When Jane isn’t busy fussing over the sex lives of their readers, they are busy publishing magazines.  I just got through the September issue (with Desperate Housewife Eva Longoria on the cover).  The issue features one of the oddest articles I’ve come across in a women’s magazine, or any magazine for that matter, in quite some time:

Flip to page 146 and you’ll find the article “Boyfriends for sale: In Japan, women drop thousands of dollars to have guys fawn all over them.  Is this wildly empowering or ultradesperate?”  The article chronicles Japan’s popular host clubs.  Young women spend A LOT of money to go to these clubs and “be serviced” by young men in nice suits and Flock of Seagulls haircuts (seriously, look at the pictures), often four or five nights a week. 

The clubs seem to be more about “companionship” (read: attention) than sex.  Though, Jane notes that “some hosts supplement their income by sleeping with clients for money or luxurious gifts, like Armani suites and Rolex watches.”

The women buy a lot of liquor for their male hosts (and for themselves) and the men have a popularity contest of sorts with each other: “If a host earns-and drinks-enough, he can make it to the Top 10 (sort of a twisted Employee of the Month honor), and his picture will be prominently displayed on the club’s wall.  ‘Girlfriends’ are encouraged to show loyalty by buying expensive bottles of liquor to help him reach his goal.”

That’s weird enough, but here’s the twist: most of the patrons of these host clubs (a whopping 70 percent) are hostesses or prostitutes themselves.  So, these women spend their days getting paid to perform sexual acts on men, then spend their evenings paying for similar services for themselves.  For lack of a better word, that’s just sad.  One of the women explains her logic: “I work hard to earn my salary.  It’s a lot of work to make men feel at ease.  I just want the same for myself….With a host, you always call the shots in the relationship.  And when you’re at his club, paying for his time, you have his undivided attention.  Women buy companionship, intimacy and fantasy.”

There are a few things to note here:

First, the women interviewed keep referring to “companionship” when they really mean “attention” and “bossing around guys.”  The “relationship” is completely one-sided and devoid of emotion.  It hardly sounds fulfilling.

Second, these women seem to have given up on men and romance in general.  They see the myriad of sex services offered to men in Japan and get discouraged.  Instead of demanding more of their men, they stoop to their level.  In the long term such a strategy will never be satisfying – you’ll just be left with the lowest common denominator.

Lastly, the use of the terms “boyfriend” and “girlfriend” throughout the article was downright creepy.  You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know that if you have to pay a guy to hang out with you, he isn’t your boyfriend.  One girl featured in the article, Yuri, calls her favorite male host, Hiro, her “boyfriend.”  Yuri explains:  “I pay him by the hour to see him because our schedules never coincide.”  Not surprisingly, when Hiro quits his job, he also “dumps” Yuri.