Discourses of “Herbivore Masculinity” in Japanese Love Advice Books

Open access

Abstract

In the last decade, discourses of non-conforming masculinities have become increasingly prominent in Japanese mass media. In particular, the so-called “herbivore men” have been made infamous by Japanese newspapers and were accused of being responsible for sinking birth rates and economic stagnation in Japan (Schad-Seifert 2016). In this article, I explore the discourse on the “herbivore men” in Japanese love advice books which are meant to guide and inform the (female) reader’s assessment of potential romantic partners. Utilising Siegfried Jäger’s methodological approach (2015), this discursive analysis focuses on the line of discourse that implicitly criticises the “herbivore men” and rejects their turn away from hegemonic images of masculinity. The analysis yields that the “herbivore man” is constructed as an ‘unnatural’ form of masculinity in these publications, which allegedly causes women to become sexually active and career-driven “carnivores.” Japanese women’s empowerment from hegemonic gender ideals is thereby misrepresented as a symptom of psychological distress due to changing masculinities. By perpetuating ideas of biological determinism linked to the backlash against the “gender-free” movement in the early 2000s, this line of discourse propagates problematic relations of gender and power in Japanese society.

If the inline PDF is not rendering correctly, you can download the PDF file here.

  • Amazon Japan. 2018a. “Sakuragi Piroko: Books by Sakuragi Piroko.” Online: https://amzn.to/2HPG2CZ (accessed: April 4 2018).

  • Amazon Japan. 2018b. “Sōshokukei bijinesuman no tame no sutoresu furī shigotojutsu: shōhin no setsumei: naiyō shōkai 草食系ビジネスマンのためのストレスフリー仕事術: 商品の説明: 内容 紹介 [Stress Free Life Hacks for Herbivorous Businessmen: Product Description: Presentation of Contents].” Online: https://amzn.to/2IafEH7 (accessed: January 22 2018).

  • Butler Judith. 2006. Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. New York and London: Routledge.

  • Carlström Carlotta. 2018. “BDSM Interaction Rituals and Open Bodies.” Sexuality & Culture 22 pp. 209–219.

  • Caßing-Nakamura Katja. 2000. “Bezahltes Dating: Die Darstellung von enjo kōsai in japanischen Zeitschriften oder Die Skandalisierung eines Phänomens.” Japanstudien 11 (1) pp. 211–233.

  • Charlesbois Justin. 2013. “Herbivore Masculinity as an Oppositional Form of Masculinity.” Culture Society & Masculinities 5 (1) pp. 89–104.

  • Charlesbois Justin. 2014. Japanese Femininities. London and New York: Routledge.

  • Charlesbois Justin. 2017. “Herbivore Masculinities in Post-Millennial Japan.” In Xiaodong Lin Chris Haywood and Mairtin Mac an Ghaill eds. East Asian Men: Masculinity Sexuality and Desire. London: Palgrave Macmillan UK pp. 165–181.

  • Chen Steven. 2012. “The Rise of 草食系男子 (Soushokukei [sic] Danshi) Masculinity and Consumption in Contemporary Japan.” In Cele C. Otnes and Linda Tuncay Zayer eds. Gender Culture and Consumer Behavior. New York: Routledge pp. 285–307.

  • Connell R. 2005. Masculinities: Second Edition. Crows Nest: Allen&Unwin.

  • Connell R. 2015. Der gemachte Mann: Konstruktion und Krise von Männlichkeiten: 4.Auflage. Wiesbaden: Springer VS.

  • Connell R.W. and James W. Messerschmidt. 2005. “Hegemonic Masculinity: Rethinking the Concept.” Gender and Society 19 (6) pp. 829–859.

  • Dasgupta Romit. 2009. “The ‘Lost Decade’ of the 1990s and Shifting Masculinities in Japan.” Culture Society and Masculinity 1 (1) 79–95.

  • Dasgupta Romit. 2013. Re-reading the Salaryman in Japan: Crafting Masculinities. London: Routledge.

  • Fanasca Marta. 2019. “Crossdressing Dansō: Negotiating between Stereotypical Femininity and Self-Expression in Patriarchal Japan.” Girlhood Studies 12 (1) pp. 33–48.

  • Fotache Ioana. 2016. “Matters of the Flesh: Japanese Herbivore Men and the Asexuality Umbrella.” Gender and Sexuality: Journal of the Center for Gender Studies ICU 11 pp. 175–203.

  • Foucault Michel. 1978. The History of Sexuality: Volume I: An Introduction. New York: Pantheon Books.

  • Fukasawa Maki 深澤真紀. 2006. “Dai 5 kai sōshoku danshi 第 5 回 草食男子 [Episode 5: Herbivore Men].” Nikkei Bijinesu Onrain 日経ビ ジ ネ ス オンライン [Nikkei Business Online]. Online: http://business.nikkeibp.co.jp/article/skillup/20061005/111136/ (accessed: October 16 2017).

