The XX Factor

Please Meet My Pillow, We’ve Been Together for Three Years

There was a hugely fascinating article in this weekend’s New York Times about a Japanese social phenomenon that needs to be read to be believed: A growing community of men are happily in love with 2-D animated characters . It’s like Lars and The Real Girl , but instead of being in love with anatomically correct dolls, these men are in love with pillows, decorated with the image of an (often pre-pubescent) anime character. Apparently, it’s socially acceptable. There’s a word for this predilection ( moe ) and, according to the story, most men deeply involved with anime and magna culture can put themselves on a 1-10 scale of moe -ness, with one being totally into real women, 10 being totally into animated ones. The “guru” of the “2-D Love Movement” was even booed for confessing to watching 3-D porn.

If you doubted there was some psychological benefit to getting laid at a young age (either thanks to pre-marital sex or an early marriage), consider the fact that this phenomenon is “attributed in part to the difficulty many young Japanese have in navigating modern romantic life. More than a quarter of men and women between the ages of 30 and 34 are virgins; 50 percent of men and women in Japan do not have friends of the opposite sex.” And thus, they turn to pillows.

And yet as unhealthy and strange as this whole being in love with objects thing seems to be, there’s so much interesting stuff at play here: The movement’s leading proponent defends his choice as one that takes a stand against “romantic capitalism.” He believes that: “romance was marketed so excessively through B-movies, soap operas and novels during Japan’s economic bubble of the ’80s that it has become a commodity and its true value has been lost; romance is so tainted with social constructs that it can be bought by only good looks and money.” Which, you know, there’s something to, if not quite enough to make most of us fall in love with inanimate objects.

Other things I wonder: Can you really fall in love with a pillow? How does this relate/compare to self-identifying as asexual? Is it really better than just being lonely?