Japanese Government Worries Teens Aren't Horny Enough

Illustration for article titled Japanese Government Worries Teens Arent Horny Enough

A new study purports to show that Japanese people are increasingly uninterested in sex. And people seem especially concerned about undersexed young men.

The Wall Street Journal reports on the study by the Japan Family Planning Association, which apparently found that 36% of male teens aged 16-19 were "indifferent or averse to sex." Sex studies that rely on self-reports can be problematic — it's hard to tell if respondents are being totally honest, and answers can be influenced by a question's wording — but the percentage of sex-averse guys was up 19% since the same study was done in 2008, suggesting a possible trend. And although a full 59% of female teens in the same age group reported disinterest in sex, the focus appears to be on the dudes.

The Journal's thoughtful headline for the piece is "No Sex, Please, We're Young Japanese Men," and Kunio Kitamura, head of the Japan Family Planning Association, says, "A comparison of the 2008 and 2010 findings show that men indeed have become ‘herbivores.'" Japanese opinionators have been discussing "herbivore men" — guys who are supposedly more interested in fashion than in sex or money — for several years now, and non-Japanese publications like the Times of London have reported on the so-called trend. But young women's disinterest in sex — though also apparently rising, by 12% since 2008 — hasn't motivated nearly as many headlines, at least in English-language media. Obviously I'm looking at things through an American lens here, but this seems like another instance of the old stereotype that girls aren't supposed to want to fuck anyway. But if guys start saying no, there's a problem.


Kitamura's willing to spell out this problem more bluntly than an American politician might. He says, "Obviously, the most important reason for Japan's declining birth rate is that people are not having sex. Combined with the rising number of elderly people, this population imbalance is a major problem." Less sex may not be the only reason for Japan's declining birthrate — some have mentioned economic woes as a reason for Japanese men's supposed disinterest in marrying and starting families. And Kitamura and his organization seem more interested in population growth than in young people's sexual fulfillment. On the other hand, it's kind of refreshing to see a government agency concerned that teenagers aren't sexual enough, rather than trying to get them all to take purity pledges or whatever. If the Japan Family Planning Association follows up its studies with a real investigation of the sexual health and happiness of Japanese youth — male and female — it might do some real good.

No Sex, Please, We're Young Japanese Men [WSJ]
Third Of Young Japanese Men Not Interested In Sex [Telegraph]

Earlier: Japan's "Girly Men" Choose Cakes Over Consumerism
Japan's "Herbivore Men" Refuse To Adhere To Stereotypes


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Other people have already addressed the "lol those wacky Japanese with their tentacle porn" racism of some of the comments, so I just want to point something out about the comments about the herbivore men.

Those making snarky comments about the herbivore men - you realise that you're basically supporting an attempt to enforce rigid and really rather sexist and not at all woman friendly gender norms upon a group of young people via social shaming, right? The media fuss about herbivore men seems to be largely a result of the older generation being perplexed about the lack of interest a particular group of young men have in pursuing a traditional masculine social role. In this case, that traditional masculine social role includes working yourself to the point of exhaustion (and rarely seeing your family as a result), a very sexist attitude towards women that frames them as possessions to be acquired (also including the support of a truly epic sex industry largely dependent on the patronage of the corporations people are confused as to why these young men don't want to join), and a lack of close friendships with people of the opposite sex. Also, for some reason it's bad to like sweets if you have a penis. So...why would a group that's in theory feminist leaning want to encourage the attempt to try to shame young men into adherance to that social role?

It's really bothering me to see so many comments that are basically attempts to shame men into being more macho, in this of all spaces. Look - if you personally prefer more manly dudes, that's fine. No one is saying you have to want to date or fuck guys like the herbivore men. But what's so wrong with the existance of a group of rather sensitive young men who're just not very macho and who'd rather be friends with women than aggressively pursue them in an attempt to extract sex from them? Is there something inherantly bad about liking clothes, or cake?

These young men are kicking back against the way that masculinity has traditionally been framed in their society. It's a complicated phenomenon, socially, but going by the men I've encountered who fit the description it mostly seems to be based on a desire not to be like their overworked, emotionally distant, sexist fathers. These young men saw the social role laid out as appropriate for them, and they want nothing to do with it. Now you could argue that their response is an overreaction/overcompensation, but they're young, and besides, these are their lives we're talking about - what business is it of anyone else's if they want to spend them shopping and eating cute pastries and hanging out with their friends? They're not hurting anyone.

Basically I'm just sort of disgusted to see so much support for the idea of shaming men into adherance to gender norms here. Do me a favor, people making those comments - look up the associated phenomenon of "carnivore girls", think about the set of attitudes that would lead to people labelling their behavior as shocking and needing to be suppressed, and then think again about whether or not we really want to be trying to shame the herbivore men into being more manly. I don't think most of us would appreciate the same attempt to force people into their assigned gender boxes being imposed on us.