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The odd phenomenon of some Japanese husbands making their wives put their socks on for them

43 Comments
By Casey Baseel, SoraNews24

Japan has long had a stigma as a society in which there’s an extremely rigid division of labor in marriages. Under the traditional framework, husbands are supposed to breadwinners, going to work and earning the money the family needs, and wives are in charge of what needs to be done at home.

Because of that, many Japanese husbands’ less-than-helpful attitude regarding housework has long been a cause for exasperation from their spouses. However, a recent topic on Japanese Twitter shows that some wives have had to deal with husbands who don’t only refuse to cook or clean, but who also can’t be bothered to perform a certain life function that people are expected to have already mastered by the time they start elementary school. And just what is that function?

Putting on their own socks by themselves.

The conversation got started when Tokyo lawyer @shouwayoroyoro tweeted that when talking to women who are getting a divorce, they sometimes tell him “My husband won’t put his socks on by himself.” Now, it’s true that every culture is different, and some things that might seem unusual by Western standards are perfectly acceptable by Japanese ones, such as couples cleaning each other’s ears. However, dressing themselves is something that adults in Japanese society are generally expected to be able to do with no problems, so desiring such assistance from your wife is a quick way to raise her eyebrows and lower her esteem for you.

What makes the whole thing especially strange is that putting on socks doesn’t have any stigma as “women’s work.” This isn’t like a man who never cooks for his wife because his mom made all the family’s meals for him growing up — Japanese boys are expected to, and do, put their socks on by themselves. Surprisingly, though, many other commenters chimed in to say that they too have run into such levels of self-non-reliance from men in their life.

“The guy I used to date was like that. If someone is putting your socks on for you, they have to kneel down in front of you first, right? He said that was the part he liked.”

“My ex (who said he was from Kyushu) wanted me to do that for him, When I asked ‘Huh? Is there some reason you can’t put ‘em on yourself?’ he looked really unhappy.”

“I had a guy ask me to take his suit off for him! I flatly refused, but maybe I should have done it for him while asking ‘Oh, so did you just turn two years old?’”

Others hadn’t experienced such things first-hand, but knew others who had.

“I heard my uncle used to be like that with his socks, but then after the company his owned went out of business, my aunt stopped doing it for him.”

“My grandfather was born in 1901 in Kyushu, and when he’d get home from work, he’d stand there with his chest puffed out while my grandma completely changed his clothes for him.”

“Up until one day when I was in preschool and asked him “Dad, why do you have Mom put your socks on you?’ that’s what my dad did too. My dad is from Fukuoka, and my mom from Nagasaki [both in Kyushu].”

Looking through these anecdotes, a couple things stick out. First off, it looks like the custom of husbands wanting their wives to put their socks on for them has stronger roots in Japan’s southwestern island of Kyushu, which has long had a reputation for particularly old-fashioned gender roles, even compared to the rest of Japan. Second, a lot of the stories come from a generation or two back, so hopefully the number of guys who think their wives have a duty to help them with such a low-difficulty part of getting dressed will continue to decline.

Reference: Twitter/@shouwayoroyoro via Hachima Kiko

Read more stories from SoraNews24.

-- Japanese men rank the top 10 complaints they hope to never hear from their wives

-- Japanese husbands in survey say they do half the housework and childcare, wives say “Nope!”

-- Four moments when Japan’s single men are glad they’re not married

© SoraNews24

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

43 Comments
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Usually, it’s more fun to have ones clothes taken than put on-how about an article on that?

8 ( +11 / -3 )

Pathetic mother complex....

17 ( +18 / -1 )

Weird but have heard even weirder from Japan society, actually from Japanese guy himself told me about this fantasy.

When high school girls either want to have fun or in need of cash, then they are belong to middle aged salarymen.

So sometimes the only thing these Japanese men do is take off her socks and smell it. That's the most fun part for those Japanese guys. They tell those girls not to change the socks, just keep wearing it all day, just to smell it later.

1 ( +6 / -5 )

Ridiculous.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

My wife would've kicked me in the *** extra hard if I ever made such an asinine request to her.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

More proof that Japanese men expect their wives to take over the role of their mother after they get married. Creepy

7 ( +9 / -2 )

If my husband ever even tried it.... lol

Luckily he's not got a Mommy complex like some other fellas here.

Hell, I'm not sure his Mother ever put socks on him again once he could walk haha

4 ( +4 / -0 )

It is better for women to just work for 40 years 12 hours a day at the company and live with their mothers and have a pet bird. That is preferable to the above and that is the real trend.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

This is crazy. Men should act like men. Not boys.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

I remember seeing a Japanese movie where the elderly husband came home from work, took off his suit and shoes and just dropped them on the floor for his wife to pick up. I guess the movie was set in the 1950s. Looks like not much has changed.

A few references here to mothers putting their kids socks on. Once I could walk, that was it, I put my own socks on. I can't imagine asking my wife to put my socks on for me. I have, however, put her socks on for her, but that was only in certain circumstances.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

And when they come home from work, they expect the fireplace to be stoked, and their favourite slippers to be next to the Lazy Boy with a freshly ironed newspaper hanging over the arm.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I think the reality is that young women have no idea how much it sucks to work in a Japanese company full time and put up with all the nonsense and stress and commute. I would gladly put my wife's socks on if she paid all the bills and I could stay home all day every day. Thanks.

