Japan's "Herbivore Men" Refuse To Adhere To Stereotypes

Illustration for article titled Japan's "Herbivore Men" Refuse To Adhere To Stereotypes

Please note: This post on BoingBoing warns that "Herbivore Men" are not to be confused with "vegan guys." This has to do with what's "expected" of a man.


"Herbivore Men" — as explained in this CNN piece — is a Japanese phrase. Writer Maki Fukasawa uses it to describe a younger generation 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."

These guys are "not eager to find girlfriends" and "tend to be clumsy in love."

In other words, this has nothing to do with food, but attitude: Instead of being aggro, paycheck-grubbing, lusty "carnivorous" types, these guys aren't interested in money or sex.

Junichiro Hori, a self-described herbivore, says:

"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… A lot of my friends were trying to work for a big company that pays well and I wasn't interested in that. I am kind of struggling financially


At a time when Japan's economy is troubled, some worry that this new, emo, sensitive man is bad for the future of the country. An unnamed businessman tells CNN:

"You need to be carnivorous when you make decisions in your life. You should be proactive, not passive."


But aren't we constantly tearing down ideas — weak, pink-loving, demure, submissive — of what it means to be feminine? Why do some people still believe there's one way to be "manly"?

Japan's "Herbivore Men" [BoingBoing]
Japan's 'herbivore men' — less interested in sex, money [CNN]


My Sister Mycroft

Any one who thinks this trend is a bad thing should read pretty much anything by Yukio Mishima. Or google the term "hikokimori".

Gender roles within Japanese society are very deeply intrenched, and have profoundly harmful effects on men and women alike. The fact that young people are beginning to buck tradition in this fashion strikes me as a very positive thing, for both genders. After all, a new wave of young men embracing traditionally "feminine" characteristics are probably going to have more progressive views towards women and the choices they make, and play a role in breaking down all gender constructs.

And, honestly, I think Japan could use an injection of creativity and diversity, economically speaking.