"Ikemen," a Japanese word meaning a good-looking man or more colloquially a hunk, first began appearing around the year 2000. It was coined by combining Japanese "ikeru" (cool, good, exciting) and "men" from English men or its plural possessive men's (pronounced "menzu"), or possibly the Japanese word "men" (face).
Now change the third letter in "ikemen" from an "e" to a "u," and you've got another word -- "ikumen" -- a more recent term that takes "iku," (also read "sodatsu" and meaning to raise or bring up), while retaining the same "men" suffix. With this we have a dedicated dad who pitches in when raising the kids.
Nikkan Gendai (Nov 7) has come up with some interesting data that suggests these "ikumen" are paying a high price for their cooperative spirit.
"Since we're both holding down jobs, I'm made it a rule that he also help with caring for our child," says a 30-year-old woman. "I certainly appreciated his help taking them to day care or picking them up, and putting them to bed. But then when it came to sex, he would beg off, pleading fatigue. So a second child is out of the question."
"Many cases of sexlessness occur soon after a child's birth or while the mother is lactating," Arata Samon, a pediatrician, is quoted as saying. "This is generally a temporary phenomenon caused from fatigue. When males take off time from work to assist in child raising, their sex drive also appears to decline."
Yoshiyuki Kobori, a urologist, has another theory as to why men lose interest. Based on tests of 600 males in the Philippines, the levels of testosterone prior to their partners' pregnancies showed a marked decline after impregnation occurred. And the testosterone levels of men who were involved in child care for three hours or more per day were significantly lower than those who had yet to be blessed by fatherhood.
"In surprising findings from another research project, when men heard the sound of an infant crying, their testosterone levels showed a decrease," says Dr Kobori.
This would point to the possibility that the urge to engage in sex would decline commensurately.
"Male hormones affect men's sexual desire and aggressive instinct," Kobori continues. "In an environment where they take days off from work, or leave the office early to look after children, it can be assumed that the secretion of certain hormones declines. As the old saying goes, 'Once a man steps over the threshold, he already has seven enemies.' (In other words, the real world is fraught with challenges.) Conversely it can be taken to mean that once a man slacks off, he loses his edge, and it becomes harder for his sex drive to make a comeback."
In particular, men who have taken leave from their job to be with their wives seldom tend to go out, and their opportunities for encounters with females become fewer," says Dr Samon. "Men's roles were originally as hunter-gatherers, and even when they weren't philandering, their hormone secretions would go up just by ogling women on the trains and so on.
"But by staying at home for an extended time, their instincts to propagate for posterity are rapidly degraded."
So will attentive fatherhood take the gleam from men's eyes when they watch a cute girl wiggle by, dooming the lives of "ikumen" into something resembling eunuchs?
With population in decline, it's not as if Japan doesn't already have enough problems in this department.© Japan Today