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Roleplay cafe for women

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Feb. 29th, 2008 | 11:06 am

Reuters (2008) reports that a new "roleplay cafe" has opened in Tokyo, this time catering to women. The roleplay cafe idea is not a new one. Author Neil Gaiman (2007) discussed maid cafes (see Wikipedia for cosplay restaurant) in his blog last September. However, the new "Edelstein boarding school" cafe claims to be the first schoolboy cafe, cashing in on the genre of boy-on-boy manga written for a female audience (see yaoi). The manager, Emiko Sakamaki, also opened the first "butler cafe" for women, according to Reuters.



So, my immediate reaction is "that's the kind of equality I'm talking about!" However, I suspect that while I'm not alone in this (they have customers), I get shot down for these suggestions on a regular basis. Women, I'm told, don't want to gawk at and objectify pretty boys. Expecting women to enjoy gender-swapped versions of male entertainment is expecting women to be men. My reactions can not be trusted as typical of any gender: I'm too male, too female, too bisexual, and too kinky for that. So, what do you think? Are cosplay cafes for women feeding into a male-centric paradigm, or are they just kinda hot?

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Comments {24}

plumtreeblossom

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from: plumtreeblossom
date: Feb. 29th, 2008 04:51 pm (UTC)
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I DO want to gawk at and objectify pretty boys! Sign me up.

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the Sooz

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from: furikku
date: Feb. 29th, 2008 05:04 pm (UTC)
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If women were not into gawking at pretty boys, there would be no market for boy bands.

I'm not sure a schoolboy cafe in particular would be the way to go in the US, but dudes hardly have a monopoly on liking attractive people of the appropriate* sex. If anything, I think the main objection to a "schoolboy cafe" would be culture-based: we (females in the US**) tend to be taught that we're not into objectifying the fellas, and that anyone who IS into that is an aberration, so we're not too keen on making public an interest like that. However, things like the aforementioned boy bands and other "stealth" objectifications, where you can either be private about it or pretend you're REALLY into the music, are considered totally OK.

*I'm assuming lesbians are not all that into checking out guys, and gay dudes are not too big on, say, going to Hooters.

**Or I guess, "white middle class females in the US." I think more urban and minority groups are a bit looser on this stricture, although as a White Middle Class Female in the US, I can only really speak for my own group.

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DancingWolfGrrl

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from: dancingwolfgrrl
date: Feb. 29th, 2008 05:25 pm (UTC)
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Yeah, this is the kind of thing that drives me theoretically crazy. Post-Foucault, we recognize that dominant groups achieve discursive control that lets them dictate what's good or desirable, so in that sense, it doesn't make any sense to expect oppressed groups to want to behave like dominant groups. At the same time, we know that a traditional path to greater power *is* to behave like those in power (that is, to attain at least some measure of power within the existing system before beginning to work outside of its traditions and discourses). And we also know that, from a liberal perspective, there are some privileges conferred by power (ie access to health care or education) that might actually be, in some sense, objectively and universally good, and so therefore there might be some areas where oppressed groups *would* want to emulate the dominant group, although perhaps their models of "education" or "health care' would differ enough that they would be entirely different animals in practice.

Just to complicate things,there's also the problem where it's bad to *keep* oppressed groups from acting like dominant groups, both because it's oppressive (duh) and because it's nearly impossible to accomplish without some kind of essentializing.

So, uh, yeah. I don't know! *tears hair*

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born from jets!!!

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from: catness
date: Feb. 29th, 2008 06:29 pm (UTC)
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My reply to all of that thinking (which I agree with, incidentally):

"Yeah, but do I like it?"

I think that if I can step outside the framework of what I should or ought, at whatever stage of my development I encounter that belief system, the answer should come from there. My brain can be ethical, but my sexuality doesn't care and is not even slightly politically correct. Do I like it? Yeah, I can certainly get some enjoyment over objectifying other people sexually. *Why* I get that enjoyment can probably be considered irrelevant.

