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Otomen: girly guys

Posted on: January 29, 2010

I’m proud to be the first on the internet to introduce the  emerging trend of new type of guys, the girly guys. Otomen (オトメン/乙男) is a pun made of the Japanese word otome (乙女), meaning “young lady” or “mistress”, and the English word “men”. Like the Soshokukei Danshi (Grass-eating boys), the description of Otomen is really very close to what you would imagine to be gay. Otomen is type of guys who like cute sweet things traditionally thought to be girls’ taste. Pastel colors, flowers, sweets, chocolates and cakes, teddy bears and bunny rabbits, to cooking, sewing, and all the lovely things. However, they are straight in their sexual preference. Otomen is a straight man with feminine taste and sensitive mind.

Originally, the word Otomen was first popularized by a comic book Otomen. It became such a hit that they even made a TV show on the life of Otomen, Asuka Masamune. Here goes the story: Asuka is a badass. He is a tough, cool, 2nd year high school guy who is also a master at kendo. He exudes an aura of manliness that is difficult to deny. .. at least that’s what everyone thinks.  But for Asuka, life is torture, because he can never show the REAL Asuka to the world. While he is phenomenal at kendo, and looks very cool, Asuka’s manly lifestyle is a lie to hide his real self. He actually prefers much more girly things: knitting, cooking, sewing, staffed animals, shoujo manga (girls romance comic), plushies, cute things – he loves them all. When he was a child, this worried his mother very much, as Asuka’s father abandoned the family after declaring he wanted to be a woman. The shock made his mother so ill that Asuka swore to become a more manly man… or at least act like one. So he falls in love, with his classmate, a manly girl who is tough and strong. The rest is a romantic comedy of the couple struggling to get along with gender roles and expectation and with the approval of their classmates and family. (see more on Otomen official page)

However, the trend of otomen did not stop with comic books and TV drama. Well, it actually started from the real phenomenon of guys who are becoming more and more girly in their tastes, hobbies, and action. And since the word Otomen became popularized by the media, it seems the trend of girly men are spreading out the media into the society.

As women are becoming stronger and tougher, men are going the other way around, becoming weaker and softer. With the emergency of strong women to lead the men, men no longer need to lead the society. They can relax and enjoy their life, decorating their apartment, indulging tasty sweets and herbal tea, reading books and day dreaming. The emergence of Otomen is actually welcomed by most women, according to a study conducted by Ozmall. 75% of respondents approved Otomen and would consider Otomen as their potential life partner, mostly because of their expectation for Otomen to support them with their femine side – to take on the traditional female role of cooking, cleaning, and laundry. And they expect to enjoy spend time together with men who can share feminine taste.

What about you? How do you like see your boyfriend wearing a pink sweet PJ cuddling a fluffy teddy bear?

5 Responses to "Otomen: girly guys"

Hi Cherie,

I’m glad you’re posting so much again. Thanks for the interesting article explanations. I’m sorry to say I find much of the way the media seems to perceive these trends to be horrid and sexist, but, as you alluded somewhere, it really seems to be the case that women are getting stronger and gender roles are neutralizing a little more. (Just a little more!) So that’s good. I hope there are some voices out there who will identify this for what it is, instead of making ridiculous and insulting statements about hairy, masculine working women and fey, weak, pushover men. That’s not healthy for any of us.

Otomen!?? Nonsense!! Who cares? It depends on our own personality or our own taste, right? Here in the Netherlands, men can do cooking, cleaning, washing, sawing, and of course, taking care of kids. My friend never wants to cook and her boyfriend loves cooking. It’s like sharing their roles, and they are nice couple! In Amsterdam, you often can see men in bright color and women in dark color, men sitting backseat of bicycle and women pedaling along, or men with flower bouquet and women with beer barrel. (These men are not gay.) What is femininity and masculinity? It’s the 21st century, not 19th century! We are equal, right?

Interesting article, but are modern women really attracted to these guys? I seriously doubt it. Maybe in some cases, but women are more attracted to masculine men.

Not always. I agree I didn’t think so at first but me and my boyfriend often joke about him being the more feminine of us. Physically he is pretty tall and has a dark voice but he likes cuddling up next to me, in a kitten kind of way, and he has an affinity for the colour pink. Personally I find it very cute AND attractive. It all comes down to chemistry in the end, not characteristics, that’s what I think.

Gosh I love this article. I love slender girly japanese and asian men and some girly white men and I’m african american. I’m so tired of men having to be butch and crude and prove their manhood by doing lewd and dangerous things. I wish North America had the social and fashion freedom for men that Japan has. Why is it considered gay if a man hugs a teddy bear or wears pink. Straight women dress masculine alot but it’s okay in american society. Any sign of true emotions of a man that aren’t sexual or violent or about their fave sports team losing are not tolerated. Some parents don’t even want their sons to cry. I wish the backwards homophobic american ideas about men would die off. And alot of women love otomen but are afraid to say it because of peer presure but I’m honest in my desire for this type of delicate man….

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What is Tokyo Meet Market?

From the Western perspective, what goes on in the Japanese dating scene is really different and interesting! In this shy nation of Japan, meeting new people is almost institutionalized, dating and romance is littered with conventions that protect people from social awkwardness. What are dating conventions and rules in Japan? How do the shy Japanese people meet new people, develop affection, and express their passion? As I research and answer these question, I will write a real time report of what's going on in the Tokyo dating scene, or the "Tokyo Meet Market" here in this blog. I hope you enjoy my blog and a trip around Tokyo Meet Market with me!

Cherie’s tweets

  • is so sad to go to farewell party of her bestfriend leaving to the US. Another beautiful funny successful girl leaving Tokyo!! 4 years ago
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