Thursday, April 5, 2007

MIANZI (Me-enn-jee) – The Importance of “Face” in China!

If You Want to Survive & Thrive in China
You Must Have “Face!”

Boyé Lafayette De Mente

Until the last few decades of the 20th century it was difficult or impossible for ordinary Chinese to develop a strong sense of self-esteem or pride because the culture in which they lived denied them the right to think and act independently and prevented them from being able to demonstrate their own individual worth, including taking credit for personal accomplishments.

Failure to abide by these ancient taboos—many of which had been codified as law by the imperial dynasties and continued by the Communist regime—was regarded as immoral and unethical by traditional standards, and could have series consequences.

However, there were two key ways in China that individuals could stand out quietly and unobtrusively, and one of the most important of these was for them to develop skill in an art or craft or another endeavor to an extraordinary degree—and that is exactly what many Chinese did over the generations.

One other way that the Chinese were able to feel good about themselves without breaking any taboos was to have mianzi (me-enn-jee) or “face”—meaning to have unblemished reputations for living up to all of the cultural expectations that had built up over the centuries, and most importantly, not to allow anyone to damage their face or themselves damage anyone else's face unless they were prepared to take the consequences, since such behavior called for a reciprocal action of some kind.

In fact, having “face” was generally more important than having some kind of special expertise, since economic and social survival in traditional China depended upon not having any serious blemishes on one’s reputation that would prevent you from making and keeping the kind of “social connections” that were essential for survival in an authoritarian society.

Today, for the first time in their history, private Chinese are mostly free to pursue individual goals, to take pride in their accomplishments, and to otherwise act as individuals. But the importance of social connections and “face” have hardly diminished. Both concepts are so deeply embedded in the culture that they continue to play leading roles in the everyday lives of the people.

You still have to protect your "face" and develop an extensive network of personal connections with local and regional government officials and with your suppliers to be successful in business, and without similar social connections your personal life as well is not likely to go smoothly.

This need for mianzi and connections is one of the first things that foreigners wanting to succeed in China must learn, and once the lesson is taken to heart they must thereafter spend a substantial amount of time and expense in maintaining their face and their connections.

The Chinese concept of "face" is very personal, and covers any act, comment, tone of voice or even facial expression that indicates criticism or disapproval, especially when any of these things occur in front of other people. Because of this extrordinary sensitivity, managers and others in positions of authority should be cautious about criticizing or disciplining employees (and others) in public.

There are a variety of things involved in developing and maintaining face and connections in China, many of which are familiar to most people—eating and drinking together, giving gifts, doing favors, not criticizing people to their face, and so on. But these things must be done according to the cultural protocol that applies, or such efforts may backfire.

It is fairly common for Chinese in all social categories to take personal advantage of those who need their friendship and cooperation, especially naïve foreigners, and these situations may be hard for foreigners to recognize and avoid. It is vital that one know how to handle these situations.

Throughout China’s history, including the heyday of the Communist regime, many bureaucrats made a regular practice of using their power to get personal favors for themselves or members of their families from people who needed their services, and the practice continues today. It is even more important to know how to handle these situations when government officials are concerned.

Still today the best recourse is to get insights and guidance from a trusted Chinese friend or other foreigners who have been in China for many years, are well-versed in the “face and connections” factors and can guide you around the pitfalls.
Copyright © 2007 by Boyé Lafayette De Mente

For additional cultural insights on surviving and making out in China, see the author’s The Chinese Have a Word for It! and Chinese Etiquette & Ethics in Business. For a full list of his books on China, Japan, and Korea, see his personal website at:, and/or the Books Search facility of and other booksellers.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

MONO NO AWARE (Moe-no no Ah-wah-ray) – The Japanese Way of Pleasuring in the Brevity of Life!

How the Fragility of Life Can
Sharpen Your Sensual, Intellectual
& Spiritual Enjoyment!

Boyé Lafayette De Mente

One of the special elements of Japanese culture is the tradition of creating both environments and occasions for communing with the fragility of life—an element that adds enormously to the recognition of this fragility and makes people more inclined to enjoy the years they have.

One of the most memorable afternoons I have spent in Japan was in a traditional ryokan (rio-kahn), inn, situated on the slope of a gorge on picturesque Izu Peninsula southwest of Tokyo. It was a Sunday afternoon. I was alone, and it was raining—not a heavy rain but a light, steady rain that was close to being a mist. I was sitting on the balcony of my room, looking out over the gorge, waiting for a friend to arrive.

As I sat there I began to experience what the Japanese call mono no aware (moe-no no ah-wah-ray)—a Buddhist concept that includes being very conscious of the ephemeral nature of man, his struggle in the face of great odds and the inevitability of his downfall and disappearance.

This aspect of Japan’s culture, developed between 700 and 1200 A.D. was based on the acute recognition of the impermanence of all things—an element that was enhanced by the code of the samurai which required them to be ready to give up their lives at a moment’s notice—resulting in their lives being compared to cherry blossoms...beautiful but fragile to the extreme and subject to being wafted away by the slightest breeze.

This culture of impermanence was especially reflected in the haiku and tanka poetry of the era, as well as in the such great literary works as Genji Monogatari (The Tale of Genji), a novel about the intrigues and loves of an imperial prince (usually regarded as the world’s first novel) written in the early 11th century by Murasaki Shikibu, a lady in the Imperial Court in Kyoto; and Heike Monogatari (The Tale of the Heike), compiled by a blind monk named Kakuichi in 1371.

The opening lines of Heike Monogatari, which depicts an epic struggle between the Taira and Minamoto clans for the control of Japan in the 12th century, say more about the human condition than many philosophical tomes:

“The sound of the Gion Shôja [temple] bells echoes the impermanence of all things; the color of the sâla flowers reveals the truth that the prosperous must decline. The proud do not endure, they are like a dream on a spring night; the mighty fall at last; they are as dust before the wind.”

The culture of Japan reflected this theme in many ways, resulting in the Japanese developing an extensive vocabulary that expressed this inherent sadness of life.

While mono no aware means something like “indulging one’s self in grief,” neither this phrase nor any of the other key words were actually used in sad situations. Instead they referred to a gentle melancholy view of the fragility and preciousness of life that included an element of subdued pleasure.

The annual custom of celebrating the short life of cherry blossoms is the largest of Japan’s mono no aware rituals. It reminds them to take the time and find ways enjoy life while you can because it will soon be gone.

My spending a quiet afternoon entranced by the natural beauty of the setting as it was being cleansed and renewed by rain was another of the mono no aware practices that are dear to the hearts of the Japanese. Still another way is to engage in “forest bathing”—spending time in an isolated forest, letting the sights, sounds and vibrations of the trees wash over you.

There is also an element of mono no aware in most of Japan’s classic art and craft designs, from kitchen utensils to the kimono wore by older men and women. The famous Tea Ceremony is a pure mono no aware ritual.

Knowledge of this cultural element makes it possible for one to appreciate more fully the distinctive essence of things Japanese—the elements that make them Japanese.

This factor is one of the unspoken and generally un-described things that makes the traditional aspects of life in Japan so sensually, intellectually, and spiritually attractive to everyone, including foreigners who are sensitive to the realities of life, including its brevity.
Copyright © 2007 by Boyé Lafayette De Mente

For a detailed and definitive discourse on aspects of Japanese culture see the author’s book, ELEMENTS OF JAPANESE DESIGN—Understanding & Using Japan’s Classic Wabi-Sabi-Shibui Concepts; The Japanese Have a Word for It!; JAPAN UNMASKED—The Character & Culture of the Japanese; and SEX & THE JAPANESE—The Sensual Side of Japan. To see a full list of his books on Japan, China and Korea, see his personal website at:, and/or and other online booksellers.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

KI (Kee) – The Chinese/Japanese Concept of Cosmic Power

How the Japanese Develop and Use
the Force Known as Ki

Boyé Lafayette De Mente

One of the most extraordinary sights I have ever seen in the martial arts field was a very small judo master in his seventies using the power of ki (kee) to literally blast several young judo trainees away from him as if they had been hit by a powerful gust of wind.

The move by the elderly judo master appeared to have been virtually effortless. It was not a violent act. He did not strain himself in any way, and he did not yell out like many practitioners of the martial arts…and some Western tennis players do when they make or return a shot.

As noted in my book, Japan’s Cultural Code Words, Asians, particularly practitioners of Zen in China and Japan, have long held that there is a force [think Start Wars] that infuses the cosmos and all things in it, including human beings, and that this force can be developed and directed toward specific tasks and targets.

Zen was introduced into Japan China in the 12th and 13th centuries, and became part of the training of the samurai class of warriors whose lives depended on developing their senses and their martial arts skills to an incredible degree.

From that era on, the history of Japan’s samurai class is replete with records of accomplishments and actions by individual warriors that were out of the ordinary and often astonishing.

