Are young males losing interest in commercial sex?
According to a survey of 300 males in their 20s conducted by Weekly Playboy (June 2), 59% have never patronized a commercial sex business. Add to these the respondents who replied they had not visited one over the 12 months, and the figure approaches 70%.
This, the magazine asserts, confirms a growing body of evidence that in recent years “fuzoku-banare” (estrangement from the sex industry) by young adult males has been accelerating. Playboy’s extensive “field research,” consisting of interviews with a variety of professionals in the trade, generally supports this hypothesis.
“Our main clientele are men in their 30s through 50s,” the operator of an “image club”—an establishment where sex is combined with acting out fantasies in the form of role-playing—tells the magazine. “Most ‘repeaters’ are in their 40s and 50s. I’d say guys in their 20s account for less than 20% of the total.”
“I almost never encounter customers in their 20s,” says Yu, a sex industry worker employed at a famous shop in Chiba, adding that most of her clientele tended to be age 30 and above.
A similar testimonial is provided by Ayumi, who makes outcalls to hotel rooms from an establishment in Tokyo’s Kinshicho district. “During the daytime in particular, my customers are all older guys,” she shrugs. “From about two years ago, I noticed that young guys were getting fewer. And from this year, I’ve hardly seen any young ones at all.”
Has Japan’s younger generation been suddenly beset with celibacy? Hardly. The main reason for declining patronage of sex shops, Weekly Playboy is told, is simply due to a decline in their disposable income. “I think it’s the same reason the automobile business is hurting so badly – everybody’s broke these days,” says a 29-year-old man employed in the computer software industry.
But economic conditions aside, the decline in commercial sex romps as cement for bonding senior-junior work relationships may also be taking a toll.
“In the old days, it was common at companies for a ‘sempai’ (senior) to take a ‘kohai’ (subordinate) under his wing, and introduce him to a sex shop for the first time,” explains psychiatrist Hideki Wada. “But this has come to be regarded as shameful, and I suppose it’s another factor in the decline. Also, sexually uncouth behavior is no longer seen as manly, the way it used to be. Men are more self-conscious now.”
Masaki Kobayashi, editor of Naitai, a long-established publisher of information guides to “pink” businesses, says he’s also observed a decline in young males’ opportunities to communicate on the subject of sex.
“Even when they patronize to such places, they aren’t able to boast about it to their peers, the way they used to, because now it’s become a verboten subject,” Kobayashi points out, voicing concerns that once the generation males in their 40s and 50s begins to retire, the nation’s red lights may flicker out for good.
Weekly Playboy’s own “authority” on the sex industry, who goes by the tongue-in-cheek moniker “Namedaruma Oyakata,” is given the last word on the subject. His advice to young guys is to make a beeline for the nearest house of ill repute.
“Young guys will get a chance to see both the good and bad sides of women, and to learn something about life,” he remarks. “You can see which girls are good at what they do and which ones are not. Some girls are so popular they even have a three-month backlog of reservations. With others, no customers ever request them a second time.
“Some young guys may feel that patronizing sex businesses is more trouble than it’s worth, but they shouldn’t let such feelings deter them,” the Oyakata encourages. “Go out and meet lots of good girls—great lessons about life await!”
Weekly Playboy nods in agreement. We live in difficult times, and since this “culture of pleasure” exists here, what can possibly be wrong about availing ones self of it?