Sunday, May 10, 2009
Invasion of the Herbivorous Ladylike Japanese Man
Japan is a land of extreme trends and buzz words that can overtake the country in minutes and just as quickly disappear to make way for the next. But this is an interesting one and I think I even mentioned a reference to this syndrome in a previous post. The Japan Times documents a new trend that has culminated in a report from the Infinity market-research company called, “Herbivorous Ladylike Men Are Changing Japan” (Soshokukei Danshi Ojo-man Ga Nippon wo Kareu).
This new generation of Japanese men worry about their weight, are less competitive about careers, and are so close with their mothers that they take shopping trips together. The “ojo-man” (ladylike man) lacks any interest in dating young women or having any relationships; his sex life is limited to “self-help” toys and Internet porn. He is also fierce in his commitment to frugality and wouldn’t be caught dead without his coupons and frequent-shopper discount cards. Infinity claims that 60 percent of today’s Japanese men aged 20-34 fall into this category.
Exaggerated? Most probably. But ever since I first was in Japan I was struck by how there seemed to be no stigma against the gentler, more “feminine” man. I remember hearing complaints from Western women viewers of the Toni Collette movie Japanese Story (2003) such that they couldn’t understand the appeal of male lead Gotaro Tsunashima because he was “too feminine.” He was just a regular cute Japanese guy to me and I thought he was perfect for the role. The big, muscular, football player types that so many American women seem to go for never appealed to me. While Japan certainly has its more “masculine” movie and pop stars, there are certainly just as many ojo-men from which to choose.
Of course, sociologically, if this trend is true along with the trend of women purposely remaining unmarried and without kids, then the land of the rising sun is due to become a lot less crowded in the coming generations. But it could also point to a growing tolerance toward less strict gender roles for both sexes.