Gather round, kids… it’s story time.
Last Friday night was my first experience going to a nightclub in downtown Naha. The club itself wasn’t that bad. It had two floors, the music and bass were good, and though we had to pay a cover of ¥2000 at the door (something I’d never do back at home), this we traded in for access to an open bar (something I never see back at home). I’d have to say I’m not a huge fan of the fact that smoking is allowed in most indoor establishments in Japan (which, as you can imagine, is milked for all it’s worth at a club), nor the fact that within an hour and a half of this place, my chest was in so much pain it required me to step outside for 30 minutes just to reintroduce my lungs to fresh air.
But an overabundance of cigarette smoke I can stomach. What’s harder for me to accept of the nightlife scene here is the ubiquitous presence of American military men.
Let me tell you about one of them.
It was the end of the night and my friend and I were sitting on the sidewalk outside the club, waiting for another friend who was still hanging out. It was 3:30am, I was exhausted, cold, reeked like an ashtray, and just wanted to go home. A couple of American guys approach our direction; I’m wearing a skirt—oh yeah, and I’m Asian, and though not Okinawan, duh we all look the same—two factors that obviously constitute an open invitation for the douchebag to reach out and grab my leg as he walks by, right?
I know. I shouldn’t over-generalize members of the armed forces, since I’m fully aware that there are all types of men (and women) who enlist for a variety of reasons. For some, I’m sure it’s in their blood, born and raised in a pedigree or subculture of military pervasiveness. For others, perhaps more than anything else it’s ticket out of the Hood. As in any other culture, there are surely individuals in the military crossing the span of highly-educated, passionate, ignorant, and/or psychotic. And for another X amount of possible reasons, a bunch of these guys end up in a place like Okinawa, blowing off steam at a club like the one I went to. I get it. It’s fine. Kudos to them for serving a country I personally couldn’t wait to leave.
However, what is not fine is getting shamelessly groped on the street by some 21 year-old marine who is too drunk and/or stupid to realize that 1) I am clearly not an amejo (an Okinawan woman who specifically fancies American servicemen) and will thus not squeal in girlish delight in response to his stellar pickup, and 2) that I had an umbrella with me, with which I reflexively used to whack the motherfucker and proceeded to tell him off. Like seriously, dude? What the fuck? Just because you thought I didn’t speak English this made you entitled to touch me? Before finally taking the hint to fuck off, for a few minutes he actually tried to spit out a meaningless apology—he’s lucky I didn’t spit in his face.
SOME PEOPLE. JESUS CHRIST.
I may have majored in sociology and have no idea what I’m doing with my life, but I promise I will sociologize YOU if you think for a second I will indulge you in your racist, sexist fantasies of what you want an Asian woman to be.
I was repulsed by the shenanigans I saw occurring within/outside the Naha club, as they were further extremes of situations I see back at home involving white men who hoard Asian/Asian American women like Oriental rugs (situations that likewise make me want to puke). The trouble here is, the amejo has equally sexist and racist expectations of her desired American lover. I will write a more educated entry on amejo soon. While infuriating, the whole dynamic is really quite fascinating to me.