The most famous of these warriors was Musashi Miyamoto, who was born in 1584 and died in 1645. He fought over 60 duels to the death by the time he was 30 years, the first one when he was just 13. In addition to these duels he fought in numerous wars and in hundreds of exhibition bouts without ever losing a single match or being wounded. [It is said that in one fight his opponent managed to cut a small slice in his kimono.]

The use of ki was taught by Zen monks, and eventually spread among artists, craftsmen, garden designers and others who wanted to sharpen their ordinary senses and develop an extrasensory perception.

Ki is variously translated as energy, mind-power, spirit and cosmic breath, and is now most commonly associated with aikido, karate, kendo and other martial arts. Karate masters often demonstrate its power by breaking a large number of boards and bricks with their hands or feet. The power of ki has also been associated with the cure of many ailments—and in that respect the cures would qualify as miracles in Western religious terms.

The Chinese and Japanese say that the human body is infused with ki and that it is the stimulation of ki in the body that makes acupuncture work. [Western scientists are now beginning to accept the idea that there is an invisible power than animates all life forms.]

Large numbers of Japanese businessmen are devotees of Zen and the power of ki and attribute at least some of their success to this cosmic energy. The Japanese government has been backing scientific research into the nature of ki since the 1980s.

The power of ki is developed through a combination of physical exercises and meditation—on focusing the mind to the point that it can exert a physical force on a judo opponent or any other object.
Copyright © 2007 by Boyé Lafayette De Mente

For more about ki, Zen, meditation and the training of the samurai, see the author’s books: The Japanese Samurai Code—Classic Strategies for Success; Samurai Strategies—42 Martial Arts Secrets from Musashi’s Book of Five Rings; and Samurai Principles & Practices that will Help Preteens & Teens in School, Sports, Social Activities & Choosing Careers…all available from, other online booksellers, and leading bookstores. For a full list of his 60-plus books on China, Japan and Korea see his personal website:

Monday, April 2, 2007

Why “Religious Civilizations” Are Doomed to Fail!

The Rise & Fall of Jewish, Christian, Islamic
& All Other Religion-Based Societies!

Boyé Lafayette De Mente

History has revealed with stark reality that societies based on religions are inherently doomed to failure—and that includes every religious state that existed in the past and those that exist today.

The fatal flaw in all religion-based societies before and now is that they survive only as long as their leaders have enough power to prevent the citizens from questioning the tenets of the religions…by a combination of keeping them ignorant, dependent and fearful of reprisals if they stray.

At this time, all of the countries in the world that are ruled by Islam are perfect examples of religious societies in which both thought and behavior are controlled by the religious leaders and a code of conduct that denies the people the right to think for themselves and to behave as individuals.

All religious societies base their values and beliefs on the past, and on the efforts of their leaders to emotionally, intellectually and spiritually homogenize their people so they will think alike, act alike, and presumably live in perfect harmony.

In these societies the leaders regard any kind of fundamental social change as a deviation from what is moral and right; as a decline from the standards established long ago by “saints” and “saviors” and made absolute in “holy” books and scriptures. In these societies “reform” always means discarding any changes from the past and returning to the “true path” as taught by the scriptures.

Purely religious societies can survive only as long as the people remain subject to the mental and physical control of the religious edicts on which their societies are based and new ideas are kept from infiltrating into the minds of the young. This means that virtually absolute exclusivity from the outside world is essential for these societies to survive.

The daily news reveals beyond any doubt that the Islamic societies of the world are under siege from the outside and from the inside. A growing number of people in these societies want to be free to make decisions on their own, to live their own lives.

Modern forms of communication are slowly but surely destroying the walls behind which Moslem countries have survived up to this time—but they remain prominent because the social and economic power of their leaders has been virtually absolute for a long time—to the extent that they have not had to pay any attention to the real needs or wants of their people.

Buddhist civilizations are no longer prominent in the world. All Buddhist countries have been under attack from without by alternative beliefs since the 16th century, and reality has forced the people in these countries to become pragmatic in their thinking and behavior in order to survive.

There are huge numbers of people in Asia who still regard themselves as Buddhists, but the religion itself has very little if any control over what they think and how the behave.

All Christian civilizations are also in the throes of cultural revolutions that are steadily and rapidly diminishing the power of Christian theology and the Christian Church and in the United States in particular there is now a great hew and cry about reforming Christianity—about returning to the past.

In fact, there are movements underway to once again give religion equal if not higher billing than secular law. The people leading these movements do not know what they are asking for. They have never experienced the totalitarianism of Christianity that existed in its earlier centuries and that continued to exist in many countries for centuries after the rebellion against the Catholic Church in the 16th century.

So-called Christian countries today are basically Christian in name only, although there are millions who profess to believe in its tenets, and on institutionalized occasions demonstrate their piety by attending a church and engaging in religious-based activities.

Countries with so-called Christian civilizations are, in fact, transforming into what Japanese economist-philosopher Shumpei Kumon refers to as “inclusive maintenance-oriented civilizations”—meaning that their ethics and morality are fixable on an ongoing basis…that they are evolving as the intellectual and spiritual level of the people evolve.

The more these “Christian” countries evolve the closer the fundamental beliefs of the people will be to a philosophy rather than a religion.

The idea (but not the practice) of Christian thought is so deeply embedded in the cultures of these countries, however, that the motions and verbiage of the religion will no doubt persist for at least two or three more generations.

The danger is that a backlash fueled by the uncertainties and violence of today’s Christian societies might become powerful enough to stop the progress away from the dogma of the past…and it is probably too much to expect that those who have a vested interest in the economics and politics of Christianity will become enlightened enough to join in the universal slog toward a humane intellectual and spiritual philosophy for mankind.
Copyright © 2007 by Boyé Lafayette De Mente

To see a full list of the author’s 60-plus cultural-insight books, see his personal website at:, and/or go to the books category of and type in his full name.

WENHUA (Win-wha) – How Foreigners Can Use the “Culture Card” in China!

First Comes Understanding
the True Meaning of Culture!

Boyé Lafayette De Mente

Most Westerners think of culture (when they think of it at all) in terms of the arts, literature and music, but these elements are only a small part of culture. Culture covers the way people think, talk and behave as well as the way they work and what they create.

The various mental constructs that people have of their own existence, of life in all of its forms and of the universe at large, is a product of their own cultures. In other words, people are programmed by their culture to view and react to their world in certain ways, and it is this programming that makes them different.

Despite the attempts by Mao Zedung and his Communist regime to destroy all vestiges of China’s traditional culture from 1966 to 1976, and despite the inroads made by Western cultures since then, most of the core values and basic behavioral patterns of the Chinese that have been in existence for more than two thousand years are still very much in evidence throughout the country.

In fact, the traditional culture of China is one of the most enduring and powerful ever to have been developed, and since it is the force that motivates and guides such a large number of people it is obviously one of the world’s most important cultures.

Wenhua (win-wha), the Chinese term for culture, can be translated as “patterns of thought and behavior,” and it is so powerful that Chinese whose families have lived abroad for several generations are still culturally identifiable as “Chinese.”

The Chinese have traditionally viewed China more as a cultural entity than as a landmass, and in the past some writers have suggested that the country should be called Zhong Hua (Chong Whah) or “Central Cultural Essence” instead of Zhong Guo (Chong Gwoh) or “Central Kingdom.”

Present-day Chinese remain especially sensitive to their characteristic ways, and they appreciate it when foreigners make an effort to learn something about their culture and follow some of its customs and etiquette.

Without being insidious or cynical about it, foreigners can use this factor in their relationships in China to build goodwill and cooperation. It goes without saying that showing respect for the cultural beliefs and feelings of the Chinese will get you a lot further than a belittlingly or critical approach.
Copyright © 2007 by Boyé Lafayette De Mente

For more comprehensive insights into Chinese culture, see the author’s book, The Chinese Have a Word for It! (McGraw-Hill), which consists of definitive explanations of more than 300 of China’s “cultural code words.” To see a full list of his 60-plus cultural-insight books on China, Japan, Korea and Mexico see his personal website at:

Sunday, April 1, 2007

JIZAI (Jee-zie)—The Power of a Modern Version of Zen!

How the Japanese Tap into Cosmic Creativity!

Boyé Lafayette De Mente

I note in my book The Japanese Have a Word for It! that until recent times the Western world did not give very much thought to the relationship between the mind and the body, and to the power of the mind to influence and change the functioning of the body. Such ideas were regarded as mystic nonsense.

It was not until the latter part of the 1900s that Western scientists began to accept the idea that their concepts of the physical world were only a part of the human and cosmic equation, and that there was much more to life and existence than what meets the eye.

Most people in the West continue to ignore the ancient Asian practice of Zen, which allows one to transcend conventional wisdom, see things as they really are, and achieve mental and physical skills that are out of the ordinary.

It was the addition of Zen meditation to the training of Japan’s famous samurai class that made it possible for them to transcend the limitations of the average person in martial arts, and it was this same training that provided the insight for Japan’s artists, craftsmen and garden designers to routinely create masterpieces.

