Women and Food
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Entry filed under: Children, Food, Human Rights, Marriage, Men, Money and Finances, Relationships, Social Commentary, Women's Rights. Tags: Austin American-Statesman, Chef, Christianity, Cooks, Food, Home, Martha Stewart, United States.