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

They can wait until Japan develops a Tony Stark-esque robotic system that can undress and change you the moment you step inside the house. But removing socks? Come on, stuff like that should've been left in the Victorian Era. Now I understand why more Japanese women don't want to marry

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Japan is ultra modern in oh so many ways but in others it is almost caveman. Western culture used to have the same expectations of women to keep the home while men brought home the money. Japan carries that much further. Women still serve men when going to restaurants and food arrives. Japan needs to understand women are partners and they should be treated not as a house slave but as someone they love and respect and want to help.

It is a mystery how Japan is so far ahead in one respect, yet so far behind in another.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

I think the reality is that young women have no idea how much it sucks to work in a Japanese company full time and put up with all the nonsense and stress and commute.

I think the reality is that old blokes have no idea how much it sucks to work effectively full time at home and in the office, without the benefits of a seishain status, and to put up with all the nonsense and stress and commute, and to have a lazy husband.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

And then you ask yourself why marriages and interpersonal relationship are at the bottom in Japan.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

This got me thinking about what else these guys might expect their wives do do for them. Was the toilet washlet seat a Japanese womans idea by any chance?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Jeez, my 4 year old boy dresses and undresses himself and yes, he puts on his socks all by himself.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

But the biggest complaint by far is that some Japanese husbands actually expect their wives to have sex with them. How chauvinistic!

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Vince BlackToday  08:21 am JST

More proof that Japanese men expect their wives to take over the role of their mother after they get married. Creepy

No, only proof that you and a few others believe everything they read here.

BigYenToday  08:44 am JST

I remember seeing a Japanese movie where the elderly husband came home from work, took off his suit and shoes and just dropped them on the floor for his wife to pick up. I guess the movie was set in the 1950s. Looks like not much has changed.

So because you saw something in a old movie that means the whole of Japanese society is like that?

0 ( +3 / -3 )

I'm gonna try this one when I get home though, just for giggles.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I've lived in Japan for a longtime. Mostly in Okinawa, now in Yamaguchi. I've had girlfriends that have done this for me. Was very strange to me. But there was something there that just felt good. I never asked but it would just happen.

When I think about it now, it makes me think of that scene from The Last Samurai where the woman is dressing him in the Samurai uniform.

There's definitely something more deeper there.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

@HarryGatto:

No, it means i would have thought that was the kind of behaviour I thought would’ve died out in the 1950s - until I read headlines like this.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

My Japanese husband is never like that. Husbands, who have that kind of thoughts should live by himself and live with that kind of women. Pual soichiro Kitaoka is the best human , I have met in my life. I am 62 years old now. If I die, I would love to meet him again in my next 10 times of rebirths.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I did exactly the opposite, helping my very pregnant wife putting her socks on for two months / each child. Asking her to do that for me? It never occurred this was a thing, but now, thinking about it, it would be hilarious if it wouldn't be sad. I really doubt this is widespread even among Japanese couples though...

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Ascissor

Full time?? Gimme a break man. You ever been outside the office or house on a weekday? Once they ship the kids off to school at 4 or 5, they have all the time in the world to shop, meet at cafes, parks, restaurants, department stores, have _____ lessons, take day trips, weekend trips....shall I go on....?

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Peter14Today  11:40 am JST

It is a mystery how Japan is so far ahead in one respect, yet so far behind in another.

I think it's because stupid old men with shrivelled little brains stuck in the 1950s run this country, and everyone else has too much unconditional respect for them and their stupid, outmoded attitudes.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Michael machida, this is Japan.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Once they ship the kids off to school at 4 or 5, they have all the time in the world to shop, meet at cafes, parks, restaurants, department stores, have _____ lessons, take day trips, weekend trips....shall I go on....?

Please do. What you describe bears no semblance at all to my memories of being a SAHM in Japan.

After seeing the kids off to school, doing the laundry and cleaning the place up, I spent a lot of my time hand-sewing clothes for the kids and myself, shopping for cheap groceries and cooking, coz with only one income there was little to spare for luxuries like shop-bought clothes, biscuits, cakes and ready-made meals. Shopping was a search for bargains. Meet up with friends in cafes and restaurants? Unthinkable. Meeting up in the local park, with younger kids in tow, yes, did that. Gotta let the toddlers play and socialise. Lessons, day trips, weekend trips? Don't be silly.

I'm not complaining; I chose to be at home with no income, because we believed that little kids do better when there is someone at home. When the kids got a bit bigger and I could start worth and earning again, still no time for pleasure shopping, coffee dates or day trips, coz I was working.

As for putting Mr Cleo's socks on for him....ha ha ha no way.

