Herbivore Men (Herbivorous Males);
A new humankind who adapted in deflation with the era of low-growth
Herbivore Men became a buzzword in Japan, 2008-2009. The term “Herbivore Men” (草食男; Soshoku-Kei Danshi in Japanese) was first coined by the author, Maki Fukasawa. Its new meaning is very different from what we might think. We are talking about herbivores. But the new definition has nothing to do with eating habits.
It is akin to metrosexualism without the testosterone. Herbivore Men, ojo-man or girly men, phrase to describe a new generation of men who are not very assertive in love and sex. They do not even have real prospects and ambitions in life beyond being a kept man. They are often nice guys who are just too shy, usually neat, well groomed, and careful with money. With sensitivities, the young gentlemen are also more interested in feminine activities such as romance comics, drama, fine cooking and fashion than career success. Herbivore Men may have relationships but they wait for a woman to make the first move, which means they do not show positive attitudes toward relationship and sex. The term, however, is shaped in differentiation with the homosexuals we know.
Many social and economic factors are cited as playing a role in this phenomenon. After the Asian financial crisis in the 1990’s, Japan has seen a steady decline in typical consumers who spend big money on status-flaunting items and adopt a traditionally ‘macho’ ethos. Increasingly, men are turning to a lifestyle that is less aggressive and more domestic. Individuals are becoming more obsessed with technology and virtual relationships than real ones. Their carnivorous nature has disappeared. This has yet to be officially documented in other Asian countries, but the increases in Herbivore Men have spread over much of Asia. Within this context, a new gender, or even more evolved types, may appear throughout the world.
This phenomenon has also created a shift in the economy. Men purchase products such as cosmetics and candy in greater quantities than before, and marketers have begun to shift to target this growing population. Typical men’s products such as cars have shown a notable decrease in resent years; products geared towards family life, shunned typically by salary men, have seen an uptick amongst fathers, as well. Seeking to tap into the market, Japanese manufacturers have launched underwear, cosmetics and clothing designed to appeal to herbivorous males – including bras for men and lacy male tops. This has been accepted as the new men’s lifestyle along with the trends of collapsing stereotypes between masculine and feminine, and value changes in which narcissism grows stronger. As men become more timid and more averse to taking risks, it will affect the energy and vitality of the society. Meanwhile, Carnivore Women have also emerged as a counterweight to the Herbivore Men.
This is a post by David Report contributor Jaeuk Jung.