June 28, 2007

A Poem

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kim @ 2:54 pm

Not many poems on the Chinese blogosphere so here’s an offering of doggerel inspired by having a Chinese wife and having the odd joke made about it.

My wife
She Chinese!
She cooky flied lice and…
Oh perleeeeze.
In fact we often speak in sentences like these:

(Me) “More Pizza darling?”
(Her) “Oh, yes please!
And let’s have one with some extra cheese.”

She’s even fond of the Japanese!

And yet she’s Chinese through and through
If that makes any sense to you.

Jolly silly, I know, but I got the first 4 lines in my head and had to finish it. I realise I didn’t have to share it, but there you go.

Anybody else out there got any odes to offer?

Don’t be shy…it would be hard to do worse than mine!

June 27, 2007

Comfort Women

Filed under: culture,Dalian — Kim @ 6:52 am

What can you do when you’re a lonely corporate samurai serving your time across the waters, outside of mother Japan?

You need some comforting, and what better place than a bar full of obliging and charming women who hang on your every word, laugh at your jokes, top up your glass and light your cigarettes? Very comforting. Or you can go to a massage parlour and have a comforting massage. (Only just resisted putting quotation marks in there.)

I guess I’d better stop being facetious with that loaded term now, but maybe I’ve made my point. Japanese men are still sleeping with Chinese women and it’s got little to do with romance or mutual attraction. It’s the economy, stupid.

According to the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women, Japanese men constitute the largest number of sex tourists in Asia, with Cambodia, Hong Kong, the Philippines, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Taiwan and Thailand serving as some of the primary Asian destinations for organized sex tours from Japan. And, closer to home, in 2003, four hundred Japanese sex tourists got busted having an orgy in Zhuhai with 500 Chinese prostitutes. Prostitution on that kind of scale is hard to cover up, and it caused a big stink in the press…the China Daily solemnly intoned that “The court official reiterated that prostitution is illegal on the Chinese mainland and those who have violated the law will be punished.”

Here in Dalian there is a pretty large Japanese community –somewhere between 5-6000 full timers and a fair few tourists. You can fly to Dalian in a couple of hours from Tokyo and everything’s a lot cheaper here. Plus there’s the nostalgia factor that Dairen used to be a part of the Japanese empire and there’s some surviving Japanese buildings here…in my opinion the most beautiful buildings in the city.

So, there are a lot of Japanese restaurants and “gentlemen’s clubs” in this city and I guess I would know bugger all about the latter were it not for the free glossy magazines that advertise all things Japanese in Dalian and get left in some of the restaurants and hotels I go to.

Dalian damsels

There are no less than 6 of these magazines in circulation and they all have roughly half of their pages full of enticing women beckoning readers to come along to their place for drinks or a massage.

The women are probably not coerced into it, although they might find that they take the job not really knowing what they’ve let themselves in for and then find it difficult to back out. Who knows? I haven’t asked them and won’t be able to ask Chinese people any kind of serious question for at least another year or so…until my Chinese gets up to speed.

From my observations in Thailand I would say that asian hookers are often from poor families and are usually more than happy to sleep their way out of the rice fields and into some designer clothes and jewelry. It’s also not uncommon for them to befriend their clients and enjoy their job. I am not shocked or particularly morally bothered by prostitution unless it involves coercion, by which I mean threats of violence or actual violence. Personally, I am commenting on the Japanese man meets Chinese woman club and massage parlour scene as something socially interesting, not something morally troubling. And if Chinese authorities were outraged about it they could shut the clubs down pretty easily, I think, but they won’t because there’s too much money to be made and because they are fairly discreet places.

If the orgy incident in Zhuhai caused such a storm then why is such obvious prostitution ignored in Dalian? Is it a question of scale? Yes, I think so – the Zhuhai orgy was almost impossible to ignore and was a loss of face – but the principle, and the law, is surely still the same. It’s interesting that the publishers of these Japanese magazines feel confident enough to leave them in restaurants and hotels all over town without much fear of reprisal, apparently.

