Japan can't be bothered to have relationships any more

(50 Posts)
youretoastmildred Mon 21-Oct-13 17:16:42

www.theguardian.com/world/2013/oct/20/young-people-japan-stopped-having-sex

I think this is really interesting.

I have often wondered in the context of the "why do women put up with selfish men?" conversations what would happen if they stopped.
Because most men expect relationships to be weighted in their favour (they just do, only on mn do you meet women who don't know any lazy selfish men).
So if only the percentage of decent men had relationships, and the rest did not, what would happen to society? Does Japan have the answer?

Disappointingly it doesn't seem that the immediate response is to remake relationships according to a template of love and respect so people want to have them again

greenhill Mon 21-Oct-13 17:36:57

I'd read that article more as a comment on the long, inflexible work hours culture that has always existed in Japan. It didn't say that people stopped having one night stands, or sex, but that they found it too troublesome to want relationships, as their energy was focused on their career.

People are generally long lived in Japan, the article mentions that adult diapers (dreadful term) now outsell baby nappies. I suspect that a lot of people are put off having relationships because they may have commitments to elderly relatives too.

The most interesting part of the article was one woman saying that middle aged men in the workplace would try to hit on the single women, and assume that they would want a relationship with any man. She tended to put them right on that score.

anotherway Mon 21-Oct-13 19:14:26

I don't know about Japan but I think in the UK people are moving away from the traditional idea of the "nuclear family". Women can pursue academia, work, travel, housing etc with more freedom than say 30 years ago. People are getting married later, starting families later. It is politicians who hold onto the idea of the "nuclear family" - I am glad society is challenging this narrow worldview.

Unfortunately, I think the recession - money woes, redundancy puts strain on relationships and stifles the opportunity for couples - who want children etc to feel that they can raise them in a stable financial setting.

FloraFox Mon 21-Oct-13 19:41:56

I thought this was a very interesting article. I am fascinated by Japanese people and their culture. A Japanese acquaintance showed me pictures of her attending classes before her marriage - flower arranging, cooking etc. This was about 10 or 12 years ago. Everything on the courses she took was about doing things the right way, conforming with tradition. She also told me that it was socially unacceptable for women to use pain relief in labour and so she and all her friends had decided only to have one child. She was very clear that this was due to the pain, she didn't want to do it again. There seems to me to be a connection with this article where people are making quite radical choices with their family life rather than go against social conventions.

When we look at other cultures, it's easier to see the powerful effect of societal forces on individual choices. In our own culture (whatever that is) these forces are more likely to appear invisible and natural or unchangeable. The forces are there however and they affect us all.

Sorry, I know this is a derail, but I find this an interesting example of how difficult it is to make a choice as individuals that does not conform with society's expectations and how our choices are affected by society's expectations.

SigmundFraude Mon 21-Oct-13 20:04:06

It sounds like you are talking about Japanese 'Grass Eaters'. It is overwhelmingly men who are choosing not to enter into relationships due to Japanese culture expecting men to shoulder all the financial burden in marriage/relationships, amongst other things. I've read articles written by Japanese women exhorting men to 'man up' and 'be real men' etc. It's a real problem, and a fascinating one.

I do wonder whether the decline in marriage here in the UK is down to women's independence, or men's reluctance to marry (understandable).

'So if only the percentage of decent men had relationships, and the rest did not, what would happen to society?'

Society would predominately consist of those who do not place unrealistic expectations on their relationships. In effect, the 'middle classes' would become extinct, and society would consist of Jeremy Kyleites and the upper classes. Ditto those who exist in more 'patriarchal' systems.

'Does Japan have the answer?'

Maybe, for Japan anyway. Eventually Japan will have to release men from the crushing responsibilities they inherit when they enter into a relationship.

FloraFox Mon 21-Oct-13 20:18:24

Oh dear, poor, poor menz.

BuffytheAppleBobber Mon 21-Oct-13 21:47:23

Hi Sig

I'm interested that you say men's reluctance to marry, which you think is 'understandable'. Do you mean you understand why they're reluctant to marry women who are independent?

Also, why do you think it's the middle classes that place unrealistic expectations on their relationships, of of interest?

SigmundFraude Mon 21-Oct-13 22:12:36

'Oh dear, poor, poor menz'

Well it certainly makes a change from 'poor poor womenz' smile

SigmundFraude Mon 21-Oct-13 22:21:49

Hi Buffy.

Actually, I mean it's understandable why men are reluctant to marry independent OR dependent women really. There seem to be a good many women who start off independent, and then become dependent (through mutual choice, well, at least initially, due to having children).

In either regard, I wouldn't marry if I was a man, that is an absolute fact. If I ever left my DH, he'd be fucked, let's be honest.

