University of Melbourne, Parkville, Australia
The emergence of a variety of non-normative masculinities in Japan since the burst of the bubble economy in the early 1990s, has led to a vigorous debate in the Japanese public. During this time of re-evaluation of sex/gender norms, Japanese love advice books allow readers to reflect on their own gendered performance in interpersonal situations that involve dating, romantic relationships and sexual encounters. As a discursive instrument, love advice books can thus contribute to the legitimisation of progressive forms of masculinity and femininity, but they can also be used to persuade individuals to conform to certain societal standards. Utilising methods of critical discourse analysis, this paper aims to shed light on the discursive mechanisms that lead to the reproduction of asymmetrical power relations in Japan. The binary construction of the so-called ‘herbivore man’ and ‘carnivore woman’ in Japanese love advice books published in 2009 is used as an example to demonstrate how heteronormative ideologies are perpetuated in sex/gender discourses. I further ask the question: How can these ideologies be subverted through the reframing of non-conforming heterosexual masculinities in advice products for men in the future?
Michaela Luschmann is a PhD candidate in Japanese Studies at the Asia Institute at the University of Melbourne. Her research concerns knowledge production in transnational discourses of sex/gender/sexuality, contemporary masculinities, Japanese self-help and advice products as well as Japanese language. She graduated from a Master of Arts in Japanese Studies at the University of Vienna in Austria in 2018.