While the war time comfort women were undoubtedly sex slaves -which is horrible and despicable – the sex-for-sale in Dalian these days is not so easy to condemn, I think. Actually, the “discreet but yet still out in the open” Dalian Japanese sex-for-sale scene could be seen as a sign that relations between the two countries are getting a bit less fraught and, who knows, some of these men and women might be actually making friends.

June 18, 2007

Is this the way you think?

Filed under: culture,east-west,language — Kim @ 4:14 am

What do you make of this little diagram without any context, I wonder?


For your information, it’s taken from a 1966 academic article called ‘Cultural Thought Patterns in Intercultural Education’ by an American professor called Robert B Kaplan and is better known in linguistics’ circles as Kaplan’s doodles. It aims to show (in a rough and ready way) how five different cultures approach the task of writing an essay – or presenting an argument perhaps – and he came up with it after teaching international students for a while at the University of Southern California.

As you can guess, it shows the English style as being straight to the point, Semitic writers tending to use parallel structures, Orientals circling around the point, Romance writers straying from the path somewhat, and Russians going off on unconnected tangents, hence the broken lines.

Hmmmm, as you can also doubtless guess it’s pretty controversial and was heavily critiqued in academic journals. But where I think it is useful is as a pedagogical tool for raising awareness about how different cultures might approach the the task of writing essays, or arguing a case.

In Hungary, about eight years ago, I used to teach English for Academic Purposes (EAP) at a place called The Central European University in Budapest, which had a fair mix of nationalities from that neck of the woods, such as Russians, Hungarians, Romanians, Serbs, Croats, Mongolians, Czechs, Polish etc etc. I worked part-time at the university’s Writing Centre, popularly known as the WC, (staffed by toilet attendants from Britain, Ireland, and the US) and our main task was to help these easterners to write research papers in English. Some students had absolutely superb English but even a few of these, together with those who were struggling with the language, still had a problem writing English style papers.

Yes, even if they were word perfect in English and knew their topic inside out they still had issues, and probably the main problem was the organisation of ideas. So, we used to use Kapan’s doodles early on in our course to kick off discussions about how students were accustomed to writing esays.

The Russians were often none-too-happy with this depiction of their “cultural thought patterns” and indeed it does kind of come across as something out of American Cold War propaganda…remember it was published in 1966. On one memorable occasion, one of my Russian students pondered the handout for a while and then gave his considered opinion:

“Zis is bollshit…is zat direct enough?”

And here is a more academic style refutation

In Kubota’s words (1992, p.20), Contrastive Rhetoric tends to “construct a homogenous representation of the ‘Other’ while legitimating a certain kind of rhetoric as a canon”. Other scholars have also criticised contrastive rhetoric for its reductionist, deterministic, prescriptive, and essentialist orientation (e.g. Leki, 1997).

Well, it is is a complex and controversial notion but nonetheless, to ground it in my experience at The Central European University, the issue was that some of our students -we thought- would either beat about the bush too much, or sometimes never even really make their point clear at all. Some stronger students would tend to include too much stuff in their essays (showing off their wide reading a bit too much perhaps) and end up losing the thread for much of the middle of the paper. The weaker ones would string together rather random points and often conclude with a vague exhortation such as “this is an important issue and it needs more study!” To which it was tempting to respond, “Yes it does, and you should have done it.”

Not that these are not issues for students from English speaking cultures of course!

In any case, Kaplan was one of the pioneers of a field of study now known as Contrastive Rhetoric, which can be considered as a hypothesis claiming that the logic expressed through the organization of a certain written text is culture-specific. I guess most people would agree that different cultures express themselves in different ways and it’s an interesting endeavour to compare cultural texts, but it does, inevitably, lead to some clumsy generalizations…which I am about to indulge in in this post, so apologies in advance for that.