I don't think ALL of the middle class place unrealistic expectations, only the feminist middle class really and the entitled 'because I'm worth it' middle class. They expect a level of Stepford husband that only a dedicated few can achieve. I'm thinking of a particular bloke who pops up on here actually!

I've read a few jaw dropping posts on here just lately wrt DH's.

DebrisSlide Mon 21-Oct-13 22:23:39

It's fascinating that lots of both men and women in Japan seem to want the same thing - to be liberated from old economic and societal gender roles - but there is something that is stopping them stepping out from them together and so rejecting female/male partnerships altogether. It's like there's nothing left once traditional gender roles in relationships are cast aside.

SF, what are the realistic expectations of marriage that the middle classes are rejecting?

youretoastmildred Mon 21-Oct-13 23:21:23

SigmundFraude, there is so much that is fascinating in your posts, and needs expanding!

Like this

"In either regard, I wouldn't marry if I was a man, that is an absolute fact. If I ever left my DH, he'd be fucked, let's be honest."

Does this mean that marriage is so rubbish for men, that if your DH didn't have the insane good fortune to be married to you his chances of a decent marriage would be zero?
Or something else?

Or this:

"Actually, I mean it's understandable why men are reluctant to marry independent OR dependent women really. There seem to be a good many women who start off independent, and then become dependent (through mutual choice, well, at least initially, due to having children)"

Do you mean that marriages tend to women being dependent, even if they don't start out that way, and that therefore men are reasonably unwilling to enter into them?

Or, to put it another way, do you think that the traditional lack of married women's access to other work, making them entirely dependent upon their husbands for their livelihood and / or security, is a scam perpetrated by women upon men, to women's advantage, which men have suddenly woken up to?

Also this:

"Society would predominately consist of those who do not place unrealistic expectations on their relationships. In effect, the 'middle classes' would become extinct, and society would consist of Jeremy Kyleites and the upper classes."

I am really struggling to unpick this. Are you saying that in the lower and upper classes men are not required to work upon marriage so they are the only people for whom marriage makes sense?

"Ditto those who exist in more 'patriarchal' systems."

More patriarchal than what? And what is the ditto? Surely it is a patriarchal custom that only men have access to money (through work if they are not "kylites" or independently wealthy, so in other words, the vast majority of people) and so to be more patriarchal would reinforce this gender divide even further and so they would be, by your arguments, even further disincentivised to work?

But maybe you didn't mean that - it is not at all clear.

Anyway please clarify.

you do know don't you that married men live longer than unmarried? Perhaps all this toil is somehow good for them.

CailinDana Tue 22-Oct-13 11:14:19

I consider myself to have a good marriage and I love my husband dearly but the only way it has actually worked is due to the fact that I have accepted that in order to maintain our relationship and have children I have had to sacrifice more in terms of career and freedom than my DH, much more in fact.
If I had had a well paid career or one I was very invested in (which is much more likely for women who marry when older - I was 25 when I married) I would have found that much much harder I think. As it was I just had a job and not one I particularly wanted to keep so I was happy to move with my DH for him to get a better job which allowed us to have more children and for me to be a SAHM. We both started out very academic and in many ways I was the more successful one - if we had both had the same ambitions to climb the career ladder I honestly don't think we would have lasted. It would have just been too difficult - we would have ended up living apart for large periods of time. We did live apart for 18 months and it was awful - I just couldn't carry that on.
The only option was for me or him to sacrifice the career ambition and as he was much more motivated and further along the line than I was, I was happy for it to be him. I wanted to be SAHM so it suited us, but how many women would it suit these days? How many women would be happy to slog slog slog at school and uni, get top marks and a first class degree and post grad, get offered PhDs, jobs etc and turn it all down in favour of marriage? I took a huge risk. I'm glad I did, because even if it goes tits up, which I accept it could at any time, I am glad I had my children and stayed home with them. But I can totally understand why many women, especially in the pressurised working world of Japan, just can't bring themselves to do that, particularly if there are far heavier expectations in terms of being the "perfect" wife.
Marriage is burdensome. It limits your life. You are tied to another person and you can't make your own decisions any more. It takes a hell of a lot of compromise. In times past women were pushed into accepting that because they had very few other options - it was automatic that they would marry and then their husbands would dictate the course of their lives in terms of where they lived etc. Now with both partners on a much more level pegging in terms of careers, how do couples reconcile the pull in different directions? In Japan it seems like they haven't, they've just rejected relationships lock stock and barrel. Hopefully over time that will resolve as people find new ways to make things work beyond one person sacrificing monetary success. I'm not sure how that will happen though.

TeiTetua Tue 22-Oct-13 13:47:49

Saying "I wouldn't marry if I was a man, that is an absolute fact. If I ever left my DH, he'd be fucked, let's be honest" makes it seem as if men are intent on doing what's worst for them! But maybe it's true.

