine linguistic cues, being super polite and encouraging their client's masculinities. However, when we look at The Great Happiness In Space documentary, female clients want their host to be "mean" and "physical". Hence, male hosts would have to perform this stereotyped role; the cool, masculine male that all the girls want to hang out with. This shows that different clients have different desires, and these hosts and hostesses would need to perform accordingly to get a stable income.
Tokyo Girls focused on four Canadian women who went to Japan to work as hostesses, attracted by the 'easy money'. The hosts featured in The Great Happiness Space were natives who were similarly attracted by the potential high pay that the job offers. For both the hosts and the hostesses, their customers mainly did not desire to have any sexual relations with them and only wanted to be in the company of the host or hostess. The customers of the hosts visit the host club to relieve stress from their jobs by talking with the hosts. This is because many of them have jobs that are frowned upon by society (prostitute, soapland, etc), and the hosts are there to listen and comfort and sometimes even provide advice for them. The customers of the hostesses view the hostesses as a symbol of status as they are white girls, and being seen with them boosts their ego. Cameron and Kulick (2003) note that the conversations hostesses have with their customers has the purpose of making the men feel more masculine. For both the hosts and hostesses, they therefore have to constantly flatter their customers, even if they have to lie about it.
Hosting club culture in Japan is a very interesting and very niched market with reference to the discourse between the hosts / hostesses and their customers. I would go into a host club just for the sake of it, but then I don't understand Japanese and that pretty much defeats the point - which suggests that, in and of itself, hosting club culture is largely expressed through the language used by the hosts and hostesses. Similarities between the work of hostesses in clubs for men and the work of male hosts in clubs for women probably end in the job description and requirements. Both hosts and hostesses are paid to entertain members of the opposite sex, where returning customers are very important for their business. The differences are plenty, starting with the target demographic, with hostess clubs attracting older men, and host clubs attracting relatively younger girls. This age difference alone changes the power dynamic between the host/client and hostess/client, and is apparent in the language used and the roles played by the host / hostess. A host keeps his client 'dreaming' while a hostess tries to 'heal' the customer, a host-client relationship is all about lip service while all a hostess does is 'talk and fall in love'. Hosts can tell their clients - 70-80% of whom are hostesses themselves - how much to spend, how not to spend, or tell them how to behave, essentially acting as their therapist/ advisor, while the role of the hostess is to support the fragile masculinity of men, through homosocial interactions that is strangely always presented as male-male conversations, where "a good hostess makes (the client) feel like a man." Another important difference is the distinction of the types of hostess clubs, such as with cabaret clubs vs prostitutes, where there is a clear distinction between hostesses who sleep with their customers and hostesses who don't. There is no such distinction with hosts, and the only reason they don't (or rarely) fuck their clients is because they want to keep selling them the dream of 'romance' and have their clients returning for more. Language plays a pivotal role in the denial of responsibility, focusing on what is not said, rather than what is said. Neither the host nor the hostess outrightly rejects the client, anything that the host doesn't (want to) do is for the benefit for the client, and it is up to the client to interpret his words. A point of interest could be the differences in the interpretation of the different cultures, with "Tokyo Girls", a documentary about foreign women becoming hostesses in Tokyo, the "cold but polite" metropolis directed by a Canadian woman, and "The Great Happiness Space" a documentary following a bunch of host "brothers" in Osaka, the "friendly yet aggressive" Americans of Japan, directed by an English man. In addition to possible differences in the outlook and vision of the directors, the differences in the language/dialect of Tokyo (Hyojungo, or standard japanese) and Osaka ("Osaka-ben", or, more generally, "Kansai-ben") can represent the manifestation of the different cultural attitudes between the people in Tokyo and Osaka. With Osaka-ben being a more casual, melodic and generally more straightforward language, it could result in Osakans - hosts in Osaka, in particular - being more outgoing and aggressive, 'fishing' for customers on the streets (they even have a name for it, nampa - which roughly translates into men flirting with/ picking up women). Tokyoites, on the other hand, are generally more reserved and polite, with the use of "standard / traditional" Japanese presenting hostesses in Tokyo as more refined, in addition to being prim and proper.
One of the clear differences between Tokyo Girls and The Great Happiness Space is that the former focused heavily on foreign, Western female hostesses in Japan as compared to the local male hosts in Japan. This cultural difference in the nature of the hostesses and hosts plays a part in revealing the roles that they play in the environment of Japanese clubs. In Tokyo Girls, the Western hostesses were a prime choice for the Japanese men as being seen with these "tall, blond, white-skinned" woman is viewed as something of prestige and desirability. Hence, Japanese men actually elevate status sense of power as the foreign hostesses seemingly act as a tool and marker of dominance and influence. The second difference I would like to highlight is the different ideals and constructs that each of the businesses rely on to make money and continue drawing back customers. In The Great Happiness Space, the male hosts appeal to and capitalise on the women's desire to feel loved and paid attention to, lavished and treat them like Queens. They appeal to the conventional stereotypes of what women desire in their lives and relationships and fulfil the emotional desires of women who patronise them by listening to them, talking to them and apparently helping to build their confidence. As such, even though the women spend lavish amounts of money on the hosts, they do not feel as if they are wasting their money because according to them "they are not buying boys, but buying time". In contrast, the female western hostesses in Tokyo Girls keep their interactions strictly business and do not form physical or emotional bonds, only keeping their minds on monetary bonds. Their ability to do this depends heavily on what their role and purpose is in being hostesses to the Japanese men. Using hostesses to make them 'feel like a man', the hostesses are there to facilitate smooth business transactions and discussions, and also have conversations with the men to increase their sense of masculinity and confidence. I suppose the purpose of the hosts and hostesses then, are fairly similar as they are both there to help men and women that patronise them assert their identities as men and women and fulfil their desires to be appropriately and lavishly treated as such, although they are done in very contrasting ways. The last difference I notice is the customer base that each of the clubs receive. In Tokyo Girls, the men patronising the western hostesses were all businessmen, or high ranking, influential members of society with a lot of money at their disposal and could lavishly spend on the hostesses in terms of not only drinks but gifts and large tips. In contrast, the customer base in The Great Happiness Space is ironically Japanese hostesses and prostitutes themselves that have come to get 'emotional healing' and relieve their stress due to the hurts and bruises they accumulate from the nature of their jobs. This highlights to me some sort of an interdependent relationship between the working community of hosts and hostesses in Japan because they actually need each other to continue in this line of business. Lastly, one of the similarities that cannot be ignored in both the foreign hostesses and Japanese hosts is the roles and identities they perform and construct for themselves, all for the purpose of pleasing their customers and fulfilling their ideal desires and wishes. In putting up this whole facade and taking on the identity, or even multiple identities, there is always the danger of 'losing the plot', and also losing one's true identity and sense of self and worth as they struggle to continue performing this role in order to gain monetarily.
One thing from the documentaries that really stood out to me was how transactional Japanese society was portrayed to be. In host and hostess clubs, clients pay for 'love' and 'affection' that they know isn't genuine. This starkly contrasts the importance of authenticity in the expression of sexuality and desire in other cultures, where a lack of authenticity could 'provoke anxiety' (Cameron & Kulick, 2003). While both hosts and hostesses appropriate the social semiotics of desire to forge an attraction towards their clients, they serve distinct purposes. Hostesses are paid to augment men's egos, to listen and encourage them in spite of what they say. The clubs in particular provide a platform to facilitate homosocial bonding, where men can relate to one another in an informal, non-hierarchical manner. Men are able to share a common topic and engage in 'breast talk', affirming their heterosexuality while enhancing social bonds. Conversely, hosts sell lies and dreams of 'love' to their clients, emotionally 'healing' women by providing them with the attention they desire. This is expressed linguistically through the compliments and sweet talk that they shower their clients with. Another striking difference between the two jobs lies in the relationships hosts and hostesses have with their clients. The hostess-client relationship appears to be more centered around the client, whereas the host-client relationship is (in the case of long-term clients) structured around the host. One hostess recounted her confusing experience with men, remarking that some clients would want her to smile and remain quiet, or simply teach them English. This type of interaction is a product of the asymmetrical linguistic division of labor embedded in the heterosexual contract, whereby men dominate the floor and women are expected to support them. On the other hand, women desire to engage in conversations with their hosts. Interestingly enough, both relationships are centered around men, which could be interpreted as a reflection of Japan's deep-rooted patriarchy and strict gender roles.
In my opinion, the hosting club culture in Japan is an interesting culture to look at. Tokyo girls are more known but it is rare to hear about the boys having a similar occupation as the girls. The thought of men having a similar occupation as the girls are just weird. This is because it is rare for men to cater to the women. However, the hosting club culture in Japan is an example where the male host has to cater to their female customers. The similarity of host and hostesses are that they both provide entertainment and attention that people are lacking. Therefore, people would go to these hosting club in sought of attention and love. In order to retain their job and prevent their customers from going other clubs, they have to perform stereotypical gender roles which include the way they speak. They will have to fake it till they make it. The hostesses are supposed to speak in a feminine way to cater to their customers. Meanwhile, the host displays masculinity by approaching the customers on the streets and giving advice to their female customers even if they do not have feelings for them. All host clubs have a ranking system. Thus, it is important to perform stereotypical gender roles when working at a hosting club in Japan to attract customers and retain their customers. All in all, Japan truly have an interesting culture.  

