Involuntary Consent
The Illusion of Choice in Japan’s Adult Video Industry
Akiko Takeyama


Contents and Abstracts
chapter abstract

The introduction lays out the major themes—involuntary consent, liberal reasoning, and gender and labor—through the lens of Japan's adult video (AV) industry. Women's consent to sexual performance contract submits them to an ambivalent sociolegal status: neither prostitutes nor wage workers, and yet not quite independent contractors either. Exploring liberal notions of free choice, the introduction foregrounds the central questions: When precarious labor is the best option, how do consent givers make sense of their self-subordination by choice?

1 Involuntary Consent
chapter abstract

Most AV actresses are neither overtly forced into the business nor completely free to walk away. Despite such complexities, their signed contracts render involuntary consent and its consequences illegible within existing legal frameworks. Juxtaposing heightened public discourses of "forced AV performance" against private practices of contract making, chapter 1 provides a behind-the-scenes look at consent giving and poses a stark challenge to liberal principles that protect the legal rights of the consent receiver, not the consent giver.

2 The Actress
chapter abstract

Chapter 2 zooms in on AV actresses' everyday struggles and empowerment. For many women, employment in AV comes with a high risk of social stigma and discrimination; however, they manage to persevere in their trade once they decide to continue performing. Some even express a victorious feeling of overcoming adversity. Drawing from a nuanced understanding of affect and structural violence, this chapter delves into how everyday harm is normalized, perpetuated, and even glamorized.

3 The Management of Girls
chapter abstract

Peering into the AV industry from the viewpoint of talent agencies and scouts, chapter 3 delineates what's hidden from AV actresses: AV infrastructures, built and (ab)used for "smooth closing," "irekomi" (bringing actresses to studios for shooting), and wholesale talent management. Revealing the organizing schemes that underlie how talent agencies recruit, manage, and patronize women, this chapter highlights how structural violence is latent in the AV infrastructures and perpetuated at the cost of AV actresses' autonomy.

4 The Industry
chapter abstract

The AV industry is hierarchically structured, from talent agencies to film production companies to marketing and sales units, with video makers at the top and talents at the bottom. Chapter 4 illustrates what the author calls "infrastructures of contract," wherein actresses' performance contracts extend their effect to include actresses' subjection to hierarchical social relations. This chapter discusses how the power dynamics of this stratified ecosystem protects AV makers' corporate interests at the cost of others' bargaining power.

5 The Male Fan
chapter abstract

Chapter 5 probes the lives of AV enthusiasts. Adult video fans, who like AV actresses have been structurally maneuvered into consenting involuntarily to their own precarious employment, struggle with job insecurity, social marginalization, and embodied suffering. For them, consuming adult videos and attending fan events is not simply a means of sexual pleasure or stress release but a lifeline. The chapter further sheds light on involuntary consent manifested in gendered ways that extend beyond the confines of the AV industry.

chapter abstract

The epilogue discusses the limitations of legal solutions to involuntary sexual consent in Japan's AV industry and, by extension, paradoxical liberal contractualism. Legal reforms and punitive measures police discrete acts of contract making but not structural problems of gender inequality, labor precarity, and always-already-compromised consent in Japan. The epilogue fuses the pornographic illusion of "harmless entertainment" and the legal fiction of "free choice" as common factors of the AV industry and a liberal democratic society like Japan.