Saturday, February 20, 2010

Will the Bitch Need to Stop Cooking in 30 Years?

Here at The Bitch Stopped Cooking, we wonder if we're working ourselves out of a job. Perhaps for future generations, there will not be a need for The Bitch Stopped Cooking. Perhaps there will be gender equity in the kitchen (if we can't get the men to do all the cooking, let's at least have gender equity). Imagine - it will be so commonplace for a man to cook, or at least share the cooking, that here at TBSC we will have to find something else to do! In all seriousness, studies have shown that indeed, more and more men are cooking (with or without the help of TBSC). The NPD Group, in 2008, reported that although women still cook 78 percent of meals eaten at home, this decreased from 82 percent in 2003. If we extrapolate these data, we would see gender equity in the kitchen in just a few decades.

First there was metrosexual, now gastrosexual? The Urban Dictionary defines a gastrosexual as "a term used to describe men who cook, taking the household chore part away from it, and turning it more into a hobby, used to impress friends and prospective partners." Fabulous! More and more men are cooking, so now they get their own term! The feminist in me can't help but ask: Is there an equivalent term for a woman who takes the household chore part away from cooking? Or is it so engrained in society that women are supposed to cook that if we make it fun and not a chore, it's nothing special? Sorry, ladies, we don't get our own term! As a stay-at-home mom, I cook most of the meals during the week. My amazing husband does a fair share of the cooking (and vacuuming and laundry), for which I am infinitely thankful. We both truly enjoy cooking and have fun with it, but I can't help but feel like the meals I prepare, which I enjoy making, are a chore and the meals he prepares, which he enjoys making, are for fun. Is this just me being cranky and overtired, or have I also fallen victim to society's attitude about women in the kitchen? It's interesting , though, that even I, a strong, independent woman who co-owns, with her strong, independent sisters, a company devoted to the culinary liberation of women, still succumbs to society's attitudes about women in the kitchen. Why don't I feel like the meals I make are not a chore?

There's a great article in the New York Times about a movement called equally shared parenting. This is obviously a topic for another day (and another blog, perhaps), but one thing that it discusses is some research that Dr. Esther Rothblum has done on how same sex couples share parenting and other household chores. She has found that lesbian parents, gay parents and heterosexual fathers all report doing the same amount of household work, like cooking and cleaning. Heterosexual mothers report doing about twice as much household work. People in most same sex relationships divvy up household chores based on who's good at what and what just works the best for the family. Looking at our extrapolated data, in 40 years perhaps women in heterosexual couples will be reporting the same number of hours spent on housework as lesbian and gay parents and heterosexual men.

Okay, hopping off my soapbox now...

It's been great to witness how our little business of culinary liberation is actually making a difference for some women. Their partners may not be cooking as much as we would like (yet), but they at least seem to be more aware of the fact that, yes, men can cook! And, if they don't know how, they can learn and become great cooks. Suzanne, one of our fans, wrote to us to say that although she doesn't think her husband, who can't even boil water, will ever begin cooking, he was the one who showed her the article about us in the Cape Cod Chronicle. Christine, another fan, reports that her husband now cooks once per week because of TBSC, and Dave, another fan, reports that he thinks that he's cooking more now because of TBSC. We'll have to ask his wife to see if that's true, but at least he is more aware, right?

So, in just a few decades, perhaps my one year old daughter will be sharing meal preparation with her partner and they will both be enjoying it and neither will feel like it's a chore. In the meantime, we here at TBSC have more work to do.

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