Annotation: Allison, Anne. 1994. Nightwork: Sexuality, Pleasure, and Corporate Masculinity in a Tokyo Hostess Club

Allison, Anne. 1994. Nightwork: Sexuality, Pleasure, and Corporate Masculinity in a Tokyo Hostess Club. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

Using Lacanian and Marxist theory, and ethnographic methods like her four-month employment at a Tokyo hostess club, Allison challenges the pervasive study of Japanese male behaviour according to the essentialist and functionalist nihonjinron framework, and instead suggests that the main agenda of the corporation-sponsored settai practice for the sarariman in Japan is the subjectivization of the male worker “such that work is his prime orientation” (200). As Allison argues, the mizu shobai is not for or about sex, but for the homogenization of workers with a particular construct and utility that benefits the corporations (202). In such setting, a certain heterosexual and money-based (132) asobi (play) that services men becomes useful. Using Judith Butler’s notion of gender as performance, Allison suggests that the hostess plays her ritualistic role by assuming a type of gendered public and performative stance (7). The flattery and superlatives that the hostess affords the sarariman function to build up his ego. In this kind of work, “sexuality is masturbatory” (182) and “the erotic subject is not the woman, but the man” (183). Allison suggests that the hostess’s work includes the emptying of herself of her personal identity and subjectivity “to become the image and construct of Woman desired by men” (185). Although working to make the man feel good, the woman becomes stigmatized and subordinated (187). Allison writes of six levels that bring the worker and the corporation together through the patronage of the night clubs: extension of the work day and space; incorporation of the realm of pleasure and relaxation into work; estrangement of the sarariman from the private realm of the family and the home; gendering of the spaces of the corporation, the home and the nightclub; feminization of the home (the home as the appropriate place for women); commercialization of desire (198-200).

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