Organized Panel Session
The adult entertainment industry generates billions of dollars each year in industrialized countries (DeKeseredy and Corsianos 2015: 1-2; Weizer ed. 2010: 1). In Japan, the adult video market alone contributes an estimated $500 million a year with some 35,000 video products created. Increasing numbers of young Japanese women are lured into performing in these videos, many willingly but also many others not so willingly. While a handful of women enjoy financial—and symbolic—success in this business, most face intense competition, struggle to make a decent wage, and incur discrimination on many fronts. Based on a year-long ethnographic fieldwork, this paper examines contract-based labor practices with a particular focus on tensions between consent and coercion. The so-called “AV actresses” (ēbui joyū) become juridical workers only when they are legally proven to be forcefully engaged in “harmful (sex) work” under the Japan’s Worker’s Dispatch Law or Employment Security Law. Otherwise, their sex work is assumed to be a creative activity. The legal concept of harmful work, however, paradoxically disallows women to be sex workers and deprives them of workers’ rights, since sex work is by definition illegitimate and disturbing to public morals. Critically examining the ways that the liberal premise of a willful subject who freely agrees upon a contract to sell a piece of property—sexy images, sexual acts, and labor power—to an equal counterpart, this presentation sheds light on non-regular labor practice in the context of increasingly precarious labor market, contract-based work, and gender inequality.