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DancingWolfGrrl

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from: dancingwolfgrrl
date: Feb. 29th, 2008 09:08 pm (UTC)
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Well... as far as legislation or other kinds of rule-making go, I think that's true. On a theoretical level, though, I'm pretty sure that even at as visceral a level as sexuality, my experiences are deeply informed by cultural conditioning, and on an activist level, I believe that challenging cultural conditioning is where it's at.

Of course, I can't make anyone participate in this solution, nor do I believe it's my personal or academic place to tell anyone else that they have false consciousness about their own oppression! But I think in that theoretical sense where I know other forces than my identity are involved in what I like, it's worthwhile to examine and question what those forces are and how they're influencing me.

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Kat, most of the time anyway

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from: kdsorceress
date: Feb. 29th, 2008 05:29 pm (UTC)
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I don't generally think of myself as the type to drool after pretty boys, but then things'll happen like my boyfriend will be holding hands with the pretty-boi-I-like-flirting-with at dance or something, and damn if that just doesn't make my libido perk up.

~Sor

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pants of doom

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from: pants_of_doom
date: Feb. 29th, 2008 05:48 pm (UTC)
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Are cosplay cafes for women feeding into a male-centric paradigm, or are they just kinda hot?

I really can't care much about this question because it doesn't address issues of heterosexism - I don't want to look at boys, and I'm not welcome in establishments that are about looking at girls.

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The Difference Blog by Dan4th

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from: differenceblog
date: Feb. 29th, 2008 05:52 pm (UTC)
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I'm sorry that you have not felt welcomed. I usually felt pretty welcome in girl-gawking places as a girl, but I can't recall a time that I was there when I wasn't "doing femininity" in an exhibitionist way, so that affects it. I do feel distinctly unwelcome to guy-gawking places as a guy -- but I haven't actually tried. Maybe it wouldn't be as bad as I think.




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pants of doom

(no subject)

from: pants_of_doom
date: Feb. 29th, 2008 06:03 pm (UTC)
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I've been to strip clubs, and there have been times when I could have gone with people as part of a group, but it's 1) an invitation that I don't think I would have gotten if I weren't a girl, which is kind of uncomfortable in its own right, and 2) it's not something I would feel welcome to do on my own. There are also plenty of strip joints that will not admit women who aren't accompanied by men, which speaks volumes about the whole thing.

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The Difference Blog by Dan4th

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from: differenceblog
date: Feb. 29th, 2008 06:07 pm (UTC)
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*nods* I was really angry about the unaccompanied woman thing for a while. The only place I've ever been hassled about being in the "wrong bathroom" was a strip club. I thought it was terribly unfair.

However, in the context of "attempts to exclude prostitutes", it makes sense, much like the rule that you can't make out in a strip club, even if you came as a couple.

I'm not in favor of the stigmatization of sex work, but I do understand how it could be a safety concern for the dancers, and how (due to the puritanical nature of American culture) strip clubs are under fairly intense scrutiny and can't afford to be progressive.

*shrug* I can see both sides of this one more than with a lot of other obviously sexist evils.

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pants of doom

(no subject)

from: pants_of_doom
date: Feb. 29th, 2008 06:27 pm (UTC)
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This is too complex for me to make good arguments about given that I have a fever, so the short version is that dancer safety is very important but sexist bullshit is a lot of what creates an unsafe situation in the first place.

I'd go found a lesbian utopia, but it would just be me getting my own apartment so I could adopt a cat.

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The Difference Blog by Dan4th

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from: differenceblog
date: Feb. 29th, 2008 06:30 pm (UTC)
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...

agreed. Feel better.

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(Deleted comment)

pants of doom

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from: pants_of_doom
date: Feb. 29th, 2008 09:05 pm (UTC)
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That's not cool either.

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pants of doom

(no subject)

from: pants_of_doom
date: Feb. 29th, 2008 09:06 pm (UTC)
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What's up with all this uncoolness in the world? I'm so disillusioned.

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The Difference Blog by Dan4th

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from: differenceblog
date: Feb. 29th, 2008 09:30 pm (UTC)
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why do people gotta suck so bad?

