Eternal Temporality

Always dies, sometimes lives

Zokugo 03 – Neo-Gender Roles

Posted by Darkslime Z on 2011/05/15

Today we’re going to learn two terms to refer to the ever-fluid gender norms in society(particularly Japanese). If you thought you knew how the whole male-female courtship ritual worked, read on! Be warned: there is some candid language in this one, and may not be suitable for children or some 草食男子. :)

肉食女子(にくしょくじょし) and 草食男子(そうしょくだんし)

Literally translated to “meat-eating girl/carnivorous girl” and “vegetable-eating boy/herbivorous guy”, these two terms refer to the recent increase in the inversion of traditional gender roles in Japanese society. If you’re anything like me, than you probably normally think about male-female relations as those where the guy is aggressively pursuing the lady, and the lady is being more passive about the whole thing. While this belief does obviously lead to harmful stereotypes, the two terms above have granted a name to the opposite concept.

A “herbivorous male” is a young man who is gentle, cooperative, and has female friends, but does not aggressively pursue romantic love.
(Source: Hiragana Times)

The 草食男子 is a boy who remains passive when it comes to the field of love. The term itself was invented in 2006 by a columnist named Fukasawa Maki. Relating the stereotypical “guy in the relationship” to carnivores, she created the term to illustrate the rising trend of the “passive male” archetype. The word doesn’t actually carry a negative connotation – much the contrary, it’s used as a complimentary term by many females.

On the other side of things, the 肉食女子 is a girl who aggressively pursues love and sexual relations. Apparently invented a couple of years after 草食男子, around 2009, magazines began to feature these kinds of ladies, and ran exclusive columns on things such as “ways to get guys”. The topic really caught on in Japan, and the 肉食女子 was further split into subgroups: those who are “predisposed” to love, those who like getting 草食男子, and those who just love having sex. (日本俗語辞書 states that this was introduced by a magazine called mini)

Closing Notes

With the rise of the Internet, I’d assume there are many more 草食男子 in the world now than there were years ago. Many of my friends, and myself included, fall into this category, and you probably know a lot of girls that are 肉食女子, though it seems that ended up as a pretty negative thing for girls here in America(see our own zokugo: whore, slut, etc).

An interesting word that kind of goes with this is 攻略(こうりゃく). Before getting really into mainstream otaku culture, this was pretty much just the word that I typed into Google to find strategy guides on video games. The word itself literally means “capture”, and can be used as a verb 攻略する. However, this word can also refer to the system of “capturing” a guy or girl as one’s boyfriend/girlfriend/one-night-stand/whatever. While it honestly does sound like you’re treating the opposite gender(or whomever your tastes guide you towards) like Pokemon when you use it in English, the usage has gained quite a bit of popularity.

The 肉食女子 and 草食男子 have become commonplace in Japanese conversation, and is probably the most used zokugo I’ve introduced so far. Make it a point to remember these!


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