Thursday, May 31, 2007

Why not here?

And another post with a picture, though in this case the picture is just for show ... and as an eye-catcher, admittedly. The post itself only extrapolates from there.

The main character of this manga is a host - and the manga itself, as the title suggests, is slash, but that's not the main point here. Now, I could write books about slash, but this isn't a post about it. Nevertheless, hosting clubs feature quite often in such manga, I can name at least four without really starting to think. In "Kizuna" one of the two main characters works in a host club. In "Kiss Me Teacher" by the same author one of the main characters actually owns the same host club (so there's a little cross-over with the two stories at a Christmas party). One of the main characters in "Love Mode" also owns a host club and some of the featured characters work there. Then there's "Blood Hound" (not slash) where the main characters (five vampires) also work in a host club. And now there's "When a Man loves a Man" which is set in a host club as well.

That bears two questions: Why aren't there any host clubs (I know of) outside Japan and, for most of my readers, probably, what the hell is a host club?

We'll start with the second question. What is a host club?

Basically a host club (or Ladies' Club) is a night club especially for women. The club employs several young men, the hosts, whose job it is to devote their whole attention to one of the customers while she's in, starting at the door and stopping once the woman has left the club. The men are paid handsomely for this, so only rich woman can afford to visit such a club often - and become regular customers of one of the hosts. Normally - or let's say 'officially' instead - the hosts do not sleep with their customers (but what they do in their spare time is their own decision), so it's not some kind of brothel for women. Those clubs are, as far as I know, not found outside Japan.

But why in Japan? Because Japan still has a very patriarchal structure in which women are usually dominated by men. It is not unusual for women at work to be sexually harassed and - as they usually don't hold high positions - there's nothing they can do against it. The same goes for their spare time. Women in Japan rarely lead such a self-controlled life as the women in western countries. Even arranged weddings aren't unusual. (Although, to be fair, the man doesn't have much to say about that either. Usually the parents of a woman or man they think should marry contact someone who will arrange meetings with acceptable future partners and during the meetings it is determined whether the two would fit together - but women usually have less to say about it.)

But in modern times, Japan also has women in higher positions (or who are widows of rich men) who want to relax somewhere exquisite and have money. And everywhere in the world money is a good reason to start a new type of business. So the Ladies' Clubs were opened where these women can't only drink expensive drinks, but also are 'served' by good-looking, young men who - unlike most men in Japan - are very polite and obliging towards them. The hosts take good care of the women, they greet them at the door, chat with them and give them the impression of - for a change - being the most important person in the world. Of course, some of those men also sleep with the women, but that's not part of their duties as a host - that's rather an additional way of making money for the men and is done somewhere else (a 'love hotel' for example, but that's another story).

This brings me to the first question: Why do those clubs only exist in Japan?

Everywhere in the world (or at least in the western countries) a man can 'rent' a hostess for a certain time, can visit clubs with her and so on (and in may ways those hostesses, who aren't prostitutes, are like the hosts in those clubs, except for the fact that they don't have a fixed place of work). But what can a woman do, if she has money and wants some company and a nice evening? She can call a callboy, but that is a more 'dirty' way, because callboys are, in essence, actually paid for sex. The Japanese businesswoman on the other hand can go to a club, choose a host she likes and have a good time with him, once, twice or even (provided she's got the money) every night. That's not considered something 'dirty', because the official business is 'companionship' and not 'sex'. Even 'normal' women sometimes go to those clubs sometimes - most often with their friends and in large groups.

So why isn't there anything like a host club outside Japan? Admittedly women in other countries often are more emancipated, but on the other hand, then there should be something like a host club in those countries. After all, why shouldn't a woman have the same right to amusement in her spare time than a man?

Actually, if I knew more about the principles of leading a business, I might start one, though probably not in my home town - it's too small.

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