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.

In both Tokyo Girls (TG) and The Great Happiness Space (TGHS), we can see how the hostesses and hosts both use language as a medium to appease their customers. In TG, one of the hostesses mentioned that the flow of conversations is usually the same with all her clients - work, life. She mentions how she has to adapt to the changes in topic and of her clients' behaviours accordingly since she is paid by the amount of alcohol her customers consumed.  Similarly, the hosts from the TGHS also has same conversations of similar topics with their clients. One of the hosts even mentioned that he has to change and adapt his personality according to the wants of his clients. In both cases, the hostesses and hosts adapt to their clients and adopt a style of speech to suit their clients' needs. However, the main difference between TG and TGHS is their clientele. In TG, their clients are mostly working men who require an outlet to relax after work or have business meetings. In such cases, these men go to the clubs to have the hostesses help boost their egos as they try to flaunt their wealth and socialise with other men. However, in TGHS, a common theme among their clients is that they require validation and approval from their hosts. Some even become dependent on it to the extent that they would turn to prostitution to finance their expenses at these bars. From this, we can see the differences in the outcome or the purpose of the discourses held at TG and TGHS. Furthermore, since sex is not part of their job scope, the hosts and hostesses share their tips on how they maintain a long-term relationship with their clients. In TG, the hostesses go on 'paid dates' with the clients twice a week and talk to them over dinner. In the video, the girls pretend to remember or lie about bits of details to make their clients feel special. This often helps them earn more money or luxury gifts if their clients are generous. On the other hand, in TGHS, the hosts tend not to have sex with clients whose aim is to have sex with them. They will also put on an act to seem more tired or sad in order to gain sympathy and make them spend more money in a more expensive booth or shorten their time with them. In this way, the hosts can prolong the relationship and earn more money or shorten their time with customers that they are tired of. As such, in both cases, the hosts and hostesses use different techniques to maintain a long-term relationship with their clients and gain more benefits in their careers.

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.

The job of hostesses in Tokyo Girls and the job of hosts in The Great Happiness Space are similar in many ways. Both the hostesses and the hosts are working for monetary purposes. Also, they are both valued by the way they make their customers and clients feel, and they are expected to make their customers feel good and happy. The nature of the job of both the hostesses as well as the host is to create a fantasy world or 'dream world' that the clients desire. These fantasies are being created to draw their customers in, be it men or women. The clients will continue to pay for these fantasies, and that is how they earn money through providing these services. Also, both jobs require them to use language to please their clients. They say things to boost their customers' ego and masculinity or to make them feel loved and good about themselves. One distinct difference between the two is that in Tokyo Girls, the hostesses are generally hired for business purposes whereas, in The Great Happiness Space, the hosts help to heal the clients' emotional stress. In Tokyo Girls, white girls are seen as prestigious partners, and could boost one's masculinity and capability when they are seen with one. In The Great Happiness Space, the hosts are required to behave and act like the ladies' ideal types in order to get them to like them.
From the two documentaries, it can be seen that hosting club culture in Japan is largely expressed through language use. To ensure their clients return, both hosts and hostesses are to provide service of satisfaction and pleasure without giving sex. Both hosts and hostesses are not expected to have any sexual relations and emotions are hardly involved; they are there to entertain and bring comfort and companionship to their clients. Language then becomes a powerful tool that drives and gets the job done: as a host sell the 'dream' and emotionally 'heal' while hostesses augment their client's egos - as mentioned in Cameron and Kulick (2003) where hostesses are there to make them feel manlier. Both hosts and hostesses adopt a speech style to suit the desires of their clients. They are expected to perform their genders stereotypically, with hosts adopting a masculine conversational style such as being direct and assertive (eg. when offering advice or as quoted by one host: to 'scold'), while hostesses adopt feminine features.
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 Space, the hosts adopt masculine interactional styles through 'picking girls up on streets' and accommodating to their clients' desired styles 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 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 relate to one another in an informal, nonhierarchical way. Conversely, in The Great Happiness 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 effect 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.

