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Professor examines Lolita complex by first looking at his own experience

Lolita complex, the sexual attraction to young, pubescent girls, is woven into the fabric of everyday life in Japan. Turn on the TV and you’ll see group after group of scantily-clad teenage and preteen girls singing or dancing to music. Peek in any bookstore and you’ll find a section of photo books featuring children in swimwear.

Online ads for so-called JK businesses still abound, where a hug, a massage or an outright sexual service from a girl in a school uniform is only a phone call away, despite international criticism and recent police and government crackdowns.

The number of cases drawing police charges over alleged instances of child pornography has been on the rise, even after the July 2015 introduction of punitive measures for possession of such material.

During the six months from January 2016, police turned over 1,023 cases to prosecutors, compared to 637 cases for the same period in 2011 and 831 cases for the period in 2015, according to National Police Agency statistics.

Masahiro Morioka, a professor of philosophy and ethics at Waseda University, has delved deep into the psychology of men with Lolita complex, widely known as lolicon in Japan.

Calling Japan a “lolicon power,” he says the nation’s obsession with puberty-age girls has justified sexual exploitation and crimes against them — though, of course, not everyone with Lolita complex acts on their desires and commits sex crimes. Like many people, Morioka finds the culture that tolerates lolicon problematic and wants to change it.

His academic approach to the issue, however, has been less conventional. Morioka advocates “life studies,” in which researchers approach topics by analyzing their personal experiences on the subject, instead of “shelving their own experiences and discussing social issues as if they were someone else’s problems.”

In his book “Confessions of a Frigid Man,” originally published in Japanese in 2005 and recently translated into English, Morioka examines his own fixation with — and sexual fantasies about — young girls.

Then he proposes a hypothesis: His lolicon resulted from a feeling of having grown into a man’s body “by mistake.”

When he was about 12 — an age at which secondary sexual characteristics such as the first menstruation for girls and the first ejaculation for boys emerge — he recalls he was “unable to affirm” having a man’s body.

“As my body became that of an adult, it began to produce male hormones, grow muscles, acquire a more rugged, angular shape, grow more hair and dirty itself with seminal fluid, and a strange odor began to emanate from somewhere inside me,” he writes.

He felt uneasy about his physical transformation, which he says led to his fixation on the “clean” body of a girl and “a desire to slip my consciousness into her body, and while inhabiting it, experience her puberty from the inside.”

Morioka, a native of Kochi Prefecture who moved to the capital and began to live away from his parents after high school, says that for him, Lolita complex slipped in just as he succeeded in severing psychological ties from his mother, the only woman close to him.

“When I fulfilled my strong desire to terminate my mother’s influence on me (after coming to Tokyo), I began to have feelings of regret about having turned the wrong way at puberty,” Morioka said during a recent interview. “And that’s how I started to develop a kind of sexuality where I feel like projecting myself onto puberty-age girls.”

Morioka, who is heterosexual and married, concedes that none of his hypotheses has been or will ever be “scientifically” proven. He insists that his analysis only applies to himself, and it cannot be generalized.

Yet science is only one of many ways through which one’s wisdom and knowledge can be passed on to others, Morioka argues, noting that, as a philosopher, he needs to get to the bottom of his own sexuality and share his thoughts with others — no matter how embarrassing or shameful they might sound.

By doing so, he wants to inspire more men to talk about their own sexuality instead of keeping it taboo.

Morioka adds that he was inspired by the women’s liberation movement and the independent-living movement of people with disabilities in the 1960s as he adopted this type of “self-analysis” approach.

“I think that if more heterosexual men talk about their own sexuality, it could prevent or correct further ‘lolicon-ification’ of Japanese society,” he said.

“We need to first understand why there is so much demand for child pornography, even though it is clear that the children appearing in such materials are being sexually abused. I think my book, and the approach I have taken, will contribute to identify the forces.”

In March, a 38-year-old man in Tokyo was arrested on charges that he made a 13-year-old girl perform sexual acts and videotaped them. Public uproar ensued when reports emerged that, prior to his arrest, the suspect, Kazuki Morikawa, who had been known as a fan of pop idol Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, had written on Twitter that he couldn’t understand why sex with underage girls was banned by the anti-child prostitution and pornography law.

“A theory (of mine) is that sex with a minor is outlawed, which is nonsense, because, if you say it’s OK, all men would choose minors over adults,” he tweeted.

Morioka commented that such remarks reflect the shallowness of thinking on sex among many people in Japan.

“A comment like that comes from the sheer lack of self-reflection on sexuality,” he said. “The man had never pondered why sex with minors is outlawed in every culture, and how children can be exploited.”

Getting to the bottom of one’s sexuality is not fun, Morioka says, adding that he was clinically depressed for a while after writing the book.

“Part of me still thinks I should have kept these thoughts to myself,” he said. “But at the same time, I feel a philosopher should do this much, as it’s his job to think deeply about things. If a philosopher writes a book about sexuality, he should not borrow (Sigmund) Freud to explain himself. That would produce only a haphazard work.”


Not Science Fiction: A Brain In A Box To Let People Live On After Death

Scientists believe it may be possible in the future for human brains to survive death in robotic bodies. but would we want to?

I recently had the unusual experience of seeing three renowned scientists discuss whether it’s possible to remove a human brain from a body, put it in a tank, and give it a robotic body. This wasn’t some bizarre late-night bar discussion: The conversation was a serious talk conducted on stage at a conference at New York’s Lincoln Center. The University of Southern California’s Theodore Berger, Duke University’s Mikhail Lebedev, and Alexander Kaplan of Moscow University, all believe it’s possible for the brain to survive body-death inside a cybernetic shell.

