Cover of Involuntary Consent by Akiko Takeyama
Involuntary Consent
The Illusion of Choice in Japan’s Adult Video Industry
Akiko Takeyama


July 2023
240 pages.
from $26.00

Hardcover ISBN: 9781503628762
Paperback ISBN: 9781503633780



The popularity of pornography is predicated on the idea those participating have given their consent. That is what allows the porn industry to dominate the media economy today, generating staggering sums of money. Looking at behind-the-scenes negotiations and abuses in Japan's massive adult video industry, Akiko Takeyama challenges this pervasive notion with the idea of "involuntary consent". This phenomenon, she argues, is ubiquitous, not only in the porn industry, but in our everyday lives, and yet modern society, built on beliefs of autonomy, free choice, and equality, renders it all but invisible.

Japan's AV industry alone generates a conservatively estimated $5 billion a year. In recent years, it has drawn public attention, and criticism, as a result of a series of arrests and trials of former talent agency owners and executives. This led to a report calling for a systematic investigation of the industry over the issue of "forced performance." This report had ripple effects far beyond Japan, as the US Department of State subsequently also cited forced performance as a rights violation. Using this moment as an entry point, Takeyama argues that contract-making writ large is based on fundamentally dualistic terms, implying consent and pleasure on the one hand, and coercion and pain on the other. Because sex workers are employed on a contract basis, they fall outside of the purview of standard labor and employment laws. As a result, they are frequently forced to comply with what production companies (most of whom center male fantasies) demand.

In this ethnography of Japan's porn industry, Akiko Takeyama investigates the paradox of involuntary consent in modern liberal democratic societies. Taking consent as her starting point, Takeyama illustrates the nuances of Japan's pornographic and sex work industries and the legal structures, or lack thereof, that govern them.

About the author

Akiko Takeyama is Professor of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and Director of the Center for East Asian Studies at the University of Kansas. She is the author of Staged Seduction (Stanford, 2016), which was shortlisted for the 2017 Michelle Rosaldo Book Prize.