For both documentaries, it is evident that both groups appeal to the opposite sex by performing their gender through language. The female hostesses are expected to perform as stereotypically Japanese , even though they are mostly Caucasian. They adopt stereotypes such as being quiet and demure, and are encouraged to boost men's ego by being a form of 'conversational lubricant'. However, the male hosts are not expected to behave the same way. They attract their customers in mostly aggressive ways, chasing after their female customers and hitting on them. During customer interactions, the male host mention starting off with compliments, then gradually starting to scold them, as though they are really close and 'lecturing them'. The difference between the male and female hosts in this situation is that the female hosts are not expected to act as though they are their customers' girlfriends, while the male hosts are expected to act as though they are their real boyfriends. The female hosts mention that they understand that their clients are there to relax and relieve stress, and that they should not add on to their stresses, but encourage them and boost their ego. The male hosts, though, mention that their customers are there to fall in love, so they have to cater to those emotional needs by allowing them to live the illusion of having a perfect boyfriend. As mentioned by Cameron and Kulick (2003), the purpose of the hostesses are to facilitate bonding between men. However, as seen in The Great Happiness Space, the purpose of the hosts are not to facilitate bonding between women, but to provide an emotional crutches for the women. This shows the different purposes of speech being performed by the different genders. The similarity though, is that both sides are reaffirming their customer's performance of their gender. The hostesses use speech to make the men feel more masculine and more powerful, while the hosts use their speech to encourage the woman's femininity and make them feel as though they are being taken care of.
One similarity in both documentaries, is the host and hostess' uses of language to portray their stereotypical gender roles. . In Tokyo Girls, these hostesses adopted more feminine linguistic styles while in interaction with their clients (like constantly agreeing with their male client). While in The Great Happiness Space, the male hosts endorsed linguistic style that likened to be more powerful or dominant, like offering advice to their female customers so that the ladies will think the hosts care about them. Another similarity is that hosts or hostesses in these documentaries admittedly have to constantly lie in order to keep these 'dreams' alive for their clients. By constantly emphasizing on what these clients want to hear, they slowly developed feelings for these hosts/hostesses, and that would be when they are hook onto 'living in these dreams'. Feelings and emotions of their clients are exploited, encouraging them to spend more money on these hosts and hostesses by constantly coming back to them. From here we can see how these hosts/hostesses have used language to manipulate their customers and benefiting themselves financially.   One difference in these documentaries is through these interactions between the hosts/hostesses and their clients, different aspects of gender of the clients are being realised. In Tokyo Girls, obvious 'gender asymmetry' (Cameron and Kulick, 2003) is reflected. Male clients, in this case, do not need to process what their hostess have said. However the hostesses have to constantly perform their gender through language and by deploying such strategy, the clients' masculinity are constantly enforced. These hostesses also as noted by Alison (1994) are present to facilitate the conversations between their male clients. On the other hand, in The Great Happiness Space, both the host and the female client are performing their gender linguistically while instead of facilitating the conversation between women, they touched on the emotions aspect of the clients. Some female customers, especially the Fuzokus, are seen to 'buy the time' of these hosts- so they can talk with them and serve as a outlet of stress relief for them and to be able to genuinely talk about their emotions which they feel that their hosts may likened to them given the circumstances.
The main similarities between Tokyo Girls and The Great Happiness Space is the importance of spoken language in the jobs of both the female and male hosts. To both the male and female hosts, their job involves “healing” their socially- or romantically-deprived customer by weaving dreams out of sweet nothings: common topics for conversation include work or everyday life, and even personal issues. By providing their customer with a listening ear and simulating a relationship with an attraction person for their customer, the hosts and hostesses stand to make a profit as the simulations they create ensure that the customer gets hooked on the attention and willingly pay for more. However, there is a stark difference in the tone and usage of language between the hosts of either gender. For the female hosts, one of them mentions that sometimes her customers tell her to keep quiet, implying that perhaps they expect her to act more like the “ideal” Japanese woman, demure and shy, allowing for the male to speak more while all she is allowed to offer is her attention and acknowledgement. She adds on that other customers “want to learn English, not about your life”. This does show that these Canadian women are seen as exotic, and one of the motivations for many customers is to learn English, a language with ever-growing prestige. Being able to hold a conversation over English over wine with a beautiful Caucasian woman would certainly provide customers with a (false) sense of sophistication and accomplishment. However, these male customers do not seek sexual favours. We see that they are mostly businessmen, or at the very least just office clerks. These men know that soliciting prostitution services would only hinder their reputation among their family and colleagues since it is looked down upon in society, so they stay away from doing so.

Meanwhile, the speech acts demonstrated by the male hosts from The Great Happiness Space are vastly different from the ladies from Tokyo Girls. The male hosts are very persistent when touting for customers, showering passing women with compliments and attempting to start conversations in a bid to usher them to their host club. Even in the club, the men are the ones who start the conversation in an effort to entertain, asking their customers about their life or if they want more drinks. These hosts also project an ideal image that their female customers desire—a dashing, outgoing man who is still tender enough to be sensitive to a girl’s emotional needs. The hosts are also more rowdy than the the hostesses and customers from Tokyo Girls, where the setting looks more posh—the male hosts constantly chug alcohol every night and yell chants to liven up the party. The Great Happiness Space demonstrates a setting that presents socialising taken to more risqué levels: their female customers are not only drawn to the club out of loneliness or infatuation, some even desire to have sex with the hosts. These women, especially the regular customers, seem to be more open to having sex with the hosts they fancy as most of them already work as escorts or prostitutes in the same area.

Of course, being a host and hostess clearly looks much easier than it actually is. Despite the high salary cited by many of them, most of them do not seem to express a high level of job satisfaction as well, because of the array of demands from various customers and the working hours that turns their daily schedules upside-down.

The main difference I picked up between the hosts and hostesses was the kind of services they provided for their clients. While the hostesses were there to "accept, reflect, and augment'" the man, as was mentioned in our textbook, the hosts shown in the documentary were primarily there to satisfy the emotional desires of women. It was interesting how both hosts and hostesses were leveraging on their gender identities and performing these stereotypical gender markers. Specifically, I observed that the hostesses performed more passive roles -- they generally agreed with whatever the men were saying and were there to listen rather than to initiate conversation and men were not expected to reciprocate or respond to such affections and flattery as they are in the position of power, particularly in the Japanese culture. On the other hand, male hosts tended to be more aggressive in their approach with the women. They would actively go outside the clubs pursuing women and encouraging them to come into the host clubs. Moreover, they also enacted signs of masculinity like walking the girls out, taking care of them, and giving them advice. We can thus see that while both hosts and hostesses are performing their traditional, stereotypical roles of men and women, they are also there to cater to the needs of their clients as people of opposite genders.  
In my opinion, the hosts and hostesses of Japan has a few things in common, with one being their motivation to earn a lot of money. Money is the one in power here, and they would put up a facade just to make their clients spend more. Both hosts and hostesses sell a fantasy, where by someone is always willing to entertain, and to listen to whatever the client has to say. Their speech styles and interactions conform to the client's needs. Both are also expected to perform their stereotypical gender roles to boost the ego of their clients. In Tokyo Girls, the hostesses featured are all white. They are seen as exotic, and they confer a sense of power to their Japanese clients. As mentioned in the documentary, by having a white girl by their side, Japanese men elevate their status. In general, hostesses are objectified, and the sex talk they indulge in emphasizes the gender imbalance. The hostesses are seen as weak, and the men has the pleasure of dominating. This also inflates the male ego. In The Great Happiness Place, there is still a tinge of dominance by men. However, this is because the clients turn to their Hosts for advice, and simply just want to be treated as princesses. This princess dream is what the Hosts sell. The client then starts to become obsessed with the Hosts, spending ridiculous amounts of money and keeps coming back for more. They crave the masculinity that the Hosts portray - and the Hosts continue to sell these lies, no matter whether they personally like the client or not. In my opinion, the Hostess and Host culture in Japan is one built on lies - be it on the part of the Hostess/Host, or on the client. The clients are blinded by the fantasy, and the Hostesses/Hosts are blinded by the money. This seems to be somewhat a downward spiral for all parties. But I admit that this is a very interesting part of the Japanese culture, just who am I to judge?
Both documentaries portrayed and showed how important discourse can be, especially when it comes to being hosts and hostesses, when one has to use language to earn an income. In Tokyo Girls (TG) and The Great Happiness Space (TGHS), hostesses and hosts are required to not only play on gender stereotypes, but carefully construct their speech mannerisms in a way that will attract and appease their clients. The main difference between the two documentaries is the nature of discourse in TG and TGHS. Specifically because their clients are different, wherein the hostesses' clients in TG are males while hosts' clients in TGHS are female, the discourses are then constructed to target their clients. In TG, hostesses are there as a listening ear or as a trophy for their male clients' to show off (to other males). They display a much more passive demeanour, and come across as more submissive because their job is to pay the clients' compliments and agree with whatever they are saying. On the other hand, the male hosts in TGHS are more dominating and aggressive. They play on selling women a fantasy of a love life, and they do it through their interaction style that denotes masculinity. One example would be when they give advice to their female client or when they walk the lady out of the club and hail a cab for her, it invokes the idea of gentlemanliness and masculinity that appeals to their female clients. Both documentaries though constantly show that in the Japanese culture, hostesses and female clients alike, are meant to act in a more docile and feminine manner while hosts and male clients interact in a manner that shows their masculinity and in a way which upplays their ego. This image in the club aligns to roles the genders are expected to play in their culture, so much so that even though the hostesses in TG are White, they have to conform to societal expectations still.
In both documentaries, the hosts and hostesses are expected to perform their gender through the use of language in accordance with the norms of Japanese society. For instance, expressing differences in opinion is sometimes frowned upon (as it may cause conflict), unlike in Western society, where it is the norm. This is reflected in the behaviour and language use of the hostesses, whose job involves being encouraging and agreeable to the businessmen they entertain. While the hostesses in the documentary are foreign, they are still expected to play a largely passive role in the exchanges - to "accept, reflect and augment the man" (Cameron and Kulick, 2003). The men who visit them do so in order to feel powerful and desired (and so a focus is placed on their heterosexuality) by these women, who are often exoticised and objectified. By doing so, the men bond in a way that is similar to the creation of an in-group and an out-group (men and the hostess, respectively). Conversely, the main role of the hosts for their female customers is to perform emotional labour rather than for the purpose of business or homosocial bonding. The hosts are expected to cater to the customers' desires by being the ideal guy, however, they play a more active role by complimenting the customers and directing the conversation, unlike hostesses, which again reflects the gender expectations present in Japanese society.

