Living here has changed my view of femininisitic causes. Fire brigade parties almost always include "companions"- young women who pour drinks and laugh and sing karaoke with you. When I first moved here I was rather turned off by the idea. Now however, I am not so sure.
The young women are paying for their school with the money they make pouring our drinks and laughing at our joke. Sure, there is always someone who wants to touch their boob, and they usually try to jokingly and politely refuse, but in the end, if the customer insists, they allow it if only for a brief moment, and that brief moment is all that the customer needs. For the most part they are intelligent and know exactly what they are doing and why. If they want to refuse, they are strong enough to do so, and given that the men are always drunk out of their minds, it is easy enough to distract them with something else.
The other day Tomoe and I and a client went to a party hosted by a friend. Everyone there was in their 30s - except for one older man who heard about it and came because he "wanted to see young women." There was nothing perverted about him, and I can't blame him for wanting to be in the company of young women. Most parties he is invited to are only men drinking, and there is little chance for him to interact with younger women. He said that everyone feels the same way when they go to those drinking meetings, but no one mentions it because it would just make everyone feel worse.
In Tokyo, dirty old office workers always get to see young office women. Here what is a farmer to do? More importantly, what is a young man to do, when there are no young women to be found for even a drink and flirting? There is a small foreign-women population in our village. Women brought as wives from China or the Philippines. It is nothing like the stereotype "mail-order-bride" image. In fact, you have to be quite wealthy to get a bride. There are trips to the brides home country, and of course paying to bring her here and everything after that. The women don't enter into an agreement lightly. The man has to have a stable job that makes it worth her wild.
I can't imagine growing up in a place like this. And I can't imagine how "in demand" Mona will be...
BTW, the young man singing Karaoke in the first photo has a girlfriend from the nearby city, but still I wonder what he feels about life. He is a graduate from Waseda University (a very prestigious school) but he is the oldest son so has moved back here and will eventually take over the household in this village. Tomoe and I are also "elite", but we made the choice to come here on our own. It was not something obligatory. It must be hard being a man or woman who grew up here.