Menstuff® has information on Herbivore Men, (parasite single, grown-up baby, basement dweller, girly men."
One of the newest trends in Japan is for men to avoid dating, marriage and even having kids. These men call themselves 'herbivore men,' and their choice to steer clear of romantic relationships (and what those inevitably lead to) is already causing a negative effect on the population of the island nation.
"Herbivore men" is a term that became a buzzword in Japan in 2008-2017. It refers to gentle young men who are not very assertive in love and sex. This Japanese phenomenon was reported worldwide.
The term "herbivore men" (soshoku-kei danshi in Japanese) was first coined by Maki Fukasawa, a freelance writer, in an article in a series of essays posted on the Nikkei Business Online website on October 13, 2006. She used the phrase to describe young men who, although they have a general interest in heterosexual love and sex, do not show positive attitudes toward them. At that time, however, the term did not receive special attention.
In April of 2008, a special report entitled "Herbivore Boys Will Radically Transform your Attitude toward Love" was published in a women's magazine called non-no. This was a very influential article which stressed that because the number of herbivore men was rapidly increasing, women had to change their traditional strategies regarding love and sex. The article said that herbivore men do not place a high value on sex, are more interested in who a woman is as a person than how physically attractive she is, and prefer stable relationships. Women shoud therefore behave more assertively, refrain from the use of romantic strategies, and enhance their own personality.
On July 18, 2008, my book, Lessons in Love for Herbivore Boys , was published. I stressed that men need not become masculine or macho in order to have good romantic relationships with women. I used the term "herbivore men" to describe young men who are gentle-hearted, timid, and not very experienced in love. (However, these words appeared only twice in the book, once in the postscript and once in the title.) Soon after its publication, my book began to be frequently cited on blogs, and an interview with me appeared in the Yomiuri Shimbun on August 17. This was the first case in which the term "herbivore men" appeared in a natioal newspaper. This term began to be accepted among ordinary people as a term used to refer to a new type of non-masculine man that has begun to emerge in the current era.
On November 21, 2008, Megumi Ushikubo, a freelance writer, published a book entitled Girly "Herbivore Men" Change Japan in which she showed, based on interviews and data from various studies, that many young Japanese men had in fact become "herbivores", judging from various data and interviews. She stressed that these herbivore men are not aggressive in pursuing sex, love their family members, split the cheque when they go on dates with their girlfriends, and pay particular attention to their own clothes and makeup.
Mass media, especially women's magazines and TV shows, began to give a special meaning to the phrase "herbivore men," They construed it as referring to boys who are girly, fashionable, slender, feminine-looking and are not so interested in sex, money, or their careers. This image was not the same as that which had been described by either myself or Fukasawa. Anonymous male writers on the web began to criticize this concept as discrimination against young males. The entry for "herbivore men" on the Japanese Wikipedia was repeatedly and critically edited by those who held this opinion.
In 2009 this term became a buzzword. All of the major newspapers reported on the "herbivore men" phenomenon. Several books on herbivore men were published. Foreign media also began to report on this phenomenon (see the links below). On July 23, 2009, I published my second book on herbivore men, Herbivore Boys will Bring Your Last Love . In this book I redefined "herbivore men" as young men who are not bound by concepts of masculinity, have a gentle heart, are not aggressive in love and sex, and do not like to hurt or to be hurt by other people.
In December, 2009, this term was ranked among the top ten "keywords of the year". Today, you can see plenty of comments on "herbivore men" on blogs and websites. This is a really interesting topic in terms of gender studies and cultural studies. One of the interesting questions in gender studies is whether or not herbivore men are also patriarchial in their relationships with intimate partners.
There are two ways of phrasing the term in Japanese. One is Soshoku-kei Danshi, which both I and Ushikubo used in our books, and the other is Soshoku Danshi, which Fukasawa used when she first coined the term. The meanings of these two phrasings are almost the same.
"Blurring the boundaries: As the future facing Japan's young people changes fast, so too are traditional gender identities" (Japan Times , May 10, 2009) -- A groundbreaking report about young Japanese men.
