“Herbivore” Men

It’s something akin to metrosexualism, but in Japan, there is a male gender called “herbivore men”. The term was coined based on the play between “flesh” and “sex” and “meat”.

Author and pop culture columnist Maki Fukasawa coined the term in 2006 in a series of articles on marketing to a younger generation of Japanese men. She used it to describe some men who she said were changing the country’s ideas about just what is — and isn’t — masculine.

“In Japan, sex is translated as ‘relationship in flesh,'” she said, “so I named those boys ‘herbivorous boys’ since they are not interested in flesh.”

We might use the term effete in English, but that might be a mistake because this term isn’t about men being feminine per se — it’s about them being less sexual, less lustful, or maybe even asexual. I’m sure it varies greatly depending on the “herbivorous” man in question.

There has always been a connection between meat-eating and passion, of course, as Graham well knew when he created Graham crackers – the intent of which was to curb lustfulness – but as someone who has recently returned to vegetarianism, I find the equation of sexless and meatless a little ridiculous, along the lines of thinking rhino’s horn will embolden erections.

In that same CNN article, the author also notes:

Typically, “herbivore men” are in their 20s and 30s, and believe that friendship without sex can exist between men and women, Fukasawa said.

Aside from the obvious heterosexism of that idea (assuming all men desire women, & vice versa) thats the When Harry Met Sally thesis all over again, isn’t it? It makes me tired.

I am very interested in separating out the various threads in this mishmosh of ideas. On the one side we’ve got desire, meat-eating, & masculinity; on the other, asexuality/low libido, vegetarianism, & femininity.

Which makes my brain go in about a million directions at once: yes, we could use more monkish men in the world, absolutely. But also: the whole dislike of virility/violence/masculinity kind of pisses me off, too.