Akiko TakeyamaNov 2, 2023
The Illusion of Choice in Japan’s Adult Video Industry
Stanford University Press 2023
In a world dominated by the notion of autonomy, free choice, and consent, Akiko Takeyama takes us on a thought-provoking journey into the heart of Japan's adult video industry in her groundbreaking book, Involuntary Consent The Illusion of Choice in Japan’s Adult Video Industry. With an ethereal blend of ethnography and critical analysis, Takeyama challenges the pervasive idea that participation in the adult entertainment industry is always a matter of free will. Instead, she introduces us to the complex concept of "involuntary consent," shining a light on a phenomenon that resonates far beyond the boundaries of Japan's AV industry.
The Paradox of Involuntary Consent
At the core of Takeyama's narrative lies the paradox of involuntary consent, a concept that questions the very foundations of modern societies built on principles of autonomy, choice, and equality. In a world where the adult entertainment industry alone generates billions of dollars annually, the narrative of consent has taken center stage. However, Takeyama's meticulous exploration reveals that beneath this facade of consent often lies a murky world of coercion and pressure.
"Involuntary Consent" delves into the behind-the-scenes negotiations and abuses within Japan's adult video industry. While the industry's glossy exterior may suggest willing participation, Takeyama uncovers a troubling reality where sex workers, predominantly women, are frequently pressured to comply with production companies' expectations and demands. This issue extends beyond the borders of Japan, as the US Department of State has recognized forced performance as a human rights violation.
One of the book's central arguments is that the framework of contract-making within the adult entertainment industry is inherently dualistic. It often creates a binary where consent and pleasure are pitted against coercion and pain. Sex workers, employed on a contractual basis, find themselves outside the protective purview of standard labor and employment laws, leaving them vulnerable to exploitation and abuse.
The book's significance transcends the borders of Japan. The series of arrests and trials of former talent agency owners and executives within the Japanese AV industry led to a call for systematic investigations. The US Department of State's recognition of forced performance as a human rights violation underscores the global ramifications of the issue. "Involuntary Consent" serves as a poignant reminder that the exploitation and coercion within the adult entertainment industry are not confined to one nation but are indicative of broader systemic issues.
Akiko Takeyama is a Professor of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at the University of Kansas. She is also the Director of the Centre for East Asian Studies.
Bing Wang receives her PhD at the University of Leeds. Her research interests include diasporic Chinese cultural identity and critical heritage studies.