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Monthly Archives: January 2011

Dear 2011: Where is my flying car and my robo maid?

It’s kind of crazy, but we’re living in the future.

We have robot vacuum cleaners and the conversation continues about improving an automobile’s fuel economy. But there are some instances where we might as well still live in 1951.

Like cooking.

Why do we tell men they can’t cook?

It’s as bad as telling little girls they’re not as smart as boys. And yet, it’s something that we continue to reinforce.

We reinforce it with novelty calendars such as “Porn for Women” that depicts buff and/or scantily clad men doing house work.

Last year Quirk Publishing released a cookbook titled “Recipes Every Man Should Know.” It’s a cookbook intended for the man in the bookstore who may otherwise walk past the cooking section. Never mind that there are plenty of male celebrity chefs and foodies (Jamie Oliver, Alton Brown, Wolfgang Puck, Sam Zien, etc.).

What makes me wonder is this: why do we as a society continue to encourage such sexist expectations?

Just by referring to it as “women’s porn” suggests that it’s illicit or inappropriate for men to cook, clean, or do things around the house. Muscular men without their shirts are titillating, sure. But calling it porn implies that it’s still not something to talk about in polite conversation. A cookbook marketed toward men leads me to believe that there’s something inherently feminine about the cookbooks I’ve collected over the years and that honestly makes me a little uncomfortable.

My pirate husband and I tend to eschew gender roles.

I have an interest in cars, so automotive maintenance in our house is my job. Before we were married, he’s the one who went out and bought a sewing machine because he wanted to patch his own clothes and make costumes for DragonCon in Atlanta.

We both enjoy cooking so it’s only natural that it should be something that we both do.

Growing up, it never occurred to me that it should be one gender or the other’s job to cook. Both my parents cooked. My dad makes a mean stir fry and if there’s a pie in the house, it’s because my dad made it. No one beats my mom’s spaghetti and I can’t eat fast food burgers because her hamburger patties are by far the most succulent slabs of meat you’ve ever encountered.

In eighth grade, my friend Jimmy joined the Future Homemakers of America and he was ridiculed for it. He was teased because he enjoyed to bake. I guess that’s just what you do in the eighth grade, tease someone because they’re brave enough to do something in which you might have a hidden interest. Now, some 13 years later he has his own business, Jimmy Cakes, where he makes specialty cakes for all manner of celebrations.

Plenty of folks put as little stock in gender roles as you’d put in Betty Crocker’s recipe for chicken soup (about 4 cups). But that doesn’t change the fact that it’s 2011 and a person’s abilities continue to be judged based on their sex.

It might be the future soon, but we all still have a fair bit of housework to do.

tags: cooking, gender, sexism