What do you think of this? Female idol forced to shave head for having boyfriend

(40 Posts)
BadLad Wed 06-Feb-13 09:38:23

A quick search for Minegeshi revealed no results on here.

Here is the news article.


The synopsis is that a member of a phenomenally popular Japanese girl-band broke their no-dating rule, and was seen leaving a man's apartment. The no-dating rule is to preserve their image of availability to male fans.

As punishment - supposedly her own idea but I think you would be very naive to think management haven't pressured her to do it - she has shaved her head. She has also been demoted from the frontline band members

Discussing it with female acquaintances here, absolutely none of them seem bothered. When I said how shocking I found it, particularly the pressure on her to shave off her hair, it was implied that I just didn't understand Japanese culture. I have told them I thought women in my country would be outraged. Then it occurred to me that I could ask some women on here.

Any thoughts? What would you say to women who thought there was nothing too bad about it?

To their credit, some of the Japanese fans of both sexes have expressed outrage.

SigmundFraude Wed 06-Feb-13 11:07:13

It may well have been her own idea, who knows. If a woman thought there was nothing too bad about it, why do you leave the outrage to the ones that do? I'm sure there's plenty of them.

I think their video is more shocking than the hair debacle, personally.

SigmundFraude Wed 06-Feb-13 11:07:39

*why don't you, not why do you

AbigailAdams Wed 06-Feb-13 11:33:40

Oh blimey. There is so much wrong with that I don't know where to start.

The whole "availability" for male fans thing is just creepy. What are they sex toys, wank toys. Just yeuch. They are human beings with feelings ffs.

And following on from that the non-dating is just creepy.

The "punishment" is really humiliating. It doesn't matter whether it was her idea or not - pressure came from society if not directly from her management team. It doesn't matter wither it is Japanese culture. Just because it is cultural does not make it right. The fact that it is seen as OK to punish an adult woman for not breaking any laws is pretty bloody sinister too. Policing women's behaviour. In fact she got two punishments - being demoted and shaving her head.

No "punishment" for the male dancer I notice.

The video she made looks really upsetting.

And that other video Sigmund linked to explains a lot.

All in all it really shows how little power women in the entertinment industry have, especially in Japan.

ouryve Wed 06-Feb-13 11:37:58

Hell, that video's like Hentai with real people. It's rather vile.

msrisotto Wed 06-Feb-13 11:38:34

Wow. It just makes me feel really sad. The poor woman. Why should she be humiliated for having a relationship? I mean come on! This is the 21st century.

msrisotto Wed 06-Feb-13 11:39:23

And the Japanese culture of having weird women-sex doll creatures is very disturbing.

BadLad Wed 06-Feb-13 12:57:05

If a woman thought there was nothing too bad about it, why do you leave the outrage to the ones that do?

I was merely expressing my opinion in a discussion of the matter with them.

But anyway, I do find it annoying here that women put up with the sexism that is rampant here. Like when my wife, who can't have children, was asked by a male colleague "No kids yet? Shall I show you how it's done?".

Or the fact that my male colleagues come in and slump at their desks, while the female ones clean up, serve tea and generally spruce the place up for an hour. They even wash the desks of the male colleagues (who lean back in their chairs for a minute while that happens). Not mine, though.

But that is another story - still want opinions on this incident.

Here is the girl apologising for her "misconduct"


SigmundFraude Wed 06-Feb-13 14:22:56

Well, as it states in the article that shaving your head is a traditional thing to show penitence in Japan, then yes, that is a cultural thing. I personally find it strange, videoing her distressed apology seems unnecessary. It has been stated their 'innocence' (or the need for them to appear innocent) is their selling point, so she's probably panicking that the fans will lose interest and the whole thing will crash down around them. It's not unheard of, the whole 'Britney Spears the Virgin' had huge marketing value for her. Such is the price of fame for some.

Is it right? No. Am I outraged? Not especially.

TeiTetua Wed 06-Feb-13 14:43:19

I think when anyone in the entertainment business does some crazy thing, we should always consider whether it's being done to enhance their image in some way, and is therefore about (ultimately) making more money. Performers perform. They may be pushed along by their managers, but they're doing it voluntarily.

