Feminism Kills Japanese Libido? 

Japanese libido

Japanese libido

Japan is dead last in sexual satisfaction. Some blame feminism.


The stats:

  • Singles aged 18-34 who don’t want a romantic relationship: Men: 28% Women: 23%
  • Singles aged 16 to 24 who are uninterested in sexual relationships: Women: 45%  Men: 25%

“Grass-eating boys” or “herbivores,” as the guys are called, have no real interest in:

  • sex or a relationship
  • a career
  • most material things

Feminism’s to blame? 

Some folks blame feminism. Here’s their reasoning:

As women assume more responsibility at work the balance of power between the sexes shifts, leaving men uninterested in sex, relationships, career, and material things.

On the other hand:

So something else must be going on.

no sexA half-changed, work-driven world

Is the problem a half-changed and work-driven world? The Washington Post points out:

  • Japan is extremely unusual in that it is highly educated and wealthy but still has some of the worst systemic gender inequality in the world
  • Japan’s punishing corporate culture makes it almost impossible to combine a career and family responsibilities
  • Children are unaffordable unless both parents work

Maybe people just give up.

Introversion meets virtual reality 

I’m an introvert and I value many of our qualities. We have rich inner lives and our ability to spend time alone and concentrate helps us to excel in the sciences, writing and creative work.



But we have tendencies to draw into ourselves. One reason I need to teach is that it forces me out of my little self-cave. Thomas Jefferson may have had the same penchant. In a letter, he tells one of his daughters to make regular social visits to avoid the family tendency of drawing too tightly into themselves.

Asian cultures tend to encourage introverted qualities like quiet and contemplation.

And it’s not uncommon for Japanese teens to shut themselves in their rooms when they get home from school. After all, they’ve got their TVs, stereos and game consoles in their bedrooms. Complete with online porn, virtual reality “girlfriends,” and anomie cartoons. Put it altogether and Japan has a higher level of “shut-ins” or recluses than other countries.

The Japanese are fretting over reproducing the next generation. But feminism isn’t the problem so much as a punishing work ethic that leaves no time for family and relationships. Plus  “shut-ins” content with virtual reality.

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About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on July 13, 2015, in feminism, men, pornography, psychology, sex and sexuality, sexism, women and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 29 Comments.

  1. Yes, it’s totally the fault of anime.

  2. This blog post reminded me a great deal of a video I had seen sometime a while back. It was a piece done by VICE, exploring Japan’s sex industry and they included it as one of the factors of the declining population. In the video, they explain how Japan commodifies basically everything, including romance. Essentially every part of a relationship is made for purchase, so whatever someone wants to feel/experience can be had without going through the trouble of finding a partner. In the beginning, they ask a few locals and several women believed relationships got in the way of what they really want, but there was a man too that said that Tokyo was basically a place where “socially awkward” people flock, so this can connect back to your suggestion of introversion as well. I do think that feminism has brought a change in population growth since more women are working and Japan’s careers are too demanding to accommodate other things such as starting a family. However, it’s not the sole cause, it’s a combination of many. I have included the video below if anyone is interested in checking it out:

  3. I think those people trying to blame feminism for low levels of sexual satisfaction are really grasping at straws.

  4. I am not sure if I would blame the introverted for this. While you are right that there seems to be a prized form of introvertism in asian cultures, those are actually made to mimic the way that European powers taught their children in the last century. It allows for an enforceable metric for a much larger group and test taking is highly prized as a consequence. While in the West we have moved away from that idea of one size fits all and focused more on creativity. One isn’t better than other but the point is that the idea of focusing on achieving success through pre-set terms is a norm in these societies. In order to succeed in kindergarten these are the subjects you need to know in order to get into a good elementary school, then middle school, then high school, then college, finally on to the great job. Now succeed at that job. If you grow up in a life where everything has a predetermined goal, how do you deal with a situation where the goals are always moving? Would you find that world frustrating? Would it be frustrating enough that you would choose to return to a world where the rules are familiar and stay there?
    Human relationships are tricky, an understatement to be quite honest, there are no predefined rules in how something can have an effect on your partner. You need to learn to read this person, and guess what, while some things may be the same across a spectrum there are many others where the rules you learned in your previous relationship will have the opposite effect. Each time you find a partner and win them over, you are forgetting most of the things you have learnt from your previous relationships and starting over again. It can be frustrating for a group of kids that have been taught to follow certain rules to succeed their entire lives, and now are asked to re-learn everything they know about life when it comes to relationships.
    Feminism isn’t at fault for this. The way we teach our kids to hang in there and be more adept at dealing with failures is. Because that’s what human relationships are, a shared ride of overcoming failures in life together to achieve beautiful things.

    • Like I said, I’m an introvert and I value many of our qualities. But when you put a number of factors together, including cultural introversion Plus technology Plus a society which makes it impossible to combine families and jobs, Especially for women in a society that still has a lot of gender inequality, it’s not surprising that things are as they are.

      If you have a different theory as to why so many of the Japanese are uninterested in sex and relationships, let me know.

