Sex counselor seeks explanations for waning co-ed promiscuity

TOKYO —

In October, the Japan Association for Sex Education announced the results of a survey among Japanese female college students, and the latest revelations evoked a visceral response in the tabloid media, Shukan Jitsuwa (Dec 6) included.

As opposed to 38.8% of females who admitted being sexually inexperienced five years earlier, the 2011 data showed a rise in self-described virgins by nearly 15 points, to 53.2%.

This phenomenon is described in Jitsuwa’s headline as “Sekkusu shinai shoko-gun,” which might be rendered in English as the “Celibacy Syndrome.”

Ai Aoyama, a sex counselor at the Aoyama Clinic,  discusses what factors may have led to such a drastic rise in the number of females who are refraining from relinquishing their virginity.

“A lot of my patients are virgins,” says Aoyama. “But these days few of them confide to me by saying, ‘I’m so ashamed to be a virgin.’ They’re more likely to assert that they feel good about upholding the principle of celibacy.”

In other words, the situation is not that such females lack the opportunity for sex, but that more of them are not overly concerned about whether it happens or not.

Shukan Jitsuwa suggests that one key cause may be the increase in “herbivorous males.”

“I’m seeing two guys right now, but neither of them has tried to kiss me,” says 20-year-old Kana Toba (a pseudonym), a student at a private university.

“It’s not that they haven’t tried holding hands or kissing, but they’re so awkward at it, just trying to do it suddenly, without getting in the right mood, it’s a real turnoff,” she continues. “And then if I refrain, they are likely to feel let down and tell me, ‘There’s really no point in us continuing to see each other, is there?’”

Young “otaku” males are just not good at these sort of relationships, and to make matters worse, the process of “otaku-ization” has been affecting more females as well—which has had a devastating impact on opportunities for relationships that can lead to sex.

“A lot of males today have shifted their interests to anime or games,” the aforementioned Aoyama continues. “They just don’t know how to engage in masculine speech or behavior. And female otaku think that the kind of love they read about in romantic fiction is the only way to go. They fantasize themselves as princesses and wait for a handsome prince to sweep them off their feet. Girls like that can’t be picked up on the street. And even if they are seeing some guy, their relationship tends to be more like good buddies—so it seldom leads to sex.”

Another discouraging factor is believed to be anxieties over the prospect of an unwanted pregnancy.

“Sometimes I feel like trying sex, but I’m scared it might lead to pregnancy,” says 21-year old Nao Yuasa, a junior at a national university. “Even with contraception, there’s always a chance I could get knocked up.”

The article cites a 2009 survey by the web site called dekikon.com that determined that nearly half the couples who felt obliged to wed due to the bride’s delicate condition had split up within five years.

As a third factor causing women to delay their first sexual experience, Aoyama suggests that the profusion of social network sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, means college coeds can alleviate their loneliness through encounters online.

“It goes without saying that young women want to have someone to listen to their concerns,” she says. “In the past, that person was usually a boyfriend, and as she came to rely more on him, when he requested sex she would give in. But now because Internet relationships have proliferated, the boyfriend’s emotional role has declined.”

Instead of problems resulting from sexual relationships per se, Aoyama says that more of her patents now consult with her on the difficulties they’re encountering in controlling their sexual desire.

Aoyama speculates that suppression of sex by more young women during their student years may lead to an “explosion” of promiscuity after they graduate, find jobs and need to work off job-related stress.

If such a phenomenon does come to pass, it will no doubt be welcomed by the salacious salarymen who Shukan Jitsuwa counts among its readers.

  • 8

    gaijinfo

    they feel good about upholding the principle of celibacy.

    this, is not congruent with this:

    I'm seeing two guys right now, but neither of them has tried to kiss me

    Maybe these girls are trying to get laid, but there are too many grass eaters out there (herbivore males, not the other kind of grass eaters)

  • 1

    Novenachama

    Simply stated a loss of sexual desire in women is caused by a combination of physical and psychological factors. Let's face it all of us women have declining hormones, job stress, relationship issues, and other problems that do take a toll in our sex life. Hence it's not uncommon for women to suffer from a lost in sex and it's not all in the head in my opinion.

  • 6

    SimondB

    Novenchama - "Let's face it all of us women have declining hormones"

    At 20? I don't think so.