Quite a bit of later work in Contrastive Rhetoric involved itself with Chinese, Japanese, and Korean writers…mostly student writers. A lot of East Asians have been doing stints in “Anglo-American” universities for a while now and so a fair bit of research has been done on them. Perhaps the best known researcher of “Oriental Writing” is a Dead White European Male called John Hinds, about whom I offer the following.

Hinds has shown that writers in different languages use certain textual structures to
achieve coherence. He has described how Japanese, Chinese, Thai, and Korean
writers prefer to use a quasi-inductive style rather than an explicit inductive or
deductive style. He argues that there is an Oriental writing style, which cannot be
classified as either deductive or inductive. This style involves ‘delayed introduction of
purpose’ with the topic or thesis statement implied, not stated. Hinds’s argument for
quasi-inductive style is related to his (1987) assertion that Japanese is a reader responsible language as opposed to English which is a writer-responsible language.
Hinds claims that readers in Japanese, Chinese, Thai, and Korean languages are
expected to think for themselves, to consider the observations made, and draw their
own conclusions. In English, however, it is usually the writer’s responsibility to
convince readers by explicitly presenting the idea in a way that they will be able to

Ah yes, those inscrutable Orientals! Not like us straight talking Anglo chaps, what?

Actually, Hinds was a serious academic and was careful to hedge his assertions and to back up his claims with a fair amount of samples. Hinds also used to write about the influence of the traditional four-part Chinese style essay, called a ‘qi-cheng-zhuan-he’ (‘beginning’, ‘development’, ‘turn’ and ‘conclusion’) essay. This was copied by the Japanese (surprise, surprise) and is known over there as ‘ki-shoo-ten-ketsu’.

I can’t say I’ve come across this very often, but here’s an interesting opinion from a Japanese guy, Paul Kei Matsuda, who moved to the US to become a writing teacher

I tried to argue that ki-shoo-ten-ketsu was not just a fantasy created by ethnocentric native-English-speaking readers, as some people seemed to be arguing. In fact, I was explicitly taught to use it by one of my elementary school teachers, my parents, and some of the popular writing handbooks in Japan. This organizational scheme was also apparent, I thought, in some student texts that I encountered in my work as a tutor.

The bit that tends to puzzle westerner academics, apparently, is the third part, the “turn”. This “turn” is often seen by them as a diversion from the main point, rather than a development of it.

And if that wasn’t enough, there is also something known as ‘ba gu wen’, “the eight-legged essay” and as I have never encountered one of these exotic sounding creatures I shall have to borrow this explanation

In Kaplan’s book (1972), he argued that the indirectness of oriental writing was largely
due to the influence of the Chinese ‘eight-legged essay’, which was actually a
traditional essay form used as a standard device in civil service examinations
hundreds of years ago. The origin of the ‘eight-legged’ essay ba gu wen can be traced
back to the Bei Song Dynasty (960—1127AD) in China. It was not until the Ming
dynasty (1368—1644AD) that the rules for the composition of the eight-legged essay
were explicitly laid down (Tu, 1974). The eight legs, or ba gu, refers to the
rhetorically parallel paragraphs (legs) of the four central parts of the essay—-the qi gu,
the xiao gu, the zhong gu and the hou gu. The required style of the parallel legs of the
eight-legged essay was, “as one falls another one rises” (yi fan yi zheng) (Tang, 1980).
This structure was extremely complex. The ability to write a good eight-legged essay
took scholars several years to master.

Cripes! I’m glad I didn’t have to do any of those at school…but as it turns out, neither, it seems, do Chinese students these days either

(Kirkpatrick, 1997), finds that Mainland Chinese students do not have to learn traditional Chinese text styles (eight-legged essays or even qi-cheng-zhuan-he) in order to enter university. In fact, eight-legged essays have been not been used for quite some time and have very little influence on contemporary writing. As for qi-cheng-zhuan-he, this model is not focused on in the Chinese school curriculum either. Chinese students do not have to master any contemporary style that could be classified as intrinsically Chinese. Furthermore, they are encouraged to be inventive and original in their writings. After a survey of contemporary Chinese textbooks on composition, Kirkpatrick (1997) concludes that the prescriptive advice given in these texts reflects a contemporary ‘Anglo-American’ rhetorical style more than a traditional ‘Chinese’ style.