One of the versions of Zen that has played a key role in the emergence of Japan as a major economic power is subsumed in the word jizai (jee-zie), which, in effect, refers to being able to think outside of the box of conventional wisdom and customary practices.

Virtually all of Japan’s best known businessmen/entrepreneurs have been and still are practitioners of jizai, and the concept is the foundation of many of the think-tanks that sprung up in Japan in the latter half of the 20th century—the best known of which is the Jizai Kenkyu Jo (Jee-zie Kane-que Jo), or Jizai Research Institute, founded in 1970 by Masahiro Mori, a Tokyo University professor of engineering who was also the founder of the Robotics Society of Japan.

Many of the most successful products that Japan has produced since that time have been the result of jizai thinking. In product terms, jizai thinking means meditating on the design and function of a product until you arrive at the ultimate in function, design and quality.

There was very little if any tradition of this kind in the Western world until recent times, particularly in the United States, and it was not until competition from Japanese manufacturers became a serious threat to U.S. industry that some American designers and engineers began to take a more jizai approach to their work.
Copyright © 2007 by Boyé Lafayette De Mente

For other concepts that are expressed by key terms in the Japanese language, see the author’s books, The Japanese Have a Word for It (McGraw-Hill) and Japan’s Cultural Code Words (Tuttle Publishing). For books in the same series on China, Korea and Mexico, see his personal website: and/or

BIAN (Bee-enn): The Chinese Way of Winning!

How to Succeed in Business, Politics & War

Boyé Lafayette De Mente

In the 1950s and 60s one of the bestselling books in Japan was The Art of War, the classic written by the Chinese military strategist and tactician Sun Tzu around 500 B.C. Hundreds of thousands of Japanese businessmen bought and virtually memorized the book not because they were bent on starting a new war but because they were absolutely determined to succeed in business.

This extraordinary idea of using the stratagems of war to succeed in business obviously worked—in fact, the approach worked so well that in just 20 fast years tiny war-devastated Japan morphed into the world’s second largest economy.

And now China is well on its way to replacing Japan as the world’s second largest economic power for two simple reasons. Near the end of the 1970s ordinary Chinese were allowed [for the first time in the history of the country] to utilize the dynamics of capitalism and the world’s marketplace, combined with the principles and practices espoused in The Art of War, to help themselves.

The primary principle taught by Sun Tsu was that the general must know everything there is to know about the enemy and be prepared to both anticipate and adapt to changing circumstances as they occur. This meant that the general has to have up-to-the-minute intelligence, know his own strengths and weaknesses thoroughly, and know when and how to take advantage of the circumstances.

Sun Tsu used the term bian (bee-een) as one of the basic principles in his formula for success. It refers to flexibility, and incorporates the idea of both anticipating and adapting to changing circumstances.

Just as the Japanese had some 30 years earlier, the Chinese associated these stratagems of war with achieving success in business, particularly when they were dealing with foreign companies that could easily be viewed as the enemy.

The emergence of China as an economic superpower in less than three decades validates equating war with both politics and business, and is especially appropriate for the United States, where the prevailing culture tends to view and treat war, politics and business as separate entities.

As I note in my book The Chinese Have a Word for It (from which bian is extracted), virtually all Chinese businesspeople are skilled in the use of “war” strategies and tactics in their conduct of business because it is embedded in their culture.

This pragmatic approach to business often provides the Chinese with advantages in their dealings with Americans and other foreigners whose concept of business is generally one-dimensional and therefore limits them in what they do and how the do it.

I recommend that foreigners dealing with China—in business as well as in political affairs—be thoroughly versed in Sun Tsu’s guidelines, particularly when it comes to knowing enough about the mindset and plans of their Chinese counterparts to anticipate their actions, and to have their own strategies and tactics ready to deal with them.

Americans have already learned the lesson that it is usually politicians, not generals, who lose wars; and that it is also generally politicians who hamper the conduct of business.
Copyright © 2007 by Boyé Lafayette De Mente

For a detailed description of The Chinese Have a Word for It and the author’s 60-plus other books on China, Korea, Japan and Mexico, go to his personal website:, and/or insert his full name into’s Books Search facility.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Changing the Culture of Education around the World!

Training Program
Used by Japan’s Samurai Class
Should be Adopted Worldwide!

Boyé Lafayette De Mente

The present-day systems of parenting and educating in the U.S. and elsewhere obviously fail to provide the physical, intellectual and emotional framework that youths need to even approach their potential as fully mature and responsible adults.

I believe an entirely new cultural paradigm is needed to reform and energize the world’s education systems, and I believe that a modern version of the training undergone by the youth of Japan’s famed samurai class could provide a model for this paradigm.

I have identified the principles and practices that made up the educational and training process of samurai youths, and published them in a book entitled: Samurai Principles & Practices That Will Help Preteens & Teens in School, Sports, Social Activities & Choosing Careers.

The book covers all of the basics of the samurai training—setting goals, discipline, diligence, perseverance, respect for others and one’s self, maintaining a high standard of personal appearance, keeping things in order, living frugally, using intuitive and emotional intelligence, and tapping into cosmic power.

Japan’s famous samurai warriors ruled the country from 1192 until 1868. During the latter centuries of their reign their training went beyond martial arts to include such cultural pursuits as poetry, painting, calligraphy, history, philosophy and social behavior, making them one of the most remarkable groups of people the world has ever seen.

Schooling in the skills and knowledge necessary to produce a samurai began in early childhood, and was a lifelong effort. Training in karate, kendo and meditation were the paths to learning the skills, morality and motivation that made the samurai so successful—and it was the heritage of the spirit of the samurai that made it possible for tiny resource-poor Japan to overcome the destruction of World War II and become the world’s second largest economy in less than 30 years.

I believe the modernized version of this samurai type of training should be incorporated into the educational system of Western all countries—and that now includes Japan.

The introduction of American culture into Japan following the end of World War II in 1945 resulted in the virtual demise of samurai-type training of the young within a single generation. The negative effects of this cultural shift were painfully conspicuous by the 1980s, prompting a growing number of Japanese to individually take up training in kendo or karate and the practice of meditation to reintroduce a sense of order and spiritual power into their lives.

Obviously, parents and teachers must take the lead in creating the environment necessary to build positive samurai-like qualities into the mindset and behavior of students, but I also hope my book will appeal directly to the millions of students who are into Japanese-made manga (comics), video games, super secret agent ninjas, and samurai films.

Samurai Principles & Practices That Will Help Preteens and Teens in School, Sports, Social Activities and Choosing Careers [based on the present-day sports version of the martial arts of the samurai] is available in both digital and paperback versions from and other online booksellers, Borders Bookstores, Barnes & Noble, and other leading retail outlets.

It is distributed to the trade by Ingram Book Company and Baker & Taylor. A detailed description of the book is also available on my website,, along with my other titles on the way of the samurai.
Copyright © 2007 by Boyé Lafayette De Mente
To see a full list of the author’s 60-plus books, including The Japanese Samurai Code—Classic Strategies for Success, and Samurai Strategies—42 Martial Arts Secrets from Musahi’s Book of Five Rings, go to his personal website:

BUDAN XIN (Boo-dahn Sheen): A Chinese Concept Foreigners Should Know!

The Imperative of “Sincerity
Plus Understanding” in China

Boyé Lafayette De Mente

Dealing successfully with the Chinese in business, diplomatic and political affairs requires an extraordinary level of knowledge about Chinese culture, from their day-to-day customs to their deepest beliefs and motivations.

As noted in my book China’s Cultural Code Words, understanding and dealing with commercial enterprises and government agencies in particular takes on an entirely new light when viewed from the Chinese perspective. Almost nothing follows the straightforward, expedient lines of thought and steps that logical and law-oriented Westerner expects.

Part of the difference in Chinese and Western thinking and behavior is expressed in the phrase budan xin (boo-dahn sheen), which means something like “sincerity plus understanding”—although I believe it would be more accurate to reverse these two concepts, with understanding coming first.

In its Chinese context, “understanding” refers to the outsider understanding a situation from the Chinese perspective, to the depth and breadth that the Chinese do. And “sincerity” refers to the cultural requirement that the individual or individuals concerned conform completely to the expectations and standards of the Chinese way—that is, conforming to all of the personal, social and legal obligations that make up the foundation of Chinese behavior.

In other words, in the Chinese context of things, a “sincere” person is one who can be depended upon to do what is right and expected from the Chinese viewpoint regardless of the situation.

This combination of understanding and sincerity in the Chinese context is the foundation of Chinese behavior, whether or not it makes sense to foreigners. And this is why the Chinese are continuously reminding foreigners that they must “understand” China in order to deal effectively with them.

It is also why the Chinese typically accuse foreigners of not understanding China when things go wrong. In the Chinese context of things, foreigners cannot be sincere in their relationships with Chinese if they do not understand China, since sincerity without understanding is impossible.