  • Fukasawa Maki 深澤真紀. 2009. Sōshoku danshi sedai: Heisei danshi zukan 草食男子世代―平成男子図鑑 [Generation of Herbivore Men: An Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Men in the Heisei Era]. Tōkyō 東京: Kōbunsha 光文社.

  • Fukasawa Maki 深澤真紀. 2015. “Sōshoku danshi sono jittai wa… 草食男子、その実態は… [Herbivore Men the Actual Situation...].” Yomiuri Shinbun Onrain 讀賣新聞オンライン [Yomiuri Shinbun Online]. Online: http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/komachi/plus/kuragetlogy/20150515-OYT8T50071.html (accessed: January 30 2017).

  • Grzanka Patrick R. 2018. “Introduction: Intersectional Objectivity.” In Patrick R. Grzanka ed. Intersectionality: A Foundations and Frontiers Reader. Oxon and New York: Routledge pp. XI–XXIII.

  • Hanson Susan. 2010. “Gender and Mobility: New Approaches for Informing Sustainability.” Gender Place and Culture 17 (1) pp. 5–23.

  • Hidaka Masaru 日髙優 et al. 2015. “Gendai no seinen ni okeru ‘sōshokukei danshi’ no zōka gensetsu no kentō: Ren’ai ni tai suru taido ni chūmoku shite 現代の青年における「草食系男子」 の増加言説の検討 : 恋愛に対する態度に注目して [A Study on the Discourse ‘Herbivore Men’ Who Are Not Active to Love Are Increasing among Present-day Young People].” Kagawa daigaku kyōiku gakubu kenkyū hōkoku dai 1 bu 香川大学教育学部研究報告 第 1 部 [Research Report of the Department of Education Kagawa University: Part 1] 144 pp. 1–14.

  • Hidaka Tomoko. 2010. Salaryman Masculinity: The Continuity and Change in the Hegemonic Masculinity in Japan. Leiden and Boston: Brill.

  • Itō Kimio 伊藤公雄 et al. 2015. Jendā de manabu shakaigaku: zentei shinpa ジェンダーで学ぶ社 会学: 全訂新版 [Studying Sociology through Gender: Fully Revised Reissue]. Kyōto 京都: Sekaiishisōsha 世界思想社.

  • Jäger Siegfried. 2015. Kritische Diskursanalyse: Eine Einführung. Münster: Unrast.

  • Kanda Yasuko 神田靖子. 2011. “‘Otoko rashisa’ no kiki ka? Burogu ni miru ‘sōshoku danshi’ e no hyōka 「男らしさ」の危機か? ブログに見る「草食男子」への評価 [Masculinity in Crisis? : Bloggers’ Evaluation on [sic!] ‘Herbivorous Boys’].” Dai 14 kai taikai happyō ronbunshū dai 7 gō 第14回大会発表論文集第7号 [7th Collection of Presented Papers of the 14th General Meeting] pp. 261–264.

  • Kano Ayako. 2011. “Backlash Fight Back and Backpedaling: Responses to State Feminism in Contemporary Japan.” International Journal of Asian Studies 8 (1) pp. 41–62.

  • Kawano Satsuki. 2014. “A Sociocultural Analysis of Childrearing Support for Mothers of Pre-schoolers Living in Tokyo.” Japan Forum 26 (1) pp. 46–64.

  • Kinsella Sharon. 2002. “What’s Behind the Fetishism of Japanese School Uniforms?” Fashion Theory 6 (2) pp. 215–238.

  • Kinsella Sharon. 2014. Schoolgirls Money and Rebellion in Japan. London: Routledge.

  • Knudson Sarah. 2014. “Getting Laid and Growing Close: Constructions of Masculinity in Relationship Advice for Heterosexual Men.” Qualitative Sociology Review 10 (3) pp. 116–137.

  • Koch Angelika and Brigitte Steger eds. 2013. Manga Girl Seeks Herbivore Boy: Studying Japanese Gender at Cambridge. Vienna: Lit Verlag.

  • Kumata Kazuo 熊田一雄. 2005. ‘Otoko rashisa’ to iu yamai? Poppu karuchā no shindanseigaku <男らしさ>という病? ポップカルチャーの新男性学 [An Illness Called ‘Masculinity?’ Popular Culture in New Men’s Studies]. Tōkyō 東京: Fubaisha 風媒社.

  • Link Jürgen. 1982. “Kollektivsymbolik und Mediendiskurse zur aktuellen Frage wie subjektive Aufrüstung funktioniert.” Kulturrevolution: Zeitschrift für angewandte Diskurstheorie 1 pp. 6–20.