Relationships in Japan came up in a thread a couple of months ago:
www.mumsnet.com/Talk/womens_rights/a1808721-Men-on-Strike

I looked it up on Wikipedia ("Marriage in Japan") and found this:
Young women are instead indulging in a lifestyle centred on friends, work, and spending disposable income; unmarried Japanese adults typically live with their parents, and thus save on household expenses, and increasing the amount of money available to spend on their own entertainment. Sociologist Masahiro Yamada gave these young adults the label "parasitic singles". Some young women reacted by creating business cards with their names and the title "Parasite Single" on them. Japanese media has given heavy coverage to the decline in Japan's birthrate, but the trend continues.

whatdoesittake48 Tue 22-Oct-13 15:36:28

Given a choice - few women would choose marriage in a society which is as traditional as Japan - why would they? I struggle with why marriage is still popular at all, anywhere.

Women are much more likely to start divorce proceedings because we get the raw deal. We sacrifice and give up careers, we have less pension, earn less over our life time, raise kids singlehandedly often and then have to look after our husband's parents, plus our own. it is shit when you think about it.

Japanese women have just taken the time to think about it first.

I got married for love - but it had to be head over heels, the best and most amazing man ever for me to consider it. I still get all the shit parts though.

Biggedybiggedybongsoitis Tue 22-Oct-13 15:57:37

How is he so amazing if you 'still get all the shit parts?' Your husband doesn't do domestic chores, or childcare, or DIY, or shopping? Leave the bastard.

TheCrackFox Tue 22-Oct-13 16:07:19

According to the article one of the huge problems is the long hours work culture. The cost of living is so insane (we are going the same way) that a family needs two wages to support it but there is absolutely no flexibility with regards to going part time or reduced hours. Single motherhood is almost unheard of. If you become a mother in Japan you absolutely give up economic freedom and will have no opportunity to maintain a career.

It didn't mention it but younger women must have watched their mothers trapped in a lonely marriage with no economic means of escape and thought "nope, I will not let that happen to me."

Moreover, again according to the article, there seems to be a particular fetish for robot/schoolgirl porn and some Japanese men just don't find normal women attractive. They fantasies about unreal, unobtainable sex.

2tired4internets Tue 22-Oct-13 16:16:45

Very interesting. "90% of young women believe that staying single is "preferable to what they imagine marriage to be like" - pretty "amazing" stats, understandable though. They're smart. I remember reading somewhere about the common trouble married Japanese couples get when the man is old and has to stop working - suddenly husband and wife must actually spend time together, and even after a whole life they don't know each other...!

It also destroys the racist/sexist idea that some creeps have that asian women are naturally submissive perfect wives.

youretoastmildred Tue 22-Oct-13 21:43:21

Great post, Cailin

Still hoping Sigmund might come back and elucidate?

SigmundFraude Tue 22-Oct-13 21:50:17

I have a busy life, unfortunately. I will reply soon.

FloraFoxForAnyFucker Fri 25-Oct-13 17:57:13

This came up on my twitter feed again and made me think about something. The articles says that a study in Japan found that 45% of Japanese women aged 16 - 24 were not interested in or despised sexual contact. I wonder if this is connected with the proliferation of porn in Japan and particularly the schoolgirl / BDSM type of stuff.

youretoastmildred Fri 25-Oct-13 18:02:13

45%? GOOD HEAVENS

Sigmund hasn't been back, I see. maybe can't quite face standing up for the "marriage is invented by women to exploit men, ahhh diddums" thesis

YoniTime Fri 25-Oct-13 18:03:26

I defintely think it is connected to the huge problem with sexual harassment there. There are even separate train cars for women.

YoniTime Fri 25-Oct-13 18:05:45

It must be easy to feel negative towards sexual contact with men if men around you grope, harass and get off to little anime girls, robots and rape porn.

Backonthefence Fri 25-Oct-13 18:32:23

Flora the rest of your sound bite also said more than a quarter of men feel the same way. A survey also found that one third of Japanese men under 40 have never dated a woman at all, the results for women was similar.

The youth of Japan are really not interested in sex or forming relationships. With Japan's ageing population and really low birth rate I can only see 3 things which would temporarily help their population

1) Removal of the stigma of single parenting
2) immigration
3) Getting rid of the work is your life philosophy

nancerama Fri 25-Oct-13 19:28:59

There are other factors at play here too. The majority of employment in Japan is centred around Tokyo. The city is hideously overpopulated with most Japanese people living in cramped one room apartments. The kind of living conditions that even well paid Japanese professionals live in would be cramped for a couple, impossible for a family.

Job security is also not what it was. The job for life is no more and suicide is on the increase. I think many young people are terrified of taking on any responsibility because of the shame of not being able to provide for a family.

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