This is a repost of an article from 2013. There were a lot of comments on this one, probably because it upset MRAs. To MRAs I say, cry more.
Herbivore men briefly explained
The Japanese subculture of “herbivore men” seems to hit the news every so often. Here is a recent example in the Guardian: Why have young people in Japan stopped having sex? What exactly is going on over there?
I’m no expert in Japanese culture, but my coblogger on The Asexual Agenda, Queenie, is an expert.* I will defer to what she’s written about herbivore men. My summary: In Japan, men are expected to be “carnivores”, aggressively pursuing relationships with women. But many men in metropolitan areas have become “herbivores”, being less assertive in relationships, more sensitive, and even willing to be friends with women (in Japan this is a big deal). And there’s probably other stuff as well, like their attitude towards money, jobs, and fashion. Women of course are expected to be herbivores to begin with, although there is also talk of carnivore women.
*She’s actually an expert in Japanese religion, but close enough.
In Japan, herbivore men are sometimes the subject of moral panic because they’re not forming relationships, are defying Japanese gender roles, and may be contributing to the declining birth rate. Cry me a river I say. People aren’t obligated to make babies just to uphold the national birth rate, and if Japanese people really wanted population growth so badly they could try being less racist and accept more immigrants.
In the English speaking world, the reaction to herbivore men is… different. Sometimes, the reactions really say more about our own culture than about Japanese culture.
Here I will briefly show the reactions coming from three different groups: mainstream news, asexuals, and men’s rights activists. [Read more…]