This is an interesting bit that directly confronts the notion of flower boys, particularly in Japan, coming of age and how they will… Well… Fail their nation in every way possible:
TOKYO – Something is happening to Japan’s young men. Compared with the generation that came before, they are less optimistic, less ambitious and less willing to take risks. They are less likely to own a car, want a car, or drive fast if they get a car. They are less likely to pursue sex on the first date – or the third. They are, in general, less likely to spend money. They are more likely to spend money on cosmetics.
Japan’s young men mystify their girlfriends and their bosses. They confound the advertisers who aim products at them. They’ve been scrutinized and categorized by social commentators, marketing consultants and the government. And they unnerve just about everybody who makes long-term projections about Japan’s flagging birthrate and fading economy. Japan will grow or falter, economists and sociologists say, upon the shoulders of these mild, frugal, sweet-mannered men.
To hear the analysts who study them tell it, Japanese men ages 20 to 34 are staging the most curious of rebellions, rejecting the 70-hour workweeks and purchase-for-status ethos that typified the 1980s economic boom. As the latest class of college graduates struggles to find jobs, a growing number of experts are detecting a problem even broader than unemployment: They see a generation of men who don’t know what they want.
Japan earned its fortune a generation ago through the power of office warriors, the so-called salarymen who devoted their careers to one company. They wore dark suits; they joined for rowdy after-hours booze fests with co-workers; they often saw little of their families. These are the fathers of Japan’s young men.
Now here is where your pop sociology begins — I am guessing that the lack of a father in their lives, or a father who defined themselves very much from a gruff, masculine distance, had a profound effect on the men (and women) who were being raised by them.
Father was a stern, strict figure with a serious hair cut and a grumpy demeanor. He was either working and sacrificing his everything for the family but, due to his strong Confucian heritage, was unwilling to show or express such a thing and kept his healthy distance from his family. It would be this lack of fatherly involvement that would foster a generation of confused metrosexuals shopping for make-up.
It is a common topic amongst many outside observers that there is just something plain wrong with the Korean and Japanese men purchasing cosmetics, carrying bags that can only be characterized as purses, getting plastic surgery for their nose and eyes… And of course, there is something wrong with the women who make demands for them as well. It is said that many women are attracted to the said ‘flower boys’ probably because the masculine figures in their life never succeeded in being attractive in a masculine way but rather were merely authoritarian and intimidating and thus the new way to be attractive was to stage a rebellion against this said image.
We are seeing a generation where there are few who are achieving the masculine archetype that is more pervasive in places like the USA, and this is a concern for many as societies that just a generation ago could be characterized as sexist and overbearing are now facing some sort of gender breakdown.
This is something I would enjoy studying if I were in sociology and perhaps one of the things that I would consider studying in the future.