Japanese society in the 1990s and 2000s produced a range of complicated material about sexualized schoolgirls, and few topics have caught the imagination of western observers so powerfully. While young Japanese girls had previously been portrayed as demure and obedient, in training to become the obedient wife and prudent mother, in recent years less than demure young women have become central to urban mythology and the content of culture. The cultic fascination with the figure of a deviant school girl, which has some of its earliest roots in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, likewise re-emerged and proliferated in fascinating and timely ways in the 1990s and 2000s.
Through exploring the history and politics underlying the cult of girls in contemporary Japanese media and culture, this book presents a striking picture of contemporary Japanese society from the 1990s to the start of the 2010s. At its core is an in-depth case study of the media delight and panic surrounding delinquent prostitute schoolgirls. Sharon Kinsella traces this social panic back to male anxieties relating to gender equality and female emancipation in Japan. In each chapter in turn, the book reveals the conflicted, nostalgic, pornographic, and at times distinctly racialized manner, in which largely male sentiments about this transformation of gender relations have been expressed. The book simultaneously explores the stylistic and flamboyant manner in which young women have reacted to the weight of an obsessive and accusatory male media gaze.
Covering the often controversial subjects of compensated dating (enjo kôsai), the role of porn and lifestyle magazines, the historical sources and politicized social meanings of the schoolgirl, and the racialization of fashionable girls, Schoolgirls, Money, Rebellion in Japan will be invaluable to students and scholars of Japanese culture and society, sociology, anthropology, gender and women’s studies.