  • Luschmann Michaela. 2018. “Otoko wa ōkami de aru? Der Diskurs um die Maskulinität der ‘grasfressenden Männer’ in japanischen Beziehungsratgebern.” M.A. thesis University of Vienna Austria.

  • Maree Claire. 2007. “The Un/State of Lesbian Studies: An Introduction to Lesbian Communities and Contemporary Legislation in Japan.” Journal of Lesbian Studies 11 (3–4) pp. 291–301.

  • Mathews Gordon. 2003. “Can ‘a Real Man’ Live for His Family? Ikigai and Masculinity in Today’s Japan.” In James Roberson and Suzuki Nobue eds. Men and Masculinities in Contemporary Japan: Dislocating the Salaryman Doxa. London: Routledge pp. 108–125.

  • Matsuoka Tadashi 松岡律. 2012. “Sōshokukei danshi o meguru shakaigakuteki kōsatsu (1): Media ga aoru jendā kaosu 草食系男子をめぐる社会学的考察 (1) メディアが煽るジェンダーカオ ス [A Sociological Examination of Herbivore Men (1): A Gender-chaos Sparked by the Media].” Jinken 21: chōsa to kenkyū 人権 21 : 調査と研究 [Human Rights 21: Studies and Research] 219 pp. 26–31.

  • Messerschmidt James W. 2011. “The Struggle for Heterofeminine Recognition: Bullying Embodiment and Reactive Sexual Off Ending by Adolescent Girls.” Feminist Criminology 6 (3) pp. 203–233.

  • Mizukoshi Kosuke et al. 2015. “Japan’s Ikumen Discourse: Macro and Micro Perspectives on Modern Fatherhood.” Japan Forum 28 (2) pp. 1–21.

  • Morioka Masahiro 森岡正博. 2008. Sōshokukei danshi no ren’aigaku 草食系男子の恋愛学 [Lessons in Love for Herbivore Men]. Tōkyō 東京: Media Faktorī メディアファクトリー.

  • Morioka Masahiro 森岡正博. 2009. Saigo no koi wa sōshokukei danshi ga motte kuru 最後の恋 は草食系男子が持ってく る [Herbivore Men Will Bring Your Last Love]. Tōkyō 東京: Magajin Hausu マガジンハウス.

  • Morioka Masahiro 森岡正博. 2011.”‘Sōshokukei danshi’ no genshōgaku-teki kōsatsu 「草食系男子」の現象学的考察 [A Phenomenological Study of ‘Herbivore Men’].” The Review of Life Studies 1 pp. 13–28.

  • Morioka Masahiro 森岡正博. 2018. “Profile of Morioka Masahiro.” Lifestudies.org. Online: http://www.lifestudies.org/profile.html (accessed March 16 2018).

  • Nakamura Jun’ichi. 2017. Japanese Firms during the Lost Two Decades: The Recovery of Zombie Firms and Entrenchment of Reputable Firms. Tōkyō: Springer.

  • Nakano Yukari 仲野由佳理. 2010. “‘Enjo kōsai’ taikensha no itsudatsu kyaria「援助交際」体験 者の逸脱キャリア [Enjo Kōsai as a Deviant Career].” Kyōiku shakaigaku kenkyū 教育社会学 研究 [Research in Educational Sociology] 87 pp. 5–24.

  • Nast Heidi J. 2016. “Into the Arms of Dolls: Japan’s Declining Fertility Rates the Financial Crisis and the (Maternal) Comforts of the Posthuman.” Social & Cultural Geography 18 (6) pp. 758–785. DOI: 10.1080/14649365.2016.1228112 (accessed: October 2 2016).

  • Noack Constanze. 2014. “Wissenskonstruktionen von Männlichkeit am Beispiel des Pflanzenfresser-Manns (Sōshoku Danshi) im Diskurs englischer und deutschsprachiger Onlineartikel.” In Nora Kottman et al. eds. Familie – Jugend – Generation: Medienkulturwissenschaftliche und japanwissenschaftliche Perspektiven. Wiesbaden: Springer pp. 205–222.

  • OECD. 2019. “Gender Wage Gap (Indicator).” OECD Data. DOI: 10.1787/7cee77aa-en (accessed: February 12 2019).

  • Okuda Hiromi 奥田弘美. 2009. Sōshokukei bijinesuman no tame no sutoresufurī shigotojutsu 草食系ビジネスマンのためのストレスフリー仕事術 [Stress Free Life Hacks for Herbivorous Businessmen]. Tōkyō 東京: Sōshisha 草思社.

  • Onozuka Yuki. 2016. “The Gender Wage Gap and Sample Selection in Japan.” Journal of the Japanese and International Economics 39 pp. 53–72.

