Japan’s pornographic industry is not so different from America’s when it comes to the fetishizing of the breast. One can find numerous examples throughout hentai, live action, billboards, fighting games, and more. And a capitalist nation like Japan wants this to be working on the mind of its people. If you see breasts that the ideal woman is “supposed” to possess, then someone’s pockets will be lined with the currency of people’s insecurities. Depicting the actresses as a subject whose body is an object to be gazed at and consumed. In capitalism, the body, especially women’s bodies, are regarded as a commodity. In Japan, anyone can walk into any convenience story and just about any bookstore and find an open section dedicated to pornography. There is no real separation between yourself and the material. It is right there in the face of everyone.
These images and this culture has real impacts on the lives and choices of women in Japan. In an English language interview in 2011, AV idol Azusa Maki estimated that as many as 10,000 girls attempt to get into the Japanese AV industry each year. Another controversial study conducted by Atsuhiko Nakamura said that 1 in 200 Japanese women had appeared in an AV film, with an industry churn of 6,000 new actresses a year.
Pornography is a type of fantasy. When one sees pornographic images, one begins to construct a scene or a dream, in one’s own head. When watching pornography, it is simply living vicariously through others. And those are not even real experiences. They are contrived. They are constructed in order to sell. There is a reason the participants are called “actresses” and “actors.” Money is the objective. Most sex is nothing like the fantastical images portrayed on screen.
As male-centric as porn is worldwide, it is even more so in Japan. Look at the differences in typical porn actors between Japan and America. In Japanese porn, the man with gym-rat muscles and a 5-dollar foot-long for a penis is not found very often. This is more trying to fulfill the fantasy, the notion that women serve the ideal role of mother and wife to the nation. Often times incestuous relationships serve as a metaphor for the quasi-incestuous duty to the family and state. An incredible number of videos portray a large group of Japanese men engaging in sex with a single or very few women that possess the “ideal feminine body”. You see in very distinct ways the Japanese woman is serving the male who is serving the state, a reward for fitting into the “proper” role. Salarymen and scenes on the train on the daily commute are common. These are the spaces in which the common man that falls into the narratives of patriarchy occupy, as we know men are also not immune to the weaknesses and maladies of the system. These things infect us all. The fantasy of having your primal desires satisfied for adhering to the duty of the state.
It needs constant reemphasizing, these are sticky topics and there is no easy resolution (if one exists at all). Sex and fantasy are very personal topics. There remains a constant debate about how much of becoming a porn actress, is women seizing power from the patriarchal and capitalistic system that is imposed upon them versus falling back into the cycle again and again. But It’s difficult to escape the cycle when you are stuck riding a uni-system unicycle underneath the crotch of the patriarchy. These are things to think deeply about and to be conscious of. It is important to think about the confines of the ideal feminine body.