This article is reproduced from the discontinued, but much loved Mainichi Waiwai column by Ryann Connell. Read more about this at the bottom of this article. (Does anybody know when this was originally published in Waiwai? We cant find the original link. Please let us know).
A four-page article in Aera (11/7) is based on a poll of 300 married women, with more than half its space devoted to bar graphs and pie graphs — a total of 20, if you can believe it. But bear with us; there are interesting conclusions to be drawn from the “sexless” relationships that appear to plague an increasing number of Japan’s marriages.
More than half the respondents (51.0 percent), told Aera their interest in sex came to a screeching halt with the birth of a child. They voiced other reasons, but most of these as well involved the addition of a new family member. These included “occupied with child rearing” (36.0 percent) and “concerned about the children” (35.0). Other responses for disinterest (with percentages in brackets) included don’t find husband appealing any more (29.0); no longer enjoy sex (28.0); unable to feel aroused by husband (27.0); feel repulsed by sex (24.0); no longer any fun (24.0); no longer get a charge from it (14.0); and don’t like husband any more (14.0).
Nevertheless, it appears that at least when single, most of these women had enjoyed sex, or at least the romance that accompanied it. In contrast to a remarkably low 2.5 percent who said they had never engaged in sex prior to marriage, 57.5 percent replied that they had, and the experience was pleasurable; 10 percent went so far to say they enjoyed it tremendously. But about one in four said premarital sex was less than pleasant; and 3.5 percent admitted to hating it right from the start.
Perhaps related to the above, Aera found that 18.5 percent of the respondents replied “yes” to having had some negative sexual experience prior to marriage. The most frequently given answers included “lover demanded a type of sex she didn’t agree with” (56.8 percent); was turned off by some sex-related experience when a child (21.6); was molested by a groper or pervert (10.8); was punished by a parent for engaging in sex (5.5); was sexually abused by a relative (2.7); and had been raped (2.7 percent).
Whatever the reason, once married, these women don’t get it on any more. When asked how they thought their husbands should deal with this declining interest, only 15 percent of the wives said they felt apologetic. “I’d like him to be more understanding,” whined another 14 percent. “I think he should not be so dependent on sex,” pouted 44 percent. And another 26 percent said they hadn’t really given much thought to the matter.
A 33-year-old housewife is one of those who feels she’s had enough.
“My husband is one of those types who takes a long time to finish,” she relates. “Even before we married I felt a strong sense of fatigue from doing it. When one partner doesn’t feel anything, it gives sex a sterile feeling. So sex, which is supposed to feel good, has become a heavy chore for me.”
“In Japan, ‘seijo-i’ the so-called ‘missionary position,’ is by far the most common” says Shigeru Kashima, a professor of Buddhist literature at Kyoritsu Women’s University and author of books on sex. “In the West, by contrast, the female-superior position, where women find it easier to control their movements, predominates. I think there’s also a major difference in the degree to which societies permit women to be able to assert their own sexual preferences.”
But the sexless equation has two sides, and husbands, too, have reasons for ignoring their wives in the conjugal bed. Of those wives who received some explanation for their husband’s lack of interest, precisely half told Aera that their husband had begged off because work “had become busy.” The next four replies — all with 18.8 percent responses — included he was no longer sexually aroused by her; he no longer found her appealing; he doesn’t like sex any more; and he’s concerned about the children. This was followed by: sex no longer needed since children had been conceived, 12.5 percent; he had become dysfunctional or impotent, 12.5 percent; and he complained there was not enough foreplay to arouse him, 6.3 percent.
In any case, how did the wives cope with sexlessness? In 25.5 percent of the cases, they said they felt no sexual desire and didn’t miss it. Another 19.0 percent masturbated; and 8.0 admitted to engaging in extramarital sex. But the majority (52.5 percent) had nothing to say about the situation at all — accepting a sexless existence as the natural state of affairs.
Despite what the tabloids and weeklies report about wildly promiscuous housewives, the percentages of wives in their 20s, 30s, and 40s who insisted they had never once cheated on their husbands was uniformly high: 84.8, 79.1 and 83.6 percent, respectively. (Among 300 sexless husbands questioned in a previous Aera survey, affections strayed at a much higher rate, with 64.2 percent of men in their 30s and 62.7 percent in their 40s admitting to infidelity.)
A few wives managed to explore their own sensuality. For one 38-year-old woman, sexual epiphany came from watching a foreign male actor, whose performance on the screen kindled long-dormant passions.
“Imagining myself being held in his arms and then masturbating gave me a wonderful feeling, and I finally learned how an orgasm actually felt,” she tells Aera. “Now that I know how good it feels, I might even be able to enjoy the same sensation when making love with my husband.”
(The Mainichi Waiwai column ran online from April 19, 2001 – June 21, 2008. It was a much loved form of entertainment amongst foreigner in and outside of Japan. To any reader it was obviously not serious news, but it was a set of articles that portrayed quite well how the Japanese tabloids actually write about their own country. In 2008, a small number of Japanese people bought it to the attention of rival news groups that Mainichi was running an anti-Japan column on its website. With the bad publicity, Mainichi was forced to shut the page down, and take punitive measures against the journalists that were working on it, claiming that it was receiving opinions that were critical of the column, such as “its contents are too vulgar” and “the stories could cause Japanese people to be misunderstood abroad”. A perfect example of how Japanese consider what they write in their own script to be an acceptable secret code, that the rest of the world cant understand. When that same tabloid rubbish gets inconveniently translated to English to make light of some aspects of the Japanese people, it gets canned. Stippy.com finds this unacceptable, and will reproduce as much of the Waiwai content as possible in order to bring it once again to our computer screens for a good laugh. Of course we claim no credit for this content, and attribute it to it’s writers who were former Mainichi employees. Waiwai in its true and glorious form has been discontinued, but it’s legacy will live on at stippy.com for all to enjoy.)