"Strict gender roles have governed domestic life in Japan for generations. Men often retire without ever having held a paring knife..."
At housework school, old men meet other other old men:
Five of them were fixing a meal recently, Kaneko standing tall in front of the stove and helming the frying pan as the others took turns placing mounds of minced chicken in oil.
“Don’t overdo it,” he warned 80-year-old Kikuo Yano, laughing as he rounded out the nuggets with a spoon. Yano has been taking classes this fall to surprise his wife of 43 years.
“All this time my wife has done everything,” the retired architect acknowledged. “I haven’t done anything around the house. If I don’t know how to, I guess there’s nothing I can do. But if I learn how to do it, then it’s time I help.”
He now wakes up early to press his clothes. Ten times he has practiced a curry dish he plans on serving his family on New Year’s Day. “You see this shirt?” he says, running his hands up and down the sleeve, a smile stretching across his face. “I ironed it myself."
Out with the old — "men should be ashamed" — and in with the new — "I ironed it myself."
I like the idea of taking distinct pride in doing the humble, simple, concrete things in life. It's a shame to imbue these things with shame (especially if that is part of system of subordinating others).