September 28, 2005

Feminization of Modern Man

Virginia Postrel points to an interesting critique of an article in the Washington Post about the "growing trend" of macho Japanese men supposedly getting in touch with their feminine sides. Here are some representative excerpts from the original article:

Gender roles have been undergoing a redefinition in recent years as women enter the workforce as never before and men embrace less confining views of masculinity....

The market for male aesthetics has grown fourfold in the past seven years to $400 million annually, including day spas for slimming treatments, facials, manicures and painful sessions of eyebrow plucking. The largest such chain -- Dandy House -- has doubled in size since 2000, with 60 locations across the country.

Skin treatments have become particularly popular for bridegrooms, while many men are opting for costly electrolysis procedures for permanent removal of unsightly facial hair....

On busy Tokyo subways these days, it is not unusual to see men fishing for packs of Virginia Slims cigarettes in European-style male purses. They have many models to choose from at Isetan Men's -- the successful 10-story department store in chic west Tokyo that opened two years ago and is now the cathedral of masculine vanity....

Perhaps most inexplicably, male thugs in the yakuza -- or Japanese mafia -- are now known to wear pink women's sandals and floral-patterned shirts while prowling the streets late at night....

In an email to Ms. Postrel, I noted that the same article could have been written about American men a couple of years ago (remember "metrosexual"?) In any case, the trend of "feminization" - to the extent it exists - is not unique to Japan.

I think it is a reflection of our post-industrial culture. There are not many jobs left that require men to be stereotypically male all day. Most of us sit at a desk all day reading and typing. As a result, many of us have smooth hands and skin, and carry an extra bit of weight around.

Throw us back 100 years and most of us would be lost. How many of today's typical men could do the heavy manual labor performed by farm and factory workers of the early 20th century? Even a manufacturing worker today is more of a computer operator, pushing buttons to operate the robotic assembly line.

Just some random thoughts. And, on a humorous note, I have found definitive evidence of the feminization of a well-known "man" in Japan (click on the extended entry link):


(Image found here).

Posted by JohnL at September 28, 2005 09:04 PM | TrackBack

I don't know if that's feminized, or just freaky. The random bits of Japanese culture I get make very little sense, anyway.

Posted by: owlish at September 29, 2005 04:33 PM

Come on, Owlish. They turned a male clown into two different types of "McHotties":

1. a female clown (feminization, de facto)
2. an androgynous male clown (also feminization, or at the very least "androgynization").

Posted by: JohnL at September 29, 2005 05:19 PM

When it happens for real, it's difficult for all concerned.

So far as I know, only Kathy Anne Noble and myself have "gone public" on the Internet, though there are others, Samantha T in Canada for example. Looks like it's about 1 in 3 million, and so far, only to women who should probably have transitioned anyway. But had no intention of doing.

See this triplet for what happens in reality.

I think I can be forgiven for thinking the body on the left could never look remotely female.

The period since May 4th 2005 has been interesting, to say the least. Had anyone told me in April that I'd be typing a comment while wearing a leather skirt and nailpolish in September 2005, I wouldn't have believed it, but wouldn't have said it was physically impossible. Had they then told me that I'd actually not look too bad for a Gal my age, name changed, living as a woman since July 28th, I would have concluded they needed psychiatric treatment.

Posted by: Zoe Brain at September 29, 2005 09:54 PM

Ah, Zoe. Wondered whether you would chime in, what with the title...

Your case is different, as you are remedying a medical condition. Not really feminizing a man so much as fixing a woman with a birth defect.

I guess my main point is that the softening of men is not something unique to Japan. Or even odd, for an Information Age country.

Posted by: JohnL at September 29, 2005 11:27 PM

Hmm. I may be too used to seeing guys in drag, and too used to working with transgendered people of both sexes, to look at the picture in the top left and say "Obviously, that's a woman."

You're right, feminization is the correct word.

Posted by: owlish at October 2, 2005 06:24 PM

Domestic feminization of all males is now very common. But, the male, usually the husband, is only comfortable when it is kept a secret. He'll happily don an apron and wash the dishes - if - nobody else knows. This conspiracy of silence helps the modern housewife to gain real day to day control. I mean what man would fight a woman who knows he irons her petticoats?

Posted by: June at November 11, 2005 06:33 AM

Oh; and his feminization will not stop with the ironing. Once you awake a man's feminine side he will enjoy the role - and so will you! Women love secrets, men love ritual.

Posted by: June at November 11, 2005 06:36 AM
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