And I must say that this clicks with my experience too. Having taught writing in both Japanese and Chinese universities now, I can’t say I have had many encounters with exotic essay forms. Although I have had to read a fair amount of drivel and dross over the years, it is not that much different from the kind of problematic writing I got from the non-asian students I taught in Hungary.

However, many studies do suggest that there are significant Oriental-Occidental differences

Among the contrastive rhetorical studies that have found their ways into composition
studies, Matalene’s (1985) ‘Contrastive Rhetoric: An American Writing Teacher in
China’ has become something of a classic. In her article, Matalene uses parts of
English compositions written by Chinese students and translations of various Chinese
texts to explain the characteristics of Chinese rhetoric. Unlike Kaplan, Matalene does
not dwell just on formal aspects of rhetoric (i.e., the forms that paragraphs take), but
discusses Chinese writers’ reliance on memorization and manipulation of set phrases
and textual forms to emphasize group values over individualistic goals. She found that
Chinese students could not use English rhetorical devices effectively to establish
arguments. Usually they would use narrations and statements that seemed
unconnected in the eyes of Western readers. She concluded that Chinese rhetoric
lacked argumentative coherence because of its reliance on references to history,
tradition, and authorities.

My guess is that there must be a generation gap here because the overwhelming majority of my students write clearly argued and coherent essays that use quotation in familiar ways. Although it’s also probably because I teach English majors who have learnt writing from American composition textbooks, or at least textbooks that are influenced by American composition.

Anyway, it’s not really that surprising that English majors are influenced by English language culture, but maybe it does hint towards the wider issue that what with our wired-up-world and the global village and all that, modern students, journalists, and other opinionated types are tending to think, talk, and write in similar ways.

The main exception to this, in my limited experience of course, has been the essays I’ve had to mark from Saudi, Omani and Jordanian students…Muslim Arab students in other words. Now they really do create flowery and winding pathways for their prose and my best guess is that it’s to do with their religious (medieval) worldview and constant references to and deference to The Koran, and their duty to memorise huge chunks of it. But that’s a WHOLE other topic there.

I’d like to end with the suggestion that a significant section of literate people around the world these days are not only tending to hold similar sets of opinions but are also expressing those written opinions in similar ways…with easy to follow points, clear paragraphs, and unconvoluted prose. Does that sound like most of the blogs and papers you read?

Is that the way you think?

June 9, 2007

The Years BC

Filed under: China,culture,east-west — Kim @ 5:43 pm

I’ve only been here a few months but it’s already getting hard to imagine life Before China.

There hasn’t been anything that has gone so totally against my expectations as to really shock me, I mean I had heard about censorship and recent rapid modernisation etc etc. I guess my biggest surprise has been the lowness of the average wage. Most people here seem to be on 2000 kwai a month or less, and how do they live on that?

But anyway, I recently started thinking about the anecdotes, images, and random impressions of and about China that made up my mental map of The Middle Kingdom long before I ever set foot on Chinese soil.

Of course we had some China bits at school in our history and geography lessons. Warlords, The Long March, Mao, Millions and Millions and MILLIONS of (similar looking) People, The One Child Policy, The Great Wall, Confucius he say…bla bla bla. But before all of that there were the associations of China from early childhood, that time of intense and exaggerated images that continue to affect us long after they have been diluted by experience and maturity.

Popular culture sketched in most of my inklings of The Orient and, let’s be clear here, at such an early age there wasn’t much distinguishing between China and Japan…and Korea was terra incognita. First off there was the Yellow Peril stuff such as Ming the Merciless from Flash Gordon, Fu Manchu, James Bond’s Dr No, and Marvel’s arch-enemy of Iron Man, The Mandarin. All cruel and calculating and utterly inscrutable villains. Those high cheekbones and slanted eyes! Those deadpan faces! The asiatic pitilessness! Perhaps this is why at school we would give each other “Chinese burns” and talk in curious wonder of “The Chinese Water Torture”.