  • 6

    Tamarama

    Perhaps it's because the online world bares little resemblance to the real world.....

  • 2

    Novenachama

    SimondB - In general your body's natural hormones begin to decline after your mid-20's and hormone imbalance symptom are frequently present by your mid-30's.

  • 2

    cleo

    Phluff.

  • 5

    Seiryuu_Dan

    I would've recommend these Herbivorous men to be a little more aggressive and confident when it comes to love and dating. but nowadays, when a Man does try to get physical, if it's not wanted, then it could lead to a case of sexual harrassment. One wrong move or misconstrued, and it could ruin the guy's life.

    U know, there really should be at least one talk show that put this issue in open debate with a group of young men and females, and have them talk it out, sex, love, otaku, hikikomori, etc. including the issues about the shrinking population, aging population, and the economy.

    It's not japanese to talk about private love/sex life, especially on National TV, but with the crisis Japan's is feeling, drastic circumstances calls for drastic measures.

  • 1

    sakurala

    I really wonder about this issue. I am sure a lot of young people want more than just a friendshp but there must be something that makes it much tougher. Yes, a lot of men may not be so pushy but I can see why. Like Seiryuu_Dan mentioned, if they are too pushy they may be charged for sexual harrassment. However, the girls seem to not want to take charge and instead like to play the princess role (wait for prince charming to ride up and save her from all her troubles and as they ride into the sunset, he may even kiss her! **Swoon*)

    I think that both sides can be effecting the high celebacy rate. Women have to wake up to the fact that fairy tale princess stories are just that, stories. And men need to learn the line between confident and aggressive to the point that the cops may be called. But at the same time, I don't see what the issue is if some people actually want to remain virgins till marriage.

  • 14

    JapanGal

    Poor girls do not know what they are missing out on.

  • 9

    zichi

    I can help out, send them round.

  • -2

    GW

    Kawaii, anime, internet, video games, ALL of this & more is causing this & this will, rather IS, having a huge impact on society, all negative, again like so much its all in plain sight, just pay attention its easy to see.

    Now where is my time machine so I can go back to being single & try to fix this some!

  • -4

    Bartholomew Harte

    I guess life in this era is just too demanding! there are sooooo many ways to be happy without these "Herbees" So enjoy yourselves & when you're ready,get yourself a stud-muffin! MUAH!

  • 3

    Maria

    promiscuity ?

    Since when is it promiscuous for a woman over the age of consent to have sex? Such judgemental (and inaccurate) language in this day and age is the real shocker here.

  • -3

    Tommygun

    The point here is what they admitted to. It's probably be more of a case of girls wanting to pretend they are still pure.

  • 1

    Aliasis

    nowadays, when a Man does try to get physical, if it's not wanted, then it could lead to a case of sexual harrassment. One wrong move or misconstrued, and it could ruin the guy's life.

    Ummm are you joking? It's great when men makes the moves but he should just be careful not to RAPE HIS GIRLFRIEND... I'm pretty sure this is not very hard for the average guy to do. Don't rape, don't push your partner to do something they don't want to do, if they say no, stop. If it's not "wanted" then DON'T DO IT.

    Anyway, to this real article, blaming herbivore guys is one thing but there's nothing stopping girls from taking assertive roles in a relationship, either. Don't rely on gender norms, don't feel like you can't take the lead because you're a woman. If a guy, or girl, is shy, their partner being assertive can help teach them to be assertive, too.

  • 6

    Tamara_Boomdiyay

    Since when did "having sex, like young people are supposed to do" equal "promiscuity"?

  • 1

    Ewan Huzarmy

    I think the problem here is (as stated in the article), women waiting for a fairytail prince , but add to that, men who watch porn manga and expect their women to be ultra stacked, angelic and ultra slutty at the same time. Women - forget the fairy tales....... fellahs - ditch the creepy manga porn obssessions !

  • 1

    warispeace

    One of the most sexually suppressed groups are married women over 35 (and probably married guys), who after divorce or who find a lover during marriage are very eager to explore their sexuality.

  • 1

    Onniyama

    warispeace. Very true about the women. The guys most likely go to fuzoku shops once a month. The guys I know and or work with are pretty open about it.

  • 0

    oberst

    give the guys a break...too aggressive and they are labelled sexual predators. All the girls need to do is to initiate " actions " once in a while, it's not that hard.

