For anime fans, it is crucial that any male characters are all good-looking, that is, you can say イケメン[ikemen] to mean a handsome man. But how can you imagine such a handsome guy is taking care of his child? Since I dwell on 2D[2次元], I can’t even think of being something like this. However, I would like to introduce this term which has been a big social interest, イクメン[ikumen].
Apparently, this stems from イケメン[ikemen] though I don’t know who came up with. It is usually written in katakana, but I might write it as 育男 in kanji. 育[iku] stands for raising, and 男[men] means a man. Please know 男 can’t be officially read as men. Only in a trendy way, it could be allowed to read like that.
To get to the point, イクメン means a man who is engaged in raising a child. If necessary, he could take a child-care leave. I have no idea how this sounds out of Japan, however, it seems to have been odd that men take a child-care leave. Even though the law allows men to take it, most men are not willing to do so for some reason; there would be no salary during a child-care leave(or else, possibly pay cuts). Besides, they might be worried about what would happen to their own career or colleagues. For example, while he is away, someone else has to do his work. Also he would be concerned about after he is back to the company.
How many of working men are actually ikumen? Yet it is only 1 or 2%. Having said that, actually more than 30 to 40% of them want to take a child-care leave because they know child-raising is very hard, and want to help their wives. But above reasons make it difficult to be an ikumen. What about in your country?
By the way, how do women feel about ikumen? I just quickly investigated, and most of them would think it is a good thing, or ikumen is cool. I read an article about an ikumen got a lot of chocolates from the female colleagues on Valentine Day after a child-care leave. In the olden days, things used to be like fathers have to work while mothers are at home. But such is over, I feel women are even getting stronger. I have already explained 草食男子[soushoku danshi], however, there is a totally opposite of it, 肉食女子[nikushoku joshi]. That is to say, a very active and aggressive women in career or…even love.
The above image is from the TV drama series, アットホーム・ダッド[Stay-at-home Dad] which follows a 37-year-old who has become an ikumen because of a certain reason. He used to be a director for commercial advertisements, but all of a sudden he got fired. His wife is back to the company she used to work for so he has to be at home in order to take care of his girl. This drama is high-rated so it has been re-aired so many times. Because of this drama, a word 主夫[shufu, house husband] spread out.
I don’t mind if I become a 主夫 at all because I would be able to stay at home. And I am good at any chores, but child-raising…oh no, I have no confidence. っつうかその前に子供いないから分かんない（笑） So I found the best way for me.
This is a shoujo manga, きみはペット[You are my pet] which follows a 27-year-old woman who is a powerful business woman. She is well-educated, and capable of doing anything at a company. But she breaks up with her boyfriend because she is too great. One day, she finds a young boy(Momo) in a cardboard box like a stray dog in front of her home. She decides to pick him up as a pet.
Yes! This is it! Pets don’t have to do anything, right? I don’t mind being a pet at all. But I promise I will make food, clean up, or do other chores for you. Please make sure you feed me, okay? ちゃんとエサはちょうだいね＾＾So young lady, why don’t you have me? こんなペットはいかが？ （笑）