日本語版はこちらThe Pathology of Cuteness: Yumiko Glover's Examination of Cultural Trends in Modern Japan
The way in which Japanese artists emphasized (and at times, exaggerated) the youthfulness of prostitutes in Japanese woodblock prints produced throughout the Edo period (1615–1868) conveyed how important the aura of innocence was for a woman’s sexual persona in early modern Japan. Now described as a Lolita Complex (rorikon), this emphasis upon the desirability of young women has remained a profoundly important aspect of Japan’s sexual culture throughout the 20th century and up to the present. Though arguably originating as early as the 17th century, when prostitutes in the Yoshiwara brothel district adopted court fashion from the Heian period (794–1185), “costume play”—a phrase that inspired the contracted Japanese term kosupure and, in turn, the English portmanteau cosplay—is likewise a cultural phenomenon associated with the late 20th century.
In Glover’s painting, two young women dressed in French maid costumes pass time in a non-descript public bathroom while a colony of miniature, colorful rabbits stare up one’s skirt in scopophilic ecstasy. In the background, traditional Japanese scenes such as Mount Fuji are displaced by imagery from Space Battleship Yamato and Gundam, a view of Akihabara district, and other references to Japan’s popular culture, particularly those manga, animated films, and video games that continuously emphasize the appeal of youth and erotic roleplay.
Glover finds this sort of cosplay, which is commonly seen in Akihabara district of Tokyo, to be a complex aspect of contemporary Japanese sexual culture that deserves discussion, not only because the models appear to exploit themselves for the sake of public attention, but also because the use of such outfits for the purpose of sexual fantasy exacerbates a surprisingly under-recognized international human rights crisis:
Throughout the world today, millions of women, most of whom are immigrants, are forced to work as domestic servants under unfair conditions. In the Middle East alone, over 1.5 million work in Saudi Arabia, 660,000 in Kuwait, and 200,000 in Lebanon. In those countries, domestic servants are little more than modern-day slaves whose dignity and physical safety are constantly at risk…
-Personal communication with the artist, December 2013.