Women and Food

February 5, 2011 at 10:54 pm 4 comments

Two women cooking

Image via Wikipedia

A few months ago I wrote a blog post about how I learned to cook when I was a girl while my dad got to sit on his ass and continue to brag about how he could only make steak and popcorn. This blog post was actually kindly featured by a woman named Addie Broyles, a professional journalist for the Austin American-Statesman. She’s a food and film critic, but she usually writes about food. She has her own blog, which she calls feministkitchen.

At the time I remember that I thought it was odd that someone would combine the topics of food and feminism and have enough to maintain a blog. She may have thought the same thing about Christianity and feminism with regard to my own blog.

I started thinking about Addie and her blog and how my most recent blog posts would fit in quite nicely with what she’s doing. With my last post about the blatantly sexist research article that tries to implicate working mothers for the childhood obesity problem, I thought about just why it is that women do the bulk of cooking in American households?

Most couples nowadays marry later in life. They’ve been out on their own for a while before they settle down. Presumably, the men would have to eat. Do they just make sandwiches and eat out all the time? I don’t think so. Most of the men I’ve known could cook on some level.

I always kind of thought that was sexy. One guy I had a crush on in my late 20s actually made baked beans from scratch, and the idea kind of got me excited. When I say from scratch, I mean he soaked the dry beans in water overnight and then cooked them and then stuck them in a dish with bacon and seasonings, Martha Stewart style. God, he was hot! He was a little blond accountant geek with wire rimmed glasses, but those baked beans made him Adonis.

So, we’ve established the fact that men can cook. Why don’t they? They do when they live alone. They do if they get paid to cook. Most highly paid chefs are still men. The most famous chefs are men. That’s not exclusively their domain; women are also professional chefs, but the majority of upper echelon professional chefs are men. Clearly, not only can men cook, but if we pay them to do so then, if you can judge their abilities to cook based solely on their career success and pay rate, they can cook better than we can.

To my mind, there are several possible reasons why women usually do the cooking:

  1. Society expects women to do the cooking, and therefore women feel that they have failed as women if they are not doing the bulk of the cooking. Maybe it’s women who actually insist on doing the cooking because they don’t want to feel like they’ve failed as wives and mothers.
  2. Men want women to cook because they simply prefer not to have to do so. As such, the woman does the cooking or it doesn’t get done. Women cook by default.
  3. Men want to do the cooking, but they defer to the women in their lives because the women prefer to do the cooking, which may have something to do with reason #1.
  4. Men don’t cook, unless it involves a grill or a smoke pit, because slaving over a stove isn’t “manly.” They don’t want to be seen as a wuss. So, men insist that their wives do the cooking because if they did the cooking it would make them less of a man.
  5. Men would cook, but they aren’t sufficiently motivated to do so. Obviously a big fat paycheck motivates them. But you don’t want to have to pay your husband to cook, so what else do big-time professional chefs get out of their careers besides money? They get praise and recognition.

I suspect the real reasons why women usually do the cooking are as varied as the couples themselves and their own attitudes towards food and gender but that the bulk of the reasons could have something to do with some combination of the reasons listed above or it could just have to do with the fact that men, on average, work longer hours in the workplace than women do. It averages about 42 minutes more per day, which is just about enough time to cook a meal and put the food on the table.

Do I think most men really want to work 42 minutes more than women do? No. I think some men find their jobs satisfying and fulfilling and do this out of choice, but I also think that there are probably even more men who toil in crappy jobs in order to support themselves and their families.

Why do they do this? Someone has to pick up the kids, and it makes sense that the person who picks up the kids is the person who makes the lesser amount of money. This means the woman usually picks up the kids and puts food on the table so the man can get an additional 42 minutes of pay at a higher rate.

This is why gender equality is in everyone’s best interests. If women averaged the same work for the same pay, then it would make sense for mom and dad to take turns cooking and cleaning and picking up the kids. Men would have less stress at work, since they’re not working as much, and they’d have better relationships with their wives and children because they’d have more time to spend with them.  The key to male and female satisfaction is in a more balanced relationship. This means that changes have to take place in both our private and public lives.

http://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2007/jul/wk1/art01.htm

http://www.saveur.com/article/Kitchen/Gender-in-the-Kitchen

http://athome.harvard.edu/food/bio.html

Entry filed under: Children, Food, Human Rights, Marriage, Men, Money and Finances, Relationships, Social Commentary, Women's Rights. Tags: , , , , , , , .

Working Moms Cause Childhood Obesity; Yeah, Right! And I’m the Pope! Sarah Palin: Foreign Policy Expert

4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Amanda  |  February 6, 2011 at 1:45 am

    I prefer to do most of the cooking because I enjoy it. But mostly because I enjoy doing it for my husband and my family. There’s no deep seeded, guilt ridden, crazy ass reason from my childhood behind it. And I don’t care if it pisses off the vocal feminist majority. I have been a working mom by MY choice, not my husband’s. I am now a stay-at-home mom by OUR choice because WE felt it was the best choice for OUR family. I do the cooking because I want to and I have more time to. I guess I’m “normal” and there’s no drama in blogging about that.

    Reply
  • 2. Author  |  February 6, 2011 at 6:29 am

    You’ll get no argument from me here. If that is what you and Mark have chosen to do for your family, then that’s a fair trade off since he does all the working for your family.

    My problem is when men expect women to do all the work at home when they work outside the home as well. That is unfair.

    You chose to be a stay at home mom, and that is a full time job in and of itself. Same thing for stay at home dads. If they stay at home, then I would expect them to do the majority of the cooking and cleaning and childcare as well.

    That’s the reasoning behind my argument. Yes, you are normal, and so are all the women who choose to work or not to marry or not to have children. It doesn’t make any of us lesser women or lesser people to make the choices we make for ourselves and our families. My argument is for fairness and equality, not that all of us have to be the same.

    What angers me is that some men feel entitled to greater pay and social status, some men feel entitled to their women doing all the housework, and some men feel that they are entitled to unlimited sexual experience while we should remain virgins or we’re automatically whores. Some men feel that they are entitled to the hot babe regardless of the fact that they themselves look more like John Goodman before he lost the weight, than Brad Pitt. These men still exist.

    But things are changing, and that’s great! I don’t expect these things to change overnight, anymore than Brown v. Board of Education eliminated racism on the day that judgment happened. We still have racism; it’s just far less than it was before that momentous decision. I don’t want us to backslide or to forget that the goal is equality.

    Reply
  • 3. Jason  |  February 19, 2011 at 9:37 am

    Rule number one if you want a man to help out more around the house: You have to let him do it his way. Far too often I see women insist that the dishwasher has to be loaded “this way” and clothes have to be folded “that way” to the point where either they hover over their husbands shoulders giving constant corrections or they go back and redo what has already been done. The kicker is that both ways are, to an outside observer, perfectly serviceable- but they aren’t “moms way.” And after awhile most men just give up.

    Men have had to give up a lot of what was our “sphere” of power, so now it’s time for women to give up some of theirs.

    Reply
    • 4. Author  |  February 19, 2011 at 4:24 pm

      That’s a keen and sensible argument. I wholeheartedly agree with that assessment.

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed


Blog Stats

  • 171,566 hits

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 82 other followers

February 2011
M T W T F S S
« Jan   Mar »
 123456
78910111213
14151617181920
21222324252627
28  

%d bloggers like this: