Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Japanese Herbivores, A Strange and Apparently Ubiquitous Phenomenon

I had never heard of this, but it appears that men in Japan, especially young men, are abandoning traditional male roles and choosing to be passive, disembodied flakes. According to this article, almost half of young men surveyed have adopted the way of life they call being a "herbivore." From Reuters:
TOKYO (Reuters Life!) – Hotel worker Roshinante has no interest in actively pursuing women, is nonchalant about a career and finds cars a bore -- and he is not alone in opting for a quiet, uncompetitive lifestyle.

Roshinante, 31, who prefers the anonymity of his online handle, is one of a growing group of men dubbed "herbivorous boys" by the media, who are rejecting traditional masculinity when it comes to romance, jobs and consumption in an apparent reaction to the tougher economy.

Forget being a workaholic, corporate salary-man. These men, raised as the economic bubble burst, are turning their backs on Japan's stereotypical male roles in what is seen as a symptom of growing disillusionment in their country's troubled economy.

"Since I was a child, I hated people telling me, 'Behave like a man'," said Roshinante, who runs a forum on popular Japanese social network site Mixi for frank discussion about herbivores.

For decades, Japanese men were expected to work full-time after graduating from high school or college, marry and support their wife and children.

Roshinante, a university graduate, has no plans to follow that path.

"I don't think my parents' way of life is for me," he said in a telephone interview. "I still struggle between the traditional notion of how men should be and how I am."

Almost half of 1,000 men aged 20-34 surveyed by market research firm M1 F1 Soken identified themselves as "herbivorous," defined literally as grass-eating but in this context as not being interested in flesh or passive about pursuing women. Japan's "herbivore" men shun corporate life, sex

In the duration of a single lifetime, women's roles have changed dramatically in our society, men not so much, as women took control of their sexuality and their finances. There was no obvious model for men to accommodate this new balance of power and men were sensitive about ... being sensitive, among other things. In America, it seems to me, the future of masculinity is still an unresolved question.

I don't know about this herbivore thing, though. I kind of hope that doesn't catch on over here.
The media hype has sent marketing experts scurrying to see if there is money to be made from herbivores, many of whom are spending more time and money on their appearance.

"We cannot ignore herbivorous boys because they are almost a majority," said Shigeru Sakai, a researcher at M1 F1 Soken.

Most herbivorous boys lack self-confidence, like to spend time alone, and use the Internet a lot, the survey showed.

The mindset appears to be a reaction to the end of Japan's late 1980s "bubble economy" of soaring asset prices, when everything looked rosy, and a subsequent economic slump.

"Herbivorous men always existed," said columnist Maki Fukasawa, who is credited with coining the term. "But the bursting of the bubble and the collapse of lifetime employment contributed to their increase."

Men will change, there seems to be no way around that, but I would not try to predict how we will change. While there are plenty of traditional male attributes that should go away, our society doesn't want to lose the good qualities of strength and courage and competitiveness that have traditionally been associated with men. There does not seem to be any manifesto or outline for the male of the future, no plan for adapting to gender equality in the workplace and in the home, and my impression is that guys are just trying to figure it out on their own. There seems to be a widespread sense of loss as the Hemingways and John Waynes fade into the past, and there seems to be little to replace that part of life -- the macho lust for adventure is obsolete functionality that might be phased out in the next release.

I recently ran across a quote by Robert Heinlein which seems vaguely appropriate here. He said, "A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects." You get the impression that these herbivorous Japanese men are unable to do any of these things, they have reacted to the challenge of an evolving society by retreating into incompetence. Let's not do that here, okay?


Anonymous Robert said...

To be honest Jim, these articles on 'herbivores' seem to be a reaction of a machismo-ridden segment of the population to young men who not be interested in perpetuating gender-stereotypical roles. It smacks of all the transphobia of the American press.

Men who:
don't want to work
worry about their appearance
aren't interested in women
sit around by themselves
aren't engaged in society

I don't think it's a real phenomenon, but patriarchal, macho bull.

