Tokyo Damage Report

type two gender fouls

There’s typical “gender fouls” like “Men who don’t like sports or cars” or “women who don’t like babies or armpit shaving.”  If you’re one of these, people make you feel less than a man/woman.  But what I’ve noticed recently is there is a HIDDEN ASYMMETRY in gender fouls. A whole second level of unfairness that is hidden until now simply because there is not a word for it.  What we normally think of as “gender fouls”, are actually two different things.    There’s the normal type of gender foul like i mentioned up above. Let’s call those TYPE ONE.

For my money, though,  the more interesting gender fouls are things that mark you as a loser, a failure as a man/woman , EVEN THOUGH YOU’RE DOING SOMETHING WHICH ONLY YOUR GENDER DOES.  When you think about it, that’s pretty weird.  I guess you can resolve the contradiction by saying:  “99% of men don’t do XYZ, but 99% of people who do XYZ are men.”


Let’s call these activities TYPE TWO GENDER FOULS.

For example, even though collecting star wars figurines is something that only guys do, we don’t think of that as “manly” in the way that football/cars are.    (I’m not trying to make the case that Star Wars collecting is manly or awesome.  If anything, admitting that you care about sports/cars should be just as embarrassing as admitting you have a closet full of mint toys. But that’s beside the point. )

It’s hard to think clearly about TYPE TWO GENDER FOULS because it’s not symmetrical.

And by “not symmetrical”, I mean, there are plenty of women into science or role-playing games or whatever, but if you’re a woman and you’re into “geek” stuff like engineering, programming, astronomy . . . that’s a type ONE gender foul:  you’re acting too “masculine.” But if you’re a guy and into that stuff, it’s a type TWO gender foul:  it’s not masculine ENOUGH.  Makes your head hurt just thinking about it.


Put another way, most of what we think of as “women gender fouls” are TYPE ONE (some variation on ‘you’re doing guy stuff or not caring enough about girl stuff so you are less of a woman’). That’s why I had to write this rant, to try to give a way to think about TYPE TWO fouls. Until now there really has been no way to think about or talk about it. And even though I’m throwing down a theoretical framework for discussing it,  at the end of the day, I’m a guy and I have no idea what a female TYPE TWO might be!

So here goes my question to everyone: What’s the embarrassing stuff that meets the definition of: “99% of women don’t do XYZ but 99% of the people who do XYZ are women?”

For example, there is this stereotype that women collect shoes.  Is there any amount of shoe collecting large enough that  the woman would get made fun of like a guy with a huge collection of  comic books?  Or are shoe collections more like football and cars, where no matter how obsessive it gets it’s never a gender foul?

And being obsessed with aromatherapy or scented bath candle collecting!  Are those type two gender fouls?  I know it’s mostly women who do that, but are they seen as “less of a woman” if they get down like that?  What about living alone with 3 cats? Or just one cat?  Or reading romance novels?  Is “chick lit” OK but old-school Fabio books something you have to hide from your friends?

If you’re a woman or a guy with too many older sisters, can you help me out here? What are some good female type two gender fouls?


12 Comments so far

  1. cube July 28th, 2013 5:23 pm

    Lady I know says that breast implants are a type two now that all their coinciding health problems are well known — only exception is when they’re done after e.g. a double mastectomy.

  2. Baka_toroi July 29th, 2013 11:18 am

    My ex-girlfriend is way into some kind of dolls called “Pullip.” I think they are Korean. It’s a very niche thing, at least in the west.

    I guess that would be type 2 for women.

  3. kelvin July 30th, 2013 1:31 pm

    hi there,

    sorry, this is totally unrelated to your post, but I couldn’t find an email to contact you…my gf and I are coming to tokyo (and other places in japan) in september for 3 weeks, and I was wondering about a couple of things:

    – what’s a good resource for live shows (punk, electronic, industrial, etc)

    – are there any places/sites that you’ve come across recently that you think may be worthy of your tokyo tour guide? i was in Japan last year, and visited some sites that you have written about (e.g. Rope, geiger and gaudi buildings, etc.), and plan to use your guide as part of a to-see list on our trip this time around…

    feel free to use my email as a contact…


  4. Sarah August 2nd, 2013 11:28 pm

    The cat one is definitely a type two gender foul. Loving cats is cute, therefore feminine, but if you live alone with more or one, you become a ‘crazy cat lady’ and therefore foul, deranged, unlovable and unfuckable.

  5. 古山田咲郎 August 8th, 2013 12:20 pm

    Type two gender foul for women: Substitute Baby.

    Usually found in women aged 45-60 who realize it’s too late for actual offspring. The substitute is usually a small pet dog, but sometimes you may come across those eerie types tossing a baby doll around in a stroller while talking to it as it were alive. And changing it’s diapers!

  6. 古山田咲郎 August 8th, 2013 12:26 pm

    Even have another example that I observed mostly in elderly women: Teenage Dress-Up

    This is seen in unmarried, childless women 65+. Obviously having missed their chance in life, they start to dress like 15-year olds, wear push-up bra and putting on loads of make-up. Of course this looks horribly wrong and grosses everybody off.

  7. admin August 8th, 2013 10:10 pm

    @古山: thanks and on the subject of teenage dress-up, let me add the very Tokyo phenomenon of the “something-or-other” Oyako. These are moms and daughters that go out shopping together but the mom is dressed in the same teenage fashion as the daughter. I forget exactly what type of oyako this is. Can anyone help me out?

  8. Joey August 9th, 2013 2:34 pm

    If the archetype of the male Type Two gender fouler is the neck-bearded, basement dwelling obsessive collector of Star Wars figurines, then the archetype of the female Type Two gender fouler is the Crazy Cat Lady practicioner of Spiritual Healing or Wicca. Or a writer of Harry Potter romantic slash fiction.

  9. 古山田咲郎 August 10th, 2013 12:34 am

    Hi Steven,

    just found this news report in German, but check out the awesome image material:

    Obviously the phenomenon is called “Reborn Babies”

  10. Feral Bagpuss August 10th, 2013 3:20 pm

    Happy Belated Birthday Steve!! Hope you had a wonderful day and are still celebrating.

  11. SteveS August 15th, 2013 1:55 pm

    I find a lot of Type 1 for men are now being treated as Type 2. Like if someone talks a lot about cars or something with a dude, another dude will call them out for being nerds, whereas before, you would be considered less of a dude if you didn’t know how many HP were in such and such a year Mustang.

    Pet ownership in general is its own gender-neutral niche thing – I know cat dudes, and they are not called out for being non-masculine cat dudes, but they will be called out for being crazy cat people.

    I can’t think of any female examples. Typically someone won’t be like, “OMG she is sooo into fashion, that’s gross.” They’ll just be like, “Oh she’s a whore.” and end it without getting specific.

  12. repepe August 18th, 2013 8:30 pm

    The best example for type two women would be the fujoshi.

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