So there's this popular Japanese comedy manga called "Nymphet," which, according to Newsarama, features an eight-year-old girl who wants to have sex with her teacher. While it was scheduled to be translated and released in America, Seven Seas Publishing has decided against that. They refused to censor or alter the book, and so they chose not to publish it, rather than risking the inevitable backlash.
Personally, I applaud Seven Seas. They stuck to their principles and took a hit on this one, and I can respect that. I wish we could live in a society where people would be able to distinguish between "fiction" and "reality," or even "porn" and "comedy," but since we don't, their response was reasonable.
See, the whole "lolicon" thing creeps me out. I don't like the idea of kids in sexual situations, which is one of many reasons why I don't read it. But I also recognize that in these cases, it is just the idea of kids in sexual situations. And while I may find the material gross, I find censorship much grosser.
I don't know, I just can't quite see getting outraged at fictional characters doing things that I may find morally disgusting. I'm no supporter of pedophiles and their ilk, and I'll vehemently defend laws that set age limits for consent. But there's a big difference between people looking at real sexually-explicit photographs taken of minors without legal consent, and people looking at sexually-explicit drawings of fictional minors created by a consenting adult. And apparently with this book, it's not even that, it's a sexually suggestive story about a fictional minor. Even if there were no other value to the story, even if this were just produced for creepy teenagers and would-be pedophiles to get their rocks off reading about Lolita's little sister, at least no minors are being harmed. And you're going to have to show me some evidence before I get on the "people who read about X are more likely to do X" bandwagon.
This whole debate has been really enlightening; the cultural differences between America and Japan are so vast when it comes to sex (and I apologize if I misrepresent Japanese culture here at all, please feel free to correct me if I do). Japan has ranked consistently (as I recall) as one of the most sexually-dissatisfied nations in the world. There's a Victorian-esque repression going on, which is why it's so startling that they would air their fetishes out in the open as they do. Pornographic cartoons and video games cater to every conceivable fetish market.
Meanwhile, in America, we're far less repressed when it comes to social roles and everyday conduct, yet we relegate pornography to brown bags and low-budget films. As far as I'm aware, American fetish porn is remarkably limited when compared to the subtle genres of Japan. In America, there's mainstream porn, there's bondage, and then there's "weird stuff," while the Japanese have individual words for every genre and subgenre.
And the weirdest, the absolute weirdest thing to me is how Japanese society's sexual repression has led to the creation of wholly new fetishes. From my understanding, the tentacle porn that fueled the whole "Heroes for Hire" brouhaha developed because the Japanese outlawed scenes of penis/vagina penetration, and so the next best thing (phallic tentacles) was invented. I understand that the rules regarding pubic hair have been changed (has anyone else lived with an Asian Studies major recently? Isn't it amazing what you learn?), resulting in a bush revolution of sorts. I have to imagine that there wouldn't be such a ridiculously detailed fetish market if people felt more free to express themselves sexually.
And then there's the rape fantasy stuff, which seems to make it into every Hentai game I read about on Something Awful. I've read enough books and watched enough SVU to know that rape's more about power than sex. I have to wonder if the combination of a society that tends to look down on female independence with international contact with societies that promote feminism, along with a male inferiority complex (partially borne out of the same international contact) is why these disgusting fantasies are so prevalent in Japanese media. The male power structure in Japan is being eroded through international commerce, and this destabilized patriarchy is grasping at straws trying to retain that power.
And when it comes right down to it, I think that's a big part of sexism in America, at least among the old-guard of misogynists. But while American feminism was mostly homegrown, espoused and enforced by our loved ones, to the Japanese (and various other cultures) it represents an outside influence, which threatens the patriarchy with inadequacy and obsolescence.
Oy...I don't know about you, but I think I'm done talking about porn and patriarchy for awhile.