  • 1

    dolphingirl

    Since when is it promiscuous for a woman over the age of consent to have sex? Such judgemental (and inaccurate) language in this day and age is the real shocker here.

    Exactly! it's no wonder that fewer young women are having sex when they are labeled as promiscuous if they do have sex!! Seems like there are only two categories here; virgin and promiscuous.

  • -1

    Lowly

    My favorite line so far was "A lot of males today have shifted their interests to anime and games."

  • -4

    lostrune2

    Seems like there are only two categories here; virgin and promiscuous.

    Virginal outside the house; promiscuous inside.

  • -2

    Frungy

    oberstNov. 26, 2012 - 03:58PM JST give the guys a break...too aggressive and they are labelled sexual predators. All the girls need to do is to initiate " actions " once in a while, it's not that har

    I agree. And the problem is that while males are branded with labels like "herbiverous" and "otaku" the girls are branded with labels like "cute" and "shy". They're both just playing the roles the Japanese media perpetuates... and then wondering why these roles aren't getting them what they want.

  • -3

    Fadamor

    @Tamarama

    Perhaps it's because the online world bares little resemblance to the real world.....

    If that was an intentional pun, two-thumbs up!

  • -2

    Fadamor

    I have an alternative theory: In today's uncertain economy, having the expense of raising an infant is not something that can be handled by most college-age people. While we all (well, most of us anyway) promote the equality of the sexes, the truth is that the majority of child-rearing is expected to fall into the mother's lap. She's the one that must bring the child to term and for someone attending college this is too much to handle. So the women are being more assertive about their virginity and "saving" themselves for a time when it is more realistic to take on the added responsibilities of a young life.

    When you think about it, this is just another indicator of the article here a few years back that noted more Japanese women are remaining single rather than getting married. Back THEN they tried to blame it on the so-called herbivore phenomenon, too.

  • 0

    Peter Payne

    There is a huge amount of this. Even 15+ years ago back when I was dating I'd meet girls who were 22 and 25 who were virgins, and knew of one who was 29, but I was not touching that, no way. Different standards of course. These days though, with all the eroge and herbivore males and online games, people really don't develop social skills in order to date competently. It leads to a lot of loneliness, and it sucks.

    On the plus side, when a guy reaches the age of 30 as a virgin, word is he becomes a Mage.

  • -1

    Fadamor

    On the plus side, when a guy reaches the age of 30 as a virgin, word is he becomes a Mage.

    hontoni? Call me "Gandalf"! j/k (Starts counting years to make sure he really IS kidding) Yeah. j/k (whew!)

  • 2

    kchoze

    Ummm are you joking? It's great when men makes the moves but he should just be careful not to RAPE HIS GIRLFRIEND... I'm pretty sure this is not very hard for the average guy to do. Don't rape, don't push your partner to do something they don't want to do, if they say no, stop. If it's not "wanted" then DON'T DO IT.

    Way to miss the point. He was saying "sexual harassment" not "sexual assault", and you act like he was saying "rape". Getting physical in this context doesn't mean pulling down her panties and start pumping, it may mean a lot of things like: giving a back rub, kissing , taking her hand, hugging, etc... All of which can lead to accusations of sexual harassment.

    I remember when George W. Bush gave a quick shoulder rub to Angela Merkel a few years back, she didn't like it, he stopped immediately. Many people howled that he had sexually assaulted her. Many demanded she sue him for sexual harassment.

    You speak like a woman who never has had the pressure of initiating anything. The reality is that people's signals of interest and desire are frequently misunderstood, by both genders. And there is nothing that kills the mood like actually verbalizing the questions to know what the other is or is not willing to do. Especially when one is culturally taught to play prudish or hard to get and to deny that she wants the things she actually wants, or that there is an expectation that if one doesn't get the signals or doesn't try hard enough, then he is an unmanly wimp who is completely unattractive.

  • 9

    Fadamor

    To me, the absolute worst date is when your date expects you to read her mind because she doesn't want to SAY what she wants. #1 relationship killer:

    Guy (noticing the girl seems upset or otherwise distant): "What's wrong?"

    Gal: "You KNOW what's wrong!"

    Important Relationship Tip: If a guy asks, "What's wrong?", that means he truly doesn't know what's wrong and you are going to have to verbalize it. Men are not mind readers. Most guys are not fond of mind games, so don't be too surprised if the above conversation results in making the relationship worse or severing the relationship entirely.

