Yoshi and the Real Girl


In this weekend’s New York Times magazine, there was an article about two dimensional love in Japan.

Now I don’t mean teenaged girl love for that Corey Haim Tiger Beat poster, or even adolescent boy love for the Hustler centerfold. I mean thirty-something men “in love” with body pillows decaled with images of pre-pubescent, female anime characters.

There’s one 37-year old dude who carries around his “girlfriend” (his words) wherever he goes – restaurants, driving, the karaoke bar. There’s another guy who espouses the joys of non-monogramy with his variety of cushiony companions. Finally, there’s someone who is actually, um, intimate with his literal love objects.

I’m not sure what I find more disturbing: the fact that these are synthetic sweethearts, or that they are embossed with images of very young girls.

I think that second thing.

Are these men who get off on images of 10-year olds just a few steps away from moving onto the real thing?

Recently I had a conversation with a friend about whether just looking at child pornography was wrong. Well, of course it is, you’d think. Although maybe technically that person isn’t hurting anyone, they are still participating and supporting the hurting of whomever is in whatever they are looking at. But I think we also all assume that they are thisclose to actually going out and molesting a kid themselves.

On the other hand, what about people who are into other violent kinks? Are they necessarily going to go out there and enact that kink against someone unwilling?

And what if the image of the 10 to 12-year old is a cartoon? In that case, no one is really being exploited.

THEN AGAIN, that cartoon image is a representation, albeit incorrect, of real preteens, just like cartoon women with ginormous breasts and no body fat may exploit real women, at least to those who don’t know the different between a picture and reality, or racist cartoons exploit whomever they are targeting.


Either way, I feel kinda bad for that Nisan guy. He looks incredibly sad and pathetic in the picture accompanying the article. MB had another take: in Japan there’s not much therapy. It’s not like the US when people, myself included, go on and on about their problems. In Japanese culture you’re pretty much left alone to get through whatever troubles you might be having. So the body pillow is a way for this guy to get through his troubles (ie, a girlfriend recently dumping him), and people just let it go.

The guy does say of course most men into this 2D stuff would prefer real women, but that they feel like no women want them.  Or they’re too scared to find out.

Is this really so different from a teenager kissing her poster of John Taylor (not that I ever did that, cough), or a little kid who is inseparable from his favorite stuffed toy?  I guess the difference is the teenager and little kid grow out of it.

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