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Thursday, September 22, 2005

Japanese men discovering their inner female

Forget the sword-wielding samarai or the bearded warlord. Today's Japanese man is more likely to opt for electrolysis to rid himself of those unsightly hairs. And a day at the spa is almost de rigeur where the overworked male can treat himself to a manicure and a facial. One such spa, The Dandy House (yes, that's it's name) has doubled in size since 2000, and numbers sixty spas across the country. Metrosexualism may be the word for this phenomenon, but these men will tell you that they are simply unafraid to show their feminine side.

So, is this progress or just a passing fad? It may be too early to tell. Still, Japanese males may feel freer to express their inner female, not being totally entrenched with Western ideas of machoism. As more women join the workforce and throw off the traditional gender roles, men feel they're entitled to equal rights. It's not unusual to see men on their way to work carrying jade alligator purses, wearing a feathered hat and fishing out their European pack of Virginia Slims (yeah, you heard me).

Even more telling of this countrywide acceptance of the "feminized" male is the rising stardom of Shogo Kariyazaki, the celebrity florist (yes, they celebrate florists). With blond locks and glossy lips, the flower arranger described as "one part Liberace, one part Martha Stewart" was recently greeted with a standing ovation at a small town showing, where he exclaimed to the audience, "Beauty is the essential thing in life!" and then proceeded to throw together yellow roses and pansies (yes, PANSIES; stop with the stereotyping!) in a vase. The openly gay Mr. Kariyazaki is so popular that last year he earned ten times the average salary of Toyota's top executives.

And now there's the all boy band, SMAP, whose members like to dress up as women when they appear on television (so what makes them any different than the punk rock bands from the 80's?).

Even the top politico's are getting into the act. When Richard Gere (OK, don't go there) visited the country recently, no one expressed surprise when Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi requested a waltz and let Gere lead.

Odder still, young men in the infamous Yakuza (Mafia) now do their criminal transactions wearing pink women's sandals and floral patterned shirts (I'm really trying to picture this one).

In a recent survey, more than half of the twenty-thirty year old men polled said it was more important to be gentle while only a third said it was important to be intelligent.

So, the big question is whether this phenomenon will ever find its way across the Pacific? Well, we do have that popular show Queer Eye for the Straight Guy and that other popular series, Queer as Folks which just ended a five-year run. Still, these popular shows are in no way suggestive that the American male will release his recalcitrant hold of the John Wayne iconism that has remained pervasive in the American culture in one form or another for decades. No way will the regular Joe, the "I-ain't bending-over-to-pick-up-no-damn-soap-nor-dropping-my-pants-for-any-male-even-if-he-is-a-proctologist/eurologist" American male ever feel comfortable enough to get in touch with his inner woman, or feel comfortable with the new metrosexualism.

Remember, it was only a couple of decades ago some male writer came out with a book called, Real Men Don't Eat Quiche (as for me, I don't care whether a man eats quiche or not; I just prefer that he can make it and save me time in the kitchen).

And as for you older males still visualizing a stetsoned John Wayne swaggering into the sunset, remember one thing: John Wayne's real name was Marion.

Read more at MSNBC.

Sharon Cullars Coffee Talk at 9/22/2005 05:27:00 PM Permanent Link     | | Home


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