And somewhere a long long way out east around the time of my peaceful Sussex childhood, Mao was indeed killing millions with his stubborn pride and hunger for power, his crackpot schemes, and his indifference to suffering. But Mao’s mass-produced ruddily chubby and beaming visage didn’t fit the central casting image of an oriental despot, so it couldn’t really be true.

And of course there was Kung Fu/Martial Arts…Bruce Lee and Karate Kid and all that. In our playground we all knew that anybody Chinese could kick our arses with their dark arts, so it was a good thing we never met any. But best of all was the weekly dose of “Monkey!” which was actually a Japanese program about the Chinese legend but nobody knew or cared about that. It was full of great fight scenes and funny characters and cool gimmicks like the expanding fighting staff that Monkey kept behind his ear, the flying cloud he could whistle up, and the crown that he had to wear that would burn into his skull if the wonderfully named Tripitaka chose to pray to Buddha for punishment for the unruly monkey king. There was also a series called “The Water Margin”, which I can remember watching avidly.

And in the corners of our consciousnesses were inky images of misty mountains, dragons, red lanterns, pigtails, bound feet, and Chinese characters. Most of which made its way into Tintin and The Blue Lotus, of course.

Also, I can vividly remember my first trip to London’s China Town, all those succulent golden brown ducks and strips of red pork hung up in the restaurant windows! I felt like a Dickensian urchin salivating at edible delights beyond his reach…my parents didn’t trust Chinese hygeine so we never went to sample this wonderful looking fare.

I’d be interested to hear the US, Canadian, Irish, Australian (etc) equivalent to all this eastern baggage from an English childhood.

Adolescence added very little to it, and it wasn’t till my early adult years out in Hungary that China began to crop up on the radar again. I became an English teacher immediately after I graduated, yes, I’ve been at this lark for over 10 years now, and some of my colleagues had done a stint in China. One of them was my British ex-boss from a place in Budapest called The Central European University (hello John!) a crisply spoken public school “officer class” type character with some redeeming eccentricities and weaknesses. He’d served some time in China early on in his teaching career as part of a plan to get a good position at The British Council – they like chaps who can hack China – and he’d hated it and only stayed a year. His first comment when I asked him what kind of time he’d had in China was that he’d never been colder (he was living south of Shanghai, just beyond the radiator border) and then he said that all Chinese thought the same way. I couldn’t believe my ears! Here was a well read and intelligent man, who’d actually lived in China, who seemed to be confirming all the lazy stereotypes. I hadn’t been east of Romania and had never actually spoken more than restaurant orders to a Chinese person at that time, but of course I challenged him on this. Well, he admitted, he’d been exaggerating…but only slightly. He definitely discerned a standard issue Chinese mindset, and Chinese education, he claimed, crammed them with assembly line opinions that were not up for discussion. He had taught at a provincial university.

I took this in but never really believed it and my own experience at Dalian University of Foreign Languages doesn’t bear it out. But still, it’s quite telling about the sort of impression China can give.

The Central European University also had a fair few Russians and some Mongolians, and I heard a couple of snippets about China from a pair of them. Can’t remember how we got on the topic, but the Russian guy came out with a “joke” about China and Russia going to war. In the first week 5 million Chinese die, in the second week 20 million Chinese die, in the third week 100 million, and in the fourth week China wins. The Mongolian then chipped in with the surreal comment that “Yes, in my country we say that these days the Chinese could defeat us simply by throwing their hats at us!” He grinned broadly, showing a lot of gold teeth, “So many hats!”

After Hungary and just before I went to Japan (in March 2001) I taught for three months at a private language school in Brighton, south England. We had a few Chinese there and the main thing I remember is how happy most of them were that they could actually talk to and be friends with our Japanese students, who – wonder of wonders – turned out to be friendly and kind and ready to talk sensibly about the Chinese-Japanese recent past.