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.

In "Tokyo Girls" and "The Great Happiness Space", we see that while both the males and females work as 'hosts' or 'hostesses' in the host and hostess clubs, there are many differences in the expectations of the two genders. Firstly, we see that the male hosts are all Japanese, while the female hostesses consist of a large number of western, or 'white' females. 'White' girls are highly regarded in Japan, and are seen as 'exotic', and the Japanese are proud to be seen together with these western women. In a sense, the white girls are some sort of 'trophy girls' to the Japanese men. White men, on the other hand, do not hand such a status to the Japanese women, and therefore the host clubs do not have any western male hosts. We also see that the main roles and objectives differ between the hosts and hostesses as well. While both hosts and hostesses job is to provide their customers emotional 'healing', the hostesses role is also to help their businessmen customers in their business transactions when the business partners visit the hostess clubs together. On the other hand, then hosts' main objective is to let their female customers 'have fun' and enjoy themselves. As such, the interaction of the hostesses with their male customers consist mostly of talking, while the hosts' interactions with their female customers involves a lot of partying and drinking. One prominent difference between the hosts and hostesses is the sexual expectations of them. For the hostesses, they have to follow a very strict rule of not engaging in sex with any of their customers. If they are caught having had sex with any of the customers, they are immediately fired from their job. The hosts, on the other hand, openly have sex with their customers, and the customers are aware of this fact as well. The perception is that it is okay for the hosts to have sex with the customers, while it is considered abominable for the hostesses to engage in sex with customers. This shows a great contrast in gender expectations in Japan, where males are to be good at sex while females need to remain 'pure' and untouched.

it's raining men


Tuesday, Apr 10, 2018 - 12:40:33 pm

hello and welcome to our in-class/take-home/do-it-wherever exam!

please pick two questions, answer them in a single blog post, categorize the post as ‘it’s raining men‘ and schedule it to be published at 3:30pm. make sure to draw on the material we have covered so far (the textbook) as well as other online sources which you should reference (hyperlink) in your essay. 



Julie and Mike are into sadomasochistic sexting. Which among these emojis is Read more →

Categories: food for thought

a feminist glossary


Tuesday, Mar 27, 2018 - 12:48:08 pm

here is a link to a recent article which introduces some terms which are relevant for understanding and discussing feminism, gender and sexuality – some are established, academic terms found in the relevant literature; others are more recent lexical innovations that have recently originated ‘online’…

thoughts, comments?

Categories: food for thought
My understanding of feminism has never been extremely deep and wide. One of the things I actually felt proud of knowing about feminism is that it doesn't actually mean that women are the better sex over men, but that it simply means that we believe that men and women should have  equal rights and opportunities. Reading this post however, I felt was just really enlightening because I was never so aware of the different layers and terms that actually existed within our vocabulary to talk about certain specific things in feminism. So I'd just like to share my favourite, most enlightening term that I picked up from this article. benevolent sexism! This is a term that I was extremely thrilled to discover. I've always felt that benevolent sexism existed, and I've definitely felt the effects of it, but I never knew that there was actually an actual term to define it, and I couldn't quite put my experiences with it into words.  I mean, it's confusing, it's rooted in a compliment. It left me feeling a mix of positive and negative emotions whenever I was told for example, 'oh women are just better at raising children, they're more nurturing'. Yes, it was a good thing, and it did fit into the stereotypical traits of a woman, but I always felt uncomfortable too. What if I'm not nurturing, what if I'm not good at raising children, what if I don't fit into that stereotype, wait why even did I have to fit into such a stereotype? However, I was never actually sure whether this discomfort that I was feeling was legitimate, because I was being complimented. However, after reading the definition in this glossary, and doing a little more reading into what benevolent sexism is, I feel much better informed about how it works as it seems to paint this restrictive image of how women should be, leading there to be expectations that society anticipates all women will follow, and thus react to aversely, should they fail to fit this construct.    
The thing about this feminist glossary, is that it seems as though there are more and more categories than necessary. The reason for feminism is so that everybody, no matter their gender, or their orientation, is treated fairly and equally. The issue is that there should not be any discrimination on whether people are transgender or cisgender, and that they should be offered equal rights, and not be judged on their preferences. I'm a self-proclaimed feminist, and to me, this glossary seems as though there are many people who are saying that they are feminist, but are excluding groups that they do not think deserves the same rights as them.   For example, it is mentioned that there are a few types of feminism, and different types of feminists. It is true that certain groups of women are less privileged due to their biological sex, or their race, and it is evident that there should be groups that are fighting for their rights. However, for types of feminists, there are two terms that I have not encountered previously, TERF, and SWERF. TERF means feminists that exclude trans-gendered women, while SWERF means feminists that exclude sex workers. With so many new terms, it begs the question if this third wave of feminism is really raising awareness of feminism, or if it is resulting in more exclusion of certain groups.
The idea of a feminist glossary, especially one that is periodically updated, is actually a fairly good one in my opinion. As times and perceptions change, language has to change along with them as words take on different connotations or fall out of use. However, formally including a word in some sort of glossary also gives the word power because of the perceived authority that comes with it (much like putting a word in a dictionary), which can lead to widespread use of terms. For example, a term I have an issue with is "feminazi", because it equates someone who may be (overly) passionate about gender equality with Nazis. The very idea should be ridiculous - equality versus genocide? Yet, it's become a term that has seen a fair amount of use. Of course, while some political correctness is needed so that marginalised groups can be protected, policing speech is also a dicey business because protecting free speech should be a priority. Unfortunately, there is no easy solution.
The ever-growing feminist glossary has made discourse more convenient as this current wave of (intersectional) feminism is beginning to touch on many more topics other than just women, though admittedly all the terms may prove overwhelming to some. In fact, many have expressed annoyance for the apparent need to label everything with its own unique term, likening this glossary to "Social Justice Warrior" (SJW) speak. An example would be the word "cisgender". While many (read: cis people) have expressed annoyance at having to "label" people who identify with their biological sex and view it with a negative connotation, I personally think it is important that we make a distinction between the gender alignments, especially the most privileged out of the bunch, ie cis people. Gender non-conforming people cannot simply refer to cis people as "normal", that leaves the implication that any non-cis person is... not normal. Other examples of ridicule that the feminist glossary faces include "trigger" and "trigger warning", which have been ridiculed and used by critics of the glossary to described people who they perceive to be overreacting (for example, "triggered SJWs whining about sexism haHAA"). Of course, this glossary will continue to have its fair share of lovers and haters, but essentially I believe this glossary signifies a step in the right direction, as it shows we are becoming more open and critical about all the deeply rooted issues in our human society—be it sex, race or gender—instead of simply sweeping everything under the rug.

black male sexuality and popular culture


Tuesday, Mar 20, 2018 - 01:37:41 pm

and here is another one for us to discuss…

Categories: food for thought

white supremacists and asian penis


Tuesday, Mar 20, 2018 - 01:26:09 pm

so, what do you think about this?