    A bit closer to the subject of this article, guys have to tread an unbelievably narrow tightrope with regards to dealing with sex. We're taught that "No" means "NO". Yet there are some girls out there who expect us to ignore what they tell us and go ahead anyway. Perhaps that's the way it's done in romance novels, but in the real world that's grounds for a charge of rape. Personally, if I'm told "No" then guess what? You "ain't getting none" from me. I'm not going to break out in a sweat trying to determine if you really meant "Yes", or "Maybe, if you coax me a little further." I'm taking you at your word as a person. If that makes me a "herbivore", then "Moo".

  • -2

    Mark Bradley

    The main problem are the barriers that have been created psychologically by cultural programming. If a majority of Japanese are even embarrassed by hugging someone then there isn't much hope of something greater. Everything takes experience, even showing affection. If you don't go out of your comfort zone then you will be stuck in an adolescent phase of how you deal with intimacy. As others have stated that Japanese are fearful of relationships with co-workers, but at the same time the majority don't have time to meet others outside of work. The Japanese government really needs to create some kind of major social reform to end the cycle of despair, such as declaring "Golden evenings", where by every workers daily work must end at 6pm for an entire month.

    Catch 22 > "a problematic situation for which the only solution is denied by a circumstance inherent in the problem or by a rule"

  • -1

    ebisen

    fandamor, exactly, your post expresses exactly how I dealt with it when I was dating: "NO means NO, and I'm not asking a second time, hunny".

  • 6

    Farmboy

    I'm trying hard to imagine why a female who feels good about her virginity went to a sex counselor in the first place.

  • 1

    Jonathan Harston

    "Celibacy" means not in a relationship. What you mean is "chastity" which means not having sex. Viz the contradiction of Kane Tobe in essence saying "I'm celibate, but have a boyfriend...." = "I'm not in a relationship, but I'm in a relationship...."

  • -2

    sighclops

    Is this at all surprising?

    Women are sick of the beta male. Men need to man up!

    "Sexy Zone"? They couldn't lift a paper bag! Get to the gym!

  • 1

    Frederick Stimson Harriman

    I wonder if any of these girls, or if any Japanese girls think to talk to their mothers, and their aunts about sex. I think that it's the parents and the older generations in Japan that bear a great deal of responsibility for this kind of trend. If your parent's relationship seems strange and alien to you, and you cannot envision yourself married or relating to the opposite sex the way your parents relate to each other, you won't consider marriage, and an affectionate, intimate relationship with the opposite sex will seem unreal. That's where a lot of the turn-offs are for young people. Young people should be able to act safely on their urges as soon as they have them. And to do this, parents have to be standing by to help them sort out their feelings, find people of the opposite sex that are attractive to them, and experience intimacy without being irresponsible about it. I think that Japan has never quite figured out what kind of mores it really wants when it comes to young love. They just want to ignore it all and hope people will somehow come out OK.

  • -5

    BertieWooster

    The headline states:

    Sex counselor seeks explanations for waning co-ed promiscuity

    Which leads one to wonder, if she doesn't know the answer to this, she can't be much of a counsellor, can she?

    Supposing a mechanic told you, "I'm seeking an explanation for why your car won't start. Just give me a couple more weeks."

  • -1

    Zen student

    @Mark Bradley: I agree with you 100%. "Cultural programming" is definitely one of the causes. Japanese women are led to believe that they are meant to be passive in relationships with men, because as soon as they are even slightly active or aggressive in coming on to a guy they like, they are instantly labelled 'sluts', which is very unfair but shows how far we still have to come. Secondly, and as some other posters have pointed out, it's also simply a problem of communication. We live in a day and age where most people have a better relationship with their smartphone or chihuahua than a human being they are (or used to be) attracted to. Pretty sad.....

  • 1

    flygirl1221

    Stop the slut-shaming and ridiculous notions that women don't actually want sex unless a man forces it, and the women will come out and save them all.

  • -1

    Ronald F Stark

    I'd love to see more women releasing their "inner slut" and living a little! Of course when I see these scrawny bad-hair style girlie boys running around with their faces buried in manga and cellphones I can see why there's such a problem. Man up! Dress like a man, act like a man, or get out of my way!

