Doctor Wankenstein Goes to Japan

A PhD student of Japanese Studies at Manchester University (UK) recently published a paper in Qualitative Research, which has been condemned in the media and is now being investigated by the university and by the journal. Two things have caused offence: the research method (masturbation); and the material used during masturbation (shota, a Japanese genre of self-published erotic comics that features young boy characters). I don’t object to the “research method” as such. I can think of a different context where masturbation may be appropriate, e.g. when a sexologist or a neuroscientist is doing research on the phenomenology of orgasms. Then, it might be helpful to know what it is like to have an orgasm. But I think in order to understand shota culture it isn’t necessary for the researcher to jerk himself off, so in this context the “research method” is inappropriate.

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