Categories: food for thought
I think this article is very interesting as it shifts the focus away from why we talk about asian or black dicks, to why we should talk about white dicks. The former topics have been discussed through and through, majority of the comments coming from white people. The author provided her own theorisations of why they seem to be so "obsessed" with the comparison -  referencing to a historical racism backdrop between the white and blacks, and between the whites and asians. Racism thus, is seen to be the spark to all the prejudice against people of colour, in an attempt for the whites to protect their own pride and a defence mechanism to threats from these prejudiced groups. By threats, I am referring to the ideas and fears they have that their women would be snatched away from people of colour, which also threatens their masculinity and pride - which is very closely linked to their package size. Hence their defence mechanism is to boast about their own package sizes in the light of putting down the other types of dicks out there.
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While reading this post, I realised just how prevalent it is for society to use not just the white male penis, but 'white standards', as THE baseline and standard of comparison. In the article, the Black penis, or the Asian penis, compared to the White penis, just isn't ideal. It is interesting to observe is that regardless of the actual size of the other penises, being either too big, or too small, is perceived and constructed as negative and has a derogatory connotation attached to it. If it it’s Black, it’s too big- too scary, what a horror!  If it’s Asian, it’s too small- too inadequate, where’s the pleasure? Basically, the idea being propagated is that if it isn’t White, it isn’t right.

I think that this idea doesn’t just exists solely in the sexual domain, with respect to how the White penis and therefore their sexual prowess is the benchmark for the rest of society and the world. White supremacy also extends to other aspects and domains of our world and this shapes the way we form our own understanding of power in society. For example, I realise through reading this post, that I myself have this construct of the White, westernized society as the ideal, and dominant culture over the rest. I have to admit that subconsciously I do subscribe to the ideology that Whites do have power and this command to set the standards that most of the world seems to follow and accept. Just look at the film industry and even that of music and fashion. This discrimination towards penises of other colour is only one, although a prominent manifestation of the white supremacy that exists in our world today.

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This article just proves the obsession with penises specifically the size of penises and how it matters. It matters because the size of penises determines the pleasure women will get. The white supremacists are positioning themselves in terms of the dick size with theirs being the benchmark for the right size. Not too big and not too small. According to the article, they would press on saying that science has proven that the size of penises is associated to the different races, that is Blacks having a big penis and Asian has a small penis. However, does race really has something to do with the size of penises? Well, in my opinion, it is not the race but the status of the race that has got something to do with the stereotyping of penises size. It is known that there is a long history of racism towards the Blacks and the immigration of Asian. Hence, this might have threatened some and causes the stereotype of penises sizes in relation to race to arise. Even if it is true, it is not the size but the emotion and the technique involve during the sexual act itself that actually determine the pleasure women will get. Therefore, the discrimination towards these group of people perpetuate stereotypes of penises sizes.

I think this article drives the point on white supremacy attitudes; their big egos and feeling superior to people of other races. I could be wrong here but as I read the article, I had the impression that the White guys who commented on the author's partner were insecure and felt threatened, as they seem to be confused about the fact that she is with an Asian instead of a White man. Because "oh no, why settle for that when I can provide better", right? Hence, the need to perpetuate the idea of big and small penises to prove theirs are the best fit - since they "sneer, with an undeserved look of smug satisfaction". Some sort of validation that they are better and superior to any race out there, in the case of this article, Asians and Blacks. (But, really, why does it matter to them? She's the one in the relationship with the Asian guy, let her worry about his penis size if she wants to. Hakuna your tatas, dudes. Yes, she did choose the Asian.)
This article shows how men like to reduce each other to just their penises, as though that appendage is the only thing that defines a person. It is interesting to see how men are commonly reduced to their penises when they are being discussed with other men. It is as though men are hyper-focusing on the penis, and there is nothing else that defines men. It also seems as though this is especially prevalent in white culture, where the white man needs to feel superior to the other races. It is as though they realise that there are so many situations that the other races are better than them in, and they need to find something that is not necessarily true to feel better about themselves. However, bigger doesn't always mean better. The black man is fetishized for their penis, and when they are not 'performing' as expected, they are seen as less of a man that is representative of their race. The white man perpetuates this belief, that all black men are supposed to have big penises, to establish how the white penis is the only 'normal' penis, and that the Asian man have penises that are not as good as a 'normal' penis as they have smaller penises.
The connection between heterosexuality and penis size is made apparent in this article, where having a penis of inadequate size would reduce one's perceived masculinity and ability to fulfil the stereotypical role of a man in Western society (to protect and to provide and procreate). Somewhat ironically, this is sort of a "all roads lead to heterosexuality" type of situation, where being concerned about another man's junk indexes one's heterosexuality. Another racist sentiment from this article is that the white man is somehow more civilised than the black man, whose supposedly larger penis draws comparisons to animals. While the white penis is supposedly the heterosexual ideal, somehow the black penis has crossed that threshold and become too much for fragile white women to handle. In this case, I would say white mens' opinions on black penis would be more about power than indexing heterosexuality. However, the two are inextricably tied together.
This article demonstrates clearly how white supremacy stems from, ironically, an inferiority complex. White men try to discourage white women from dating asian men as their dicks are not as large—a sign that these white men are not able to wrap their heads (no pun intended) around the fact that a woman would pick an Asian over the superior white man. Furthermore, the asian man has been illustrated in white propaganda to be an ugly being who rapes white women, who are rightfully the "property" of white men. Penis size is very commonly referenced in sexual talk, as if the size of one's dick is the ultimate factor that proves a man's worth and whether he is desirable/fuckable, while other factors such as personality do not matter. I would liken the white man's tactics of framing himself as the ideal "size" to the Goldilocks narrative: the asian man is "too small" to satisfy Janet, the black man "too large" for poor fragile Karen, while the white penis is just right. While penis size is also very much referenced in other communities such as among gay or bi people, the size factor is especially common in heterosexual discourse to reinforce not just gender and sexual roles, but also white dominance.

your thoughts on 'pussification'?


Tuesday, Feb 20, 2018 - 02:32:30 pm

So, here we have this article about fraternities. Given what we’ve discussed so far about language, gender, and sexuality, as well as what we’read about the ways of communication among fraternity members in the US, what are your quick thoughts on this?

Also, as a reminder, here’s the video we watched in class that you may wish to Read more →

Categories: food for thought
Fraternities are a way for males to regulate each others' 'masculinity' through the reinforcement of the fear of being viewed by their peers as a 'pussy' (i.e not conforming to stereotypical masculine nature). Because of the desire to be part of the in-group in the fraternity and not seen as an outcast, the lines of masculinity are likely to be more clearly drawn in the fraternity than elsewhere.
I feel like this guy wrote this article to support his masculinity, proving that he was not only able to graduate his pledging, but also that he learnt many 'manly' lessons during the process. Though I agree that there shouldn't be participation trophies for every single person and that people should earn recognition rather than expect it to be given to them, there are SO many problems with his article. Wickham mentions that his fraternity taught him many life lessons that made him 'less of a pussy'. However, aren't these lessons what you should have learnt before you arrive at college? If you are not able to check your ego, be accountable for your actions, and be mentally and physically strong by yourself, that says a LOT about your person. A normal person should not have to rely on pledgeships, or a fraternity to get their life together. The 'war on masculinity' is in his head, because all the above 'qualities' that he mentioned are not only expected of men, but of all people.
This article is based heavily on the stereotypical masculine traits. Also, the tone of the author seems to be very intolerant of men who are less masculine or men who do not behave and act like a stereotypical masculine man. It seems to be that the tone of the author was deliberate, to make him seem more masculine or to fit in into his fraternity's idea of masculinity. However, what the author said is so true that it is almost scary. Majority of the man makes decisions keeping in mind the fear of being considered as a pussy.

