Yes means yes and no means no. Sounds relatively easy, right? Ask the same question about sexual intercourse and suddenly the distinction gets blurry. This is particularly true in Japan where it’s considered cute when a woman is too ashamed to express her sexual desire and men are glorified for acting pushy (the kabe-don — hitting the wall next to a woman — phenomenon being a prime example).
Japan can do better
On paper, Japan boasts a relatively low rate of sexual assaults but the worldwide spread of the #MeToo movement brought to light the painful truth: Sexual violence against women does exist in Japan, it just goes massively unreported. Legally, the definition of rape is rather narrow; essentially rape is considered as nonconsensual intercourse with extreme violence. Other forms like date rape or sexual assault committed by a partner do not fall under the definition. Consent is not mentioned.
The #MeToo movement hasn’t yet sparked a strong public debate, at least not as much as in other countries. In an environment where “no” is way too often perceived as a cue for men to assert their dominance, it seems like Japanese society needs to start a frank discussion about what sexual consent actually means.
This pretty much sums up the reaction of a lot of Twitter user @ka0mc3’s followers when she shared a screenshot of a TV show she was watching that was broadcasting a poll about what people think constitutes sexual consent.
— ヒゲ Feel(春から研修医！！) (@ka0mc3) March 14, 2019
え？そんなの「エッチしよっか？」「うん！」しか無いんじゃ無いの？？= What? Isn’t “Let’s have sex?” – “Yes!” the only way to consent??
Conducted by the NHK Net Club, this poll’s results are an indication that the notion of sexual consent is blurred for some:
“性行為の同意があった”と思われても仕方がないと思うもの = Types of behavior that imply sexual consent
- ２人きりで食事 = Dining alone with someone (11%)
- ２人きりで飲酒 = Drinking alone with someone (27%)
- ２人きりで車に乗る= Riding alone with someone in a car (25%)
- 露出の多い服装 = Wearing revealing clothes (23%)
- 泥酔している = Being very drunk (35%)
The least we can say is that there’s some work to be done so the notion of sexual consent becomes absolutely crystal clear. And if you’re dating in Japan, keep in mind that there’s no such thing as “ruining the mood” with asking for your partner’s consent. Never hesitate to voice your desire to be intimate and to verify if your partner is comfortable sharing more than just a meal.
How to express limitations in Japanese
The Japanese particle きり is used to set limits on things. When you combine this particle with a noun representing a number or a quantity, きり translates as “only” or “just.”
- 二人きりの時間がほしい。= I want to have some time just for the two of us.
- 1回きりのお客様を100回客に育る。= Turn a one time customer into a repeat customer
きり can also be combined with verbs in their casual form:
- 一度話したきりで、友達になりました。= After speaking only once, we became friends.
- 人生は一度きりだから、やりたいことをおもいっきりやればいい！= You only live once, so do what you really want to do.
In the second example, the second きり implies emphasis:「おもいっきり」comes from 切り.
|仕方がない||shikataganai||it cannot be helped|
|露出||roshutsu||revealing (clothes), physical exposure|
||hoshii||want, wish to do|
||ni naru||to become|
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