Japan is full of lonely people, or at least, people who are alone. Overwhelmingly, it seems that the Japanese prefer to communicate via email or text instead of in person.
One out of every three people under 30 has never dated anyone, 45 percent of women and 25 percent of men say they have no interest in sex — up to 60 percent of men in their early 20s — and 90 percent of young women think staying single is better than marriage.
This is a place where more adult diapers than baby diapers are sold. And no, that’s not because of a sex fetish! It’s because the birth rates are so low.
Apparently, not much has changed since social psychologist Hiroyoshi Ishikawa told Time Magazine in 1983 that “The past century is a history of sexual distortion.
A small portion of young people in Japan are sexually very, very active while the vast majority are sexually repressed.”
Anyone who has visited or seen photos of Tokyo’s Red Light District is aware of the pervy, yet remarkably imaginative fantasy lives of the Japanese.
Technology and sex go hand-in-hand there and Asia is leading the way in extreme addiction to video games and porn.
China and South Korea have both recognized the pervasiveness of Internet addiction and opened rehab centers, but in Japan, digital obsession is almost fashionable.
They’ve even named male shut-ins, who never leave their homes as “hikikomori.” They’ve given a separate name to herbivorous “grass eating men” who willingly abstain from all sexual contact: “soshoku danshi.” Evidence that singledom has gained the upper hand can be seen in social spaces, where more and more restaurants and cafes are being set up for individuals to dine.
How did this happen? Japanese culture doesn’t offer much middle ground when it comes to picking a life path; once you choose a direction, you go after it wholeheartedly.
There's no tradition of doing things halfway, so for men, opting out of the traditional career and family path can be seen as shameful and some families are allowing their sons to stay at home in hope that the self-imposed isolation is just a phase.
Some blame the troubled economy and others blame marriage dynamics. In the past, the function of marriage in Japan was to supply family heirs.
After accomplishing that, it was acceptable for men to seek romance, love, and sex at sanctioned pleasure quarters while wives fumed in silent frustration at home.
Today, there is less pressure to follow traditions, but overworked husbands and wives end up feeling sex is more trouble than it’s worth.
Nearly half of marriages are sexless, many couples end up feeling hostility toward each other and their romances turn into friendship — sometimes even a mother-son sort of dymanic. Doesn’t seem very enticing.
Especially from a woman’s perspective, marriage and motherhood are seen as a handicap.
A woman who has career ambition may find little grey area when it comes to work/ life balance, as the majority drops out of the workforce after the birth of her first child.
Unlike the past, however, Japanese women are as educated as their male peers, striving to be taken more seriously in their workplaces and fiercely independent — so much that by 2060, the average number of births per woman is estimated to be 1.35.
It may seem far-fetched, but in some ways, Japan could be offering us a glimpse into our own futures. The average household size in the US right now is three or less and the unmarried partner population in the U.S. grew 41% between 2000 and 2010.
Japanese women may not have the same trust issues as American women when it comes to marriage, as divorce rates in Japan are half of what they are in the US.
But, they have similar career aspirations; by 2021, it’s estimated that American women will earn three of five higher-education degrees.
As feminine confidence in America grows, it could proportionally and inversely affect the harmony between men and women; the more women separate their long-term goals from men, the greater the social and sexual chasm between men and women will become.
Obsession with technology is gaining momentum too -- and primarily with guys. Jane McGonigal, author of “Reality is Broken,” said that by 21 years old, the average young adult will have played 10,000 hours of video games (that is the average — girls play five hours per week to guys’ 13). That’s the same amount of time it takes to get two bachelors degrees.
One in three guys is also considered to be a heavy porn user, watching an average of 104 hours, annually. If you calculate these numbers, the average time spent playing video games and watching porn takes up the entire month of February. Every year. That doesn’t even include time watching TV. What it means is that there’s a whole lot of other stuff guys are not doing or pursuing.
Perhaps the guys whose parents are willing to support their screen habits will end up like the “hikikomori,” but for the less financially insulated, we may see fewer people getting degrees and a rise in fatherlessness and unemployment, not unlike the gender imbalances the black community has experienced for the last few decades.
Is this all part of what George Carlin meant by the “pussification” of America? “Everything is going to be just fine — the official national bullsh*t story,” he said. But, what if it isn’t?
If pussification means a lot of women are stepping up, that's great. But if it means a lot of men are stepping down, we're in for problems.
All I can guess is that if we keep calling men chauvinists and sexists and relegate the only acceptable expression of masculinity to be growing mustaches, chances are, a lot more video games will get played, a lot more porn will get watched and people will become less interested in actual sex and more attracted to fantasy, too.
Top Photo Courtesy: We Heart It