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Kodaka, Maiko (2023) Embrace me as I am: Japanese Pornography for Women and the Fan Community surrounding Male Porn Stars. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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This exploratory research looks at female fans of male porn actors in Jôsei-muke Adult Videos (AV) in Japan. Jôsei-muke is a pornographic genre aimed at heterosexual women that features good-looking male porn actors called eromen and lovemen. This new genre arose as a reaction against the decline of the porn industry due to the popularity of porn streaming websites and is an attempt to expand the market by capturing heterosexual women as new, heretofore neglected, audiences. Although the media sometimes depict this new as a form of female sexual emancipation, the genre is only economically viable because of the support (oshi-katsu) by “fans” of eromen and lovemen. This thesis argues that to read the reversal of the “male gaze” as female emancipation based solely on the content of the pornographic products is misleading. New forms of pornography must be placed in the context of pre-existing gender issues in Japanese society and in the everyday life worlds of those who consume it. The issue arose here is not only that of gender identity but also economic ones. Based on one year of field work at a series of eromen and lovemen fan events and participation in the online community of fans, this research shows that fans are largely indifferent to female sexual emancipation that is supposed to be encouraged by jôsei-muke AV and its business collaborators who produce sex toys and other self-pleasure products. Rather, it has become apparent that female fans look for intimate interactions with male actors at series of events in order to restore their confidence and to have their femininity recognised by attractive male others. The interactions with eromen and lovemen provide recognition for female fans through monetary transactions. Theory of recognition (Honneth 1995, Taylor 1994) indicates that recognition should be mutual; however, the monetary transaction changes the mutuality and the intentions of each actors (female fans / eromen and lovemen). For eromen and lovemen, it is about money and fame. Female fans, on the other hand, gain recognition even though it has to be purchased. Purchasing recognition thus appears a rational choice in a world in which romantic relationships come fraught with obligations, mutual commitment, gendered expectations and the risk of rejection. Supporting activity, or oshi-katsu underlies such a commodified recognition. And by supporting, it means that choosing one favorite among many others determines one’s identity according to whom/what one belongs to and to support is a self-less devotion which also functions as self-realisation. The commodified recognition, while it frees women from unpaid emotional labour and gives a power to have an influence over their self-realisation, conceives potentially exploitive nature. Especially for those who heavily rely on commodified recognition, which I employ structural vulnerable (Quesada et al 2011). The experience of vulnerability is excersied by how one position the self in the society. For female fans here, I have seen some women identify themselves as “incomplete” in heteronormative matrix due to the lack of romantic experience and marriage. The free market economic system which transforms recognition into commodity and provides recognition concerns its ethics because of its inclusivity. In other words, to gain recognition through purchase has been becoming a part of social relationship, rather than a luxurious commodity. From a microscope of a specific fan culture surrounding male porn actors in jôsei-muke AVs, the thesis sheds light on the problem of the ethics of commodification and consumption of recognition and contributes to the discussion of the recent trend of transaction of intimate activities in oshi-katsu.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses
Supervisors Name: Fabio Gygi and Ruba Salih
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 05 Apr 2023 14:30
Funders: Other, Other, Other

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