  • 1

    jonobugs

    Where I come from, if a girl is interested in a guy she usually gives a signal of some sort. If the guy is oblivious she will often turn up the signal until the guy notices and takes action or she might even take action herself.

    Here in Japan, I have never been so confused. The way some girls look at me and bat their eyes, I swear they are coming on to me, but I am sure they aren't since I don't even know them.

    That said, I really can't tell. I've had people tell me at a later time that a certain woman was interested in me because she confided in them. However when that woman had talked with me previously she made no moves at all. No lingering looks or verbal suggestions. Yet, when I go to stores where the girls are paid to be really nice, I feel like some (not all) are totally hitting on me. Of course I always ignore those ones because I just assume they are being paid to 'be nice' to the customers.

    The rules of flirting are really strange here.

  • 0

    Bernie Campbell

    This is japan' s hidden treasure! 50% Virgins, How sweet is that! There will blessings of good marriages, jealthy children, and lack of spousal guilt! Nooo Abortions! Really sweet!

  • 0

    yyj72

    Sex and seduction are aggressive, extroverted, embarrasing and adult activities.

    Any nation that celebrates passivity, shyness and child-like cuteness as the ideal aesthetic is bound to have problems getting people to do the nasty.

    Now where's my brick house...

  • -1

    LH10

    glad that 21yr old has that kind of anixety of getting knocked up. smart girl

  • -1

    Christopher Blackwell

    Aggressive females needed to tell men get naked and prepare for wild sex.

  • -3

    Brock MacLean

    Japanese men do seem rather strange and not exactly the most macho men on the planet. In porn, they seem awkward and certainly not very romantic. So I side with the girls on this problem. Japanese women are certainly just as affectionate and horny as anyone out there,but the men need a little training of to watch some romantic movies and put thier game-boy down for a while. The young college students may maintain thier virginity longer, but I bet there is alot more girl on girl action than before!

    In my exerience, Japanese women love romance and passion and are the best kissers in the world...they love to kiss....and what happens after that is up to the man.

    Brock Vancouver, Canada.

  • -1

    Brock MacLean

    In 1985, I spent a week in Tokyo and one fellow met me at an English language cafe, and he basically used me to attract women to the tables in the bar, as I was the token white foreigner, and thus a novelty...Kuni had several opportunites to get a phone number or ask a girl for a dance..but he basically was clueless, and at 28 years old, I was surprised at how immature he was. Some gentle hand holding and light touches go a long way to making the woman receptive to further action!!! The girls are waiting for you boys.

  • -2

    lostrune2

    J-guys just gotta understand that J-gals are just like everyone else: when not working, making/eating food, or doing anything worthwhile, they're ready to do it at moment's notice, all day everyday if they have to. So just show some passion and receive some passion!

  • -1

    oberst

    Help is on the way....................................

    Here comes Kisstixx, a new product advertised as “the best thing to happen to kissing since the French got their lips on it.” Made in America by two college buddies from Utah, Kisstixx is a set of two compatible lip balms that combine to create a chemical flavor reaction.

    give this to the guys and if they don't get the message, they are gay and time to find a new BF.

  • -1

    Bernie Campbell

    Why look a gift horse in the frigun mouth!

  • 0

    gelendestrasse

    I think that real world relationships require work and compromise. Virtual relationships can just be turned off like the TV. It's so much easier that the otaku don't much care about, much less understand, the rewards of intimacy. I wonder if this is taking place in other countries too? It would be interesting to understand. But I have no solutions.

  • 0

    tjguy

    This author acts as if this is some kind of a big problem that needs to be fixed. Why? A little morality won't hurt anyone. In fact, they might find there are benefits to that lifestyle. Learning to interact with a boyfriend/girlfriend without complicating the relationship with sex actually promotes self control, a deeper more stable relationship that is based on more than just physical attraction, protects them from unwanted pregnancies and sexual disease, and promotes trust in the relationship. Then when the couple are married, there is real meaning to the ceremony and they are free to express their love within the safe boundaries of a committed love relationship, which is the way it was intended to be.

  • -2

    WhatMeWorry

    This just in, Japan's birth rates plunges yet again and the total decimation of the Japanese race has been pushed up to 2042, 50 years earlier than previously expected! Good night and have a pleasant tomorrow!

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