Partner Norm in Japan –Japanese herbivore men–

Gender Norm is very important to distinguish what men are like or what women are like. But when we find a partner we love, that norm become stricter. I will call this norm ‘Partner norm’

Unmarried men are increasing more than woman in Japan. It is said that 18 to 34-year-old men who don’t have a partner reach 60%. And 20 to 30-year-old men will be single all their life. Why are Unmarried men increasing? It is said because of economic depression or informal employment. But I think there is another reason which relate to gender and partner norm.

Today’s Japanese prefer to distinguish two types of character. They are 草食系 ‘herbivorous’  and 肉食系 ‘predatory’. Predatory people are active to find partner and interested in relationship. Herbivorous men are the opposite. They are not eager to find a partner and tend to be clumsy in love. 70% of Japanese men feel herbivorous, and They are called 草食系男子(soushokukei-danshi) ’herbivore men’ and often become popular in Japanese society. But Japanese woman have not so good image of them. Herbivore men are clumsy in love and afraid of risk that if they are rejected. So they can’t approach positively and fail to make relationship with partner. Japanese women feel them week-need and not masculine.

Since Japanese women’s idea of ‘herbivore men’ becomes pressure, herbivore men maybe make them more passive. But women have wanted  masculine men so far. Then why are herbivore men increasing in this time? I think Japanese gender norm has completely changed.  Up to the present, Social duty and authority could be used by only men in Japan. These elements were essential to make men masculine. But in the 1980s, women rights have completely changed. Women were advanced to social life, duty and authority that used to be monopolized by men can be shared. That’s why herbivore men are increasing.

Japanese Gender Norm has updated but Japanese Partner Norm has not. I think Japanese people tend to persist old-fasioned partner norm like ‘masculine men’ and ‘sensitive women. Therefore they can’t find their partners. I don’t think they must do have partners, but if they have partners and make a good relationship in this modern society, They should change their partner norm.

by Ayana Hisatani


4 thoughts on “Partner Norm in Japan –Japanese herbivore men–

  1. Hello! I think it is unbelievable the fact that 18 to 34-year-old men who don’t have a partner reach 60 %. I also think the economic depression and informal employment are much related to this fact. Due to economic depression, there is increasing informal employment. And if a men works as an informal employee, it is difficult for him to have a family because of not enough income.
    Then I also think the change of social duty and authority is related to this. Compared with the old days, Japanese women have become to work out side. And the equality of the sexes has spread. Women have become to be treated equally to men, especially at office. The spreading of the idea “the equality of the sexes” changed some relationship between Japanese men and women.
    And I have another idea. Recently it is said young Japanese (not only men or women, but all) are very passive. I think the reason that causes this phenomenon is related to the matter of partner norm, because the fact that 18 to 34-year-old men who don’t have a partner reach 60 % means many women don’t have their partner, too.
    Thank you for reading!

  2. I think that the Japanese norm is quite different from that of the U.S and other western countries. The American society value people who are aggressive and strong, they believe that men should behave like men by actively approaching the girls they like. However, the Japanese “herbivore men” can survive in the Japanese society because the Japanese society values people who are more conservative and polite. The contemporary Japanese society did not really value people are aggressive (although I think that this norm is changing), the social norms will change depend on the environment. Imagine that all the Japanese corporations abolish the lifetime employment system and the corporation dismisses all the employees who are quiet and negative, the social norms will change and men in Japan will become more aggressive. As a result, there will be more “predatory men” in the Japanese society. I also believe that the economic recession in Japan did not really contribute to the increasing population of “herbivore men”. For instance, although the financial crisis has hit the European countries as this moment, I don’t think it will make the Italian men and the Spanish men to stop chasing women, they will still do what they have to do. In short, I believe that the cultural background and the expectations of the society are the origin of the Japanese “herbivore men”.

  3. I think there is more than just one reason for this phenomenon. You can’t just say its this or that. There are many reasons.

    1. Japanese historical culture has allowed men to be feminine from a long time before. Its nothing new: Kubuki. Men dressing up as women.

    2. Unfortunately, the media tells women that cute boys are better than masculine ones. Look at all the pop singers and the Japanese as well as korean soap opera boys. All soft with smooth girlish skin. JPOP KPOP JDramas KDramas all send out the message that cute boys are sexier than manly men. Look at IKIMEN PARADISE, or WATERBOYS. Can you see what I’m saying?

    3. Japanese women are too demanding and get angry over silly things. So many Japanese men complain to me that “Nihon no Onna wa Atama ga Okashii”. (Japanese women are crazy). So they feel that it is painful to have a girlfriend. I too feel that sometimes girls get too angry over small things. A relationship can be very hard when you are with someone who is always complaining. Sometimes, girls here also need to think about how they treat their men. Japanese women are looking for the perfect man. There is no perfect man. Just good men and bad men. Good men also have some bad points, and even the bad men have good points. You have to choose what points are important in a man for you, and just love him the way he is without trying to change him. Also, if he tries to change you, dump him on his ass. He is not worth you. He is a Damenz.

    4. There is too much pornography and “FUZOKU” in Japan. Studies have already shown that excessive use of pornography does in fact lead to a diminished sex drive. (IMIWA: men who use lots of porno stuff lose interest in sex). Also, the sex service places in Japan mean that if a man needs sex, he can go there. No need for a girlfriend. If he just wants to chat, he can go to a hostess club.

    5. Anime, Manga, and Virtual Reality technology means that young men today start desiring Manga and Anime girls, not the real thing. They get locked into their own Matrix, their own Reality World with their fantasy girls and never get back to the real world with real girls.

    6. Japanese culture is also very much to blame. In London (my hometown) and when I lived in Seattle, it was very common to chat to girls on the street, in the stations, on the train, or even to the waitresses at the resturants or bars. You can’t do that here in Tokyo. No girl will just talk to a guy on the street or in the train, even if she is single and looking for a boyfriend. There are really only 2 ways to find someone: A. GOKON or other singles parties, or B. get introduced to someone by one of your friends. This makes the chances of meeting someone almost impossible. Japanese girls should start talking to interesting guys in public places like women outside of Japan do. Its not just the men who are shy. The women here are worse.

    7. Of course, the financial situation doesn’t help either.

  4. (((2015 RESPONSE)))

    All of those things mentioned definitely do play a role, but it is also another sign of a declining nation. The same thing is also happening in the western world. The same thing happened in Greece when it fell from its greatness, and the same in Rome. The societies/cultures today that respect manliness, and strength, don’t have the good values and traditions of the west, or even what Japan began to develop after WWII. This means when the west falls, the countries that are not so great, yet stronger will take lead on the world stage, and well if and when that were to happen, the world would just become a bit more dangerous, unpleasant, and dark.

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