Wednesday, May 11, 2011

That's Bullshit: Internalized Misogyny 101

So I was tooling around the internets trying to figure out what I want to write about, exactly. That took two seconds, because I found this gem on CNN.

In it, a woman freaks out that her husband has decided to start cooking. Specifically, he's cooking lots of red meat. In her kitchen! The nerve of that guy.

This is my favorite part, when the lady is thumbing through the cookbook her husband just put in the kitchen:

I was studying the corned beef recipe, which called for boiling up your own brine and then submerging the meat in it for 12 days, when Bill came back in and made a complicated spousal throat-clearing noise. "Uh, that's for me," he said. "My cookbook."

I might have been more startled if Bill had said "My mascara," or "My pedicure kit," but I doubt it.

I remain unconvinced that cookbooks, mascara, or pedicure kits are the sole domains of women. This woman is seriously invested in the idea that women cook and men do things that require getting dirty. They can maybe barbecue, because that involves manly things like coal and fire. But in the end it's okay, because he made her something he knows she likes (although not quite up to her specifications), so... she won't chase him out of the kitchen with a butcher knife?

I'm not even sure what the point of this column is. Is she telling us we can all relax now because sometimes when men cook the world doesn't blow up? I've heard similar stories to this before, about women who were irritated with their husbands for cooking. It seems as though people think it's a violation of the domestic spheres we've agreed on since the mid-19th century. Here's what I think it is: Not a big deal at all. Something we need to get over. It is not a violation of your femininity if some dude cooks dinner, you know? Just like it's not violating a guy's masculinity if his wife changes the oil in the cars. We've invested way too much in the gendered division of labor - in gender as a concept - if fucking CNN has to run a story called "Husband quietly takes over the kitchen." What about men who don't have wives? Who, perhaps, are single, or have husbands, or non-female partners? Will they starve to death? And if there are two women in a relationship, HOW WILL WE EVER KNOW who is supposed to do the cooking? The mind boggles.

You will be delighted to know that you can find a link in that story to another one about a chocolate cake that will totally catch you a man.* Because that is what you need to be most concerned with, above all, if you are a lady type. There are only about sixteen different kinds of privilege blinders at work there, right?

* Unless he has celiac disease, diabetes, food allergies, is vegan, hates sweets, or doesn't get an insta-boner at the first sign that a woman is a domestic goddess because he's an actual human being and not some pre-formatted penis owner.

1 comment:

  1. Maybe it's because I grew up in a household where both mom and dad did the cooking--and I don't mean dad ran the grill and mom made the sides. And when I got involved with my partner, the fact that he is quite a talented cook himself was pleasant, but not really a surprise. I'm having a really hard time understanding how the article on CNN is...I don't even know what to say. If this had been in a newspaper like 60 years ago, it's existence might make more sense. I guess I'm baffled.

    I agree with you, Jess: I'm not sure what the point of the column is either. What is also fairly interesting is that, despite the idea conveyed in this article (and the mindset connected to this article) about the kitchen as the supposed women's domain, most of the world's renowned chefs are male--"professional" cooking, I guess, has traditionally been more of a man's domain. (Think about how Julia Child was received in the French cooking school initially, as portrayed in the film Julie & Julia.) Interesting contradiction, eh?

    I agree with you and the very irritated looking kitty: this column is bullshit.