The astonishing reason why women are excluded from making sushi, and how that's changing.

Did you hear the one about how women can't be sushi chefs because of their periods?

GIF via "Parks and Recreation."


Yep, you heard me. There is a bizarre yet widespread belief that menstruation makes women inferior at detecting the tastes and smells of raw fish needed in a sushi chef — one that even the most famous chefs believe in.

When Jiro Ono, son of famed sushi chef Jiro (of the documentary "Jiro Dreams of Sushi") was asked by the Wall Street Journal why there are no women featured in the documentary about his father, Ono said verbatim: "The reason is because women menstruate."

"To be a professional means to have a steady taste in your food, but because of the menstrual cycle, women have an imbalance in their taste, and that’s why women can’t be sushi chefs."

Other myths about women being bad sushi chefs persist, based on their supposed "higher core body temperature," and their cosmetics getting in the way of their sense of smell. Because every woman in the world wears makeup. Obviously.

Yoshikazu Ono (on the right) infamously said that he doesn't hire women to work at his father Jiro Ono's sushi restaurant because their menstrual cycles mean that they have "an imbalance in their taste." Photo by Toshifumi Kitamura/AFP/Getty Images.

As a result, it's rare to see a woman as a sushi chef.

This is according to the All Japan Sushi Association, an organization of 5,000 sushi restaurant owners in Japan.

The myth itself stems not only from misconceptions about menstruation and body temperature, but from centuries old tradition. The sushi craft borrows the virtues of "physical, mental, and spiritual precision and perfection" from samurai culture.

"Unfortunately, by-products of that preservation are some outdated beliefs about the ‘second sex.’" Oona Tempest, a female chef at New York's Tanoshi Sushi, told Zagat about how such cultural origins result in discrimination against potential female sushi chefs. "Master chefs willing to take on a female apprentice are just as, if not more so, scarce than females willing to learn.

Nadeshiko Sushi in Japan is breaking down barriers as the country's only sushi restaurant run entirely by women.

In 2010, Nadeshiko Sushi opened in order to give women jobs during the recession. At first, though, men still did all the prep work in the kitchen, and the female chefs were indistinguishable from their male counterparts, down to the white jacket uniforms they wore.

"No one came to the restaurant when we wore simple white coats because we looked the same as everyone else," said Yuki Chizui, Nadeshiko's manager, to the Japan Times. "We needed to create a feminine restaurant in order to establish a new style.”

What's this new style? Whereas male sushi chefs traditionally serve their customers in silence, the chefs at Nadeshiko bond with their customers, with one chef telling a patron that they work too hard.

Judging by the pictures, the chefs can wear any color chef coat they want as well.

Photo by Koji Sasahara/Associated Press.

Most importantly, at Nadeshiko Sushi, women are now in charge of every step of the process.

Any woman who wants to learn can apprentice at the restaurant as well.

"Women traditionally have stayed in the home, but if they want to become sushi chefs here they have to come six times a week in order to learn on the job," Chizui told Broadly.

Nadeshiko Sushi is a restaurant that solves those twin problems that Oona Tempest talks about — that of women not being interested in sushi-making and that of them not having access to mentors.

Hopefully, other sushi restaurants will soon follow suit.

More

On an old episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in July 1992, Oprah put her audience through a social experiment that puts racism in a new light. Despite being nearly two decades old, it's as relevant today as ever.

She split the audience members into two groups based on their eye color. Those with brown eyes were given preferential treatment by getting to cut the line and given refreshments while they waited to be seated. Those with blue eyes were made to put on a green collar and wait in a crowd for two hours.

Staff were instructed to be extra polite to brown-eyed people and to discriminate against blue-eyed people. Her guest for that day's show was diversity expert Jane Elliott, who helped set up the experiment and played along, explaining that brown-eyed people were smarter than blue-eyed people.

Watch the video to see how this experiment plays out.

Oprah's Social Experiment on Her Audience www.youtube.com

Culture
via Cadbury

Cadbury has removed the words from its Dairy Milk chocolate bars in the U.K. to draw attention to a serious issue, senior loneliness.

On September 4, Cadbury released the limited-edition candy bars in supermarkets and for every one sold, the candy giant will donate 30p (37 cents) to Age UK, an organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for the elderly.

Cadbury was prompted to help the organization after it was revealed that 225,000 elderly people in the UK often go an entire week without speaking to another person.

Keep Reading Show less
Well Being

Young people today are facing what seems to be greater exposure to complex issues like mental health, bullying, and youth violence. As a result, teachers are required to be well-versed in far more than school curriculum to ensure students are prepared to face the world inside and outside of the classroom. Acting as more than teachers, but also mentors, counselors, and cheerleaders, they must be equipped with practical and relevant resources to help their students navigate some of the more complicated social issues – though access to such tools isn't always guaranteed.

Take Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, for example, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years, and as a teacher for seven. Entering the profession, she didn't anticipate how much influence a student's home life could affect her classroom, including "students who lived in foster homes" and "lacked parental support."

Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience, says it can be difficult to create engaging course work that's applicable to the challenges students face. "I think that sometimes, teachers don't know where to begin. Teachers are always looking for ways to make learning in their classrooms more relevant."

So what resources do teachers turn to in an increasingly fractured world? "Joining a professional learning network that supports and challenges thinking is one of the most impactful things that a teacher can do to support their own learning," Anglemyer says.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience.

A new program for teachers that offers this network along with other resources is the WE Teachers Program, an initiative developed by Walgreens in partnership with ME to WE and Mental Health America. WE Teachers provides tools and resources, at no cost to teachers, looking for guidance around the social issues related to poverty, youth violence, mental health, bullying, and diversity and inclusion. Through online modules and trainings as well as a digital community, these resources help them address the critical issues their students face.

Jessica Mauritzen, a high school Spanish teacher, credits a network of support for providing her with new opportunities to enrich the learning experience for her students. "This past year was a year of awakening for me and through support… I realized that I was able to teach in a way that built up our community, our school, and our students, and supported them to become young leaders," she says.

With the new WE Teachers program, teachers can learn to identify the tough issues affecting their students, secure the tools needed to address them in a supportive manner, and help students become more socially-conscious, compassionate, and engaged citizens.

It's a potentially life-saving experience for students, and in turn, "a great gift for teachers," says Dr. Sanderlin.

"I wish I had the WE Teachers program when I was a teacher because it provides the online training and resources teachers need to begin to grapple with these critical social issues that plague our students every day," she adds.

In addition to the WE Teachers curriculum, the program features a WE Teachers Award to honor educators who go above and beyond in their classrooms. At least 500 teachers will be recognized and each will receive a $500 Walgreens gift card, which is the average amount teachers spend out-of-pocket on supplies annually. Teachers can be nominated or apply themselves. To learn more about the awards and how to nominate an amazing teacher, or sign up for access to the teacher resources available through WE Teachers, visit walgreens.com/metowe.

WE Teachers
True
Walgreens
via KGW-TV / YouTube

One of the major differences between women and men is that women are often judged based on their looks rather than their character or abilities.

"Men as well as women tend to establish the worth of individual women primarily by the way their body looks, research shows. We do not do this when we evaluate men," Naomi Ellemers Ph.D. wrote in Psychology Today.

Dr. Ellers believes that this tendency to judge a woman solely on her looks causes them to be seen as an object rather than a person.

Keep Reading Show less
Culture