Of course, we can also consider what kind of performance and image is desired by that particular audience. And what they like in Japan can seem very strange to western eyes. We would say, not exactly a feminist paradise there.

Karin1212 Wed 06-Feb-13 18:38:33

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Karin1212 Wed 06-Feb-13 18:44:05

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PretzelTime Wed 06-Feb-13 19:40:14

A reputation for being safe for women? You mean Japan, that one country where they have made separate train cars for women because there is such a giant problem with men groping girls and women?

AbigailAdams Wed 06-Feb-13 19:45:35

Just because it is their "culture" to humiliate women doesn't make it right. This woman was obviously highly upset and ashamed for not actually doing anything wrong. Just what her management team perceived as wrong.

And Japan is hugely misogynistic.

Karin1212 Wed 06-Feb-13 20:27:43

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Karin1212 Wed 06-Feb-13 20:30:23

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PretzelTime Wed 06-Feb-13 20:38:09

Are you trying to defend Japanese culture from being called misogynist? Everyone knows it is.

Karin1212 Wed 06-Feb-13 20:41:50

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BadLad Wed 06-Feb-13 20:47:42

The sex and human trafficking industry is massive here. Every town has a load of "massage parlours".

And while attacks on strangers are uncommon here compared to the west, domestic violence certainly isn't.

Kiriwawa Wed 06-Feb-13 20:49:33

Karin - do you really think actual rape rates have anything to do with reported stats?

AbigailAdams Wed 06-Feb-13 20:54:01

Why are you defending this Karin? This is a horrible incident that wouldn't have happened if it were a man. In fact the man involved didn't get publicly humiliated and punished despite him undoubtedly knowing what 'the rules' were.

TeiTetua Wed 06-Feb-13 21:07:36

Was the man part of the band, and therefore possibly subject to their discipline, or an outsider whom they presumably didn't have any hold over?

One quote from the originally linked article was:

"Was it a witch hunt or a marketing strategy?'' asked Hideomi Tanaka, an economist and AKB fan. ''If the latter, I've had enough of such calculated actions. What we want to see is idols, not bullying.''

So, there are people in Japan saying that maybe it was all a put-up job done for publicity. Even if it wasn't voluntary by the woman involved, it might be part of showbiz.

Japan has a very orderly society, but there seem to be gaps in it, like the women being harassed on commuter trains. And they have what we'd call an incredible tolerance for violent pornography. With disdain for women kept under control in a kind of ritualized way, I wouldn't be surprised if the rate of domestic violence in Japan were very high. What has to be repressed outside the home might break loose inside it.

feministefatale Wed 06-Feb-13 21:07:47

The punishment is vile, but I actually think the no-dating or no getting caught dating thing, is pretty standard for boybands and girlbands..or has been in the past hasn't it?

I am trying to think of individual case, but I am sure some have even gotten married in the past in secret just to avoid ruining their image as available...

BadLad Wed 06-Feb-13 23:38:52

It's a very sad situation where a real, adult relationship is punishable in case it interferes with the unhealthy fantasies of the fans.

If she was a man I'm sure he would have done something equally humiliating. I think it's more a culture thing than a gender thing.

Do you have any examples of males being punished, either in this way or another, for dating?

But anyway, social change in Japan happens very very slowly, and IME the older generations here who grew up in the bubble times are far too set in their conservative ways to consider changing it any time soon. The best hope for change is the younger generation growing up and starting to question it.

So, there are people in Japan saying that maybe it was all a put-up job done for publicity. Even if it wasn't voluntary by the woman involved, it might be part of showbiz.

A woman being coerced into shaving her head for publicity purposes is as bad as a woman being coerced into doing so as punishment.

To answer your question, I don't think the man was part of the band. Certainly he wasn't a performer - it is a girl-band, after all.

TheDoctrineOfSciAndNatureClub Wed 06-Feb-13 23:44:29

Ugh, how horrible.

Karin1212 Thu 07-Feb-13 00:01:00

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Karin1212 Thu 07-Feb-13 00:05:23

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Karin1212 Thu 07-Feb-13 00:08:06

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BadLad Thu 07-Feb-13 00:15:26

You really think that? In history men sometimes committed suicide from bringing shame on themselves, so this woman in the 21st century has voluntarily cut her hair off and demoted herself from the band, therefore ruining her pop group career to show penitence for having a boyfriend? With no bullying from the management at all.

