They're selling sex. Can you blame them?

The New York Timesreported yesterday that in Japan, young women are suddenly hot to become hostesses -- a once-scorned job that falls halfway between shot girl and stripper.

At gentlemen's clubs, hostesses wear skimpy outfits, pour drinks and coo and purr over their customers; they're there to make every guy feel like the most desirable man on earth. They also make an astounding amount of money -- the Times story mentions a woman who makes $16,000 a month.

The story falls into a file of similar trend reports that's been building since the recession began -- a mass of information that suggests that worldwide, women are turning to professions that require them to sell sex in capacities that range from relatively innocent to darkly literal.