Monday, March 29, 2010

But why not Japan? (何で日本じゃないの?)

Sometimes I wonder if I haven't over-specialized myself... or perhaps if I simply wasn't born in the wrong era.

As I sit at my laptop, attempting to cajole myself into writing a paper on gay male prostitution for my Gay & Lesbian Ethnographies seminar (which is boring as all get out, by the way... for future reference, take the word "ethnography" as a warning and stay far, far away from it), I realize how much more comfortable I am with researching Japanese culture.

I suppose in this case it may be somewhat influenced by the fact that the last time I wrote about male prostitutes (oh ho, sophomore year, how young and idealistic I was), they were from the Tokugawa period. And gosh darn it, if that wasn't a heck of a lot more fun. I desperately wanted to write about hosts for this paper, but could not, unfortunately, find any academic papers concerning the hosting lifestyle... at least in English. Unfortunately, I neither have the time nor desire to trudge through Japanese academia for the sake of the class I am mildly regretting taking. Not to mention the fact that I've only ever experienced male-catering hosts in manga, and don't actually know whether or not they exist.

I suppose I'm getting off topic a smidge. But, luckily, I've led myself to another topic I wanted to discuss, also spurred by the ol' G&LE seminar. In a few weeks, we'll be getting into "Asian" sexualities. Stick with me, my story gets better. While we are watching Okoge for that week's film, the speaker coming to tell us all about his life is an Asian-American. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm sure he's perfectly interesting, and has a lot to say. But he should be coming in to talk about Asian-American sexualites. Not "Asian" sexualities. This is a distinction that, sadly, many people just cannot make, and it ticks me off, possibly irrationally so.

It just seems so simple; all the professor had to do was say that that particular day's class was about "Japanese and Japanese-American Sexualities." Fine, sure, whatever. But no, that day is listed down specifically as Japan. Okoge is about Japan. There's a reason that our "Asian Studies" and "Asian-American Studies" departments are distinct, after all.

... and there I go again, getting righteously enraged and overly-protective about my adopted culture and any perceived slight. I really need to stop doing that.

Especially considering I am not, contrary to what it may seem, your average Japan-o-phile; I realize the problems inherent to the country and culture, and will indeed be one of the first to point them out to you and criticize, for example, how damn xenophobic Japan is and how the country as a whole needs to get over itself sometimes. (Hoo, I'm getting some letters on that one...)

However. In 2010, us "Westerners" should not still be falling into the trap of over-generalizing and lumping together everything and anything vaguely related to that mysterious land across the Pacific. Because really.

... you know, I think I may have alienated all 1.7 of my readers with this post. Oh, bollocks.

This is Edo, signing off, and hoping I haven't scared you all away.

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