CNN has followed up on its successful resurrection of the RapeLay furore with yet more eroge muckraking, coming out with such gems of unbiased journalism as “It is terribly easy to condemn Japan as a sexist and repressed culture with a government that chooses to look the other way.”
CNN’s star Japan bashing reporter Kyung Lah, herself Korean, now digs out a leftist academic whose pathetic excuse for a teaching career includes teaching a variety of fluff courses on anime and “Japanese popular culture,” in order lend weight to the usual facile feminist critique of Japan as being a hellish nation were women live in abject bondage as mere sexual objects.
In the two days since CNN.com posted the story on hentai games (specifically, the “RapeLay” video game), there have been thousands of comments, more than a million page views and many questions about how a culture can produce this genre of games and then quietly allow the industry to thrive.
It is terribly easy to condemn Japan as a sexist and repressed culture with a government that chooses to look the other way. Part of that would be true, but the reason hentai continues to thrive in a country as progressive as Japan is a complex cultural issue.
Kyle Cleveland, an associate professor of sociology at Temple University in Japan, teaches a course called “Youth and Deviant Subcultures in Japan.”
Yes, there is enough material to fill an entire university level syllabus. Cleveland explains that the outrage from critics is borne through the prism of their own cultures, a Western sensibility with an entirely different cultural norm than what exists in Japan.
“Japan is a patriarchal society. It has been historically and remains to this day,” said Cleveland. “It’s no surprise that this is expressed in mass media and pornography. The moral entrepreneurs that are scrutinizing Japan have both a feminist history and cultural tradition that is simply not in play in Japan.”
According to the 2009 World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap report, Japan ranked 101 out of 134 countries, called abysmally low by women’s groups considering it is the world’s second largest economy.
“What you have in Japan is policymakers and politicians who are in some ways blind to these issues because you have a relatively male-dominated, elderly political class that was raised under a different set of gender norms and have never acknowledged the feminist critiques that have become integrated in American and Western consciousness. There are whole sets of non-issues that are not raised for political debate in Japan, so they don’t filter into the consciousness of most Japanese people,” said Cleveland.
But they are becoming issues in our borderless digital world. Japan’s Gender Equality Bureau of the Cabinet Office told CNN that the government was aware the international community is outraged by the games.
The national government is considering making possession of child pornography illegal — currently it is not. But this possible change to the law is due to outside pressure, not internal protest.
Cleveland says Japan has some of the most heinous examples of child pornography in the world. “It’s a country that has been held to task by the U.N. for human trafficking and exploitation of women.”
“Japan has ways of expressing sexuality that are practically indecipherable to a Western sensibility but that are so normalized in Japan that the Japanese don’t often understand or acknowledge the critiques that are made against them,” Cleveland says.
Cleveland believes the international debate will pressure Japan to amend its laws, making it harder for hentai games to be sold and distributed. He believes Japan will not comply for moral reasons but because “it’s politically expedient.”
But he cautions those who are appalled to take a look within their own culture.
“What provokes people about Japan is the cultural distance which inclines people to see Japan as exceptionally lurid or perverse simply because it expresses sexuality in ways outside of Western norms. Japan is in some ways not that different than other cultures, including the United States, which has its own gender problems that are quite apparent.”
Incidentally, the reporter responsible for this latest bout of muckraking, a Korean born American named Kyung Lah, was sacked from her previous broadcasting job after a scandal erupted over her cheating on her husband with her boss.
She also admits in an interview that she thinks “about the larger question of being Korean every single moment,” or in other words that she is most probably infected with the Korean hyper-nationalism which frequently manifests itself in irrational hatred of all things Japanese.
Just why CNN would think it is appropriate to have a feminist adulterer and Korean nationalist engage in a smear campaign against Japanese culture on its network, all by way of a resurrecting a year-old story whose main effect seems to have been encourage illegal downloads of a game now pulled due to feminist pressure and in any case never released outside Japan, is an interesting question.