Like Americans (if I may make the comparison) the Chinese almost always automatically take the position that they are right and that their way of doing this should prevail. It is therefore very important for foreigners dealing with China to be aware of the budan xin cultural factor and be prepared to deal with it.

I suggest that in the beginning of business or diplomatic relationships the foreigners involved note up-front to their Chinese counterparts that they are familiar with the role of budan xin in Chinese culture because it is an integral part of their culture as well, and that there may be differences of opinion that require both sides to compromise for them to achieve their goals.

This will alert the Chinese to the fact that you do know something about China, and will provide you with a more solid footing for negotiating with them.
Copyright © 2007 by Boyé Lafayette De Mente

For a more definitive discussion of budan xin and more than 300 other key Chinese terms see the author’s China’s Cultural Code Words (McGraw-Hill), available from, other online booksellers, and bookstores worldwide. To see a full list of his books on China, Korea, Japan and Mexico, go to his personal website:

YUGEN (Yuu-gane): A Japanese Word that You Should Know!

The Mystery & Subtlety of Refined Beauty

Boyé Lafayette De Mente

When Westerners first began to visit Japan in the mid-1500s they were struck by the refined beauty of the country’s arts and crafts. It was a kind of beauty that they had never seen before.

As noted in my book The Japanese Have a Word for It there was a character about Japanese-made things that gave them a look that was distinctive from similar things made in Korea and China, from which the original technology had come.

This special quality of Japanese things was so commonplace that the Japanese themselves did not consider it unusual. Everything they made, including simple household utensils, had the same quality.

Japan’s traditional arts and crafts owed their special character to a merging of cosmic and Shinto concepts of harmony, sensuality and spirituality—a cultural factor that remains very much in evidence and in force among Japanese artists and craftsmen in present-day Japan.

The Shinto concept of harmony included the size and shape of things, how they were to be used, and their relationship with people. The spiritual element in Japanese things incorporated the essence and spirit of the materials used, and was based on both respecting and revering these inherent qualities.

The sensual element in Japanese arts and crafts was reflected by the things that people automatically find attractive—harmony in shape, in size, in the relationship of the parts, in the interaction of colors, in their feel when touched, and in the vibrations they project.

After generations of refining their designs and techniques, Japan’s master artists and craftsmen achieved a kind and quality of beauty that transcended the obvious surface manifestations of their materials—a kind of beauty that was described as yugen (yuu-gane), meaning “mystery” or “subtlety.”

Again quoting from my book, “Yugen beauty referred to a type of attractiveness—beneath the surface of the material but in delicate harmony with it—that registers on the conscious as well as the subconscious of the viewer. It radiates a kind of spiritual essence.”

The skill and techniques that were going into Japan’s arts and crafts by the 10th century became so deeply embedded in the culture that they were not distinguished from daily life, and were reflected in everything the Japanese did, from designing and building castles, gardens, homes and palaces to the creation of hand-made paper.

Despite the mostly Western façade that today’s Japan presents to the world yugen beauty is still very much in evidence in the arts and crafts, in traditional restaurants, inns, shops, wearing apparel and elsewhere in many unexpected places.

Yugen is another Japanese word I recommend that other people learn and use because it clearly identifies a concept that in other languages requires several sentences to explain—and in itself is an example of the traditional Japanese propensity to refine things down to their essence.

This compulsive reduction tendency of the Japanese is also dramatically demonstrated in their ability to design and manufacture miniaturized hi-tech products and in using nanotechnology to create new processes and new materials.

For a definitive look at the Japanese view and creation of yugen beauty, see my book, Elements of Japanese Design—Key Terms for Understanding & Using Japan’s Classic Wabi-Sabi-Shibui Concepts.
Copyright © 2007 by Boyé Lafayette De Mente

For a more definitive discussion of yugen and more than 450 other key Japanese terms see the author’s The Japanese Have a Word for It (McGraw-Hill) and Japan’s Cultural Code Words (Tuttle Publishing); both available from, other online booksellers, and bookstores worldwide. To see a full list of his cultural-insight books on Japan, Korea, China and Mexico, go to his personal website:

MUGA (Moo-gah): A Japanese Word You Should Know!

The Secret of Becoming a Master
In Any Physical Art, Craft or Sport

Boyé Lafayette De Mente

Many years ago when I was a resident of Tokyo and spent most Sunday mornings bowling with journalist friends I had a new kind of experience that was to have a profound influence on my understanding of how the body and mind work together—or more to the point, how they work against each other.

I was serious about honing my bowling skill and was always fully conscious of every aspect of the physical movements involved in moving down the lane runway for two or three steps and releasing the ball.

But on this particular April morning I had been in a contemplative mood since getting up and walking the few blocks to the bowling alley in Meiji Park. The cherry blossoms were in full bloom, there was a mild breeze, and the sky was a seductive blue. My mind virtually disassociated itself from my body and I was not conscious of the act of walking.

When I joined my friends there was none of the usual banter and my mind remained more or less outside of my body. I was the first one up. I made my approach and let the ball go without thinking about it, and made a strike.

This body-mind disconnect continued and I got three more strikes in a row, when the thought suddenly occurred to me: “I’m in a state of muga (muu-gah)! This is fantastic!”

I became intensely conscious of what I was doing, and on my next time up my ball went into the gutter. I was beside myself with disgust at having broken the spell of muga.

The dictionary meaning of the Japanese word muga is self-effacement, a spiritual state of selflessness, to be in a state of ecstasy.

But thanks to Japan’s famous samurai class the term had come to mean much more than this esoteric definition. From the age or six or seven boys in the samurai class went through a rigorous training process to develop incredible skill with the sword, and while they were mastering the physical process of wielding a sword they were also developing the ability to enter the mental state of muga—a state in which the mind did not interfere with the actions of their trained bodies.

The samurai were not the only Japanese to make use of the element of muga to achieve mastery in their profession. The training of all Japanese artists and craftsmen traditionally began in childhood and continued until they were in their thirties or forties and sometimes until they were in their fifties.

In this long process of mastering every physical element of their art or craft they also gradually got to the point that they did not have to think about the movements that were required to create a masterpiece. Their actions were spontaneous.

All people everywhere, especially those engaged in arts, crafts and other skills demanding precise, coordinated physical movements—from jugglers and musicians to sportspeople—must achieve some degree of muga in their actions to reach an impressive level of skill. But only those who are able to perform automatically on the highest level, without thinking about the movements they must make, become true masters.

It helps to have a word that explains the relationship between the body and the mind in developing a physical skill, and I recommend that the term muga be adopted by all cultures.

If young people are able to relate a long period of physical training with achieving the muga mind-state—during which performing a physical function perfectly becomes spontaneous—they might take their training more seriously.
Copyright © 2007 by Boyé Lafayette De Mente

For a more definitive discussion of muga and more than 450 other key Japanese terms see the author’s The Japanese Have a Word for It (McGraw-Hill) and Japan’s Cultural Code Words (Tuttle Publishing); both available from, other online booksellers, and bookstores worldwide. To see a full list of his 60-plus books, go to his personal website:

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The Cultural Denial & Abuse of Human Sexuality & its Results!

Male Prostate Problems; Male Violence;
Frustrated Females!

Boyé Lafayette De Mente

Homo sapiens are indisputably members of the animal kingdom, notwithstanding the fact that as many as one-fourth or more of all members of humanity deny this relationship.

The taxonomic designation of modern man as homo sapiens literally means “thinking man”—or to be more politically correct “thinking human being,” since women are definitely members of the same species. But this designation is, in fact, questionable.

Given the history of mankind and today’s current events, it appears that the label homo sapiens is more often wrong than right. But to be fair, it is only a small portion of humanity that gives human beings a bad name—that small portion that destroys and tortures and kills in a way not seen in the rest of the animal kingdom.

And this alone should be enough for those who deny the animal origins of humanity and claim a divine creation to step back and ponder the implications of their beliefs. It takes an awful lot of rationalizing to explain away the inhumanity of large numbers of humans whom no benign god would create, or put up with.

Most people, including those who claim a divine origin for mankind (even with all of our blemishes and faults) do recognize and admit that in the lower order of animals (if you can get lower than human beings!), male-female relationships have historically been controlled by the biggest and strongest males in whatever group was concerned.

These big strong male animals are typically referred to (by professionals who study such things) as alpha males—which is something like “first males” (as in “first lady” when referring to the wife of a president), since “alpha” means the “first” of anything.”

And again despite the classification of human beings as homo sapiens (and despite any claims of a divine origin for mankind), from the dawn of humanity it was alpha males who made the rules, got first choice of the females and often kept exclusive rights to as many of them as possible.

Civilization Puts a Kink in the Sex Life of Males

Civilization put a kink in the sexual monopoly of big strong males. After the advent of larger organized societies most men, officially at least, had to limit themselves to just one mate at a time, but in most societies males made sure they still had access to mistresses, concubines, harems and prostitutes.

