Have you ever heard of the term “sex work?” In the UK, this term is collectively used to describe working in the sex industry. Someone who engages in sex work is called a sex worker.
In the West, the term sex work is often used to describe the sex industry in a negative light. As a result, the correlation “sex worker = poor” is also easily established. It is true that, in the West, the majority of sex workers are poor and living underprivileged lifestyles. This has led to sex work causing controversy as a large social issue in the region.
How about the Japanese sex industry? Sex club girls are not limited to underprivileged lifestyles. In fact, it is not unusual to find sex girls who earn more than fulltime company employees.
In this way, Western values and Japanese values regarding the sex industry are completely different. These differences have accumulated throughout various points in history.
The sex industry in Western countries
In Ancient Greece, when European civilization began to blossom, people were still open about sex. However, as Christianity began spreading from the near east, a culture of sexual abstinence took root. This is the reason that the European culture linking sex to taboo was born.
Throughout the course of history, the fundamental ideal governing the West has been Christianity. Even now, the general inclination is to view sexual openness and freedom as wrong.
If this is the case, then why was it that, despite the establishment of these moral values about sex in European history, sex workers didn’t fade away? The answer is that they wouldn’t have been able to survive without sex work.
In Western countries, becoming a sex worker means that you are unable to make a living off of anything else. It means that you are positioned in the lowest level of society. Most sex workers have no parents, no livelihood, and are unable to live in a satisfactory environment.
The sex industry in Japan
Japan, on the other hand, has been extremely tolerant of sex ever since ancient times.
This history is so deep that, in Japanese mythology, there is a deification of miko, or shrine maidens, who performs a strip dance. Even in the Edo period, the presence of this culture remained strong. Furthermore, with the birth of professions such as oiran, or courtesans, prostitution secured its position in Japanese society. At the time, oiran were the envy of many people.
It is well known that, when Japan entered the Meiji period, it threw away its pre-modern culture and began to take after the Western countries. During this time, the Japanese people also adopted the Christian values of the West pertaining to sex. However, these values were not enough to transform the deeply ingrained tolerance of sex held by the Japanese people.
This tolerance lasts to this day. Consider the perception of sex clubs in Japan. Although it may not be acceptable to talk about it in public, men often enjoy talking about sex clubs amongst each other. Also note that Japanese people who see a girl working at a sex club, sympathize with her position, and feel sorry for her are in the minority.
These tolerant values also influence the women who work at sex clubs. Unlike Western sex workers, Japanese club girls are very rarely orphans with nowhere else to go.
Furthermore, it is rare to find club girls who can only get money through prostitution. Many of these girls work at offices in the daytime or are dedicated students during their off time. In summary, Japanese club girls are different from Western sex workers in that working at sex clubs is nothing more to them than an enjoyable lifestyle.
It is easy to feel just how wide of a culture cap exists between Western and Japanese values with regard to sex. Although there are issues in Japan regarding prostitution, etc., Japan must find its own solutions to these problems rather than relying on the same methodology used by the West.