Nothing bothers me more than the idea that if you want to be a feminist, you have to shun all things that are traditionally considered feminine. Sure, these days hetero relationships no longer require us to adhere to the strict gender roles of generations past. Yes, many of us career babes bristle at the idea of being given a potholder or cleaning product as a gift just because we’re ladies. It sucks that toys for little girls are often domestic-themed. BUT. Do we have to rage against the domestic machine in order to be feminists?
In her post on Lucky Peach’s blog, Jessica Hopper tells us that it’s okay for women to cook for their male partners. Hopper always “reflexively dovetailed” away from the kitchen in an attempt to reject patriarchal norms and saw no reason to learn to cook just because she was a woman. Her stepfather’s regressive attempt to teach her to cook for her future husband was met with a strong rebuff. Then, much to her chagrin, Jessica fell in love with a man and in the process of cultivating domestic bliss, realized that she enjoyed nurturing him, not because he was a man but because she loved him. Cooking for and with her boyfriend didn’t mean that she was necessarily shape-shifting to fit into a Betty Crocker mold. In fact, she found that she enjoyed cooking.
Enlightened, egalitarian couples know that it doesn’t matter what gender your designated chef is. When you love someone and want to take care of them, that can look like a lot of different things. Plus, you need to eat. Someone needs to make the food. It’s possible to be in a radical, progressive couple and still cook for your boyfriend or husband.
The issue is that it’s not an expectation that your magical vagina somehow makes you a naturally good cook, or that it means cooking is required of you. Couples should decide who is going to cook based on factors outside of gender, like who is better at it and who has more time, or who enjoys it more. It may be the case that neither of you want to cook, so you’re existing on a diet of frozen meals, take out and macaroni and cheese. Whatever! The progressive, feminist thing is to decide as a couple what model works for you. The only thing that’s universal is that the person being cooked for is grateful, because there’s no greater labor of love than feeding someone. And a “thank you” backrub wouldn’t kill you.
PS, if you want to read more about gender, sex and food, pick up the current issue of famed foodie lit mag Lucky Peach.
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