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.