In the 1990’s anal sex was the taboo du jour. Then came the ‘Sex in the City’ and we started feeling sexy, edgy and bold enough to burst this taboo. Anal sex was cool! In today’s world where everything is exposed, where with a click of the mouse or even the touch of the screen we enter a wild, still undiscovered landscape of modern understanding of sex, is there anything left that it is still taboo? Western seems no longer to differ from Eastern.
Every young woman dreams that one day she will meet a perfect man that will take care of her and make her happy forever. When Emily Witt the author of ‘Future Sex’ turned thirty and the dream guy did not appear, she started exploring completely different relationships and aspects of sex. Living in the raging era of digitalisation, Witt discovers internet dating, modern polygamy and “the pure force of sexual desire”.
When it comes to the digital age and technology, Japan is second to none. Everything there is computerised, digital, smart and up to date. Trains are always on time, they have low crime rates, the whole country is peaceful, safe and efficient. When Lynsey Gilmour, 30, mum of two went to live, work and explore in Japan a few years ago, she fell in love with the country of cherry blossom, “It’s a beautiful country where there is no feeling of being rushed. People are friendly, warm and incredibly polite. There is so much to see and do and it is always interesting and visually stimulating”. Japan never goes to sleep, most bars, restaurants, stores are open 24 hours. But this shouldn’t really surprise, most Japanese have three or four jobs- all with long shifts. Maybe that’s why there is so little time for sex there. Japan has surprisingly high number of sexless married couples by Western standards. Arranged marriages are still very popular among Japanese, young couples very rarely live together before getting married, and the Japanese never have children outside wedlock- unless it is an accident. What is more, Japanese men make a clear distinction between a childless woman and a mother. Mothers are not seen by their husbands as sexually desirable any more, although they take care of the family. Woman after giving a birth becomes a relative, giving up her role as a sexual partner.
The Japanese sex industry is a real cash cow and generates the most money in the world. Porn magazines are available at every convenience store and read widely, even in public. When visiting the district of Akihabara in Tokyo, Lynsey saw the very commercial side of sex in Japan. There are many stores selling Manga/Anime depicting sex, sexual acts, nudity, and bondage, “Of course, this is an artist’s rendition so it becomes more and more of a fantasy, female bodies are less and less realistic but they can also depict a more sinister sexual appetite for rape and abuse” Lynsey says. As a matter of curiosity, she went to the store where she came across a whole floor dedicated to DVDs of American and European female children of about 8-12 years old. The DVDs were of these little Western girls having fun at the swimming pool in bikinis, or doing gymnastics in leotards but also of them having sleepovers and pillow fights. It left Lynsey very upset and distressed that time, “However there was no nudity or anything overtly sexual but to a certain mind it was suggestive enough. It was awful”. Sex is incredibly accessible in Japan. If you are a Japanese man, prostitutes are available practically everywhere. A lot of men have fantasies about Japanese women and Asian girls in general, but a quarter of Japanese men and almost half of Japanese women are said to hate sex.
Because Japanese people are overworked, couples often do not live together, as they work in different regions, they struggle to have a dynamic sex life. Extramarital affairs are almost culturally accepted part of life in Japan. A middle- aged man having romance with young bar hostess, or having sex with prostitutes are accepted facets of married life in Japan. Rak Nandwani, a sexual health consultant, points out that “the real problem starts when sexual frustration is redirected to other people, outside the sex industry”. Molesting girls on the Metro has become such an pandemic in Tokyo that signs prohibiting chikan (groping, molesting) have been placed everywhere, separate compartments set up for ‘women only’, and special police services organised to deal with the problem. It also works in other way round. Chikan has led opportunist Tokyo girls to take advantage of their presumed ‘victim status’ to throw false accusations to innocent men.
Few years ago, a Japanese mother left the rest of the world in shock, admitting that she masturbate her own children to help them go to sleep. To be fair to Japanese sex culture, Lynsey Gilmour says that all these things are not everywhere and generally you do not feel that you are in a very sexualised or sexually driven culture: “I was in my 20’s and was socialising and exploring Roppongi and Tokyo. I came across things that others would never know were there”.
Back to Emily Witt, on her journeys she witnessed Burning Man festival in Nevada desert, orgasmic meditation workshops and extreme porn shoots in San Francisco, and making love with the computer in Silicon Valley. She explored the modern sex landscape to full. And we will probably never noticed that things she described as the future became our present.