If you’ve lived in Japan, chances are you’ve heard of the charisma man stereotype of foreign males, which gets its name from the popular comic strip of the same name. The first comic in the Charisma Man anthology pretty much sums up the stereotype:
Do such characters exist? It would be hard to deny that there are some foreign men in Japan who put almost all their effort into sleeping with as many women as possible, and in some cases such men are probably wouldn’t be able to pull the “player” lifestyle back in their native country. There is also a certain “charisma” of sorts that foreigners gain in Japan, perhaps from sticking out as different/exotic, or perhaps from the existence of a small minority of Japanese people who very actively seek foreign friends and want to learn a foreign language. People find the comic strip amusing because it satirizes (in an exaggerated fashion) the experience of some foreigners in Japan.
A few days ago, Shari, an American woman who lives in Japan and blogs about her So-Called Japanese Life, wrote a post bringing up the charisma man comic. She mentioned her experiences with one foreigner she considered a charisma man and posted the following list of traits she has noticed that the charisma men she has met had in common:
- Most of these men came to Japan at a relatively young age and had limited social experience back home. They tend to be here for the vast majority of their young adult socialization and maturation process.
- Most of them met their wives or girlfriends in Japan, not in their home countries. I’ve noticed a serious difference between men who meet Japanese women in their home countries and marry them then come to Japan as compared to men who meet their wives here initially. The former tend to be a lot nicer group of guys.
- All of them (in my experience) are good at speaking Japanese as it is a high priority to become proficient enough to chat up girls, but also they prefer socializing with Japanese people as they can easily impress them simply by being foreign. They also vigorously throw themselves into practicing as it gives them more interaction with women.
- Few of them have ever had a Western girlfriend.
- Most of them have extremely stereotypical and derogatory opinions about Western women. They tend to view them as lazy, pushy, controlling, demanding, and opinionated.
- Most of them have stereotypical and shallow opinions of Japanese women and emphasize the physical assets of Japanese women in opposition to their stereotypical views of the physicality of Western women. That is, they talk about how naturally (and eternally) slim, beautiful, nurturing (as in willing to do all the cooking and cleaning without complaint), and feminine (quiet, demure) Japanese women are whereas Western women are all going to end up fat and ugly.
- Most of them base their relationship from an emotional viewpoint on trivialities such as Japanese pop culture and light social activities like karaoke, pub crawling, travel, and sports. Few of them value deep or meaningful dialog with their significant other as an important part of a relationship.
- Most are very arrogant and have difficulties when their ideas, opinions or knowledge are challenged. Personally, I believe that is because debate where ones assertions are disagreed with is not common in Japan and since most of these men came here at a young age, they have never developed the ability to handle disagreement well, particularly if women have been a large focus in their socialization here.
- Most of them dislike other foreigners and tend to regard most of them with contempt. In some cases, part of this contempt involves constantly measuring other foreigners’ language ability, work type and status and cultural knowledge against theirs and smugly concluding they are better.
Do men that match most of the traits on that list qualify as charisma men? I don’t really much of a connect between the things on that list and the typical womanizing charisma man image. The list itself reads like a collection of negative stereotypical ways that some view foreign men who “go local.”
Claytonian has posted a response to the list on his blog, and I tend to agree with him. Here’s a short excerpt:
But it seems to be that disparity that bugs our foreign sisters so much. All is fair in love and war, unless your ugly, in which case it is cheating. That seems to be at the root of the sentiment. I also hear a lot of “guys come over here and get arrogant.” I can hear the vitriol in women’s words when they say it. I also recently read a woman blogger’s send up of “charisma men,” in which she seemed to think that these guys completely lack in all social graces and dis other foreigners in favor of hanging out with J girls. A type of guy I have yet to encounter here.
I keep hearing about these terribly awkward and rude guys, but I never meet them (it admittedly could be a factor of where I live: inaka). All the guys that I know that are dating J girls seem pretty nice and normal to me. So I am wondering where all the sour grapes come from. I hate to say it, but I think it’s a racist and jealous thing. And that is going to hurt some feelings, but some people really need to take the time and reflect on why they would be bothered by an interracial relationship. I hear words like “yellow fever” and I cringe, because while I think fetishists exist in small numbers in all demographics, I don’t think but a tiny portion of guys target specific races to date, and this term only exists out of hatred.
There are guys that use the J girls’ tendency to jump into relationships to their advantage. But it happens back home too; they’re called players and some are so proficient in America that they tutor other guys for money. So being a sleazy guy has nothing to do with Japan. Sleazy guys may end up here, but I think they are rare enough that the usual anti white/Japanese sentiments are still oddly numerous and shrill . It’s a bias that some girls carry like a chip on their shoulder.