July 29, 2009 2:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

nice to have the Democrats in control of Congress:

"Hours after the Blue Dog Democrats announced a deal on a scaled-back health care reform bill Wednesday, anger among liberal members threatened to derail the bill from the left.

"There's angst, there's questions, there's anger," said Rep. Eliot Engel of New York, coming out of a hastily scheduled meeting of the Energy and Commerce Committee. The committee had been scheduled to mark up the compromise bill Wednesday at 4 p.m., but canceled the public meeting after members complained they wanted more time to review the measure before moving forward.

"We need to consider if we've given away too much," said Engel, a liberal Democrat. Engel said that without the guarantee of a fully funded public option, he no longer knew if he would support the House version of health care reform. The Blue Dog deal reportedly keeps a public option, but adds a co-op option and trims subsidies to help people pay for either one. "We're talking about dogs here; I think the tail shouldn't wag the dog," Engel said.

The House Progressive Caucus called an emergency meeting after word came of the Blue Dog agreement."

July 30, 2009 6:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

today's the big day when Barry O takes a lemon and tries to turn it into...

a beer

he's having Bud Light, Gates a Red Stripe, Crowley a Blue Moon

I think Gates will probably say something stupid

Coulter, voice of her generation, is reporting that the press conference question was planted by Barry O

so he actually thought about what to say beforehand


someone should ask him how his grandmother attended his birth when she never left Kenya

then, we could have a big birther keg party on the White House lawn

July 30, 2009 6:53 AM  
Anonymous Aunt Bea said...

It looks like the teachable moment can't come too soon. Another cop in the Boston area is showing problems with race. Officer Justin Barrett sent a mass email saying if he had "been the officer [Crowley] he [Gates] verbally assaulted like a banana-eating jungle monkey, I would have sprayed him in the face with OC (oleorosin capsicum, or pepper spray) deserving of his belligerent non-compliance."...

...He also declared that he was "not a racist but I am prejudice [sic] towards people who are stupid and pretend to stand up and preach for something they say is freedom but it is merely attention because you do not get enough of it in your little fear-dwelling circle of on-the-bandwagon followers."

He sounds just like Anon, except for this part:

"...Officer Justin Barrett told a local television station on Wednesday night that he was sorry for the e-mail.

"I regret that I used such words," Barrett told CNN affiliate WCVB. "I have so many friends of every type of culture and race you can name. I am not a racist."...

Fact check time!

Ann Coulter's statement:

"...President Barack Obama planted the question during a health care press conference, hoping he could satisfy the Chicago Sun-Times, which has been accusing him of not being black enough..."

Her proof:

[nada, other than the rightwing echo chamber trying to create another nonfactoid]

Lynn Sweet's statement:

"...Obama's answer also triggered a storm of questions to me -- by other reporters, readers e-mailing me and commenting on my blog about how and why I came to ask about Gates.

No conspiracy, folks.

When President Obama called on me, he had no idea what I would be asking. I had not written or blogged about the Gates incident, so no one in the White House had any clue that I was particularly interested in Obama's reaction.

I got a call from the White House press office about 6:30 p.m. confirming I was indeed going to show up at the 8 p.m. press conference. I was told I "may" get a question from the president. No one asked me -- directly or indirectly -- about what I may be asking. No one from the White House tried to plant any question..."

Have fun spinning yourself out today, Lucy.

July 30, 2009 8:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lynn Sweet, denying involvement?

big surprise

Coulter says she has proof

O was trying to prove he had street cred by dissing the man

it backfired

he forget was his current occupation is

July 30, 2009 9:23 AM  
Anonymous Aunt Bea said...

Coulter says she has proof

Let's see it.

July 30, 2009 9:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

you will

July 30, 2009 10:16 AM  
Anonymous Aunt Bea said...

You're slipping up Anon. Michelle Malkin is as sure as Ann Coulter except she doesn't claim to have "proof."