  • Reisel Mary. 2017. “Girl Power Transgression and the Embodiment of the Image: The Rise of Enjo-Kōsai and Hyper Sexual Economy in Post Bubble Japan.” East Asian Journal of Popular Culture 3 (1) pp. 23–37.

  • Roberson James and Suzuki Nobue eds. 2003. Men and Masculinities in Contemporary Japan: Dislocating the Salaryman Doxa. London: Routledge Curzon.

  • Sakuragi Piroko 桜木ピロコ. 2009. Nikushokukei joshi no ren’aigaku: kanojo tachi wa ika ni sōshokukei danshi o kuimakuru no ka 肉食系女子の恋愛学: 彼女たちはいかに草食系男子 を食いまくるのか [Lessons in Love for Carnivore Women: How Do They Devour the Herbivore Men?]. Tōkyō 東京: Tokuma Shoten 徳間書店.

  • Sakuragi Piroko 桜木ピロコ. 2010. Ikemen wa naze koshi o furanai no ka イケメンはなぜ腰を振ら ないの [Why Do Good Looking Men Not Move Their Hips?]. Tōkyō 東京: Mirion Shuppan ミ リオン出版.

  • Sakuragi Piroko 桜木ピロコ. 2018a. “Nikushokukei joshi no ren’aigaku: Sakuragi Piroko ofisharu burogu 肉食系女子の恋愛学 桜木ピロコオフィシャルブログ [Lessons in Love for Carnivore Women: Sakuragi Piroko Official Blog].” Ameba. Online: https://ameblo.jp/sakuragi-piroko/ (accessed April 8 2018).

  • Sakuragi Piroko 桜木ピロコ. 2018b. “Sakuragi Piroko: Purofairu 桜木ピロコ プロファイル [Sakuragi Piroko: Profile].” Ameba. Online: http://profile.ameba.jp/sakuragi-piroko (accessed April 8 2018).

  • Sakuragi Piroko 桜木ピロコ. 2018c. “Sakuragi Piroko 桜木ピロコ [Sakuragi Piroko].” Twitter. Online: https://twitter.com/sakuragipiroko (accessed April 8 2018).

  • Saladin Ronald. 2015. “Between Gyaru-o and Sōshokukei Danshi: Body Discourses in Lifestyle Magazines for Young Japanese Men.” Contemporary Japan 27 (1) pp. 53–70.

  • Schad-Seifert Anette. 2016. “Der ‘Grasfresser-Mann’ als mediales Trendwort im Diskurs um Japans Lost Generation.” In Stefan Köhn and Monika Unkel eds. Prekarisierungsgesellschaften in Ostasien? Aspekte der sozialen Ungleichheit in China und Japan. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz pp. 261–281.

  • Suzuki Ayaka 鈴木彩加. 2011. “Shufu tachi no jendā furī bakkurasshu: hoshukei zasshi kiji no bunseki kara 主婦たちのジェンダーフリー・バックラッシュ: 保守系雑誌記事の分析から [Female Backlash against Gender Equality in Japan: From the Analysis of Conservative Discourses on Family Values].” Soshioroji ソシオロジ [Sociology] 56 (1) pp. 21–37 95.

  • Suzuki Suguru 鈴木傑. 2010. “Chōsa dēta ni miru ‘imadoki no wakamonozō’: ‘Sōshokukei danshi’ to ‘nikushokukei joshi’ wa hontō ka 調査データにみる‶いまどきの若者像″・「草食 系男子」と「肉食系女子」は本当か [An Observation of Survey Data Concerning ‘Contemporary Images of the Youth:’ Are ‘Herbivore Men’ and ‘Carnivore Women’ Real?].” Shijō chōsa 市場調査 [Market Research] 286 pp. 4–16.

  • Ushikubo Megumi 牛窪恵. 2008. Sōshokukei danshi ‘o-jō man’ ga nihon o kaeru 草食系男子 「お嬢マン」が日本を変える [Herbivore Men ‘Ladymen’ are Changing Japan]. Tōkyō 東京: Kōdansha 講談社.

  • Ushikubo Megumi 牛窪恵. 2009. Sōshokukei danshi no toriatsukai setsumeisho: torisetsu 草食系 男子の取扱説明書:トリセツ [The User Manual for Herbivore Men]. Tōkyō 東京: Bijinesusha ビジネス社.

  • Yamaguchi Tomomi. 2014. “Gender Free Feminism in Japan: A Story of Mainstreaming and Backlash.” Feminist Studies 40 (3) pp. 541–572.

  • Yuen Shu Min. 2014. “From Men to ‘Boys’ – The Cooking Danshi in Japanese Mass Media.” Women’s Studies International Forum 44 pp. 220–227.

Search
Journal information
Metrics
All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 0 0 0
Full Text Views 127 127 17
PDF Downloads 118 118 13