The latest commotion in the world of food-based sexism was caused by a fairly innocuous-seeming article that appeared in the New York Times a month or so ago. In “Mom Puts Family On Her Meal Plan”, author Leslie Kaufman discusses her commitment to making a nutritious meal for her family every weeknight “not because of any psychology study about the well-being of children, but because it gave me comfort.” In other words, because she wants to. Less than a third of the article is devoted to the reasoning behind Kaufman’s decision and most of the piece simply offers tips for cooking ahead of time that could be useful for anyone, whether they are cooking for a family or for themselves.
Culinate has an excellent piece up about the ensuing controversy, but here’s your executive summary: Slashfood posted a quick piece about the New York Times article. A commenter responded “I can’t possibly understand why Slashfood would choose to highlight this retrograde June Cleaver nonsense. It’s also hard to believe the NYTimes published it.” Blogger Barbara Fisher fired back with a post defending the original article and wondering “how is it feminist to insult the decision another woman has made, based upon her own desires and comfort level?”
The simple reality is that unless you have the means to order in or dine out every night, someone has to do the cooking. In most relationships, one person enjoys and is more skilled at cooking, so they end up doing the lion’s share of the food preparation. When we were growing up, our dad made the vast majority of the meals, because he is a stellar cook. Our own boyfriend doesn’t know how to cook foods that don’t come in boxes, so when we’re together, we cook because a) we can and b) we love it. Just because cooking has historically been regarded as “women’s work” doesn’t mean that by cooking for your family you’re submitting to the patriarchy. Someone has to put food on the table and that person should be whoever enjoys it most, irregardless of gender. Cook if you like it, don’t if you hate it, but make your decision based on what you enjoy, not what society is pressuring you to do. As blogger Fat and Crafty put it: “I enjoy cooking because it is a creative outlet. I enjoy it because it gives me a venue to care for my family and friends. I do it because it is a challenge, with the food sensitives and likes /dislikes a limited budget and limited time I’m still able to make a pretty darn awesome dinner every night. … If doing this makes me June Cleaver, then so be it.”
Mom Puts Family on Her Meal Plan [New York Times]
Cooks vs. Chefs [Culinate]
Cooking Dinner Quickly [Slashfood]
Is Cooking For Your Family “Retrograde June Cleaver Nonsense?” [Tigers & Strawberries]
Cooking [Fat and Crafty]