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mbigmistake

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from: mbigmistake
date: Feb. 29th, 2008 06:54 pm (UTC)
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Honestly, I only vaguely understand what you are talking about, but I assume it is an online thing.

I think that taste is personal. Some women will be into this and some won't. For that matter, I assume some men will be into this too (if it is on-line, I assume that they won't/can't verify gender).

Manga, in general, makes me feel vaguely ill...as does underage porn. Man on man action, on the other hand, I think is totally hot. And I consider myself a lesbian (though I'm not sure that I consider myself female...)

I'm pretty sure that anything that the human mind can imagine has followers...especially when following is anonymous. There are also plenty of things that people WOULD be into if only they ALLOWED themselves to be into it.

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The Difference Blog by Dan4th

(no subject)

from: differenceblog
date: Feb. 29th, 2008 07:16 pm (UTC)
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Actually, it's not online. If you follow the links, these are actual restaurants in Tokyo, with actual flesh-and-blood waiters in actual cloth costumes. They are dressing up in the same style as characters in manga -- that's essentially what cosplay is, and thanks for pointing out that I should have defined that term.

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mbigmistake

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from: mbigmistake
date: Feb. 29th, 2008 08:51 pm (UTC)
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Oh...well in that case...this really doesn't seem like a big deal. No different that Chippendale's dancers.

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St. Arcadia Blue

(no subject)

from: hrafn
date: Feb. 29th, 2008 07:47 pm (UTC)
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Women . . . don't want to gawk at and objectify pretty boys.

HA HA HA HA HA :) Ha. Heh. Okay, like ever since I hit puberty, I and other girls/women have spent plenty of time giggling and plotting together about the pretty boys around us. I guess we never got the memo that we weren't supposed to do that, and I don't think we were/are at all atypical in that, regardless of gender expression and sexual activities and etc.

All the same, I do feel a little weird about the concept of this cafe. Are they doing it because that way it's okay for them to have cafes that objectify women? Are there times/places where it *is* okay to objectify other people? Is this kind of cafe (female objectification of males) okay because women aren't threatening to men the way men are threatening to women? ANd that's not even getting into the heterocentrism of it. Yes, it is kind of nice that we're being "allowed" to ogle men (and part of me finds the concept of this cafe appealing), but.

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The Difference Blog by Dan4th

(no subject)

from: differenceblog
date: Feb. 29th, 2008 07:49 pm (UTC)
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Are they doing it because that way it's okay for them to have cafes that objectify women? Are there times/places where it *is* okay to objectify other people? Is this kind of cafe (female objectification of males) okay because women aren't threatening to men the way men are threatening to women?

1. The males objectifying women cosplay cafes existed first
2. so clearly it is culturally okay to objectify women
3. I think women's threateningness is irrelevant given 1 and 2.

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Beowabbit

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from: beowabbit
date: Feb. 29th, 2008 10:27 pm (UTC)
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Women, I'm told, don't want to gawk at and objectify pretty boys.
*Blink*, *blink*. Uh, yeah. They just want to lie back and do their duty for England as quickly as possible and get it over with. That’s it. *Suppressed giggle.*

(Especially plumtreeblossom! I can’t imagine her taking a prurient interest in a gentleman’s corporeal form. That would be so unseemly.)

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The Difference Blog by Dan4th

(no subject)

from: differenceblog
date: Feb. 29th, 2008 10:34 pm (UTC)
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It's an argument I've actually heard, though. Let me phrase it differently: does making a gender-swapped version of something available make it okay that the other exists?

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full of vacuum

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from: triestine
date: Mar. 1st, 2008 12:35 am (UTC)
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Frankly I'm for men being publicly drooled over.

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astrogeek01

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from: astrogeek01
date: Mar. 2nd, 2008 11:30 pm (UTC)
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Funny we were completely talking about the "not gawking at hot men" the other day.

Sign me up, I'm all for gawking at hot, pretty boys. Maybe not manga-style (or maybe so... depends).

I think (both men/women) could be done in a way that's perfectly fine, and also in a really sleazy, degrading, unsafe way for the people working there. I'm ok with the former, not ok with the latter.

Mmm, hot men.

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