Then along came Judaism, Christianity and Islam—all of which were created and controlled by men and all of which established “god-given” laws controlling the sexual behavior of men and women, with the laws naturally skewered in favor of men. In these male-created and controlled religions, females were a godly after-thought, created to serve men.

As time went by, overly zealous Christian popes and theologians—all males and often men who didn’t like women—began to preach that women were naturally evil and would seduce and debase men if they had the slightest opportunity. They then created a world in which women had to deny and suppress their sexuality, resulting in indescribable frustration and suffering to the point that mental and physical ailments among women became common.

And, of course, in Moslem societies the ruling clerics (in the name of god, of course), sanctioned the primitive alpha male concept of sexual behavior, allowing men to have several wives and to treat women in general as inferior shadows, not to be seen or heard. What all of the ancient world’s alpha males and all of the religious clerics, ministers, popes, priests, shamans, or whatever they are called misunderstood or ignored was the fundamental sexual nature of human beings.

These misguided and ego-driven men denied or ignored the fact that among all members of the animal kingdom, including human beings, sexuality comes right after survival in the built-in gene-powered drive. Furthermore, human beings, unlike some of our lower-order relatives, are “in heat” all the time. This especially applies to males.

If Gods Were Actually in Charge!

If gods were actually in charge of human nature and had any control over human behavior you certainly would not expect them to complicate their responsibility by making men and women so sexual...and then allow their Earthly agents to create extraordinary barriers designed to prevent men and women from engaging in sex at will…even labeling sex a mortal sin except under carefully prescribed circumstances that favored men!

No matter which way or how often this male-designed world is white-washed it is both irrational and inhuman.

Of course, there were enough valid social and political reasons for male leaders of early societies and religions to curb the sexual behavior of men and women. But the way they went about it was both inhuman and cruel. First of all, they put most of the blame on women, accusing them of not being able to control their sexual nature and therefore being a clear and present danger to society.

Some of the measures promoted or condoned by the Christian Church during the so-called Middle Ages to control female sexual behavior are hardly believable today.

Beginning in the 11th century, European leaders launched a series of religious-inspired military campaigns against Middle East countries in an attempt to “free” Jerusalem and the other “Holy Cities” from their Moslem occupiers. These so-called “Crusades” against Islamic countries continued for approximately three hundred years.

During this incredibly long period of pope-backed wars some men had their wives outfitted with “chastity belts”—iron thong-like devices that were locked in place to prevent the women from being able to have sexual intercourse with other males while the husbands were away doing their religious duty.

Most of these lockable iron “chastity belts” were apparently made in Italy, where their manufacture and use was promoted by the Catholic Church. [Even farther out than this device was an older practice among ancient slave holders to have the foreskin of the penises of their adult male slaves sewn tight, leaving only a tiny hole for urination, to discourage them from engaging in sexual intercourse with any woman—another extreme to which men have gone in the past to control sexual behavior.]

Ironically, most of the glory-hungry knights who left Europe in their zeal to capture the “Holy Land” never returned home. Some 20 percent of them were killed in battle, and some 60 or 70 percent of them died from the plague and other diseases.

History also notes, not surprisingly, that many women managed to get around the iron chastity belts by one means or another, including having a second key made by willing locksmiths.

According to a number of totally unreliable sources on the Internet some form of chastity belts continued to be used in Europe well after the end of the Crusades, and, in fact, into modern times. Such is the terrible hold that religious beliefs have on both men and women.

Why the Male Prostate Gland Gets Big! And this is bringing us closer to what I believe is probably the direct cause of enlarged prostates and urination problems that plague so many men after they reach the age of 60 or so.

In the case of human beings, the sexual nature of people is exhibited before they are born—at least before male babies are born. Scanning devices clearly show that male babies frequently have penile erections when they are still in womb. After male babies are born the frequency of erections gradually increases as they mature.

A rough calculation indicates that after birth the typical male has a complete or partial erection anywhere from two to five or six times every 24 hours, with many of these occurring during sleep.

Every time an erection occurs a certain amount of stress is put on the prostate gland and the gonads. The longer the erection lasts the stronger the buildup of stress. This stress buildup is a kind of energy that impacts negatively on both the body and mind of the male.

Because of the sexual energy that builds up during erections most boys learn that the pressure can be relived by masturbating, and by the time they reach puberty most masturbate regularly. But they cannot masturbate every time they have an erection because there are rules against doing it in public (so to speak).

Apparently the primary reason why there is very little if any literature on the incidence of prostate and urination problems in pre-modern times is that most men did not live long enough for such problems to develop. Until the 20th century the average life-span of males even in industrialized countries was below 50.

In advanced countries today men are living into their 70s and 80s and beyond, and during these long life-spans they are having far more erections per day and night than was normal for males in the past.

In addition to this natural phenomena, by the time boys in the United States and some other countries are in their mid-teens they have advanced to necking with girl friends, during which they typically have full, hard, unrelieved erections for as long as an hour or more. This results in significantly increasing the buildup of stress in their prostate glands and gonads—often to the point that it is extremely painful.

Furthermore, the amount of sexual titillation that present-day males of all ages are exposed to for several hours a day on television, in magazines, movies, etc., is incredible, and dramatically increases the incidence of regular, daily sexual stress that is not relieved—even by masturbation.

If you assume that a male has a partial or complete erection only five times every 24-hour period and lives to be 60 years old that amounts to a total of 109,500 erections. I am sure you can assume that these erections were not “used” more than about 100 times a year, for a total of 6,000 during the 60-year period. This leaves well over 100,000 unrelieved sexual arousals.

The negative impact this accumulation of stressed-out periods has on the prostate gland has to be horrific—and I believe is the primary cause of enlargement of the prostate gland...and may also be associated with the incidence of prostate cancer.

For every year beyond 60 that you add to the lifespan of men you have at least an additional 1,800-plus erections—and despite old wives tales you might have heard, normal, healthy men in their 60s and 70s do get hard-ons, and suffer when they are not used.

It’s Not a Laughing Matter!

Those who are tempted to laugh this problem off as something that is not really serious would be well advised to consider that unrelieved sexual stress among males is one of the primary sources of all of the male-generated violence that has plagued mankind from the beginning.

The longer normal, healthy males go without releasing the natural buildup of sexual energy the more apt they are to engage in some kind of violence—from abusing their wives and children to taking their frustrations out on other members of society—or engaging in other kinds of destructive behavior.

As I have observed so many times, when a man gets hard on the bottom he gets soft on the top—meaning he cannot think in clear, rational terms and is likely to do irrational things when in a state of sexual arousal.
So, what is the solution to the problem of all of the erections males get and have no opportunity to use?

Masturbation is generally effective when early teenage boys are concerned. But masturbation is not the ideal solution for adult men. It relieves the physical stress somewhat but not all of the mental/emotional stress—and the relief is short-lived.

One aspect of the problem of sex-deprived males and the incredible amount of violence in the country in the United States is the prison system. With over one million men in American prisons the potential for sex-stress related violence is extreme.

Some countries allow men in prison to have conjugal visits from their wives and girls friends…a special privilege they may have to pay for, but at least that is better than the American way.

Two Suggestions

I have two suggestions for resolving the problem of human sexuality in a way that would serve both society and the real needs of males and females.

First, I recommend that from around the age of 15 teenage boys and girls be formally and officially allowed to engaged in sexual intimacy with partners of their choice after they have been informed about the dangerous of sexually transmitted diseases and provided with the means to protect themselves, and after they have been instructed in preventing pregnancy and provided with the means to do so.

This would eliminate most of the sexual stress that afflicts younger unmarried males and females; it would help prevent these same people from growing up to have a variety of harmful sexual hang-ups; it would hopefully eliminate most of the obsession with sexual titillation that now passes as entertainment; and it could help teens become more responsible adults in their sexual relationships.

My second suggestion is that married men and woman should be free to have “civilized, harmonious affairs” with other partners without any negative affects whatsoever on their marriage—something that would no doubt roil the “me-only” ego of many males.

But the positive benefits of this custom could be miraculous. Men who didn’t want to lose their wives would be better husbands. Women who didn’t want to lose their husbands would be better wives.

And, part of this custom would be that men and women who did not have spouses would be perfectly free to have consensual intimate relationships with anyone of their choice.

If these practices were to be followed, there would be far less sexual frustration among both men and women, the tendency for male violence would be reduced dramatically, men would surely have fewer prostate problems, and the world would be a saner, happier place.

Copyright © 2007 by Boye Lafayette De Mente.

Of course, dramatic changes are already taking place in the sexual practices of Americans. If you are interested in a scenario that goes much further than my suggestions—and is, in fact, steadily becoming reality—see my novel EROS’ REVENGE—Brave New World of American Sex, available as an ebook. To go to the book’s Internet “buy page,” click on the title. To see a list of my 50-plus other books on how business is done in China, Korea and Japan; on the cultures and languages of these countries, and on the sexual behavior of the people, go to

How American Males are Being Turned into Girly Men!

