From the Brothel, to the Body: The Relocation of Male Sexuality in Japan's Prostitution Debate, 1870-1920

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From the Brothel, to the Body: The Relocation of Male Sexuality in Japan's Prostitution Debate, 1870-1920

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Title: From the Brothel, to the Body: The Relocation of Male Sexuality in Japan's Prostitution Debate, 1870-1920
Author: Colbeck, Craig
Citation: Colbeck, Craig. 2012. From the Brothel, to the Body: The Relocation of Male Sexuality in Japan's Prostitution Debate, 1870-1920. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University.
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Abstract: This dissertation argues that the Japanese debate over prostitution regulation between the 1870s and the 1910s saw a fundamental shift in the construction of male sexuality as a political tool. Before the turn of the century the Protestant Christian “abolitionists” and the brothelkeeping “regulationists” who debated Japan’s system of licensed prostitution did not describe erotic desire as an inherent property of male bodies; rather, both camps asserted that men did not experience erotic desire unless they visited brothels. On that shared understanding, the two sides debated whether desire itself was desirable: while abolitionists argued that desire harmed society by training men to use women as tools for pleasure, their opponents argued that the experience of desire stabilized male psyches. After the turn of the century both camps reformulated their arguments based on the assumption that all male bodies harbored an instinctual desire for sex. Regulationists adopted the notion with gusto. And abolitionists proved no less willing, as they came to describe male sexual desire as the impetus for the romantic love that created stable families, and argued that commercial sex disrupted the natural courtship process. In the 1910s, secular feminists deployed the male sex drive to advocate for legislation to empower women within marriages. The political use of the sexual instinct put male sexuality at the heart of several forms of social policy and critique. Therefore the debate over prostitution regulation is emblematic of the larger discourse on male sexuality as a subject of government intervention and social-policy activism.
Terms of Use: This article is made available under the terms and conditions applicable to Other Posted Material, as set forth at http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:dash.current.terms-of-use#LAA
Citable link to this page: http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:9795674
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