I also remember the first piece of writing I got from a young Chinese lady who could barely speak or understand spoken English. It was grammatically almost perfect and showed a range of vocabulary I hadn’t thought her capable of…because she’d done a lot of grammar translation stuff in her English lessons of course. It said something along the lines of ” I want to work hard here and improve my English to the best of my ability. I am going to go back to China to be an English teacher. I love my country and I want to do my best for my motherland!” I laughed and showed it to a colleague, “Christ, real “little red book stuff”,” he said.

And then there was the time I had two Chinese sitting side by side as I was setting up a discussion activity in which they had to explain their national cuisine to a partner. I told them I had better move them so they could properly do this, but no…”She is from the south and I am from Beijing” explained the young man, “and we want to know about each other’s cooking!” I was surprised and asked them if they really didn’t already know, and they said they didn’t and chatted away happily for the next 20 minutes. “China is a big country!” he told me at the end of the lesson.

And sure enough, here in Dalian, North China, I have found that almost nobody knows what Dim Sum is.

So there you have it, a potted history of my BC years.

And you?

June 5, 2007

Cute little Asian girls

Filed under: asia,China,culture — Kim @ 5:18 pm

A recent post over at Sinocidal has this charming depiction of a prototype modern Chinese chick…

You little minx. You teasing little tart with your pink mobile phone plastered with stickers of you and your gal pals in silly poses taken at the local photo booth arcade and festooned with dangling Hello Kitty charms. You in your shorts worn with black stockings that run up to mid thigh and your t-shirt with cutesy but bizarre English phrases splashed across your budding chest. You’re 23 but you look and act 16 all while living with mommy and daddy and going to your mind numbing day job

Which strongly reminded me of my early impressions in Japan.

I went to Japan to teach at a small private university, near Tokyo Disneyland, and was quite taken aback in the beginning by the difference between Japanese uni students and their English (and Hungarian) counterparts. They seemed immature and innocent, and the girls especially so.

So I wrote a rant which I am hereby offering for your inspection and for your cross-cultural comparison with China. Dozo/Qing…

Have you ever wanted to blow up Disneyland and kick Mickey Mouse in the balls? If you’re a well-adjusted individual then of course you have. But this kind of healthy reaction to the hype and sickly sweetness of the Disney dream seems to be lacking in Japan. Even cynics and tough guys lap up Disney here. The culture of the cute, of which Disney is surely the most successful exploiter, is big in Japan.

Puppies and babies and the like are popular the world over, of course, and only the grumpiest of cynics would remain unmoved by cuteness. A little bit of cute can be…well, cute. But in Japan it is all too often much too much, like adding ten sugars to a mochachino.

It’s the women who bear the brunt of it, it’s the young girls who at birth are chucked in at the deep end of this pink and sparkly (Disney) sea. Japanese shops are stuffed with Kitty Chan, Miffy, and Disney characters. The average girl’s bedroom is stuffed with fluffy toys, and her mind is stuffed with cute.

Many Japanese young women are cute to the point of appearing seriously retarded to Western eyes. These J-girls wave with both hands, say “bye-bye” in squeaky baby voices, and run with turned-in-toes and spacky knock-knees as if they were still 6 years old. The average specimen will have innumerable little photos (purikura) in which their dappy smiles and raised two fingers are digitally fringed with brightly cheery images, and kitschy figures will dangle from their mobile phones – often so many its a wonder how they carry them. Journals I get as a teacher are adorned with smiley faces and cutesy cartoon stickers, and I teach at a University.

Japan is a cocoon in which Japanese girls are cosseted and coddled to an extraordinary degree. Outside of Japan is dangerous, so best not to go… hearing bad news is upsetting, so best not to read the newspapers. Jaunty J-pop has maybe the world’s most banal lyrics. The occasional sarcasm and cynicism that does crop up in the culture will fly right over their pretty little heads. All of which adds up to a thorough infantilisation of the Japanese young female, and all of which makes her the perfect construct for late capitalism: the type of person whose main hobby is shoppingu.