I think that how fraternities look upon and treat people outside their fraternities, exists at every level. I mean that this exists in organisations and even families. Although I feel that one should not decide masculinity based on people’s ability to drink or get girls or drive a muscle car, I feel that the existence of such structures of belonging to groups somehow helps people. The danger here is that this allows, if these groups get big and influential enough, to perpetuate their ideologies and eventually negatively affect society. Clearly I’m confused.

I guess in a homosexual environment, being surrounded by all that testosterone, the fear that is inculcated would prevent them from crossing the line of being gay. They will constantly try to outdo each other's masculinity. In a way, this reinforces the stereotypes of masculinity. Hence, there is a constant pressure to portray masculinity and it could be mentally stressful for the members of the fraternity:(
It seems that in fraternities, there is a strong need to be 'masculine', and that is something that is already imposed from the moment someone joins the fraternity through pledging and hazing. Just like in the article, these males fear to be seen as feminine or be called 'pussy', and those who are seen as 'pussies' are often bullied or outcasted. This need to be non-pussy results in extreme 'masculine' behaviours, often involving high risks for these males to prove their masculinity through bravado. In my opinion, this pressure to prove their masculinity is very unhealthy, and being in such an environment constantly could prove to be dangerous, as we see from news of hazing deaths.
Considering they are using 'pussy'- a female genital part, to emphasize how masculinity is compromised in a male. It agrees that homosexual, especially gay, are associated to how woman's speech and actions. In this article, fraternities do not condone to males behaving like females thus portraying a homophobic environment. Boys who joined and are unsure about their sexuality, are kept at bay and may never identify truely with themselves.

I agree to a large extend on the opinions of the author as I can relate to them to a large extend. In Singapore, the context of pussification would be males before entering the National Service. After the completion of National service, males would be regarded as a “grown man” most of the time.

I feel that the article gave quite valid points regarding life lessons although it was presented in a really crude manner. If pledge-ship is equivalent to National service, NS definitely did put my ego in check, strengthen my physical and mental endurance but most importantly, NS teaches boys about the importance of accountability towards oneself and the others.

However, I do feel uncomfortable with the use of the word “pussification” as I feel that even without going through fraternity/national service, it does not makes males less “masculine” than the norm. These life lessons can also be learned even without going through pledgeship/national service.


As such, I feel that the idea of a less muscular man or terms like “pussification” might probably be created by misconception from social norms.

I feel that the author is very afraid of being labeled a pussy, and he is propelled by this fear when trying to maintain and showcase his masculinity. He blames the term pussy for every little decision in life - be it his drink or his car choice. I think this picture might also be an example of what the author meant when he said that pledgeship broke his ego. This is quite a degrading scene for the new member, while the other members are obviously enjoying it. I think that there are other ways other than these when wanting to "truly be a man" and to be "less of a pussy".  
Fraternity members seem to place a lot of value on expressing their heterosexuality via masculinity. From the article, the author implies that the qualities of a "pussy" are less stereotypically masculine, such as preferring Arts to Business and having cream in your coffee. From this, it seems he scrutinizes the most minute of behaviours and separates them into the binaries of "masculine" and not "not masculine". The values he mentions about holding oneself accountable and having your ego in check etc are indeed important for all of us, but the scrutiny he places on everyday behaviour/personal preferences displays how men like him are conditioned to believe that if they don't subscribe to the societal gendered expectation of a "masculine man", the credibility of masculinity and heterosexuality are compromised.
I feel like the reputation of fraternities is usually one of (hyper-)masculinity, especially because they are meant to embody traditionally masculine concepts (brotherhood, strength etc.). It seems as though frat boys feel the need to overcompensate to differentiate themselves from other college males not in fraternities? So they position themselves at the extreme end of the spectrum of masculinity, leaving no room for any sort of non-masculine behaviours lest they be perceived as part of the out-group (those not in frats) because they so desperately want to belong to the group with perceived higher social standing. However, to justify these kinds of toxic behaviours on the basis of a few perceived life lessons (that really should not take the experience of pledgeship to learn) is sort of ridiculous to me.
I feel that practices of any group would depend on the fraternity itself. And in this case, such in-group solidarity that reinforces one's masculinity resulted in a hazing practice. This practice could also be seen as a display of masculine qualities. I guess the reason why most people would just go through with it is partly because it serves as a common practice (like a tradition) that every member of the group goes through together as a shared experience. Since most associate fraternity with prestige, it is unlikely that they would reject such initiation. But then again, this article is rather one-sided, in its intolerance of "being a pussy" and superficial in the sense it does not touch on the underlying notions like wanting to impress the opposite sex (heterosexuality as a norm).
I feel that Madison is trying really hard to reinforce this somewhat toxic idea that fraternities are these places men go to become better men, physically and mentally stronger than before. But what he’s really perpetuating is the culturally constructed fear of being a pussy. He argues that pledging a fraternity is a rite of passage and is a process where men truly learn what it means to be a man but the things he says he learnt can be gained through other life experiences, less toxic ones at that too.
Firstly, it's great that the author actually got something out of being in a fraternity, I mean after all that hazing! Anyhow, his takeaways being socially motivated, kinda makes him a "pussy" too, no? It goes well against  traditional qualities of masculinity -  to have independence; ownership of his own life and decisions.  Secondly, there are many other viable options to instil accountability and personality as well as build solidarity; being in a frat is almost a total cop-out, easy way out, justified, to make themselves feel better by placing someone else to be "lesser. Thirdly, frats also serve to further proliferate notions of toxic masculinity and hypermasculine tendencies.
I don't even know where to start with this article. Putting aside how degrading it is to associate "cowardliness" with "being a pussy" (i.e. not packing 500 pounds of pure testosterone means that women are unaccountable and irresponsible??), the writer is pretty much doing a lot of "homosocial bonding" with this flaky article, if the comments (by frat boys) on what he wrote (as saving the website FOR frat boys) are anything to go by. Indeed, his proposition that men should be more accountable and responsible for their actions, that having these values exhibit maturity on the part of the men would have been agreeable but who said these favourable values were reserved solely for men? And to boost their own masculinity, no less. So one cannot be taught to be accountable and responsible for their own actions because, oh I don't know, they want to be good people but because one does not want to be seen as a "pussy", especially if one needs to act masculine to assert their own masculinity. Madison says that pledging into a fraternity keeps his ego in check but then raves about being "introduced to countless beautiful sorority girls" and a fraternity as "(his) ticket to four years of pure glory" all in the same breath. Nope, sorry, I can smell your ego from across the Pacific Ocean. But lest I'm admonished for an ad hominem argument, Madison is almost exactly embodying the fragility of what it means to be masculine - degrading the opposite gender (if you buy into the binary argument) like reappropriating a euphemism of their genitalia to label someone as a coward (yeah because aren't all women cowards?) is essential to boost a man's masculine ego in the eyes of other men. If "pushing your mind and body to their absolute limits (regardless of the fact that perhaps a man cannot bat a ball from first to third base because he just CAN'T get that amount of muscle and strength) is the cornerstone of what it means to be a non-pussy", perhaps it will be better if you drop dead and die when your mind and body gives out on you. (-:
First off, this article talks about the many stereotypes of what a real man should be. For example, things like being good at sports or being able to hold your liquor or even not adding cream to coffee (which is absolutely ridiculous, I don't add cream to my coffee, am I thus a cuck?), are all typical behaviours males are expected to have. The author further confirms that such stereotypes are very important to masculinity as he calls males who are any less than what they are supposed to be, 'pussies'. The problem with using the word 'pussy' is firstly, that males still think themselves as superior over females. That females are weak, artsy fartsy individuals who are way too soft and unable to push their mind and bodies to their absolute limits (based on his last para). This article seems to be a writing for the author to reaffirm his masculinity. But really, does one need a fraternity to learn how to responsible for themselves? How do females learn self responsibility then?
I think Wickham should make a trip to one of the hostess clubs in Japan. Clearly, this is an issue of confidence and the requirement of validation of his masculinity. Using the term 'pussy' to mean a sign of weakness hints to toxic masculinity. Wickham constantly plays on the stereotypes of a masculine male when he talks about the advantages of staying in fraternities. While the points themselves seem positive, the language used to describe them are laced with misogyny.
Masculinity is fragile. The entire post reeked of defensiveness against his masculinity and how small acts such as asking for cream at Starbucks makes one a pussy or less of a man. His use of the word pussy denotes negative qualities of a stereotyped woman such as indecisiveness, inaccountability, weak physical and mental endurance, which also make up the bulk of his argument when he talked about how pledgeship helped him gain those qualities. He insinuates that those who do not conform to or do not have these qualities are then considered feminine or less of a man. Whereas we don't see females who are not considered feminine enough being called "dicks" or an equivalent insult.

