Attraction to Adult Women: a Hot Trend for Upper-Middle Class Men

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With nine-year old girls in thong bikinis currently leading the march of eroticism in Japan (or at least grabbing the most real estate in der Zeitgeist), refined culture magazine for urban professionals Brutus has decided to come out and remind its readers that “adult” women can also be beautiful. The idea is a bit of radical contrarianism, for sure, but such sensational headlines are known to move copies. Relatively young and over-make-up’d Kashii Yuu graces the cover, but the main feature exhibits portrait shots of various older and professional Japanese women that buck the recent infantile gravity of beauty standards.

From the Brutus website:

As seen in the rush of new women’s magazines starting publication, this is an era of diverse ways in which women can “shine.” From catchphrases such as “You’ve graduated from trying to attract boys (mote)” and “Adult, but cute (kawaii),” more focus is being put on “adult” women. Beauty comes from refinement, intelligence, and a strong will. The keyword for the charming female image is “adult” for men — and maybe for females as well. Our sessions with famous photographers are full of charming beautiful women. In this special feature, adult women are beautiful!

Japan these days is a bit SCREAM — Socio-economic Class Rules Everything Around Me — and we therefore are best seeing Brutus as a media representation of the taste culture of professional, well-educated upper middle-class Japanese men rather than as just as a magazine. Brutus is “kachi-gumi” (winners) media and not targeted towards either middle-range salarymen in the “make-gumi” (losers) without proper cosmopolitan taste or artistic freeter who have chosen passion for individual creation over a high income. Mr. Brutus is drinking champagne at the opening of Tokyo Midtown in a slim navy-blue pin-striped Super 120s suit with slant pockets. He is not playing pachinko within a dirty cloud of nicotine and J-POP Trance Best 2005.

Sexual attraction and social class are not independent of each other, especially seeing that a specific attribute underlies both career success and interest in “adult” women: self-confidence. This is starting to read like the script to one of those businessman LPs of the 1960s, but the self-confident man has no need to fear women who may challenge him in the realm of ideas or even, gasp, on the income ladder. A sophisticated man needs a sophisticated women on his arm. James Bond does not dote after 16 year-old girls — at least while the camera is rolling.

But whether self-confidence is a source of business acumen or just an inherited privilege of the wealthy, lusting after little girls under the guise of appreciating “genki” or the “blossoming of youth” does not match the chic Brutus lifestyle. The relative newness of the Under-15 boom suggests that it is a sexual desire born of contemporary social conditions: Men are attracted to these girls’ innocence as a retreat from a harsh reality in which they are completely emasculated. The “make-gumi” man lacks self-confidence, and extremely young girls (or in more mainstream cases, hostesses/prostitutes) symbolize a desire to create fantasy moments in which the man can regain a sense of control and dominance. Adult women are no good, because they are a reminder of the fall in stature rather than a cure for the failure itself.

Brutus smartly reminds us, though, that “adult” is not just the key for men, but also for women. Japanese analysts posit that women in contemporary Japan pay attention to their style primarily to meet and secure upwardly-mobile men (or at least, self-confident without necessarily the economic motive), and if so, the woman herself must now move towards “adult.” A man’s affection for the immature is a sure sign of low earning potential. This means young women must eventually abandon the simple algebra of “mote (being cute in the way that boys like –> a boyfriend) for a more complicated calculus of following your own will as a means to attract the sophisticated man (who may just happen to possess a bulging pocketbook.)

I had doubts on the fairness of putting “adult” sophistication on the same continuum as the pedophilic tendencies of the otaku, but I just went to the bookstore to check out the issue, and much to my surprise, the intro paragraph of the Brutus feature specifically name checks the “Junior Idol Boom” as proof of infantile sexuality taking over modern society. And they too see the fear towards adult women in the communal lack of self-confidence. Without saying it specifically, Brutus does seem to be asking, are you enough of a Winner Man to take on a Winner Woman?

W. David MARX (Marxy)
April 17, 2007

Marxy wrote a lot of essays back on his old site Néomarxisme. This is one of them.

15 Responses

  1. Barko Hepplewhite Says:

    In the American version of the inevitably upcoming film about “Japanese Winner Women,” Tia Carrerre, a Filipina, will star as the aging beauty looking for love in a young girls world.

    Mark my word.

