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Word du Jour: Herbivore

"Herbivore" is a term used in Japan to describe a man who rejects traditional masculinity when it comes to careers, romance, and material possessions.

The term, which typically means an animal who feeds on plants alone, is meant to indicate a man's disinterest in "flesh" — in other words, they're not into chasing women or accumulating material goods. Almost half of the men surveyed by a Japanese research firm described themselves as "herbivores."

Traditionally, Japanese men spend most of their days at work or socializing with colleagues, and little time with their families. The media is pointing to disillusionment with the troubled economy as the cause for a growing rejection of this typical workaholic role for men. Instead herbivores typically work part-time and spend their free time alone or on the Internet.

I have to say that finding a new way to define what it means to be a man is much more refreshing than the other Japanese trend the media has latched on to — falling in love with body pillows.

Image Source: Getty
Join The Conversation
Phil Phil 7 years
If a person had a distinctive condition that could be interfering with his or her life, the first thing you'd want to do is identify it through extensive study and distinguish it through language so that the knowledge can be easily communicable. That the condition is identified does not necessarily make it a disorder, and there is utility in being able to identify a person's psychological state of being. It gives us the language to define our behavior and to discover why we do the things we do. It's like a taxonomy for sentient behavioral patterns, the human condition as varied and nuanced as the flora and fauna of a geographical region. I think that since the norm was different in Japan, that the 'herbivorous man' is as worthy of distinction and study as the West's 'meterosexual man', along with all its implications on the various social factors which lead to the trending of a certain behavior. I thought it interesting that men in Japan were driven to an 'herbivorous' lifestyle because of the country's troubled economy, and part of the description of an herbivore sounded Buddhist (or spiritual, as worldly desires like romantic involvement and materialism are generally rejected for those who devote themselves to spiritual service) or even Dude-ish. I imagine that the of dependence on computer and internet could be replaced by Caucasians and bowling. The Dude, I imagine, would abide. Or maybe I sympathetically stretch to exalt Japan's herbivores.
Chrstne Chrstne 7 years
It seems like everyone in today's society is obsessed with putting names or disorders to characteristic people have. It's all BS. This is the same principle as being a person who is a little unstable. Being emotionally needy and desperately seeking approval doesn't equal "Histrionic Personality Disorder" and being a guy who likes his free time, and doesn't constantly chase women is not an "Herbivore". We don't need BS things to try to explain people's behavior or their personality. You are who you are. But it seems like everyone is obsessed with finding a word to classify some behaviors...when they are all pretty normal. I don't see anything not traditionally male because he doesn't behave like others.
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