Organized Panel Session
By analyzing various articulations of gender and labor in the sex, cultural, and service industries, this panel investigates commercial forms of feminized affective labor that emerged as Japan’s unique system of lifetime employment started breaking down in the mid-1990s. The panelists aim to illuminate the ways in which gender remains a key structuring principle in the deregulation of the labor market, the individualization of sociality, and the summoning of individuals to become more entrepreneurial. While Japan’s postwar labor regime offered job security, it built on an inflexible gender division of labor that mobilized women to un/underpaid reproductive labor. As a prolonged recession forced employers to dismantle the system of lifetime employment, the practices of social reproduction started transforming as well. The presentations assembled for this panel expose how the feminized affective labor of social reproduction (much of which was performed by full-time homemakers during the postwar period) is increasingly transferred to real and virtual service workers. The panelists examine such case studies as adult film stars who navigate their careers between such labels as creative workers and coerced victims, new types of idols who fans can meet, josou (male-to-female crossdressers) who find employment in josou cafes, and holographic home assistants whose dream is to create the most relaxing homes conceivable. Building on the insight that particular labor regimes draw on specific gender divisions of labor, this panel investigates how the commercialization of social reproduction has reconfigured gender hierarchies in dialogue with other affiliations of identity such as ethnicity and class.