  2. CNT Says:

    Great post (I would say “as always” but this one is supergood). Made me laugh out loud several times. Hee hee!

  3. Chuckles Says:

    Let me get this straight: Brutus reflects the taste culture of UMC Japanese men in a way, that say, some other seedy aspects of the same culture which go unfeatured in Brutus do not? Come on!

    […Mr. Brutus is drinking champagne at the opening of Tokyo Midtown in a slim navy-blue pin-striped Super 120s suit with slant pockets…]

    Or he is stepping right out of a scene in Love & Pop.

    […Sexual attraction and social class are not independent of each other, especially seeing that a specific attribute underlies both career success and interest in adult women: self-confidence…]

    How so? A winner-type Japanese guy who takes in 1 mil every year certainly has some kind of self confidence. Are you saying I shouldnt expect to see this kind of fellow mixed up in enjo kosai? I doubt it. Heres a different take: Perhaps someone used to the order and structure of an organization with which he is affiliated for life has little time or energy to waste on getting to know adult women: a process that requires the usual courtship ritual: chivalry, understanding, emotional massages, emotional demands etc? Perhaps this is why prostitutes and pubescent types are so appealing? Self confidence has little to do with it: Was ritualized pederasty in bygone Samurai eras also due to a lack of self confidence? IIRC, Genji once raped a boy. Murasaki Shikibu noted the fact as a matter of course – right before she rhapsodized on how glorious her protagonist was.
    Japanese men screw adolescents for the same reason that successful men all over the world screw prostitutes: They take it, shut up and go away.

    […James Bond does not dote after 16 year-old girls – at least while the camera is rolling…]

    O RLY? The only woman to bear a child by Bond was Kissy – from You Only Live Twice. Telling is it not, that Ian Fleming saw it fit for his he-man of he-men to sire offspring by a functionally infantalized and orientalized Japanese woman – and not by the other strong, able, willing Russian, British, American and Carribean women that crossed swords with 007?

    […who may just happen to possess a bulging pocketbook…]

    And a stash of lolicon videos in the back office.

    […I had doubts on the fairness of putting adult sophistication on the same continuum as the pedophilic tendencies of the otaku…]

    Pedophilia is not ephebophilia (which is what afflicts most Otaku). And the latter is not restricted to Otaku – it is behavior that is widespread in many societies.
    Eh – you perhaps put too much faith in Brutus. Strange isnt it, that this time your cynicism doesnt come into play? I mean, isnt the critique of an infantile sexuality in the society simply another marketing ploy by magazine editors to consolidate a niche market? Come now, Marxy, you must not disappoint. Are you sure this isnt the Crime Government Industrial complex at work? FWIW – I would wager that many of the subscribers to Metoroporisu are UMC (Income > $65,000). The personals are a hoot – and they are from gaijin. Still think this is a Japanese thing?

  4. marxy Says:

    See, I like this kind of point-by-point criticism where you don’t even need personal attacks to flesh out the points.

    “Are you sure this isnt the Crime Government Industrial complex at work?”

    I do think that maybe people are starting to get that there needs to be some kind of countervailing power to the U-15 movement.

    “The personals are a hoot – and they are from gaijin.”

    You can trace a direct line from Mme. Butterfly to Metropolis personals.

    “O RLY? The only woman to bear a child by Bond was Kissy – ”

    Nice counter-evidence.

    I would say that not every “wealthy” man in their 30s and 40s in Japan would read Brutus. It is self-selective for those who think they are “cultured” and probably come from a somewhat well-to-do household. The magazine is not particularly nouveau riche, although maybe not anti-nouveau riche seeing that non-NR rich people account for a very silent minority.

    The question of whether Brutus men are right out of “Love & Pop”… I think a sophisticated UMC guy WOULD do it, but he would do it with a sense of shame and essentially hide it. Compare Brutus to Weekly Playboy – they both target the same age group. But the latter proclaims that prostitution as “our” pasttime and very openly celebrates that culture. You are never going to see soaplands in Brutus. So, there may be more hypocrisy in the Brutus guy’s sexual economic life, but he’s not SUPPOSED to be doing any of this stuff.

    This is an interesting line of questioning though: are Judeo-Christian values in sexuality embraced harder in the “oshare” sector if we see tolerance for young lovers and prostitutes as “Japanese”?

