(photo by Gary Crutchley–check out his other incredible photos on his Flickr!)
I was doing a little bit of random internet surfing last week when I came across the excellent blog, Tokyo Meet Market. Cherie writes about dating in Japan and does a really amazing job at showing how culture plays a role not just in how we view romantic relationships, but how we go about finding them. Seriously worth a read; seriously interesting stuff.
Anyway, of all the interesting stuff that I found on her blog, the most interesting was the phenomenon of “grass-eating boys” and “meat-eating girls.” As she explains, this is the hot new thing in Japan right now; people classify themselves as “grass-eating” (not aggressive when it comes to pursuing romantic objects) or “meat-eating” (very aggressive when it comes to pursuing romantic objects). Grass-eating = prey; Meat-eating = predator. Simple, right?
What’s notable about this, though, is that in Japan there are rising numbers of grass-eating (passive) guys and meat-eating (aggressive) girls. Men don’t want to pursue women because it’s too hard, but women still want men (and marriage), so they become the pursuers. This is a bit of a big deal in Japan because it totally subverts the traditional dating “script” which, from what I can tell, is less flexible than here in the States.
But the funny thing is that it’s become cool to be a grass-eating guy; it means that you don’t TRY to get girls, they just flock to you. However, it doesn’t seem like being a meat-eating girl has the same sort of positive connotation. In the same entry, Cherie mentions that women’s magazines have articles on how to hunt men without appearing to do so, and how to confess your feelings without scaring him off. So the message, I guess, is “Be aggressive, but don’t let him know about it! Trick him into caring!” Before you get cross or are tempted to pity Japanese women, though, take a look at the cover of any given Cosmopolitan here in the United States. You’ll see the same message.
It’s not that being aggressive is a socially inappropriate thing here, but it’s certainly not the norm. Seems like whenever there’s a female TV or movie character who isn’t chewing her cud in the pasture, the media freaks out about it. People are still arguing about whether Samantha from Sex and the City (and a total meat-eater) was a sex-positive feminist role model, or a whore who set women’s lib back fifty years. And that show’s been over for, what, five years? Six?
Though it’s not all good news for dudes, either. I can think of more aggressive female characters in the media than I can passive men. Sure, you get the ladies’ man who attracts women like crazy–but that’s usually based on some kind of manipulation or caddish behavior. Occasionally you get a character like Chandler Bing who is passive solely because he’s too awkward to be aggressive. But when you do it’s usually accompanied by a “is he gay?” subplot that follows the character as long as he’s around. Again, the subtext is clear: Men are aggressive or they’re gay; women are “normal” when passive and “controversial” when aggressive.
So, what are you? Up until the age of 22 or so, I was a total grass-eater. I had never made the first move with a dude, ever. They had always approached me. Perhaps because of this, the dudes I dated were often not the best. I got sick of this and started getting ballsier–more meat in my diet, if you will–and started going after the dudes that I wanted. It worked. And it’s been working. So today, I’m proud to say that I’m a total meat-eater. It doesn’t mean I eat every slice offered to me, but when I see something I want, I have no problem going after it.
I know that this is a pretty hetero view and I’d love to get some input from any LGBT readers out there. I’d also like to know about you guys: What do you think? Are you a meat-eater or a grass-eater? Do you think it’s more acceptable to be one or the other when you’re a certain gender or orientation? Tell me everything, I’m really interested to hear what you have to say.