Sexist Tabloid Article Causes Outrage in Japan

In its December 25 issue, Spa!,  a tabloid targeted towards men, printed a story ranking universities according to the sexual promiscuity of its female students. It detailed the popularity of gyaranomi, wherein men pay women to attend drinking parties, and which university students would be ‘easy’ to have sex with. The tabloid experienced immediate backlash and prompted university student Kazuna Yamamoto to launch a petition seeking an apology from Spa!

The paper has since issued a non-apology, stating, "We would like to apologize for using sensational language to appeal to readers about how they can become intimate with women and for creating a ranking... with real university names... that resulted in a feature that may have offended readers." Despite this statement, the outrage has not subsided because they have yet to remove the offending issue from shelves.

The tabloid's ranking of Universities whose female students are 'easy to have sex with,' via 10 Daily

The objectification of women in this article, while unacceptable, is sadly a reflection of the society we live in. Japan is considered to be one of the most misogynistic nations as a developed country. We rank the lowest in the G7 countries concerning female representation in politics, consisting only 10% of the Lower House and 20% of the Upper House. Just last year, it was discovered that several medical schools manipulated the entrance exams of female applicants simply due to their gender.

While the rest of the major economies are making the effort to uplift women, notably through the #MeToo movement, Japan lags far behind on this trend. Sexual assault is not widely reported because the sentiments shown on the Spa! article are widespread and normalized. Women fear they will not be taken seriously and victim-blamed, or because they believe that it is to be expected.This treatment was seen during the controversy surrounding Shiori Ito, a Japanese woman who accused her boss of sexual assault. Ito received backlash for bringing attention to her story, and the public said she shouldn't have been drunk or believed that she was lying about the event. Victims of sexual assault are undermined, and our society remains hostile towards those who attempt to speak up.  

The offending issue, via Sankei News

For women to be perceived as a fetish, a sexual object,  and a relief for men needs to stop. I feel anger for this society that conditions girls to believe that they need to fulfill a certain role - physically, sexually, and socially. Media outlets have the power to change this perception, but continue to push a misogynistic ideal. When will this change, so that girls and boys are given equal opportunities and represented without bias?