But look around a little and you can find a subculture that is reacting to and brutally subverting this culture of the cute. It is a male thing, of course, and it is in every high street conbini (convenience store) and video store. It is Japanese porn. J-porn can be split into two main types, one involves real women and one involves Manga figures, and it is the Manga porn that is maybe the more disturbing.

Mainstream Manga is enormously popular with the teenage consumer and is populated by feisty young crew-cut boys playing their hearts out at various sports and cutesy little girls with wide eyes and delicate bodies who simper around. With Manga porn, it is middle aged salarymen who are the main consumers, so what happens to cute little Manga girl when she’s subjected to a lusty male gaze? Brutal defilement, in case you’re unsure. Where else in the world, I wonder, can you walk into a corner shop and flick through rows of comics that depict teen – and pre-teen looking – girls being tied up, tortured, beaten, and raped? Sometimes by men, and sometimes by aliens with intruding tentacles.

In most pornmanga there is so much lovejuice spurting from every orifice that the pages seem to squelch. It is pornsex taken to comic extremes and that is what manga can uniquely do perhaps. It would seem that the sight of a young girl covered in come is something that really appeals to the Japanese consumer of porn. Perhaps it’s cute. In a genre known as bukkake, a woman is tied up or held down and squadrons of salary men will cover her with come.

What is all this juice and all this joy?” asked Gerard Manley Hopkins of the coming of spring and the rising of the sap of sexuality. So in manga, what is all this juice and all this pain? A subversion of procreative sexuality where there is never any impregnation because the semen is splattered all over the body and there is no pleasure for the female, only pain.

Well, it’s not exploiting women because these are only lines on a page, after all, but isn’t it degrading to everyone to have endless images of women being trussed up and savagely violated for sale in the local high-street store? This kind of thing is a part of the adult video market too, and Japanese porn-actresses certainly earn their money. The average video store will have a very large porn section and if you indulge in some “anthropological research” and rent a video, then it’s odds on you’ll hear a lot of high pitched squealing that sounds more like pain than pleasure and be treated to a lengthy gang-bang rape. The women cry dame (don’t) and yammette (stop), but usually end up enjoying it.

Here, of course, Japan is not so unusual….de Sadean tastes and nasty porn can be found easily enough in Europe and America, but in Japan all this sicko-male brutality is in symbiosis with the sickly sweet female cuteness.

And it’s not just the occasional otaku type, it’s mainstream. My small commuter town in Japan has no less than 7 adult video/sex shops. One of the mainstream video stores has an entire upstairs section devoted to porn.

Simone de Beauvoir would bring in “the gaze” here. The male (media) gaze is what turns the Japanese woman into an infant or a rape victim. I mean, on a very simple level, women don’t get raped unless men are around, and most women won’t try to act cute/retarded unless men are around. The male stare, the male gaze. The lascivious look and the approving attitude towards lovely little girls with sweet smiles and empty heads.

The mixture of the cute and the cruel can be seen as two extremes that have become intimately connected. Cold cruel Yang beating up on cute and cuddly Yin. Sex and Shopping. Shopping for fucking. Fucking the shoppingu. All part and parcel of a profoundly patriarchal and thoroughly materialistic society.

Old rant over.

Reading this again with the wisdom of a few more years I can see how sweeping it is in its generalisations and how downright silly it sometimes is, but hey, it’s a rant. And I wasn’t that happy in Japan for the first few months so I needed to get some stuff off my chest…to unbosom myself…and I needed to get a girlfriend! I ended up with my Chinese wife, we met in Tokyo during my second year in Japan.

Now I’ve been in China a few months I feel China is going that way a bit. More porn, more cutesy stuff, more money, more materialism.

More Japanese.

That should wind up the nationalists a bit 😉