The article talks about the importance of masculinity by not being a pussy. That being said, pussy is associated with women. Hence, pussy is used derogatorily to denote when men are not conforming to their gender roles. However, if pussy is used by women, it is not an issue or it does not have a negative impact because it does not affect women femininity. Thus, man’s desire to not be a pussy is an important aspect to show their masculinity and to do that, Madison Wickham suggests joining a fraternity: Pledgeship.

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The fraternity members’ fear of being labelled as a pussy seems to be key in their decision-making in life. The writer himself portrays himself as masculine through his choice of major, car and even coffee and talks about important lessons that he learned from being in a fraternity. This fear might have helped him personally, but this may do more harm than good for those who unable to deal with the pressure of having to be seen as masculine in all situations. 

this article (along with much of the discourse today, e.g. the aziz ansari issue) is frustrating because it lacks nuance. we keep trying to dichotomize people and acts: you can only be either hypermasculine or a pussy, sex for women is only either given with enthusiastic consent or it's sexual assault. the reality is that a wide continuum lies between those dichotomies. men can be masculine and order whipped cream too!!! also, it's interesting that the term 'pussy' is typically associated with weakness, rather than femininity (effeminate men). it's not behaviour traditionally regarded as "feminine" that earns men a reference to women's reproductive organ, but rather, cowardice and a lack of endurance/accountability. doesn't that speak volumes about what the patriarchy thinks of women? :~)

The article aims to defend fraternities and it was mentioned that ‘pussification is killing the concept of accountability’, however I don’t understand why the need to have a fraternity just so they can practice accountability? With or without fraternity, one can practice accountability. Also, the word ‘pussy’ seem to carry a derogatory term as it reduces a man to a reproductive organ - if you don’t conform, then you are a pussy. But the question to me here is, what is wrong with being a pussy? 

First off, the term pussy has been entwined with notions of weakness and feminity that these 'masculine' frat boys do not want to be identified with. It feels as though they care too much about this socially constructed idea and 'not being called a pussy' has become the sole driving force for them. Not to mention the constant need to be set apart from (possible) feminine-like actions and to assert dominance over them.   It all boils down to an individual's need for acceptance and I feel that their mindset makes them most vulnerable to the homosexual panic disorder. If being a pussy means making me happy, then I am a pussy. This guy is obviously unable to do that. To realise that it's FINE to like 'pussy' things, aren't you a pussy then?... BECAUSE A man would stand up for himself. And if you like cream on your drink, YOU PUT CREAM ON YO DRINK.
The article advocates for the assertion of masculinity in everything a man does in order to avoid being called a 'pussy'. It views 'pussy' as the worst thing that a man could be and something that should be avoided at all costs -- a view that is toxic in itself. This not only encourages toxic masculinity but also misogynistic views that are already deeply entrenched in society. Men being associated with anything relatively feminine is naturally seen as an insult and derogatory. On the surface, the author of this article seems to bring up valid points about how pledging to a fraternity and avoiding being a 'pussy' can be beneficial. However, I feel that his assertions actually contribute to misogynistic attitudes in society and at the same time, places unrealistic expectations on what men 'should be'.
When first reading this article, it seemed to me that it is a response to present ideas that fraternities are purely negative and that nothing good and value-adding comes out of being in one. Therefore the author proposes that fraternities push one to achieve greatness through desiring not to be a pussy. However, the opinions in this article seem to heavily reinforce heteronormative masculine characteristics as something that men need to possess. It also suggests that you need to "not be a pussy" in order to achieve something great and that this method of avoiding 'pussification' is an effective way for men to be propelled to do something they would otherwise not be compelled to. Honestly, this article makes me fairly annoyed and uncomfortable because it seems to continue reinforcing heteronormative masculine qualities as THE way to go, and that those who fall outside those boundaries cannot amount to success. The message that seems to be brought across to others as well is that you always have to face the challenge, and 'not be a pussy', in order to counter a problem, which totally disregards the other ways and methods and personalities that others may appreciate and be more responsive to in dealing with situations in life.
This article, while an accurate portrayal of the realities males live in, highlights the intolerant discourse of masculinity and also does not afford readers with a full picture of the issue. The article does not consider that the "little guy" who "couldn't throw a baseball from third to first to save [his] life" could very well be a future Nobel prize winner or that he could make other huge contributions to society in his own capacity. The article reflects the one-size-fits-all approach of masculinity - shoehorning males from different backgrounds, with different passions into one mould of the "ideal" male specimen. Also, we should examine the construction of masculinity within an overarching heteronormative framework. While the strongly articulated desire to avoid being a pussy is a huge push factor for males, the article does not consider the pull factor. The heterosexual system largely prizes the ideal "male" specimen: suave, well-built, tan, rich, ballsy. The article does not consider the pull factor: the desire to be deemed attractive to females within this heterosexual construct that we have been socialised into.
For a 'boys only' club, the last thing they want would literally be a female, and what's more feminine than a female reproductive organ? Personally, I feel that the 'pussification' of men only pushes the agenda of men's rights advocacy activists, with men who do not fit into stereotypically masculine gender role being 'not men'. Social norms are hard to change, and joining a fraternity where masculinity is embedded and indexed by widely use phrases (assuming that women are discussed frequently, whether it is for solidarity or competition) makes it much harder for anyone to challenge non-normative sexualities. Joining a fraternity would already be a foot in the door, and by the time actual, physical hazing happens, all efforts made by the wannabe frat boy would have already become a sunk cost, with generations of frat boys trying to justify all the trouble they went through placing much greater value on fraternities and the toxic masculinity it promotes.
Madison Wickham's article on pussification discusses about stereotypical masculine traits in a war against masculinity where he adopts a deliberate persona to portray him as a high masculine male in order to fit into the fraternity's idea of masculinity. Personally, I feel that Madison is frightened to be labelled a pussy and hence positioned himself at the extreme end of the spectrum of masculinity, where he is supposed to go for a Business major, to not have cream in coffee and so on. The fear of being labelled a pussy is very real as these "pussies" tend to be bullied or outcasted in the society, and something should be done for fear of more deaths from pledging or hazing.
First above all, yes, it was completely unnecessary to include the word "pussy" in the headline. For one, why condemn another's way of life just because your masculinity is being threatened? I guess we're at this point where the internet is a platform for one to prove that "I/we are above them all", to get likes and comments for constant reassurance of "my/ourselves" and to find like-minded people to prove that they are not the outcast. The deliberate use of a derogatory term just seems like a pathetic move by the author to project hate for anti-frats and a silent cry to protect his own masculinity. Sadly, this avoidance of 'pussification', or the extreme reinforcement of hetero-masculine traits has also become a mindset for many males even in Singapore.

