This is the weird reality they are now living in, that being forced to sleep with a number of men and bear children would be considered a privilege by the townswomen desperate to have children in a society with so few males. They don’t sugarcoat Yoshiwara one bit- as well they should, being sold into prostitution was a dirty and dangerous and many did not come out unscathed from disease, abuse, or starvation, much like the poor fellows on exhibition.
Last episode, we had hints that society would collapse pretty quickly with peasants running away due to an inability to pay debts in the absence of a pair of male helping hands, unless something was done. Even the sumptuary laws could do nothing to stem the tide of destitution from the famine- the rural towns are like a wasteland of the living dead. Hard times are everywhere, a far cry from the sheltered luxury of the Oooku.
Iemitsu is coming more and more into her own- she surveys the lay of the land for herself rather than rely on hearsay. She even stands up to Kasuga, talking back to her to defend her tour of the outside world, something her younger self might not have done. Not just her- Arikoto is standing up to her, cleverly using his own pocket money and re-working existing supplies to hold a chrysanthemum viewing party to uplift everyone’s spirit, in defiance of Kasuga’s protestations. Even the council no longer heeds Kasuga’s insistence on tradition, realizing that change is needed to preserve the important bloodlines and the power balance of many houses vs. just a few very powerful ones. What drove the nail into the coffin was the presentation day when everyone realized that everyone else was also making their daughters heirs out of necessity, with no men to inherit. I agree with the council- changing times requires changing ways. The women are just as capable of the men, taking on the physical and intellectual work so it’s plain dumb to not let them inherit in name as well as position.
This really spells the end for Kasuga- the end of the world she knew, the one she helped create. Like it or not, the younger generation is ushering a new world, one better suited to living with the long term effects of the red face pox. Her whole life, Kasuga has been fucking with other people’s lives and those people have learned how to live with or even take control of the undesirable situations she put them in. It’s now time for Kasuga to have a taste of her own medicine- if she lasts that long what with her collapse at the end. She’s a tough woman so she may recover- but if she can’t that would certainly make it a lot easier for new changes to come in place.