Invalid CSRF

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I am an european woman married with a japanese man. All this stories about how horrible are japanese men just make me laugh! My husband was helping with the home tasks even before I even had a job in Japan. Now we both are working, he works way more hours than me but if he arrives home earlier he makes dinner, clean the house and prepare the bath for me and I do the same for him. Never in my life I have a better man by my side.. he is honest, supportive, respectful... And he is not an strange man here. You guys should stop believing everything you read on the internet. Just go and search in google info about the people of your own country and compare it with your own reality.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

If I had asked my late wife to put on my socks for me I think the reply would be (expletive) off.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I hope not all Japanese men are just big babies.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

My wife ran into this with her coworkers. One husband made his new wife put his socks on him. They are now divorced. Another was dating, the man had demanded that she wear high heel shoes while going on a tour of Mt. Aso. One date only. I honestly wouldn’t have believed it if not for these true stories.

invalid CSRF

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@Reckless

I think the reality is that young women have no idea how much it sucks to work in a Japanese company full time and put up with all the nonsense and stress and commute. I would gladly put my wife's socks on if she paid all the bills and I could stay home all day every day. Thanks.

Aren't you adorable...

Nothing quite like cleaning, cooking every meal, doing all of the errands, taking care of the children, working part time, taking care of all the school requirements, caring for and helping out aging in-laws, taking care of all of the finances, all of the housework, the absolutely endless school meetings and schlepping the kids to every after school activity possible...

You do realize that almost every woman who now is a stay at home mother used to have a full time job? I worked an insanely difficult job before having a child but it doesn't even approach the stress of having to care for a young child every moment of the day. On top of the direct stress of doing so, there is zero respect for stay at home moms, or "women's" work in general. And no pay.

So if you have a different experience with a significant other, perhaps it is you who has bad taste in women?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

@saiaku

I hope not all Japanese men are just big babies.

lol they're not, don't worry

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I held up my foot, got a bemused look from the mrs, then she took my sock off. I didn't actually get slapped but I definitely wouldn't try it or get away with it again. We had a laugh and a chat about it, she didn't really know anything about that custom though.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

BigYenJune 15  08:08 pm JST

@HarryGatto:

No, it means i would have thought that was the kind of behaviour I thought would’ve died out in the 1950s - until I read headlines like this.

Did you read this part? You think like the behaviour is commonplace and it isn't.

Looking through these anecdotes, ..............Second, a lot of the stories come from a generation or two back,

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Pathetic mother complex....

Ironically caused by women.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

@MaikuC

Ironically caused by women.

Yes, it's the woman's fault when a man refuses to grow up.

I myself had a very attentive Mother growing up. She probably would have done my laundry, cleaned my bedroom and let me live with her for the rest of her life if I wanted it. And yet after high school I moved away to university, got a job and never went to live back home again.

If these men (boys, really) want to be treated like a child for their entire lives, it's entirely on them.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I asked multiple female Japanese acquaintances of mine and ALL of them had never heard of this phenomenom... Typical article trying to make Japan look bad as often is the case.

One of them said that MAYBE something like this could've been possible over 50 years ago.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Okay, I live in Kyushu, Matter of fact have lived all around Kyushu 25 years. I have been around young Japanese people and older Japanese people. I have seen this once in in Japan 25 years living in Japan. Here is how it went down. I was at a wedding of all places or rather a wedding party. This elderly gent had on some really fine hand made Italian shoes. Black of course. His thin see through nylon sock (almost what a woman would have on) had run down his heel. His wife simply bent on both knees in her kimono ever so gracefully and took both shoes off for him and adjusted his socks and put his shoes back on his feet. She bowed to her husband. He smiled back at her. She washed her hands with towel-et and I thought to myself. Okusan mecha yasashi ne! This is a very old practice, and though the writer tires to bring to light this odd ball Japanese cultural submissive wife thing. The thought that the men are to go to work while the wife stays at home is slipping away. Under the traditional framework, husbands are supposed to breadwinners, going to work and earning the money the family needs, and wives are in charge of what needs to be done at home. The fact is we live in challenging times. Japanese salries are not what they used to be. Bonuses for many are not what they used to be. Japan is becoming more and more like other parts of the world (influx) where it is necessary to have second job off the main. An online. Or a part time. I myself have an online that is fun to do and makes me a bit extra. I am single and very successful. I do the online for enjoyment. But I can see if I were to take on (again) a wife for a second time ( note to self: not recommended) and enter that world again. I would need my online as a stimulus income or disposal income. And would classify it as (family money). the thing that bothers me most about this article is that it almost promotes that having the husband go to work and be the bread winner while the ever so hard working wife stays at home to take care of the kids and to the house yoji. Or what ever. Many younger Japanese couples I see. Do not practice this. I see more and more woman wanting to make their own way while being married. God love them for that. After all. A marriage is equality ,fairness, honesty, respect, space, and an equal effort in all things. if the husband can make enough and the wife chooses to stay home and put on Daddy's socks. Let it be by her choice.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Nicely put, Slickdrifter.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I have read all the comments with interest, but at the end of the day when a mother stays at home she is the CEO and her own boss and that comes with independence and autonomy that most men simply don't have. I would take doing housework over taking the miserable commute and the corporate crap any day, and I don't really have any problem putting someone's socks on them.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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