Japan is a beautiful country with traditions and a culture dating back thousands of years. However, underneath Japan’s storied culture are a wealth of unique and varied subcultures. You have the spandex bodysuit-loving Zentai, the gothic heavy metal vampire Visual Kei, and an almost endless supply of others. A subculture some fine intriguing, while others find it to be sick, perverted pornography, is the loli subculture.
But what exactly is a loli? Should you be intrigued or maybe slightly creeped out? Keep reading below to find out all you would ever want to know about the world of loli. Spoilers… it’s very creepy!
What Exactly is Loli
A loli is a girl who is either underage or appears to be so. These female characters often appear in manga and anime in a sexual context that is not appropriate for someone of the actual age being represented.
An attraction to young girls with erotic characteristics is lolicon. Lolicon is a mix of the lolita complex. The term was first used in 1970s Japan to describe manga depicting young sexualized girls. Origins of lolicon can be traced back to a controversial 1955 novel by Russian-American author Vladimir Nabokov.
Nabokov’s novel Lolita told the story of a middle-aged man who married a single mother. In the story, the man’s motivation for marrying the woman was to get close to her 12-year old daughter. The controversial novel would see the man sexually assault and abuse the young girl. The book’s complex and controversial subject matter earned the novel critical praise and is considered one of the greatest novels produced in the 20th-century.
Is Loli Legal
The answer to the legality of loli is going to depend on your location. Because loli and lolicon are animated and not using real underage girls, the laws surrounding this subculture vary. Fictitious pornography featuring young children is legal in certain countries on the grounds of freedom of expression. Japan, Brazil, Mexico, and others all allow for this type of porn.
Other countries see fictional porn of children as obscene and inciting the abuse of underage children. Australia, Canada, France, United Kingdom, and others view lolicon as child porn and have banned it altogether.
The United States and many other countries have lolicon and different versions of fictitious porn in a legal gray area. For example, in America, loli and lolicon are subject to child pornography and obscenity laws. A complicating factor in America is the differences in laws from one state to another.
Developed in 1973, the Miller Test is a three-part test used to determine if something in America is obscene. If found to be obscene, the material is not protected under freedom of speech laws, like pornography is. The first two parts of the test defer to local standards for what is thought to be overly offensive. The third part of the Miller Test uses national standards to determine if something is overtly offensive.
All of this is to say, depending on where in America you are, you may be found guilty of child porn or breaking obscenity laws if you are in possession of loli material.
Are There Positives to the Loli Lifestyle
I could not find any positives. It is at its core the over-sexualization of children. Proponents will argue that it is harmless fun that emphasizes the cuteness of young girls. And that the young girls in question are either not actually underage or that they are simply cartoons and pixels.
To achieve that “cuteness,” the characters are more times than not shown in erotic or sexual situations and positions. However it is spun, cuteness and sexualization are not the same things.
Another defense of the loli subculture is that it provides an outlet for would-be pedophiles. True, not everyone with an attraction to children will act on those desires. But, seeing the characters normalized and celebrated in culture can lend itself to a sense of normalization in individuals. It may allow them to potentially feel justified in their destructive actions.
A Harmless Fetish
Everyone has their kinks. Some can be pretty out there, and there is nothing wrong with that! Impact play, role-playing, feet, bondage, it’s a huge list! There is nothing wrong with sexually explicit cartoon characters.
Who didn’t have a crush on Jessica Rabbit back in the day? What makes lolicon different is that the main driving point of the practice and materials is sexualizing the features of a child.
Should you care about the loli subculture? Yes, you should. It is part of a larger problem that is the sexualization of the most vulnerable among us.
In conclusion, many fans of this subculture are entirely awesome people who wouldn’t hurt anyone. It’s the effect on society as a whole that is troubling. Children deserve to be children, not “cute” sexual objects.