  5. I think that this post explains Japan’s lack of interest in sex. First, I think that they have always put their workforce as a high priority, and that has taken away time for sex lives. Then, there’s the virtual reality aspect that this post notes. Their virtual lives may be more interesting to them than their real lives, simply because in a virtual life, you can be basically anyone you could ever want to be. If introversion is encouraged and respected in the Japanese culture, it’s only normal that they’d want to live differently, even if it’s only through the internet. I can personally say that, as an introvert, it’s easy to get wrapped up in the internet, especially because you can find lots of people who enjoy the same things, and there’s no pressure to hang out with them in real life.
    So, I don’t think feminism has a lot, if anything, to do with this. There are plenty of other factors that can explain their lack of sex drive, but like this post explains, feminism hasn’t done this to any other country, so it can’t really be to blame.

  6. Sophia De Guia

    It is pretty ironic that such an advanced and wealthy country has this problem while the poorest have overpopulation issues. Back on the topic of feminism, I think that just as you had stated, Japan has the nature of their workforce and their introverted persona’s to blame, at least partially. I also watched a documentary on the love industry in Japan, and host shops and various services make it so that you can practically buy all of the perks of a relationship without all the setbacks of having one. The comfort that the Japanese have with this lack of developing real substantial connections is a bigger reason than feminism for their low birth rate. If feminism were playing a large hand, I wouldn’t know what makes the country so different from others that are coming to terms with powerful women when they also have had a history of male domination.

  7. Unless I’m reading you wrong, it seems as if you’re ALMOST apologizing for being an introvert instead of embracing who you are. It may be a cliché, but it takes all kinds to make a world, and if anything, the world probably doesn’t have enough thoughtful introverts such as yourself.

    My experience is that being an introvert is tough when you’re growing up and even as a young adult, but if you can ‘survive’ it, it serves you well as you mature, leading to greater self-knowledge and understanding of the world as it really is.

  8. I would think, with feminism, women would be more inclined to own their sexuality and their right to pleasure, which would result in better sex. Clearly there is something else going on here but as usual, easier for people to blame women.

  9. Poor Japan. They’re in a bad way. Their suicide statistics are also terrible. Maybe their rigid social structure just can’t tolerate change like other societies. They need more feminism rather than less by the sound of it!

  10. A growing number of people have opted out of relationships in the Western world too , a lot of the younger generations don’t have a clue how to communicate in person , as they are buried in their smartphones constantly , so a similar , but not quite extreme , example of the trends in Japan.

  11. I have always wondered at the child images in Japanese media culture. Even adults wear clothing imprinted with cartoon, anime characters. Is this a Peter Pan complex, played out across a national stage? It’s a male/work oriented culture. Once women were educated and started to earn their own way, it’s not surprising that the first thing they rejected was the lopsided culture that included men. Their virtual reality is the SOMA that keeps a seething populace quiet. I won’t even start on the impact of lethal contamination must have on a post-Fukushima nation–unsure if it even has a future.

    • I don’t know.

      Apparently what’s sexy are women who look like VERY young women. Does this reflect the fact that the gender gap is still at a higher level there? One of my East Asian students was asking me how to attract American men, and I told her that confidence is sexy here. She said it was the opposite where she was from.

      • I think the (male) attraction to very young women (or those who look very young) is, in part, insecurity. Older women have more of a sense of themselves and of what they want. Very young women may be easy to impress, less demanding sexually and have less of a sexual and relationship history with which to compare what’s offered.

      • That does make sense.

  12. This post struck me because of how absurd blaming feminism seemed. Feminism, in my opinion, should only bring life (for lack of a less cliché term) to new ideas and perspectives.

    In the blog post, the author gives statistics of the percent of men to women who are uninterested in sexual/romantic relationships. Though the numbers seem much higher for females, I feel like judging the reason based on statistic alone would be absurd. If a woman wants to put her career ahead of romance, that is perfectly her choice, however, no one should form some stupid sexually-driven opinion about how it is caused by the fact that she has the desire to work and become more independent.

    The last part about the “shut-in” children did not seem to make much sense to me. Yes, a child who is more interested in technology and the cyber-world is less likely to go and socialize, but I do not think that being a shut in will hinder the future of the next generation. I think everyone grows out of phases eventually, and hopefully this kids will find some comfort and excitement in the real world.

    • I agree that it’s absurd to blame feminism.

      No one but sexists would make an argument that women aren’t having children because they want to work and be more independent. High numbers of women in all western cultures work and are independent — but still have children.

      Or argue that the only way a man could enjoy sex is if he feels dominant.

      You just don’t see that pattern anywhere else.

      The thing that is unique to Japan, however, is the shut-in culture. And it’s being shut-in — and it’s not access to technology and the CyberWorld — that seems to be the problem. That’s what’s unique to Japan, not the access to technology.

      But the other thing that’s unique to Japan is the inability of men or women to combine work and child rearing in that country.

  13. That’s quite a shocking statistics!

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