"Dude Looks Like a Lady in Our Recessionary Times" (Bloomberg , July 1, 2009)
"'Herbivorous men' are new consumer kings" (Japan Times , July 16, 2009)
"Japan's "herbivore" men shun corporate life, sex" (Reuters , July 27, 2009)
"Girly men of Japan just want to have fun" (Timesonline , November 2, 2009)
"The rise of Japans 'girlie man' generation" (Timesonline , November 5, 2009)
An Article on herbivore men in Xinhuanet , China (December 1, 2008)
"¿La recesión alienta a los "hombres herbívoros"?" Clarin , Argentina (July 5, 2009)
"Au Japon, les « herbivores » enterrent la vogue des mâles virils et dominateurs" Le Monde , France (September 25, 2009)
Herbivore men (Soshoku(-kei) danshi?) is a social phenomenon in Japan of men who shun marriage or gaining a girlfriend. They are characteristically described as frugal, and interested in personal grooming. Under this categorization scheme, men and women are either herbivore type (soshoku-kei) or carnivore type (nikushoku-kei). As of September 2010, 36% of Japanese men between the ages of 16 and 19 perceived themselves in this way. Additionally, two surveys of single men in their 20s and 30s found that 61% and 70%, respectively, considered themselves grass-eating men. This phenomenon is viewed by the Japanese government as a leading cause in the nation's declining birth rate, prompting the government to provide incentives for couples that have children, including payouts and free health care.
This phenomenon has also created a shift in the Japanese economy. Men have been buying products such as cosmetics and candy in greater quantities than before, and marketers have begun to shift to target this growing population. Products typical of the Japanese salaryman, such as cars, have shown a notable decrease in recent years; products geared towards family life, shunned typically by salarymen, have seen an uptick amongst fathers, as well. 
According to Fukasawa, soshoku danshi are "not without romantic relationships, but [have] a non-assertive, indifferent attitude towards desire of flesh". Later, philosopher Masahiro Morioka redefined soshoku-kei danshi as men who are "the nice guys of a new generation who do not aggressively seek meat, but instead prefer to eat grass side by side with the opposite gender." Soshoku danshi are often given as the primary cause of single women's woes.
Many social and economic factors are cited in playing a role in this phenomenon. The decline of the Japanese economy is often cited as a root cause as disillusionment in the economy has also caused Japanese men to turn their backs on typical "masculine" and corporate roles, with over 2,500,000 freeters and between 650,000 and 850,000 NEETs living in Japan between the ages of 19 and 35.  Many men, including NEETs, who often live off government welfare, often turn towards other forms of entertainment, such as video games, anime, maid cafes, and pornography instead. Some professionals see this response ingrained in Japanese culture--while Westerners voice displeasure with hardships, the Japanese instead turn inwards.
Many of these causes, however, may be enhanced by Japanese women and male perceptions of them. Many women refuse men that don't have steady jobs (such as the freeters and the NEET). Other women feel that self-proclaimed soushokukei danshi are weak and not masculine. Additionally, some men have considered themselves intimidated by more independent women, while others show little to no interest in the opposite sex. However, a poll of 16-19 year old women found that 59% were uninterested in sex, considerably higher than the male poll.
This phenomenon has yet to be officially documented in other Asian nations, but the increase in herbivore men has spread over much of Asia along with Japanese culture. In China, the first report on Japanese herbivore men appeared in the state media Xinhuanet on December 1, 2008, and Masahiro Morioka's book Lessons in Love for Herbivore Boys was translated into Traditional Chinese in 2010 in Taiwan.
The phenomenon is not confined to Japanese society; analogous or similar phenomena can also be found in other cultures. For example, in Italy, some young adults (especially singles) still rely on their parents. They were joked about by the former Italian Minister of Economy and Finance Tommaso Padoa-Schioppa, who called them bamboccioni (literally, big [i.e., grown-up] babies). Padoa-Schioppa's "boasting" was considered extremely offensive by some people, and newspapers pointed out that he knew little about the situation of a considerable part of the 2030 years old Italian population, who do not earn enough money to afford leaving their parents house. In Germany they are known as Nesthocker (German for an altricial bird), who are still living at Hotel Mama ("Hotel Mama" is an ironic term for the parental home, since the household chores and the cooking of the meals is done by the mother alone). In English internet parlance, the expression "basement dweller" is sometimes used, referring to someone who lives in his or her parents' basement.
A different concept of parasite single is found in
Brazil, where some individuals are said to rely on
Paitrocínio (a pun with the words Pai or Pais,
meaning father and parents respectively, and
Patrocínio, meaning sponsorship). This
word is used not for the ones living in their parents home,
but actually for the ones who did leave home, albeit still
relying solely, or majorly, on parents financial support.
The reasons for leaving home before achieving financial
independence vary, but mostly it is due to college or to
start a career with small or uncertain initial incomes, such
as in arts and sports.
We are living at an important and fruitful moment now, for it is clear to men that the images of adult manhood given by the popular culture are worn out; a man can no longer depend on them. By the time a man is thirty-five he knows that the images of the right man, the tough man, the true man which he received in high school do not work in life. - Robert Bly
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