In her piece today, "Ann Coulter, Michelle Malkin & My Skip Gates Question", Lynn Sweet reports:

Ann Coulter and Michelle Malkin are entitled to their opinions, which they have plenty of -- in this case about President Obama and his reaction to the arrest of Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. by Cambridge Police Sgt. James Crowley. They are not, however, to paraphrase the late Sen. Patrick Moynihan, entitled to their own facts, or entitled to invent a scenario in which the White House somehow prompted me to ask Obama about Gates at his press conference last week.

Ann, Michelle, can we get a beer on this? I'll pay. I'll take an Amstel Light. What are your brews? Because gals, you need to look elsewhere for a new conspiracy [since neither buys birther crap]. Coulter said on FOX News that Obama "had that question planted." She added, "I do have proof." On NBC's "Today Show" on Wednesday morning, host Matt Lauer, asked Malkin, "Do you think this was a planned question?" Replied Malkin, "Absolutely do."

You are both wrong. The Obama White House did not have a clue what I would be asking. (And why again would they want to plant a question that would take him off his health-care message, a question that was likely to get him in hot water, and did?)...

...Last week, a lot of readers and viewers asked me why and how I came to ask about Gates and many wanted to know if the White House knew my question in advance.

So here it is, the inside scoop: I first got the idea to ask Obama about his reaction to the Gates arrest while on the treadmill at my gym. On the morning PoliticsDaily conference call, my PoliticsDaily colleagues were also talking about asking Obama about Gates and the Cambridge cop if PoliticsDaily was called on at the press conference, because it might elicit something human and real rather than just more health-care talking points. And whatever Obama's reply, it would be news...

Of course the treadmill by the stairclimber (for the upwardly mobile) is hot wired directly to the President's desk, but only friendly Chicago native potential press conference questioners who jog on it know about the secret direct line Clinton had installed there in '93.

< eye roll >

July 30, 2009 10:43 AM  
Anonymous Robert said...

It's the same theory the birther echo chamber follows: if you say it often enough, some people will believe it's true.


July 30, 2009 10:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

that seems to be what Anon-B thinks, Robo

July 30, 2009 12:08 PM  
Anonymous Aunt Bea said...

What Anon, do you think by posting what Lynn Sweet herself said about how she came up with the question about Professor Gates' arrest I am part of an echo chamber of lies? My reports have linked directly to her own published comments. You parrot and spin statements that are untrue and unsupported.

So let's see this evidence your mouthpiece, Ann Coulter, says she has that proves Ms. Sweet is lying.

Where is it?

What is it?

July 30, 2009 1:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You just repeating what Sweet said.

You don't have any proof it's true.

Coulter's proof is coming.

July 30, 2009 2:20 PM  
Anonymous Aunt Bea said...

What's the hold up? Is she getting it photoshopped, again??

July 30, 2009 2:49 PM  
Anonymous Aunt Bea said...

Golly Anon, you sure are slow bringing that proof Coulter said she had to the blog here.

What's the hold up now??

July 31, 2009 6:08 PM  
Anonymous Aunt Bea said...


Have you found Ann Coulter's proof yet or are you ready to concede she doesn't have any?

August 01, 2009 10:53 AM  
Anonymous Robert said...

Fiction doesn't require proof.

August 02, 2009 10:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Coulter has proof, Robert

you have to take her word for it, though

just like you do with Hawaii state officials

Obama planted question

Obama was born in Hawaii

there is the same level of evidence for both of these assertions

August 03, 2009 9:28 AM  
Anonymous Aunt Bea said...

Another lie.

I haven't heard any Governors or state department heads verfying Coulter's lie, have you?

The day Coutler becomes a state or federal official of any type is the day I might consider taking her word for something. Until then she's just a paid partisan shill IMHO.

August 03, 2009 2:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Obama's kinda partisan himself.

He needs to come clean.

August 07, 2009 2:47 PM  

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