In their panel at the Global Future 2045 conference, the trio discussed a future that sounds like a combination of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, the recent mouse inception, and Krang, the brain-in-a-box villain of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The talk, which took place in a mixture of Russian and English, focused on making it possible in our lifetime to conduct brain transplants, harvesting human parts from the body for cybernetic integration, and making self-aware brains comfortable in their new robot homes. It was just another Saturday afternoon, in other words.

Notably absent from the conversation was what the quality of life would be for human brains harvested into robotic bodies. Although all three researchers come from impeccable neurology backgrounds, the talk centered on mostly whether it would be possible to make the technology work. Whether it would be wise, or what the experience would be like for both patients and loved ones, wasn’t discussed as much.

The three researchers believe brain transplants are possible because the human brain is the last organ in the body to cease function after death. Because the death process includes a short window where the brain functions without support from other organs, Berger, Kaplan, and Lebedev all believe there is precedent to have the human brain functioning indefinitely in a non-human carrier–as long as the appropriate support system is there for the brain. They also stress the fact that nerve cells age slowly compared to other organs.

This brain-in-a-robot would be supported by biological blood substitutes (with “the necessary hormonal-biochemical and energetic substrate”), multi-channel brain-computer interfaces with two-way information exchange, neural prostheses, artificially regrown human organs, and other biotech tools that we can’t even imagine. Because there is no precedent for the human brain surviving and functioning outside of a human body, degrees of consciousness, intelligence, comprehension, and a million other existential quandaries that would or wouldn’t exist in a robo-brain simply aren’t evaluated. The data points aren’t there for us to understand, even if it’s possible to transplant a human brain into a robot, what it’s like to be a human brain transplanted into a robot.

There are even interim holding facilities where living human brains could hypothetically be stored before transplantation.

While their roundtable discussion admittedly sounded like a master’s exercise in strange science, the kicker is that all three are engaged in preliminary efforts to make this happen. Last year, at the resolutely mainstream MIT Media Lab, I saw Dr. Berger speak about hacking the memories of rats. Berger’s lab at USC is actively working on prosthetic brain implants that both falsify memories and stimulate brain function in damaged neurons. The lab’s work recently received media attention when it successfully generated new memories in a rat that had its hippocampus chemically disabled. In literature, Berger emphasizes his technology’s potential for treating Alzheimer’s and dementia through the possibility of “building spare parts for the brain;” on-stage in New York, he said it could also lead in the future to full-on brain transplants.

This would work in tandem with Kaplan’s and Lebedev’s specialties. The two Russian scientists research brain-computer interfaces (BCIs)–plug-in interfaces which meld the human brain and nervous system to computer operating systems. While BCIs are most commonly found in toys that read brainwaves to detect stress or concentration, they have revolutionary potential to change the lives of stroke victims and the disabled.

When combined, brain prosthetics and brain-computer interfaces could lead to brain transplants decades from now. Would you want to spend decades or even a century living inside a robotic body at the mercy of a software interface to navigate the world? We’re just beginning to grasp the ethical, philosophical, and scientific implications. But with the right amount of funding, research, and cooperation, it’s entirely possible.


Khmer Rouge terror in Cambodia


Female genital mutilation: Maneka Gandhi to write to Bohra head to stop practice

Instead of bringing any legislation banning female genital mutilation, the Ministry of Women and Child Development has decided to use provisions in existing laws to crack down on the practice mainly prevalent in the Dawoodi Bohra community. Minister Maneka Gandhi will write to the Syedna, the spiritual leader of the community, asking him to enforce a ban on the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM) as it is illegal.

Maneka told The Indian Express that the ministry had drafted an advisory listing provisions under the IPC and Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act under which the practice is illegal. “We drafted the advisory after we received representations from women of the community who are victims themselves, seeking our help in abolishing the practice. I will be sending a letter along with a copy of the advisory to the Syedna requesting him to step in so as to ensure a ban on FGM. It is best when change is initiated from within the community,” she said.

While the NDA government has been vocal about its stance on outlawing triple talaq, sources said it is expected to tread more cautiously on female genital mutilation. This is because Prime Minister Narendra Modi enjoys a very strong support from the Syedna and in the community, both in India and in the diaspora.

As per the advisory, perpetrators — including parents of the girl child — can be punished with imprisonment of one year to life, depending on the gravity of the offence. The genital mutilation procedure is done on girls at the age of seven years. India is home to about half a million Dawoodi Bohras, a Shia sub-sect of traders hailing from Gujarat, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, with large numbers settled in the UK, US, East African countries, Australia and Pakistan.

The advisory, which will be attached with the letter to the Syedna, states that parents of the child as well as practitioners who perform the khatna can be punished under Sections 321 to 326 of the IPC dealing with voluntarily causing hurt or grievous hurt. It also lists POCSO Act Sections 3 (penetrative sexual assault), 5 (aggravated penetrative sexual assault) and 9 (aggravated sexual assault) which entail imprisonment of up to life term. “We will also be sending the advisory to all state chief secretaries, health secretaries and home secretaries to ensure its enforceability,” said an official.

In 2016, in response to arrests and trial in a case in Australia, the Bohra clergy in several countries issued letters to the community seeking a stop to the practice. The ministry hopes the Syedna will issue similar orders in India.


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