July 22, 2008

Happily Ever After Fantasy? White Man Cafe

I just watched CNN world news yesterday, which was about "Butlers Cafe" in Shibuya, Tokyo.
The cafe is full of white male "butlers." It's the male equivalent of Akiba's maid cafe for female customers.

Before I start talking about it, please check out the video first. The image is more powerful than text to explain what it's like at the cafe.

So, what do you think?

My first impression was, "Are they really wearing tiaras? Or is it just for TV?" I don't want to say bad things about these women, but the tiara thing was kind of silly...

The point is all the butlers are WHITE men. This shows how many Japanese women are into the image of Western men appearing in Hollywood movies and TV series--today's fairy tales. If Japanese men served tea as butlers, female customers would not get refreshed because Japanese men remind them of their daily lives. Talking to good-looking Westerners in ENGLISH is surreal for them. These women come to the cafe to free themselves from stress, according to the CNN report.

I'm surprised that there are women out there who are so stressed out that they end up going to places like this. Unfortunately, Japan is still male-dominated society so that a lot of females may be stressed out as CNN points out. However, are they really that tired? If so, I want to let them know my blog URL to share their thoughts with me and hopefully, to make them feel better. It's totally free! Or, are they just interested in white men and looking for opportunities to speak English?

To heal your mind is not simple. Of course, I'd love to talk to good-looking gentlemen. But not at the cafe at least for me. I'd rather find a more constructive way to make me happy, not an instant relief but a long-lasting solution. Maybe I'm not good at just having fun at ease with someone unknown.

For details, check out Butlers Cafe website and a female writer's report of her experience of being a "Princess" at the cafe. It's a fun reading with lots of photos (mostly in Japanese). The reporter looks cheerful in every picture, I don't understand what's good about some guy holding and lifting you up, though. Note that you have to pay extra for the lifting service.

Would you like to go to a cafe where good-looking Japanese men in samurai costumes serving you drinks?


てる said...

I was also surprised at the news.
In my opinion, all women have kind of hope that they want to be a princess.
Don't you think so?

I personally believe that this cafe is good for women who has the desire like that.
I think that they go to the cafe not for daily fatigue, but just for their desires.

By the way, you are very good at English!
These days I have difficulty listening English...
When I came back from Boston, (I studied there for a month) my listening skill was better.
However, in Japan, my skill is getting worse...
How do you keep your English skills,especially listening skills?

If you have some good solutions, could you teach me?

Meghan said...

I have to admit I'm torn. On the one hand, I think it's AWESOME women finally get a place like this. For years men have had places like the Playboy Mansion and Hooters and now there's something like that (but less smutty) for women.

But I have to say degrading these men in the same way is actually really sad. Two wrongs don't make a right.

I guess in the end I think it's the kind of place I'd go once or twice just for a laugh, but it's not a place I would go repeatedly. That would be a bad sign.

Christy said...

I had heard about Butler cafe's before...but I didn't know that they were Western men! I think that if I went to one I would probably not be able to stop laughing. It's kind of ridiculous to me, but it's kinda like maid cafes...I guess people like that and it's a way to fulfil their "fantasies"

Isn't it kind of the same with host clubs? They are there for women to go to and feel pampared...i don't think it's completely ridiculous (because I might enjoy that once or twice in my life)

Karen said...

That's a good point, Teru-san. Many women have had that kind of dream since we were children. It always feels good to be treated royally not necessarily to that extent, though.

About your listening skills, it's just the difference in the amount of time to speak English. You have to immense yourself in English. Try to do anything in English as much as possible. For example, if you like watching TV, watch TV in English such as HEROES ideally without subtitiles. If you like net-surfing, read English blogs to get useful information(Go check out my links on my Japanese blog!). Leaving a comment in English like this is a great way to practice English!

I'm going to write more posts on how to learn English focusing on listening skills. So please visit Japanese blog again!

Karen said...

Meghan, I understand what you mean by you are torn. Are we women getting masculine in a way, paying money to appreciate eye candies? Maybe so. It's like a process of evolution (or could be the opposite). Hooters is a new word to me, by the way. Thanks M-sensei!

Did you know that we have a bar where hunks are being the objects of females' affection? http://www.key2icon.com/
I guess it may be a good place for a bachelorette party. This place sounds more entertaining than the cafe. Oh, am I degrading men? You know, it's just for a once-in-a-lifetime event.

Karen said...

Wow! Christy, you already knew about Butlers cafes! I didn't know that until the day before yesterday.

You are right, it's just like a light casual version of host clubs. I've never been to host clubs, though. Do you have host clubs in the U.S.? Maybe yes.

We women need to feel pampered. But if I went to host clubs, I could go bankrupt. So I'll stick with Jin to fulfill my fantasy for now.

Xtian said...

Wow, that place sounds like fun!

I'm a male, and I personally don't see it as being degrading. The men are simply waiters playing a part: A gentlemen. These men smile and say, "Hello princess, you look lovely today?" and then go in the back to get their order and probably joke around saying hot nice the customer's breasts are. Sure, I'm a little jaded, but I know how men act.

Degrading to me would be something along of the lines of having the men dressed in tiny bikinis, having women feel them up and slap their buns or something.

I think the Butler's Cafe is a fun place where women could possibly go, have lunch with their girlfriends, giggle at the cute gaijin, and have fun. Once they leave its back to their everyday roles of submissive wife, nerdy student, repressed daughter, etc. etc.

Interesting blog post, I enjoy the conversation here in the comments section!

Karen said...

Xtian, thank you for sharing your thoughts from a male perspective. You are right, one of these men says, "I don't mind mind being the object of their affection." They seem to enjoy their job playing prince roles. The cafe might be a fresh and new workplace for good-looking foreign men in Tokyo who are tired of just teaching English.

The show that I talked about above may be degrading to you. It's obvious that male entertainers are dressed in almost nothing...I'm too shy to go out to see the show.

By the way, Japanese women are not that submissive any more at least not me. The men-women relationships portrayed on CNN are exaggerated, trying to contrast Japan with the West. However, it is true that we are still struggling to break the glass ceiling. The percentage of women in the lower House is 9.4 %--the government is still of the old men, by the old men, for the old men. http://www.ipu.org/wmn-e/classif.htm I'm not sure if the gap is one of the reasons why women need places like the butlers cafe, though. :)

Karen said...

one correction on my comment above: immense yourself->immerse yourself
See, my English isn't perfect. I'm still struggling with it!

Anonymous said...

Degrading? Hardly - it's not like it is cfnm is it? The guys are earning a living and the gals are enjoying being pampered so where is the harm?