Saturday, April 24, 2010

a little sex ed

I haven’t been this aware of my breasts since I was in middle school and I had to run with my arms crossed over my chest in PE. I might as well be walking around in a soaked white t-shirt with the way some of these students smile at me. I might as well be Pam Anderson in this country. They’ve been called “mountains” and of course, “nice opai.” But I always insist, “These are small potatoes in America.”
I keep them covered, don’t get me wrong, but I haven’t started wearing those shapeless shirts so popular among Japanese women, the kind that meld all of your curves into one straight line. Maybe I should find one of those sports bras that make you look like you have a smushed loaf of bread under your shirt. A lot of people sympathize with small-chested ladies, patting them on the back and telling them that there’s so much more to being a woman than having big knockers. But us busty girls have to deal with a world that equates large breasts with promiscuity, a world that still accuses us of being temptresses for wearing clothes that flatter our figures.

I was late to a class Friday, so I started jogging through the hallway. It was like being back in the gym at BCMS all over again. The boys stopped pushing each other, stopped washing their hands, stopped whatever they were doing. I crossed my arms.
“Hello, Em-i-ri,” they say.
“Hello,” I say, waving and smiling. I pass by. Giggles.
That’s what I hear constantly behind my back. Giggles. It’s enough to make me have a flashback to 1997.
I’m not feeling particularly self-conscious, like I did in those horrific years known as middle school, but I am feeling very…aware. I am aware of what I’m doing at all times because I know that the kids are watching. Everywhere I go, there are Japanese kids. It’s not all bad. Most of them are really friendly. I try to talk to them in English, but they don’t understand. I try to talk to them in broken Japanese, and their response is always giggling, like I’m some toddler imitating an adult, walking around in oversized shoes babbling into a cell phone. But for the most part, I think they like me.

Then there’s the gay stuff. I am not a homophobic person. I have lots of gay friends. I’ve been in several shadow cast performances of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. But there is something about the way some of these boys act that makes me very, very uncomfortable. I got to a class early the other day, and two boys were standing really close to each other. One boy was rubbing the other’s nipple with an intense look on his face.
“What are you doing?” I blurted out. “Nani?” They turned red and ran back to their seats. Later, in the same class, two other boys were sitting close to each other, a skinny one and a heavy one. The skinny kid was rubbing the fat kid’s stomach. Then the bigger one sat on his lap. The smaller boy put his arm around the big one’s shoulders, and they held hands. It looked like something Zack and I would do, cuddling together on a park bench. I had to look away. My uh-oh radar was going off.
I’ve seen this kind of stuff before in Japan, but never so extreme. I’ve seen teenage guys holding hands and playing with each other’s hair on the train. Girls routinely hold hands with each other in public. I just don’t know what to make of it. Most of these people aren’t actually homosexual…are they just more secure in their sexuality than most Americans? Or is everybody here just a little bit gay?
Zack already warned me about koncho, the “fun” game that boys play where they try to poke each other in the ass.
“It means that they like you,” Zack said. “But don’t let them do it to you,” he added in a firm voice.

I guess it’s another one of those cultural differences I’ll have to adjust to, like using chopsticks and bowing. In the meantime, I’m watching my back. And my front.

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