After reading the article, I feel unjust that women’s genitals or “pussies” are being used as a negative term or representation of weak or coward. I think that both sexes’ genitals should be treated at equal status since both are essentially required for reproduction. Not to forget that it is through a woman’s womb or vagina that a baby is conceived. Can men imagine how much tolerance or courage is needed for a woman to go through a painful childbirth process? Thus, why are women or their pussies being considered as weak or cowardly?

Moving on deeper into the context of the article and video, I think that there are advantages and disadvantages of fraternities. As seen, fraternities, much like sororities, give a sense of belonging and identification to individuals, making them feel that they are part of a group. I believe that it is in human’s nature to seek acceptance or recognition from others since most of us are born and raised in a community. Thus, I do agree with the saying that the environment sculpts how living beings grow.

Yet, the video mentioned about “better be safe than sorry” and “social cues”. Is our environment or society being too inflexible or restricted such that individuals feel pressured to grow and shine from their inner selves? There should be a balance between being independent and taking in opinions. I feel that we should be sensible, responsible and accountable for ourselves ultimately, not to others. The author of the article seems to be overly-reliant on his fraternity that he may have forgotten his true self. He believed that his fraternity did sculpt him into a “better man”. However, who was the one who set the expectation or definition of this “better man”? Is it his fraternity or himself?

From what I see, this “better man” is merely a more disciplined man, someone who can take control of his life. Any individual could achieve that, either through self help or help from peers and family. This has nothing to do with being in a fraternity or being a “pussy”. 

that's patriarchy: how female sexual liberation led to male sexual entitlement


Monday, Feb 05, 2018 - 03:52:26 am

‘As soon as older feminists had won sexual liberation, patriarchy reframed it as sexual availability for men.’ Here, the author discusses how ‘intergenerational battles over feminism come down to the meaning of consent.’

Categories: food for thought
the struggle of female sexuality :-(

the female price of male pleasure


Monday, Feb 05, 2018 - 03:42:39 am

In her discussion of male pleasure and female pain, Lili Loofbourow puts forward a compelling argument that ‘[w]omen are enculturated to be uncomfortable most of the time. And to ignore their discomfort.’ Any thoughts on this?

Categories: food for thought
this is a mood but i wish it wasn't
not true
I think it's true to a certain extent that sex is heavily focused on male pleasure
No just means no and there shouldn't be a need for an explanation.
I agree
No is no.
I think that this does not only applies to women. Both males and females would probably experience some sort of discomfort when doing sex, not only physical pain but perhaps the intense moment of staring into each other? Sex should be a good session for both parties in order for both to feel satisfied eventually. Hence, if either party experiences unbearable discomfort, he or she should voice out.
any form of discomfort whether for the female and male should be a sign itself to say no or find some means to compromise (sorta). while women have to learn to voice out their discomfort, men should understand that no means no.
I think women should not have to endure the pain since sex should be consensual and for pleasure. So if it hurts, she should voice out her pain. Also, if he or she says no, it's definitely a no.
Let us not even talk about what each gender has 'rights to' and what another has to 'accept'. Intercourse is a mutual thing thus both involved has equal rights and needs to satisfy. Any other things apart from a definite yes is a possible no. If not, that will only mean its no longer sex...

what's wrong with labels?


Monday, Feb 05, 2018 - 02:16:36 am

In class, we talked about the proliferation of labels used to describe (and perhaps even fix) different ‘sexual identities’, and how these have been useful in mobilizing members of the so-called ‘sexual minorities’ to fight the stigma and claim their rights. These labels, however, have shown to be controversial, and they have been the topic Read more →

Categories: food for thought
interesting read (:
Reminds me how I would like to define who I am, myself
Labels can act as a positive movement but can also be detrimental to the group that is being labelled, depending on how the label is being used.
Labels are wrong as some groups remain invisible to development because they are not considered to be 'high priority' in terms of funding. For example, lesbians are excluded from certain HIV interventions, funding and research as they are not the high group in contracting HIV.
The labelling of the minority groups is a very sensitive issue, and also one that is difficult to deal with. While the minority groups themselves don't like people outside their group to call them by those labels, they themselves are allowed to use it within the group. However, this leads to segregation of the community, and the fact that there is even a need to label these minority groups further separates the community as well.
A lot wrong with labels!
Labels shouldn't be forced upon individuals.
Although there is a gap in funding for several groups of people for important things like HIV interventions, I feel that it is inevitable. Political motivations mean that funding will always be targeted at the largest groups where help can reach the most. However, I feel that more should be done to bridge this gap.
Labels can be both beneficial and at the same time, bad for individuals.

on sexual metaphors


Monday, Feb 05, 2018 - 01:56:23 am

Sex is often taboo, and it is not uncommon that we talk about it using metaphors. Here’s a text about the ‘baseball model’ of sex and sexuality which is prevalent in American society. The article provides a critical take on the baseball sexual metaphor and contrasts it with a hypothetical ‘pizza metaphor’. Any thoughts Read more →

Categories: food for thought
The pizza metaphor is more inclusive then the baseball metaphor.
I learnt about the baseball metaphors from American TV shows.
test comment
Interesting to see how metaphors that we take for granted and accept can strengthen the entrenchment of certain values
Perhaps, we can consider "dabao" as one example of a local sex metaphor used to describe a situation where (usually) a man successfully brings home a woman (usually from a night out/ the club). The expression originally contains this meaning. Comparatively, it is of course is a narrow use and it being standalone as compared to the baseball/pizza metaphor. This is quite suggestive  that sex being a taboo subject here in Singapore.
The baseball metaphor focuses on how one team has to guard against the other; this portrays sex to be restricted within boundaries (limiting to only heterosexuals, and women to "guard their base" against men). We still hear this being used today (in terms of how far the relationship has progressed) but I believe, not as widely spread as in the American culture.
Sexual metaphors have arguably tinted the way our society perceives and talks about sex today. The widespread nature of the baseball metaphor arguably entails that the entrenched sexism is constantly reinforced. Therefore, despite how idealistic the pizza metaphor is, the cultural norms and values now portrayed in the baseball metaphor are too deeply rooted to be swept away by a mere change of discourse used to approach sex.
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I actually never realised that the baseball metaphor was something more complicated than it seemed. I first heard of bases while reading Western books and watching films where teenage boys talked about “reaching 3rd base” and to me, it just seemed like another level of sexual contact or intimacy that one should reach with their partner. However, after reading this article, what struck me most about this whole baseball metaphor was the idea that there was a winning side and losing side- the losing side being the women?? The conquering, the achieving of another base, another ‘score’ seems to objectify women as merely a game. It doesn’t construct sexual intercourse as a consensual milestone, equally significant to both parties in the relationship, but rather just a means of securing a social status or dominance about one’s masculinity and capability. So yes, women end up being on the losing side because perhaps her value ends up being cheapened in this competition to get to the top the fastest. However, this metaphor isn’t something I commonly hear in our local context. Perhaps this is because baseball isn’t a game we resonate with. That being said, I do believe that this whole idea of achieving the bases does exist in Singapore, but perhaps is conveyed through other slang. One such term that could be similar to this is the need to “up your game”, meaning that one needs to improve themselves, do better and get better at achieving more points in whatever aspect it may be in.