  5. Chuckles Says:

    Mea maxima culpa – No personal attacks per se were intended in my previous comments.

    Anyway this is part of the thing: Let us grant a whole range of behaviors that sophisticated Japanese UMC guys are involved in: their literature, music and so on. You would somehow have us believe that a Japanese guy whose conversation ranges effortlessly from Bauhaus to Bernstein to Brokeback Mountain fits the profile of a Brutus reader – and such cultured Japanese fellas, if engaged in common deviancy, do so on the down low. How true is this? Perhaps very true: Yet, this fact alone fails to support your thesis: attraction to adult women as a new trend for UMC Japanese men. I do not think it is a new trend, I do not see any compelling evidence to suggest a fundamental change in tastes – all I see is performative classism: Does everybody else drink water? Well we wont! Cuz were better! Or rather, we wont let people see us drinking – a hypocrisy you acknowledge. So does this qualify as being a new trend?
    Again, Genji is a perfect model: He screwed all and sundry. Is this perhaps a hint as to what a true winner man in Japanese society ought to be like?

    […are Judeo-Christian values in sexuality embraced harder in the oshare sector if we see tolerance for young lovers and prostitutes as japanese?…]

    Is this tolerance Japanese? Is it not rife in several Middle Eastern cultures? It used to be rather rife in the West and in colonial America, and is still common among some African cultures.
    In any case, I would wager that any putative embrace of JC values is itself performative classism: Largely a sterile identification with Western norms in order to emancipate the self from canaille. It is a tactic that is rather well documented: When Anglican missionaries happened upon the West African coast, a major bete noire of theirs was African polygamy. Within the space of 2 decades, several high status Africans adopted monogamy precisely in the mood of performative classism, sending several wives and children away. When the 40s, 50s and 60s anticolonialism came around, polygamy was back in vogue (to some extent) as it became a weapon against the Europeans – See, people! We are real Africans! Not like those lily livered apologists. Schism ensued and a splinter from the Anglican Church – The African Church was formed. My own opinion is that any talk of new trends in human sexuality is mostly farce – and the average guy will jilt a winner woman for a fresh young bosom any day, any time. You ought to consider the fact that when it comes to human sexuality, it is actually Western societies that are deviant.

  6. marxy Says:

    “I do not think it is a new trend”

    No, I don’t either. It was kind of a joke on the fact that they had to come out and say STOP SEEING ADULT WOMEN AS UNSEXY.

  7. Chuckles Says:

    Gotcha. You know, in between your sarcasm and mine, a fair amount of change tends to get lost. Now this:

    […I do think that maybe people are starting to get that there needs to be some kind of countervailing power to the U-15 movement….]

    makes more sense. Great post. A Crime Government Industrial complex angle would sooo rock this.

  8. marxy Says:

    “No personal attacks per se were intended in my previous comments.”

    Yeah, I was non-sarcastically saying that you were not attacking me, but my positions, which is what I prefer here.

  9. Mulboyne Says:

    The “15” in U15 appears to be getting a bit more distant:

    http://blog.livedoor.jp/dqnplus/archives/958761.html

  10. pts Says:

    Chuckles: FWIW, assuming Genji raped (or indeed, had any kind of sexual contact with) the younger brother of the woman he was pursuing at the time is by no means a universally accepted interpretation of the passage in Genji to which you refer.

    It’s a minor point which really has very little to do with your argument, but literature is about the only subject on this blog with which I can go even remotely toe-to-toe with marxy and his more learned commenters….

  11. Chuckles Says:

    You are quite correct pts, tho my own view is that Genji did in fact have sex with the boy. Internal and external criticism suggests it.

  12. Aceface Says:

    大人の女means not just “adult” but also means “Matured”.Considering the cover girl Kashii Yuu had just become 20 years old in February,
    I don’t think this is mean to say switch from Lolita complex to “normal”,rather to say prefer “woman” instead of “girl”.

  13. Aceface Says:

    I just posted something I’ve intended to post on 17th.Sorry.

  14. marxy Says:

    “I don’t think this is mean to say switch from Lolita complex to “normal”,rather to say prefer “woman” instead of “girl”.”

    Yeah, but a lot of the “matured women” inside the magazine are clearly “adults” and not children. The Kashii Yuu cover strikes me as unintentionally ironic: “we love mature women, but not enough to put them on the cover. This is a business, you know!”