Herbivore men

I had never heard the term, “Herbivore men,” until today. I happen to get a link to a CNN article. I am going to quote freely from the article since I reference it above.

Author and pop culture columnist Maki Fukasawa coined the term in 2006 in a series of articles on marketing to a younger generation of Japanese men. She used it to describe some men who she said were changing the country’s ideas about just what is — and isn’t — masculine.

“In Japan, sex is translated as ‘relationship in flesh,'” she said, “so I named those boys ‘herbivorous boys’ since they are not interested in flesh.”

Typically, “herbivore men” are in their 20s and 30s, and believe that friendship without sex can exist between men and women, Fukasawa said.

The term has become a buzzword in Japan. Many people in Tokyo’s Harajuku neighborhood were familiar with “herbivore men” — and had opinions about them.

Shigeyuki Nagayama said such men were not eager to find girlfriends and tend to be clumsy in love, and he admitted he seemed to fit the mold himself.

“My father always asks me if I got a girlfriend. He tells me I’m no good because I can’t get a girlfriend.”

Takahito Kaji, 21, said he has been told he is “totally herbivorous.”

“Herbivorous boys are fragile, do not have a stocky body — skinny.”

Fukasawa said Japanese men from the baby boomer generation were typically aggressive and proactive when it came to romance and sex. But as a result of growing up during Japan’s troubled economy in the 1990s, their children’s generation was not as assertive and goal-oriented. Their outlook came, in part, from seeing their fathers’ model of masculinity falter even as Japanese women gained more lifestyle options.

Former CNN intern Junichiro Hori, a self-described herbivore, said the idea goes beyond looks and attitudes toward sex.

“Some guys still try to be manly and try to be like strong and stuff, but you know personally I’m not afraid to show my vulnerability because being vulnerable or being sensitive is not a weakness.”

Older generations of Japanese men are not happy about the changes. At a bar frequented by businessmen after work, one man said: “You need to be carnivorous when you make decisions in your life. You should be proactive, not passive.”

This is directly related to my comments in a previous post where I said, “Japan is a land of crazy fashions. This is the land of tight T-shirts with fancy, sparkly cursive writing words, dyed hair, hair clips, and extremely manicured eyebrows. And those are just the boys!” It is extremely true, and really throws off the whole sense of masculine / feminine, straight / gay that Americans and Europeans come to expect.  I find it fascinating and perplexing and definitely makes people watching more interesting.  I think I’ve seem more macho looking guys in Ni-chome compared to the herbivores elsewhere.  Apparently the gay community is taking a more masculine approach to attraction.

4 Replies to “Herbivore men”

  1. I saw the article and I think that’s cool; be who you want to be and do what you want to do. They’re not hurting anybody, they’re just being themselves. The only unfortunate thing about that, was that “Jay” doesn’t live in SF, and I can’t be his boyfriend, cuz he’s hella cute!

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