November 7, 2009
Having traveled to Japan many times, I can say that I have not seen many ojo-man milling around over there, but I have seen them. I see some of them here in the U.S., too. Read on, and you'll see what the title of this post refers to. Strange. Sad.
At the age of 18, Mitsuhiro Matsushita already has a good idea of his ideal future. After he graduates from university a few years of work will be followed by marriage to an industrious wage earner. When children arrive it will be Mitsuhiro who stays at home looking after them, baking cakes and biscuits and living the traditional life of the Japanese housewife.
None of this would be noteworthy but for one thing. Mitsuhiro is not a conventionally minded Japanese woman, but a thoughtful, articulate and fashionably dressed young man. And far from being a marginal eccentric he is a member of a large and growing tribe of Japanese manhood that is attracting the fascinated and anxious attention of companies, academics and the mass media.
Two phrases have been coined to describe them: soshokukei danshi or “herbivorous males”, and Ojo-man— or “girly men.”
Definitions vary, but the new herbivores could be described as metrosexuals without the testosterone. Although most of them are not homosexual they have in common a disdain for the traditional accoutrements of Japanese manhood, and a taste for things formerly regarded as exclusively female. Girly men have no interest in fast cars, career success, designer labels and trophy women. Instead, they hold down humble jobs, cultivate women as friends rather than conquests and spend their free time shopping at small boutiques and pursuing in Japan what is regarded as a profoundly feminine pastime: eating cakes . . .