People who like to cook, cook

Today I’m feeling really good about being able to make food for myself. I also feel really good about men cooking for themselves. I have never been in a relationship in which the person-who-was-not-me was unwilling to cook, or expected me to cook for them. Men I’ve dated have asked me to go relax and let them do the cooking, because they enjoy cooking. And I can cook delicious food, so it isn’t a matter of anyone avoiding my cuisine. Cooking can be exhausting (well, excepting frozen meals, PBJ, etc) and is definitely a task to share.

Cooking takes time. I think it’s reasonable that people (men, women, etc) who wish to stay home and cook, ought to do so whenever it fits their life (so, if you need to work in order to survive, you might have to forego the luxury which is home-cooked food every meal of every day, or you might get good at planning). Some foods actually require a day’s work to make, such as home-made bread, turkey, certain desserts. I have taken part in the baking of bread (a beautiful and back-breaking experience), and the making of cheesecake, cake, and large batches of cookies- all of which take time.

I never wanted to learn to cook. In fact, I’m not sure if I would have- if not for the inspiration of two strong women; my wonderful grandmother whose food preparations bordered the divine, and a friend’s mother at a community event who responded to my protestations with “My sons would help, but they already know how to cook scrambled eggs and you don’t!” I am grateful to them for their lessons, and grateful to many other people for increasing my knowledge of and confidence in cooking.

It would be unfair for anyone to assume that a woman can or will learn to cook because she is female. Some of us women honestly prefer takeout or pre-packaged food (and can afford it), some of us would rather someone else cooked for us. Is that any different from a man wanting his partner to cook for him? No, absolutely not. However, the point is not to base that desire on gender. A man who would prefer his wife to be the chef can ask just as politely, without assuming she will say yes. It is not either partner’s “responsibility” to concede to cook. Quite often, the person considered the ‘better cook’ will concede if it’s practical.

I’d be feeling much more awesome if people would quit joking that women belong in the kitchen. It sounds uneducated. It’s cruelly undermining. It isn’t funny. You may get a laugh because of unexpected so-called ‘comedic’ timing or because people feel nervous. And I realize, possibly you don’t ‘believe’ what you’re stating. That doesn’t make the ‘joking’ statements any less degrading, hurtful, debilitating, discouraging, humiliating. And it sure doesn’t make anyone’s cooking any better!

*Please forgive the assumption of heterosexual relationship which this post makes.*** It’s most useful to the dichotomy of the mentality being disputed here. If it were a post about lesbians cooking for each other, I might have to argue that both don’t “belong in the kitchen.” And then they starve.** So sad. Save the lesbians!!

**Though of course, they’d have more sense than to subscribe to that.

***One can also substitute ‘the more feminine-identifying partner’ where appropriate. The idea is the same.

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