Reversal of Male-Female Sex Roles!

Boyé Lafayette De Mente

Terminator-actor-turned-California-governor Arnold Schwarzenegger coined a telling phrase when he described some of his political opponents as “girly men.” But this suggestive phrase is equally applicable to a growing percentage of all American men.

In fact, the prevailing culture in America is rapidly making the ancient stud image and behavior of men obsolete—and what it is doing to American women is even more thought-provoking.

While American boys are being programmed to be girly men, American girls are being brain-washed to be stud women. This remarkable situation is not something that began in recent times. Much of it can be attributed to the Industrial Revolution which began in England in the mid-1700s. This revolution changed the way most men work, and was to have a number of effects that were surely never imagined during its first two hundred years.

For one thing, historical records note that in the early years of America most men in rural areas could lift up to four hundred pounds or more, even though they were smaller in body-build than present-day males. The typical man today would strain a gut trying to lift half that amount.

Machines Have Replaced Muscles
One of the most important of the effects of industrialization—the use of machines instead of male muscle—was the gradual reduction in the need for men to be burly, brave and he-men (sexually speaking) to attract women. Another effect of the revolution was that it resulted in large numbers of women becoming part-time homemakers and full-time factory workers.

This fundamental cultural shift in male and female behavior slowly but surely changed the nature of male and female relations. Among other things, the conversion to a money economy had a profound impact on the way men and women saw each other.

In fact, being a success in business and having money (no matter how it was obtained) was often more effective in attracting playmates and mates than muscles and a strong sex-drive. Many women were obviously more turned-on by thoughts of money than by fantasizing about actual bedroom encounters with men.

By the 1920s the basic image that upper middle class and top class American women had of men had gone so far in reverse from the old caveman figure that there was no comparison. They were attracted to men who never smelled of sweat, were classy dressers, always neat in their appearance, and had good table manners.

Then along came movies and such novels as The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, which glorified the lifestyle of “girly men”—the phrase former terminator Arnold Schwarzenegger called politicians who behaved as if they did not have cojones (which is Mexican for balls!).

The “Buffoning” of American Males
By the 1950s the movies, novels and comic strips often ganged up on the masculine take-charge type of male, and made men buffoons who not only couldn’t keep a stiff upper lip in emotional situations, there were other things they couldn’t keep up as well.

One the most famous of the de-neutered males in American history is Dagwood in the Blondie comic strip. There is never any doubt about who wears the pants in the Bumsted family. The fact that the strip has survived since the 1930s and is still going strong and evolving says a lot about American culture. Today’s Blondie, the wife, has led and kept up with the times by becoming much more “man-like” in her behavior.

The Homosexual Factor
It has long been suspected by some people that “anti-masculine men” movies proliferated because so many of the movie makers and stars were homosexuals who brought their feminine-oriented mindset to their image of the ideal male.

Then the women’s lib movement took over with a number of powerful books leading the charge, claiming that women should be treated exactly like men, with all of the standard male rights and special privileges.

Many of the claims and charges made by these feminist writers were, in fact, valid, and could not be denied or ignored by the male bastion. Very slowly but surely the male-dominated business establishment began to shed some of its exclusively masculine policies and practices, and cater to various degrees to female employees.

This was good, but the most powerful and strident voices among the feminist battalions were not satisfied with just gaining equal rights with men. They were determined to eradicate the traditional masculine male mindset altogether.

The campaigns of the feminist forces were supported and magnified by the mass media that sees anything controversial as fodder for its insatiable profit-driven appetite. Large numbers of journalists and commentators took up the feminist message, calling on all women to take up arms and to assert themselves emotionally, economically and sexually.

No More Feminine Mystery
One of the most powerful elements of the feminist message was that women should throw off all of the ancient religious-oriented sexual restraints and taboos, and both glory in and flaunt their sex. This alone has now gone so far that in the United States there is no longer any mystery about the feminine body and feminine sexuality. It is exposed and paraded before the public 24 hours a day.

[This syndrome is something I refer to as “Eros’ Revenge” in my novel by that name, which is based on the theme that the deliberate repression of the natural sexual impulse by misguided religious zealots since ancient times has now come home to roost, and is taking its revenge.]

The message of the extreme feminists included the idea that girls and women not only should take the initiative in their sexual behavior, but that it was right and natural for them to be the aggressors since they were far more sexually potent than males.

[The prurient news media often backed this point up by noting that women could engage in sex with dozens of partners every day, while even the most libido-driven men were pooped after they had climaxed four or five times.]

These messages by the feminists and their news media lackeys had a powerful impact on males because men knew only too well that when it came to sexual stamina they were powder puffs in comparison with women—a disturbing knowledge that was no doubt a primary factor in the attempts by primitive as well as modern men to control the sexual behavior of females.

By the end of the 20th century the divorce rate in the United States was around 50 percent, and more and more young women were foregoing marriage altogether in favor of a lifestyle that allowed them to have sexual encounters whenever and with whomever they chose—something that had previously been a male prerogative.

All of these influences combined resulted in an astounding speed-up of the evolutionary process that results in males beginning to act more like females in direct proportion to the degree in which females act like males.

As in other species, it seems that nature does not like and will not abide for long two genders that are basically even in their sex-drives. Where humanity is concerned, it seems to be nothing more complicated than the fact that the more masculine women behave the more feminine men behave.

Number of Girly Men Growing
The evidence of the growing femininity of American males is so glaringly obvious it doesn’t take a Ph.D. to see it. And now, instead of individual feminists leading the charge against masculine men, the entertainment industry and the business industry have taken over the lead.

Boys and men are being incessantly programmed to use deodorants and perfumes of one kind or another. They are being conditioned to have their nails done and their hair styled and to wear earrings. They are being taught to be more sensitive, like women. They are being brain-washed to show off their butts (although this part of the male anatomy may be less attractive to females than to some males).

The trend for women to become the dominate sex is not limited to the United States. It is particularly conspicuous in Japan which does not have as far to go as the U.S. because traditional Japanese culture feminized males to a remarkable degree. Growing crowds of Japanese men now regularly patronize beauty parlors for the same service that women get, and with the huge cosmetic companies hyping the custom with seductive advertising it will no doubt continue to grow until it becomes the norm.

But in Japan there is a countervailing movement that will probably delay this process well beyond what would otherwise be the case. For centuries Japanese men have typically had small bodies and physiques that in Western terms were more feminine than masculine. When they began to encounter large-bodied Westerners, and to compete with them for women and other things, they felt this physical disparity strongly.

Bodybuilding was first introduced into Japan back in the 1960s but only a very few men were interested. As competition with foreigners increased and the influence of Western moves, television and magazines became stronger, the popularity of bodybuilding began to grow—and the diet changed. Now it is common to see young Japanese men, especially athletes, who are tall and have muscular physiques.

The entertainment industry remains one of the most powerful worldwide influences in programming boys to think and behave like girls. Many of the most popular male singers are more feminine than masculine in their voice, behavior and dress. The constant exposure of young boys to this kind of influence is obvious.

A large percentage of the most popular television shows have more “feminine male” characters than masculine men—and this is not counting the growing number of homosexual characters—real and pretend—that are featured on these shows.

There is, of course, evidence that the percentage of homosexuals in all of the entertainment industries is disproportionately high because of their creative abilities, so the fact that so many television shows portray males exhibiting female behavior should not surprise anyone. The influence of homosexual themes in movies is, of course, another of the most conspicuous examples of the fundamental shift in the way males are viewed and the kind of male behavior that is ostensibly approved by a big segment of the population.

A New Race of Amazons
American women are now taller, heavier and physically stronger than their ancestors were. There are female boxers and female wrestlers, and women who play football on mostly male teams. There are women who are into bodybuilding and have muscles that put most men to shame. There are female weight-lifters, and women who participate in such things as Alaska’s annual 1,150-mile Iditarod dog-sled race. [In a race some time ago a woman beat out all of her male competitors, winning the famous event in record time.]

There are women who have sailed solo in small boats across the Atlantic Ocean, women who have swum the English Channel and others who have climbed the tallest mountains on the planet—all things that were once considered the exclusive preserve of men.

These are all things that traditionally have been associated with testosterone—the male hormone. Whether the physical feats performed by present-day women mean that their bodies are now producing testosterone is an interesting piece of speculation if nothing else.

There is no doubt that the level of testosterone in males in general is lower now than what it was in earlier generations, which may be the result of two factors: women are now competing with men in testosterone-type activities resulting in men producing less of the male sex hormone, and the activities of most present-day men do not require as much testosterone as before so their bodies naturally produce less of it.

The huge sports world that continues to celebrate male strength and speed was once a private preserve of males. It is now co-ed. When female sports figures outdo their male counterparts the news media glorifies their victory and notes that their accomplishments prove women can be the equal, if not better, than men when they have the opportunity.

