Organized Panel Session
The 1973 Oil Shock transformed the aspirational imaginaries of the Japanese middle-class. Before the Shock, the majority of Japanese people assumed that their quality of life would continue to improve as it had for the past fifteen years. After the shock, however, most men began to fear that they would labor for the rest of their lives for declining returns. At the same time, Do-It-Yourself (DIY) culture became a trendy form of consumerism for men. This talk explores the ways in which DIY became a venue for imagining a way for men to reduce stress and find a sense of empowerment in the 1970s. Proponents of “Men’s Cooking” (Otoko no Ryōri), for example, argued that DIY culture could be a means for men to find meaning and variety in lives otherwise characterized by banal routine. Moreover, they argued that DIY cooking was also a way for men to retake power from their wives. In this way, consumerism for men became an arena for a politics of men’s rights. To unpack these phenomena, this talk analyzes the magazine Weekly Post, Fuji TV’s Epuron Papa (Apron Papa), and several book-length monographs. Through these various media, men’s cooking advocates used DIY culture to manage the particular economic and social anxieties men faced after the Oil Shock. Through their efforts, consumerism became a support pillar for overwork culture and the gendered division of labor in the home.