"Grass-eaters" in Japan
In any even, poor Rod was shocked by this article about 20-something male behavior in Japan. Rod calls them "grassy-eating sissy monkeys". *HEAD. DESK* I commented:
I'll have to check with my Japan-based sources, but there's one thing you should remember, Rod: Japanese masculinity does not have the same signals or boundaries that American masculinity does. In particular, the sharp boundaries of gender roles in Japan means that men there have a much wider ranger of behavior available to them.
Think of it this way: the defined border between masculine and feminine in Japan means that a man can go right up the edge and yet still count as firmly on the masculine side. In the US, the border is comparatively broad, shifting, and ill-defined, so a man who is anxious about appearing masculine has to keep much further away from the edge. American masculinity is subtractive; I don't know Japanese culture well enough to talk about how their gender roles are evolving.
The Japanese also have a very different approach to makeup and costumes than we do in the US. Thoreau said "beware of all enterprises that require new clothes" -- the Japanese say, "what's the point of one that doesn't?" So the makeup sales (which are likely to be the most accurate part of that story) don't necessarily mean what you think in your fevered American brain.
I wonder, too, if the use of "grass-eating" or vegetarian as an insult has a religious undertone, because vegetarianism is associated with Buddhism.
But as someone whose children are older than yours -- for all your sakes, don't box yourself into thinking that clothing, hairstyle or music choices are the appropriate battlefields for their upcoming teen and young adult years. Worry less about whether they seem manly to you, more about whether they're decent human beings.