But anyway, what I meant was a more recent example of what would happen to a man, not something out of history, so we can compare like for like.

BadLad Thu 07-Feb-13 00:18:57

The question is whether Japan is sexist or not, not whether the assault rate is higher that in the west.

It is possible to have a very sexist attitude towards women without actually murdering or raping them.

WhentheRed Thu 07-Feb-13 00:24:46

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

BadLad Thu 07-Feb-13 00:30:35

The link for that blog's source didn't open for me.

I can't help being cynical about it when I read this from it.

Since I arrived here, I haven’t broken one single rule. To cross the street when the light is red would be one of the things I’d never do here. I would feel like dead woman walking across the street

The implication being that Japanese never jay-walk. Which is bollocks.

I did find my own source which agrees with you that the rape stats are lower here in Japan


If you highlight rape, however, it does give the disclaimer that "Crime statistics are often better indicators of prevalence of law enforcement and willingness to report crime, than actual prevalence."

But why would a country with a thriving sex industry and a tolerant attitude towards violent/bizarre porn rank so low in the charts for murder/rape/serious assault?

Well, if I were a supporter of the porn and prostitution industry, I might argue that they do good by reducing rape.

But your question is irrelevant - those industries are huge, and therefore any suggestion that Japan is not misogynist are completely wrong.

Writehand Thu 07-Feb-13 00:38:34

My late DH toured Japan 4 or 5 times in the late 80s and obviously socialised a huge amount. He said Japanese women were totally bowled over if he showed them simple courtesy he'd show to anyone. "Light their cig and they think you're such a gentleman." He was soooo disgusted by the way Japanese women were treated by Japanese men who, in his view, didn't deserve them. I won't give all the details, but he hated it.

When we saw groups of Japanese women tourists here he'd grin and say he was hoping they'd escaped and wouldn't go back.

The reported rate of sexual assault has nothing to do with the actual number of rapes in Japan, though I don't suppose that's news to anyone on this forum. It's a very sexist society where, my DDH would be thrilled to learn, more and more women are refusing to get married at all because it offers them so little. There's a piece in the Economist about the phenomenon. Here's just a snippet:

In 2010 a third of Japanese women entering their 30s were single. Perhaps half or more of those will never marry. Surveys in Japan have suggested that women who work full-time then go home and spend another 30 hours a week doing the housework. Their husbands contribute an unprincely three hours of effort. In America and Europe the disparity is less extreme, and has narrowed considerably since the 1960s.

BadLad Thu 07-Feb-13 00:45:35

I don't suppose that's news to anyone on this forum

Writehand, meet Karin1212.

You are correct, though. My wife's aunt, when I met her for the first time, was flabberghasted when I thanked my mother-in-law for handing me a drink, and mentioned that she would love to be thanked by her husband and sons once in a while.

Writehand Thu 07-Feb-13 01:10:36

The Wikipedia Sexuality in Japan entry is very informative, Karin1212. But not as informative as this NYT article, Victims Say Japan Ignores Sex Crimes Committed by Teachers:

Speaking at a public symposium, a member of Parliament, Seiichi Ota, recently made light of reports of gang rapes at a Tokyo university.

''Boys who commit group rape are in good shape,'' Mr. Ota said. ''I think they are rather normal. Whoops, I shouldn't have said that.'' (The legislator's comments were carried in many Japanese newspapers.)

Write that article..that's shocking! That they would just move a teacher on after he has abused a 13 year old...or getting one year in prison for raping and giving herpes to a 16 year old. It does make me question the rape stats they have..

BadLad Sat 09-Feb-13 10:12:55

What happened to all Karin's posts?

PretzelTime Sat 09-Feb-13 10:52:48

"Karin" was a returning troll.

BadLad Sat 09-Feb-13 11:02:58

Oh, OK.

Lessthanaballpark Sat 09-Feb-13 22:34:24

That's digusting. The worse bit on the video is where he is saying that the girls are required to maintain an image of "innocence" and then seconds later the girls are romping about practically naked.

So, must be sexy, but not allowed to have sex. Sexualized but innocent. That's a fine line to tread for any girl. And extremely creepy.

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