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Barriers To Love

Masculine Perspectives On Relationships And Marriage In Japan

Discussion on dating, romance and marriage in Japan rarely casts the spotlight on men. In the current context of rising singlehood and below-replacement birth rates, single women are often portrayed in Japan’s popular media as make-inu (“loser dogs”), parasite singles and “Christmas cake” (which loses its appeal once its ‘season’ has passed).

However, this belies the fact that men, too, are increasingly not getting married. In fact, Japanese men are more likely to stay unmarried than women: census figures from 2015 show that 24.2% of men had never married, compared with 14.9% of women.

In this talk, Debbie Chan brings Japanese masculinities into focus by exploring the structural and ideological barriers to romance and marriage that exist for men. It challenges simplistic discourses on singlehood that claim women have changed but men have not, looking at furiitaa (freeter), sōshoku danshi (herbivore) and other new masculinities, and their implications for heterosexual relationships in Japan.

This event is part of the talk series, titled “No Room for Romance? Masculinity, Femininity and Changing Ideals in Japan”, running February 27 – March 5 at The Japan Foundation, Sydney.

About Debbie Chan
Researcher in Asian Studies, University of Western Australia

Debbie is a researcher in the department of Asian Studies at the University of Western Australia, and is in the final year of her PhD. Her current project focuses on how masculinity was constructed in Japanese visual and literary culture during the interwar years, and explores the links between gender construction and Japan’s project of nation-building in the early twentieth century.



Tuesday 5 March 2019 from 6.30pm to 7.30pm

Doors open 6pm


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