It is entirely possible that if the present trend for women to get bigger and stronger and to engage in dangerous and demanding activities (like fighting in wars!) continues over several generations, and the trend for men over the same time-frame is the exact opposite, the paramount role of the sexes could change.

One thing that would speed up this trend, for both males and females, would be for more and more women to opt for artificial insemination to get pregnant rather than take the old-fashion sweaty way.

The final straw that would surely herald the end of men as cocks-of-the-walk will be the day in the not-so-distant future when enough women decide they don’t want to go through the inconvenience of pregnancy and the pain of childbirth, and relegate those functions to baby-producing labs.

In any event, the cultural juggernaut that is now diminishing the stud role of American men and increasing the male role of American women has achieved self-perpetuating size, weight and speed, and will inevitably play itself out.
Copyright © 2007 by Boye Lafayette De Mente.
An ebook version of EROS’ REVENGE—Brave New World of American Sex is available online. To go to the “buy page” click on the title. To see a list of 60-plus other books by the author, go to

Why American Women Are Becoming More Like Men!

Cultural Factors that Are Reversing
the Male-Female Roles

Boyé Lafayette De Mente

It is common knowledge [not accepted by everybody] that males and females have a number of genetic traits that make them think and behave differently.

While the strength of these genetic attributes varies in individuals—sometimes to such a degree that neither the male nor female concerned behaves within the range that is typical and expected of their gender—the two sexes are usually different enough that they have traditionally thought and lived in two different worlds.

From the beginning of human history there was both figuratively and literally a man’s world and a woman’s world, and in most societies these two worlds were separated by barriers that were natural as well as those that were created by men to control women.

This latter factor—the creation of artificial barriers by men to control women—apparently came about for the simple reason that human males, like their lower-order animals relatives, were driven by instinct to control the females in their group so they would have guaranteed sexual access to them.

At first this male rationale was no doubt an individual thing. But as time passed and spirits and gods were created, men made their dominance over women a spiritual thing mandated by their godly creations—so they could attribute their superiority to the divinities and not have to take any guff from females.

Of course, there have been a number of known societies that were ruled over by women but these women did not become rulers as a result of their own abilities or actions. They invariably inherited their exalted positions because they were members of a ruling family that failed to produce a male heir.

Why Women Were Created as an After-Thought by “God”
In short, the obvious animal origins of the human race resulted in females automatically being treated as inferior by larger, stronger males, and then when males got around to creating gods they made sure that their gods “created women” as an after-thought to serve men, sexually and otherwise.

This situation has existed virtually unchanged until recent times—and still today exists to varying degrees in a number of societies, with the largest and most obvious of these being Islamic and Christian. Both Christianity and Islam have traditionally based one of the rationales for their existence on keeping women in their place—meaning uneducated and subservient to men.

The first colonists who came to America had, of course, been programmed in the rigid, anti-feminine and inhumane sexual taboos that prevailed in England and elsewhere in Europe at that time. These religious-oriented concepts continued to make a travesty of the sexual lives of both men and women—but especially women—throughout the early history of the United States.

The same outmoded concepts of the proper role of women in all areas of life continued to prevail until the mid-1900s. It may seem unimaginable now but American men who had long regarded themselves as the most enlightened people on the planet, did not permit women to vote until well into the 20th century.

And still today there are many areas of life in the United States that are either totally forbidden to women, or they are discouraged from attempting to enter these areas. But this long practice of holding women down and denying them the chance to develop their potential, sexually and otherwise, is now having astounding and unanticipated consequences.

Beginning in the last half of the 19th century a few women began to poke tiny holes in the barriers that men had erected against the entire female race…to keep them in their place. As the years passed, these holes gradually grew bigger and bigger as more and more women joined this earliest group of female pioneers who were determined to break down the male-made barriers that had penned them in and down since the dawn of human history.

How World Wars I and II Resulted in Women Acting Like Men
Finally in the 1920s—after the upheaval of World War I had resulted in hundreds of thousands of women joining the workforce and doing jobs previously done only by men—the female revolution in the United States began in earnest.

Large numbers of women began to frequent speakeasy nightclubs, to drink and dance with what for the times was wild abandon. A short-lived but spectacular economic boom spurred the appearance of hundreds of thousands of cars that contributed to both more frequent and more intimate relations with men as well as helping to provide upper middleclass and upper class women with more independence than females had ever had before.

The advent of movies in the 1920s was soon to be a boon to the growing freedom of females in the United States—a technological advance that, like the automobile, was to have a fundamental influence on American society.

This female revolution was considerably muted by the depression of the 1930s but the entry of the United States into World War II in 1941 put it back on track—and it has been racing forward at full speed ever since.

Once again millions of American women entered the wartime workforce, and by the end of the war the economy of the country had grown so large with so many new “female-type” occupations that most of these millions never left the workforce when the war ended.

The war that took millions of young men away from home and resulted in so many women working out of the home changed the traditional family lifestyle and child-raising in fundamental ways. Women of all ages, including teenage girls, had a degree of personal freedom unprecedented in history—and once they had it there was no way they were going to let it go.

Girls and young women by the millions began to do the things that in the past only boys and men had done. Ordinary girls and women became more fashion conscious and more conscious of their personal appearance. They began to dress and to wear makeup designed to attract the attention of males. They became both more aggressive and more receptive in their relations with men.

The rapid increase in the number of motion pictures depicting the glamour and sex-filled lives of movie stars became a major influence on the attitudes and behavior of young females. The widespread proliferation of television from the mid-1950s added to the economic and social revolution that was remaking the mindset of American females.

Girls and women began to compete with males in school, in the workplace and in all forms of recreation. In this new environment, the idea that sexual passivity was the natural lot of females began to fade—something that many young men applauded but they had no inkling about where this fundamental change in male-female relations could lead.

The Smashing of Sexual Restraints on Women
The 1960s saw the blooming of the Hippie movement—a kind of social protest created by the young who were outraged by the faults they saw in the prevailing culture. A big part of this movement was doing away with virtually all sexual restraints—a movement that resulted in many young women being able to explore and exercise their sexuality in ways that had not been available to females before.

From that period, the female revolution in the United States, promoted by movies, television, magazines and feminist books, became an overwhelming force that could not be slowed down, much less stopped. However, most of the impetus and power that the revolution gained was not specifically related to the aspirations of feminists or the self-motivated expressions of female frustration.

Much of the power of the movement came from the built-in male lust for profits that fueled the American economy. In short, publishers of magazines and books and producers of movies and television shows discovered that sex sells—and the one area of human sexuality that had never been really talked about, much less economically exploited, was female sexuality.

By the 1970s the whole entertainment industry was into selling soft-core pornography. By the 1990s soft and hard-core pornography based on female sexuality was one of the largest and most profitable industries in the United States.

In fact, it can be said that by the last decades of the 20th century virtually the entire American economy rested on sexual titillation—ostensibly aimed at men but also appealing to females.

Today, probably as much as 90 percent of all advertising and marketing programs in the United States are based on exploiting the sexual appeal of women. Teenage girls and young women in various stages of nudity make up a big percentage of all television fare. Most male as well as female pop singers are backed up by teams of semi-nude girls and women who hump and pump and gyrate in simulated sex orgies.

Destruction of the Female Mystique
This so-called entertainment has destroyed most of the mystery, most of the mystique, of feminine sexuality—ripping it away like the proverbial fiction-novel bodice. The subtlety that is a major part of male-female romance has also been dramatically diminished.

All of the positive attributes that have traditionally distinguished women—their mystery, their subtlety, that indescribable essence of femininity that made them so special—not to mention their importance and prowess in nurturing—have been diminished…more by the actions of money-addicted men than by the legitimate aspirations of women themselves.

Women are now far more sexually exposed and exploited than men, thanks to the over-reaction that has resulted from religious-oriented attempts to conceal and control the sexuality of women—and this is a subject I explored in detail in my novel Eros’ Revenge—Brave New World of American Sex. In Greek mythology Eros was the god of love.

At first, Eros represented the cosmic principle of harmony in all things. Later he degenerated into a powerful wanton, capable of carrying his victims to the peak of sensual ecstasy, or causing them to suffer the punishment of the damned.

The sexual restraints and taboos that misguided religious leaders placed on women in the early history of civilization condemned them to suffer the punishment of the damned—and still today makes the world of many women a Hell on earth. The rapidly growing sexual emancipation of American women is both good and bad. The good part is obvious. The bad part is that it is diminishing the fundamental feminine factor in their character and personality, and turning them into quasi-males.

As I noted in my essay on the diminishing of the stud factor in American males, there are now female boxers, female wrestlers, female weight-lifters, female body-builders (some with muscles that are grotesque), females who play football on mostly male teams…and female soldiers who are actually called upon to fight and kill.

I also pointed out that the more masculine the behavior of women, the more nature compensates by making the behavior of men more feminine. And vice-versa: the more feminine the attitudes and behavior of men, the more masculine females become in their thinking and behavior.

