Readers in Council,
The Japan Times,
5-4, Shibaura 4-chome,
Minato-ku, Tokyo 108-0023
Maybe it is due to the growing intrusion of technology into our lives that encourages a corresponding insularity that partly accounts for the rise of disinterest in sex among teenage boys and young adult men (“Young men, couples shunning sex” January 14th). But the advice that young people “should also understand that sex can be a very fun and fulfilling activity” feels at odds with the many decades of feminist ideology that modern cultures have absorbed - which might also explain the phenomenon. Sex is good and healthy and normal. But don’t have sex. Don’t behave sexually. All cultures have regulatory codes regarding our fecundity. But maybe modern men and women are just giving up on each other - as well as the institution of marriage and parenthood, too - in greater numbers because of the spiraling increase of regulations - not to mention mixed messages - we are burdened with. Especially negative regulations. There are so many don’ts involved with modern females that more and more of us - not me, but some others - can’t even think about, touch, or - heaven forbid - actually have intercourse with them without risking unemployment, litigation and prison. It is a lot safer to stay at home and live celibate, or else purchase sex from rental ladies or else cultivate a profound fantasy life - something which otaku culture here lends itself to.
Published on Sunday, January 23, 2011 as “Safe life for celibate homebodies.”
Three published letters in one month. Wow, the reading public must be sick of me. I wouldn’t blame them. Right now I feel kind of sick of me. The report of widespread disinterest in sex among surveyed teenage boys and young adult men was surprising because sex is supposed to be one of our primary psychological drives: food, reproduce, fight, etc. If it is true and accurate it can only be bad news for Japan, which already frets about its below-replacement fertility rate. The letter was only minimally edited. I think my opening was more eloquent than what they newspaper rendered, and I think the title chosen by the editorial staff conveys a different take on the matter than I was trying to set in my letter. The feminist quest for equality - which I think is a mistake, it ought to be equanimity, which is a different thing - is interfering with the ability of both sexes to live happily. I don’t want to say “with or without each other” because I think the sexes ought to be together. It’s natural. And I’m not talking about heterosexual versus homosexual marriage rights, either. I mean, people must live in community, in some kind of social relationship with others of both sexes, even if those relationships to community is ambivalent, even if one despises one’s fellows. I would not be surprised if surveys of young women also found a widespread disinterest in sex, which would allow me to propose that decades of feminist ideology are undercutting women as well as men in this matter. Anyway, in my letter I meant to address a social condition in broad terms while the title chosen by the paper relates it to contemporary temporary popular issues, like sedentary couch potatoes, or the phenomenon of socially isolated, techno-game-obsessed anti-social shut-ins, called “hikikomori”in Japanese.
A response was published on Sunday, January 30th, “Cause and effect for ‘homebodies’” by Laura Holland of Tokyo.
Regarding Grant Piper’s Jan. 23 letter, “Safe life for celibate homebodies”: I have my doubts about Piper’s observation that local men with faltering libidos have concluded that it is safer to “stay at home and live as a celibate ... purchase sex from rental
ladies, or ... cultivate a profound fantasy life.”
Aren’t these choices themselves major contributors to“herbivorous” men’s ambivalent attitudes to real sexual communication with real women?
And, by the way, the “don’ts” that Piper says involve modern females have always been “don’ts” to us, modern or otherwise. The only modern thing about them is that men can’t indulge in them with the same impunity as before without long-overdue legal and/or social repercussions.
I thought it was a good letter, but it missed a few things.
First, I am proposing that contemporary’s men’s increasing disinterest in sex is precisely the desired aim of feminist ideology. So women ought to be well pleased. Ms. Holland doesn’t address that.
Second, I understand that many “don’ts” in regard to relations with women have always been “don’ts.” But I am saying that the list of don’ts is growing - growing gratuitously and unreasonably, perhaps, and that by itself is a turn off. Ms. Holland doesn’t address that.
Third, her query in the second paragraph, “Aren’t these choices themselves major contributors to “herbivorous” men’s ambivalent attitudes to real sexual communication with real women?” doesn’t really get us any nearer to solving the problem of young men’s apparently melting libido. What I suggest are effects of the spoiler effect of too much feminist ideology she is calling causes of the spoil. I won’t get into it but to say that the observation does little to solve the problem - assuming that it is a problem to be solved, because as I say, I am suggesting that this outcome is exactly what feminism gets for its work.
If one thinks that preservation is a naturally good instinct and that disinterest in sex is an unwelcome development because, taken to its extreme it can endanger the survival of the state and then the species, then we can call this disinterest in sex a “problem to be solved.” But I don’t see that modern women see it as a problem to be solved. The survey published in the newspapers reported growing disinterest in sex among young women, too, although it is deemed more noticeable or remarkable among young men.
About my complaint against the apparent “Don’t behave sexually” rule I would say that it is impossible not to behave sexually because we are sexual creatures. Our masculinity or femininity infuses everything we do and is a part of our being. I type on this computer as a sexual male. I watch TV as a male. I eat my Special K the same way. So if not behaving sexually is a rule then I suggest it is akin to not being human at all. Inappropriate sexual behavior is a totally different matter. Might I suggest that we can be sexual without behaving inappropriately sexual?
A second response, published on Thursday, February 3rd, “Men need to look at themselves” by Heidi Wiltamuth of Tokyo also failed to resolve the problem of men’s declining libidos. I had to read it a couple of times to understand what she was saying. She blames men for the decline of sex rather than women - as I think she correctly tags me as saying - which is an understandable rebuttal. I do not understand, though, why occasionally so many writers have to write belligerently when they rebut an objectionable opinion by using expressions like “the world in which Piper lives.” I live in the same world as Ms. Wiltamuth and the belligerent sound of that expression makes it seem as if she has a problem with different opinions. I have used it myself, so ...
One thing it does is to dehumanize the target, framing them as alien and therefore not human. Ultimately as less than human. So the target’s opinions are disqualified and the target himself is vulnerable to more direct and deliberately malicious attack. The target is disqualified as a human being.
Ms. Wiltamuth is right about one thing in that I do kind of think of women as uninterested in, or not liking sex - at least, not in the way that men are interested in it and like it. Maybe I am wrong, but I have my reasons.