Anime Vice News

Japanese Men Shift to Girliness

An interesting cultural shift...?

 Pervy women of the world unite! Japan to become (even more of) a trapfest!
 Pervy women of the world unite! Japan to become (even more of) a trapfest!
When most people in America think of a stereotypical Japanese man, they doubtless think of the numerous references in movies and TV (hello, South Park). Polite to a fault but aggressive in business matters, usually sexist, heavy drinkers in suits and ties with clean coiffs: the Salaryman. But this stereotypical man may be an endangered species, according to a Times Online article which foresees the rise of the "girlie man," another way of putting the "herbivore man," which you may have heard mention of elsewhere. These men are shy, quiet, would rather hang out with pals than go drinking, would rather be friends with a woman than be a player.

The earliest reports of "herbivore men" suggested that, as the Times put it, they were "a generation of neutered geeks" that resulted in the low birth and high suicide rates that japan currently suffers from. But the Times thinks that under the surface, these men are going to be a force for major change, particularly in the wake of the LDP's defeat and other calls for change. These men are less interested in mere status symbols and in being humiliated while climbing the workforce ladder; instead they treasure family and friends over shopping and travel, and want their work to be a part of their lives rather than the entirety of them.

If you're curious about the "girlie" tag, it's because of the fashions associated with the herbivores: men's cosmetics, skirts, and lacy tops, are all a part of the look, and concern over sweat and body odor is replacing the fear of how much liquor you can hold. Marketer Maki Fukasawa calls it "sexually neutral," and thinks that it relates to "the changing nature of Japanese marriage." (The number of unmarried 30-34-year-olds in Japan has increased significantly over the last few decades.)

Interesting changes all around, and of course the comparisons to western "metrosexuals" is inevitable. But it's a pretty big change from some of our usual Japanese stereotypes...
This also ties into our current Question of the Not-Day on the forums-- bishies vs manly men. What do you think? I personally wish American men spent a bit more time and money on being odorless, too.
ThePsychoGameron Nov. 9, 2009 at 11:41 a.m.
From my school experience guys will spend a lot of money on deodorant, the only problem is that it's stuff that makes them smell worse then if they didn't use any form of deodorant because they got purely cause a commercial implied that using there products would get them laid. but maybe that's just here in florida
Black_Roseon Nov. 9, 2009 at 11:52 a.m.
Wow...that article basically described me. Maybe I'll finally move to Japan so I don't fell so out of place any more :S
giaon Nov. 9, 2009 at 11:59 a.m.
@ThePsychoGamer: In my harshest moments, I feel like people who use Axe should die in a fire.
@Black_Rose: Awww, no, we need pretty boys in the west too! ><;
HeeroYuyon Nov. 9, 2009 at 1:07 p.m.
"A generation of neutered geeks"
That's just a brilliant line... I have no idea why I find it so amusing.
Nerxon Nov. 9, 2009 at 1:08 p.m.
omg what happened to them?

Kelleth moderator on Nov. 9, 2009 at 1:14 p.m.
@gia said:
"@Black_Rose: Awww, no, we need pretty boys in the west too! ><; "
Go Dutch/Moroccan, all the Moroccan boys over here are pretty boys with all talk but no balls (okay they grow up to be real manly man in the future but pretty much all the Moroccans boys over here are just like i just described)
Karasuon Nov. 9, 2009 at 4:22 p.m.
Psychologically, sounds to me like "normal person", although fashion-wise, not maybe so much. Dunno why chilling out, enjoying life, and not being a complete skirt-chaser makes one "herbivore" or "girly".
AjayRazon Nov. 9, 2009 at 4:32 p.m.
@Black_Rose said:
" Wow...that article basically described me. 
ditto o_O
JackSukeruon Nov. 9, 2009 at 11:21 p.m.
These are interesting developments.
cfatalison Nov. 9, 2009 at 11:33 p.m.
wait going drinking is not hanging out?
giaon Nov. 10, 2009 at 7:38 a.m.
@Karasu: It's easy to say that from our western standpoint that wanting to be friends with women and wanting a career that is fulfilling and/or not the entirety of your life is "normal," but in Japan it's a pretty new perspective. A decade or two ago, you devoted your all to your company. It wasn't just for your own benefit, it was to build your nation's economy. What we're seeing isn't just a shift of these specifics, but the continued shift of Japan's mindset from the "for the greater good" sacrificial mindset to the self-interested individuality mindset. Westerners have been more self-obsessed for ages, of course ;P
@cfatalis: Not the way the Japanese traditionally do it. Going out drinking after work is a time-honored tradition where peon employees have to suck up to their bosses, show off how much they can drink, and/or humiliate themselves for their bosses' amusement. It's also expected that the employees go; turning it down makes them look bad, typically. So, eschewing drinking parties in favor of hanging out at home or shopping malls or whatever is actually more significant than you might realize ^^
cfatalison Nov. 10, 2009 at 7:41 a.m.
@gia: but that means, it is a social norm,and well they should just swallow it and accept the invitation
OGTon Nov. 10, 2009 at 8:43 a.m.
It's also worth pointing out (whenever people talk about images of masculinity and men) that the stereotypical "masculine" image of stoicism, emotional deadness, and aggression (I'm looking at you, Golgo 13) is about as healthy as the usual America diet.
In all honesty, despite all the odd sexual/nonsexual paradoxes surrounding 00s anime culture (and Japanese culture in general), what is most likely happening, at some level of society in Japan and elsewhere, is men (and boys) are becoming more aware of an emotional side of themselves, even if it's just through watching Kanon. Some of the moe backlash is certainly reminiscent of "you're having feelings this is not manly".
I'm all in favor of humble individualism; sometimes it feels as though the rugged American, self-effacing individualist ethic got sidetracked into some kind of self-promoting narcissism. I get depresed when I see books at work that talk about viewing yourself as a brand and a commodity, and I should go read <i>The Unincorporated Man</i> soon.

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