November 14, 2005

Japanese men labelled ‘monkeys with mobile phones’

“Young Japanese are making monkeys of themselves, aping the behaviour patterns of chimpanzees.” Nobuo Masataka, Kyoto

The proliferation of mobile phones in Japan has caused many men to apparently ape the behaviour of chimpanzees – walking around for a long time without going to any specific place, then eating and disposing of their wastes in the same place before bedding down on piles of grass whenever and wherever the inclination takes them. According to researcher Masataka, mobile phones have liberated many young men from a whole series of daily burdens, but inevitably, they have become so caught up with using them they’ve forgotten about physical social intercourse. Instead, they confine themselves to loitering on the street, abandoning family activities, consumed by mobile communication.

Young men have lost the ability to discern between public and private space, and have formed the dearuki-zoku (out and about tribe). Characteristically, they don't eat meals at home with family members and hang about on the same streets with the same old friends. Parents let their kids go out because they think they're only a phone call away, because they believe the mobile phone offers them an unbreakable link. However, therein lies a breakdown in communications among the family members. The problem is, despite having this communication device that guarantees 24/7 contact, little real communication going on between family members.

November 10, 2005

‘Immigrant’ men feel sharp end of French malaise

“It is not a question of nature but of condition. Living in a suburb makes them immigrants.” Clement, 27, Paris

French society has long overlooked the problems facing many of its deprived young men. By not focusing on improving impoverished suburbs, the government has perpetuated unemployment, discrimination and housing problems among these communities. There is a general state of malaise that exists in French society. On the one hand, this let’s young men operate with their own set of values, but as seen by escalating protests, it’s promotion amorality. The inter-tribal conflict is resulting from a lack in moral guidance, social reason, or mechanism for serving up values. Without guidance young French men living in these areas are conditioned as suburban immigrants, lacking the perspective needed to deal with modern social dynamics such as instability or exclusion.

The flash points occurring in France have been building for some time, hence why they shouldn’t be viewed in isolation. High unemployment and dramatic disparities between have and have-nots demonstrates how the French labour market polarizes opportunities, and as such is polarizing mindsets. The majority feel they are struggling to find themselves a position in society, whilst the minority feel that they have no place in society at all. An excluded underclass could become a permanent feature of French society and a significant element of youth culture.

November 07, 2005

Mexicans networking beyond the family unit

“Social climbers tend to choose godparents of as high a social or economic status as they can.” Centro de Idiomas, Mazatl├ín

The family unit runs through every aspect of Mexican life. The connected nature of families mean they are seen as a vital source of economic and educational stability. The family home is a firm foundation for men, and although some might move abroad to learn and work, it is perceived as a core social institution. Loyalty within the family is crucial, absolute and primary social ties are structured through blood dissent. Family honour is seen as the moral standard for young men, and many usually find themselves working for their fathers, uncles and within industries associated with family tradition. But gradually a more modern, open society is being accepted in Mexico.

Modern Mexico families realise the importance of endorsing outsiders, or godparents, as they are an invaluable source of work prospects and support in personal matters. Urban city centres attract men of all ages primarily to find work, and through blood relations, they tend to find some sort of footing. But as the job market tightens, increasingly job opportunities come from outside the family unit. Mexican men are cutting the emotional ties they have with the family home to allow for more flexible work arrangements and a wider support mechanism. Although the family is the one true thing for men to rely on and believe in, the stress of looking after parents, grandparents and the family home is having an affect on a younger generation who want more out of life.

November 02, 2005

German men prefer the burn

“Presentation and aestheticization are the focus of much attention…people define themselves by self-representation.” Gregor, 31, Munich

The body is no longer perceived or needed by men as an instrument of physical labour. Its new purpose is being an instrument of representation. In Germany, a man’s body has become the primary means of expression in an increasingly hedonistic-narcissistic society. Going out and working out are imperatives of modern Germany. Recent economic and social problems have forced men to reassess themselves, an anxious plan perhaps to reassert their masculinity. Men feel it is better to be muscular, worked-out, and are well disposed towards this kind of cultivating of the body to a much larger extent than women.

The attractiveness of the body is nothing less than a social duty. Permanently confronted role models and celebrities on television and in magazines, many men consider their own body as inferior, even if they are slim, as an enemy that has to be shaped by hard measures, for example frequent diets and excessive training. Most German men argue that one must workout, firstly, to stay fit, secondly, to be successful in one’s career, and thirdly, to not prematurely be out of the running with the opposite sex. Interestingly, cosmetic surgery is not yet accepted in Germany. Men still value a traditional workout to get the body they desire.