The Café Waitress Sang the Blues

Miriam Silverberg

in Erotic Grotesque Nonsense

Published by University of California Press

Published in print April 2007 | ISBN: 9780520222731
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520924628 | DOI:
The Café Waitress Sang the Blues

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The Japanese café waitress was the working-class embodiment of the Modern Girl and as such she sang the blues. While she was commodified as an erotic object, at the same time she articulated her own sensual desires and her protests against the constraints of her workplace. If freedom of movement was a hallmark of the Modern Girl, confinement defined the cultural milieu of the café, and neither customer nor café waitress transgressed gender or culture lines as did the Modern Girl. By looking at the extent to which she may have conformed to expectations placed upon her and of how and when she may have resisted, one can also gain insights into the sexual politics of modern Japanese culture.

Keywords: Modern Girl; café waitress; erotic object; Japanese culture; sexual politics

Chapter.  16228 words. 

Subjects: Asian History

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