Traditional Japanese husbands are not one of the best in the world. They tend to think housework is women´s job. They rarely give compliments to their wives or bring some flowers for no reason. As far as I know, none of them give their wives a hug when they come home. Give a kiss? Let´s just not mention it. I mean, the last one is not a Japanese culture but I´m sure many women have dreamt at leat once to receive a coming-home kiss like a European film.
A few weeks ago, NHK´s TV program, asaichi picked up a theme, Gaki Otto. According to NHK´s website, the definition of Gaki Ottois, "Take off his pyjamas and leave them outside. When he´s asked to help some housework, he wouldn´t do the things he doesn´t like and even has the mumps when his wife complains."
80% of women responded their husbands are Gaki Otto. Moreover, men claim, "What´s wrong with Gaki Otto?". The husbands who participated in the round-table talk in the program also said, "What´s the problem?" rather than getting offended, which made them look even more Gaki Otto. (Copywriter, Osamu Sakai)
Some men would say they "help" rising children but from the women´s point of view, the word "help" itself doesn´t give the impression of voluntary act but something obliged by women. Japanese men are likely to be involved less in the childcare comparing to the European countries. They work too much and also the understanding of the companies towards men´s childcare is significantly low. The husband of my friend asked a few months of paternity leave to the company but he was told to choose between the job or the family. So he had no choice and stayed at work but then when they had the second child, he quit the job to take care of the children with his wife.
But in general, Japanese men act like a brat (gaki/ ガキ) at home. I know a man of nearly 40 years old who lives with his parents and he just stays in his room when he is not working. He would come to sit at the table when his mother calls his for dinner, eat it, stands up and leaves without bringing his dishes to the sink.
63% of men don´t mind being called Gaki otto. They keep leaving the clothes on the floor, playing video games with some beer while their wives try to soothe the babies.
Gaki Otto would say, "Why you don´t just tell me what you want me to do". He may be right, Japanese women probably don´t complain and take everything in unlike Latin women. I´ve seen many Spanish and Latin boys being Gaki Otto but the difference is Latin women don´t just let them be like that. They will whip the guys´ bottom and make them work. In the case of Japanese couple, it could be a less communication. Maybe Japanese women are scared to make their husband angry?
I´ve written an article, "Are Japanese women too nice?" a whilte ago. If this is the reality, Gaki Otto are perhaps taking advantage of the women. I personally think that a whip or two won´t hurt these Gaki Otto but help them to grow up a little.
Contrary to Gaki Otto, a husband who eagerly takes part of the childcare is called Iku-men. Iku comes from ikuji (育児/child care) and men as men. Ikemen (イケメン) is another word refers to handsome men. The word Iku-men has a sense of not necessarily handsome but good men who are willing to take care of children.
Iku-men was selected one of the top 10 vogue words in 2010. However, despite of the men wanting to spend more time at home, in the reality, the income will reduce and the valuation towards him in the office will low, not many Iku-men in the Japanese society.
In Berlin, it´s so normal to see men with children on the street, including with very small babies. They hang the babies like this photo and covered them with the coats. I´ve even seen some men with a few-weeks old baby, which worried me a little. But it seems like perfectly normal in this city.
Perhaps, German females are better at teaching men how to collaborate in the family. Or the education of the mothers are different from Japan.
In Japan, until now, it´s more common that mothers do everything for the boys and as fathers are always busy at work, the boys don´t see his farther taking part in the housework. This is an endless argument but the certain fact is that, Iku-men is still an ideal men figure in Japan.
He argues that childcare is a job but not something you "help". In his point of view, you help when you have a spare time from the main job. He continues. Childcare, however you are, you have to do it. "To participate in the childcare" sounds like you can escape from it by saying, "Not attend".
It´s rare that men take care of children and that´s why the word Iku-men has become popular. So men should be proud of being called by that name. Because, no one would call women who do housework, "Kaji-women (家事ウーマン)". Then it´s strange to give a special name to the men who does something they are supposed be doing. This is the argument of the author.
Maybe he is right. My father was a househusband. Although I had realised it wasn´t a normal family form in Japan, for me it was absolutely normal to think the father did the housework when he was the only person at home all day. When my mother had a day off, she would cook or clean the house but the rest, it was my father to do. No one called him Iku-men. He was just "father".
Gaki Otto sounds like just a helpless and dependant man and Iku-men is just a fashion trend following the film stars.
I have to admit that as a woman, a man taking care of the children does look attractive. I would definitely prefer Iku-men than Gaki Otto. But I don´t think this is the tendency that happens only in Japan.
I like to ask if you are married, do you consider as a Gaki Otto or Iku-men? Or if you are women, is your husband Gaki Otto or Iku-men? Or rather, do we really need these titles anyway?