So as incredible as it is, men themselves have set the stage for American women to become more masculine—a phenomenon that has already changed the dynamics of male-female relations in the U.S. and will go much further before it reaches some kind of equilibrium…which could be that women will be permanently on top.

They are, after all, the most sexually potent of the human species—a fact that men have feared and fought against since before our ancestors climbed down out of the trees.

There is extraordinary irony in the fact that the few powerful men who have ruled the Christian churches and Islamic mosques since the inception of these cults have unwittingly played the role of Eros, and particularly in the United States and other so-called Christian societies, the former god of love is now having his revenge.

The day will also come, inevitably, when Moslem women will also escape from the clutches of the Islamic clergy and be able to live normal lives.
Copyright © 2007 by Boye Lafayette De Mente.

EROS’ REVENGE—Brave New World of American Sex is available as an ebook. To go to the “buy page” please click on the title. To see a list of 60-plus other books by the author, go to

Which Side of Your Brain Am I Talking To?

Why Men & Women Talk
Past Each Other!

Boyé Lafayette De Mente

It has been established beyond a reasonable doubt that the two sides of the human brain perform different functions, ranging from speech, emotional reactions, sexual pleasure, fear, and analytical thinking to the appreciation of beauty. There is also growing evidence that one side of the brain is dominant in most people. This is of vital importance because left-brain oriented people think and behave differently from right-brain oriented people.

One noted authority on the function of the brain, Japan’s Dr. Tadanobu Tsunoda (author of The Japanese Brain and numerous other works), claims that the language one first learns as a child is the deciding factor in which side of the brain is dominant for the rest of the person’s life.Dr. Tsunoda has spent several decades studying the influence of languages on brain function, using electronic devices he developed to test thousands of people in his Tokyo laboratory—both Japanese and non-Japanese—with some amazing results. [I was one of his subjects.]

He found that people whose native tongue is Japanese (or Polynesian!) are primarily right-brain oriented, while all other people are primarily left-brain oriented. (It’s the preponderance of vowels in these two languages!)

It seems that right-brain oriented people are primarily motivated by their emotions and a holistic approach to life, while left-brain oriented people are programmed to be logical and practical-minded, and to take a short-term approach to things. I used Dr. Tsunoda’s theory as the basis for evaluating the differences between the mind-set and behavior of the right-brained oriented Japanese and the left-brain oriented rest of the world in a book entitled Which Side of Your Brain Am I Talking To?—The Advantages of Using Both Sides of Your Brain.

I believe that the right-brain orientation of the Japanese was one of the primary factors that made it possible for them to recover from the destruction of World War II and turn tiny Japan into the world’s second largest economy in less than thirty years.

All women in left-brain oriented cultures are forced to use right-brain thinking and behavior to survive in their male-dominated societies, and Japanese women, whose culture is primarily right-brain oriented, are forced to use left-brain thinking to cope with their male-dominated society—making them superior in many ways to the male side of the population...

The French and Italians and all Spanish and Portuguese speaking people are more right-brain oriented than Americans, Chinese, Germans, British and other people around the globe.

Many of the problems that plague Western countries are caused by too much left-brain thinking and not enough right-brain thinking, and in Which Side of Your Brain Am I Talking To? I pinpoint many areas where business managers and people in general could benefit greatly from learning how and when to use the right side of their brains.

The book attributes the “irrational behavior” of both men and women to which side of their brain they use at a particular time, and provides insights for coping with the built-in gender programming of the brain.
Copyright © 2007 by Boyé Lafayette De Mente.
WHICH SIDE OF YOUR BRAIN AM I TALKING TO?—The Advantages of Using Both Sides of Your Brain (and Why Women Must Use the Less Dominant Side of Their Brains in Order to Survive!), by Boyé Lafayette De Mente. Phoenix Books/Publishers. 6x9 trade paperback. 108 pages. $9.95. ISBN: 0914778-95-1. Distributors to the trade: Ingram Book Company; Baker & Taylor. Consumer distribution:, Borders, Barns and Noble, etc.
A full list of De Mente's books on China, Japan, Korea and Mexico can be seen on his personal website:

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Japan’s Martial Arts Culture Spreading around World!

Author Says Karate Training
Would Benefit World’s Young

Jack Culebra

The martial arts that made Japan’s samurai warriors and ninja among the world’s most formidable and feared fighters are now spreading around the world in a cultural invasion that, according to Japanologist/author Boyé Lafayette De Mente, is having a profound influence on the lives of a growing number of people—especially youngsters and teenagers.

Known for his books on the cultural foundations of the etiquette and ethics of the Japanese in their business and social relationships, De Mente says that after the nearly 800-year reign of Japan’s samurai ended in the early 1870s a number of martial arts masters began the process of changing kendo (the way of the sword), judo and karate into modern-day sports designed to instill the most desirable attributes in their practitioners, from a sense of fair-play and courage to rigorous discipline in the pursuit of goals.

But, De Mente adds, these martial arts remained virtually unknown in the U.S. until 1927 when Kentsu Yabu, an Okinawan karate master, staged a public demonstration of karate at the Nuuana YMCA in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Interestingly, among the Caucasian spectators who witnessed the demonstration were members of the First Methodist Church of Hawaii who became students of the art and soon began to hold public demonstrations of their own. Over the next several years other Okinawa karate masters were invited to teach in Hawaii.

Pioneer American martial arts masters like Thomas Young and Ed Parker got their training in clubs operating in Hawaii in the 1930s and 40s, and both were to play leading roles in helping to spread the practice of martial arts to the mainland from the 1950s on.

But the first martial arts dojoh on the mainland of the U.S. was opened in Phoenix, Arizona in 1946 by ex-sailor Robert Trias, who had been stationed in Japan and had studied karate under a Japanese master. Trias established the United States Karate Association in 1948. Other servicemen who had also studied martial arts in Japan began opening training studios on the mainland.

By 1951 the U.S. military had picked up on the idea of making Japanese style martial arts a part of its regular training programs, a move that was backed by the famous World War II air force general Curtis LeMay, himself a student of Japan-trained master Emilio Bruno who was in charge of martial arts training for the Strategic Air Command, headed by General LeMay.

Bruno taught over a dozen karate instructors for the SAC, and they later toured military installations throughout the U.S., giving demonstrations.

In 1952 Japan’s great martial arts master Mas Oyama was invited to give a series of karate demonstrations to the general public across the U.S. His ability to break boards and bricks with his hands, covered by The New York Times and national media, created a sensation and was instrumental in making karate a household word.

From 1955 on this fanfare resulted in large numbers of martial arts masters being trained in Tokyo by the Japan Karate Association specifically to open dojoh in the United States.

It was also in 1955 that former sailor Robert Trias conducted the first known karate tournament in America: The 1st Arizona Karate Championships. Held at the Butler Boys Club in Phoenix, participants were chiefly members of the Arizona Highway Patrol who were Trias' students.

By 1951 pioneer martial arts enthusiast Ed Parker had moved from Hawaii to California where his growing student list included such Hollywood names as Darren McGavin, author Joe Hyams, television executive Tom Tannenbaum, producer Blake Edwards, and the late film stars Nick Adams, Frank Lovejoy, Audie Murphy and—believe it or not—Elvis Presley.

Thereafter, Tannenbaum and Edwards, among others, were instrumental in bringing a long line of films featuring karate scenes to the screen. Dozens of books and a steady flow of magazine articles continued to promote Japanese style martial arts training.

By the 1980s movie and television fare, especially films featuring such real-life martial arts champions as Bruce Lee, Chuck Norris, Steven Seagal, Jean Claude Van Damme and Jackie Chan, had become a staple of the entertainment diet and a factor in martial arts as a way of life.

Dojoh masters had also begun appealing to women and children of all ages, touting the security factor for women and the character-building benefits for children.

But De Mente says that despite the fact that training in martial arts as a sport and a character builder is now an important industry around the world it has only scratched the surface of its full potential.

“The result of introducing boys and girls as young as five or six years of age to the discipline and philosophy that is part of modern-day martial arts is absolutely remarkable,” he maintains.

“It provides them with the structure, the discipline, and the emotional, intellectual and spiritual foundation they need to become well-rounded adults and function effectively in society,” he adds.

De Mente’s own efforts to promote the benefits of martial arts include a newly published book entitled Samurai Principles & Practices that will Help Preteens & Teens in School, Sports, Social Activities & Choosing Careers.

The book is available from, other online booksellers, and through bookstore chains. Booksellers may order the book from the Ingram Book Company,

De Mente says he wrote the book primarily for dojoh masters to use in their efforts to encourage more parents to enroll their children in karate training courses.
De Mente’s other books on Japan include The Japanese Samurai Code; Samurai Strategies; Japan Unmasked: The Character & Culture of the Japanese; and KATA—The Key to Understanding & Dealing with the Japanese. For a full list of his 60-plus books on Japan, Korea, China and Mexico see his personal website: