Sunday, 10 October 2010

feminism - apparently committing home cooking mass murder

A while ago Jan Moir wrote an article in the Daily Mail about how she thought feminsim killed home cooking. And put forward the continuing myth that home cooking is somehow 'feminine' in and of itself. This annoys me no end. I really dislike rose tinted glasses combined with a hefty dose of sexism, and in this case would go so far as to say misogyny.

Cooking up until second wave feminism wasn't all hearty, healthy meals. Finance, education and time all played a part in ensuring children got badly cooked, badly balanced food on a daily basis - we may have a problem with obesity and that is serious but we also used to have problems with rickets. Stay at home mothers didn't guarantee wholesome meals - and that isn't the fault of mothers.

Also, working women have always had to find ways to feed their families - and by that I mean all women who have had either paid or non-paid work. The work that goes into running a home and raising children seems to be brushed aside - I imagine keeping a 'good house' in the 1950s wasn't exactly a picnic.

Apparently feminism killed home cooking and created take aways, microwaved meals and is responsible for the obesity epidemic. If only we would just give up on all this using our skills and intelligence to run our homes well, run a business, teach, be doctors, nurses, care workers, lawyers, politicians or, you know, earn enough to pay the bills, the world would be a much better place. And while we are at it, lets repeal the legislation that gave us the vote and the right to not be raped by our husbands.

Feminism didn't kill home cooking - some people would argue the microwave and ready made meals did. The modern age desire to make machines, speed things up and out smart one another did. Percy Spencer - bloke - invented the microwave. MacDonalds wasn't invented by Mrs Beeton. I am being flippant, but seriously, it is quite a stretch to say that feminism - that invisible dementor - killed home cooking.

First - feminism actually means you get a choice. A choice for every woman and man to home cook or not to home cook. And if the argument is that home cooking is more healthy how come men aren't smart enough to a) figure that out and b) act on it? I thought men were supposed to be smart?

Second - where are the fathers/other adults? Obesity in children requires two things - children and an intake of food that doesn't outweigh the activity output. However a child comes into the world they are brought up by more than one adult - in other words 'Mum' - whether it's dad, granny, grandad, uncle joe etc you get the picture. Where are these other adults providing meals, taking kids out to play etc? What about the adults that give kids sweets thinking it is a 'treat' or prevent girls from playing football because it isn't 'ladylike'.

Third - the fact you don't like women is not a causal effect for obesity.

Rose Prince in the Daily Fail article says that -

"The way we cook has to change if the gentle art of feminine food is to be revived."

The last time I looked there wasn't much that was gentle about home cooking. I just made pancakes for afternoon tea alongside baking some bread for tomorrow [how feminine of me] - beating eggs, frying over a high hot-oil heat, kneading dough, flinging things in and out of the oven, smoking my oil so hot the smoke alarm went off, the occasional swearing when you realise you haven't boiled the kettle yet for the coffee but the last batch of pancakes is just about done. And I am sure my husband would back me up that out of the two of us it is me that is the most messy in the kitchen. Yes, working in a hot kitchen is very sweet and dainty.

I love cooking. I love home cooked meals and regularly spend weekends cooking for hours for it to be devoured in seconds. As much as possible I try and cook most meals during the week albeit of a more basic pasta and sauce variety. But here is the thing. I get to choose. And I get to choose what is right for my circumstances - and so does my husband. Our food intake and health are entirely in our own independent adult hands which is just how it should be. And when we are looking after kids, the impact feminism has is one showing that adults and kids regardless of gender can contribute to - and enjoy - cooking and cleaning up, and that healthy food is about a balanced diet and not starving yourself to the size of a toothpick. What an awful attitude to have, eh Jan?

So in the light of all of this 'feminism is to blame for pretty much everything we don't like' it is refreshing to see a new blog,
to serve woman, start up by writers from the F-Word designed to counteract both the idea that cooking is essentially ‘feminine’, and the idea that feminism is anti cooking. The point of the blog is to bring the intersections of cooking and food and politics and feminism together. There will be two loosely grouped themes - one covering aspects related to food and the other using food as a launching point to discuss feminist topics including -

The labour aspect of cooking
the chef vs cook conversation (different versions of the same recipe custard/ creme anglaise)
cultural and religious intersections of food
feminism and veganism/vegetarianism
communal cooking/eating
cooking for families/

I am pretty excited about it - feminism and cooking - two of my favourite things in one place.

Check it out and contribute. I am off to sit and watch TV while my husband cooks the dinner - I hope this doesn't send the world off it's axis.

PS - I have a feeling that describing feminism as an invisible dementor is something I may have read somewhere at some point - so if I did steal it apologies! It has now become so much a part of my lexicon I can't remember if it is original or not!

1 comment:

andy said...

Down with the dailymail for spouting such drival and making my wife rant (again... and again). Seriously though, you should be contributing to the toservewoman blog - seems right up your street.