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