No, feminism did not ‘kill’ the art of home cooking

// 21 September 2010

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To answer the Daily Mail’s facetious question, no, feminism did not kill the art of home cooking.

Nor did feminists cause “an epidemic of childhood obesity”, as Rose Prince argues, by encouraging women to abandon the production of “feminine food” (whatever that is!)

For a longer and more thought-out response, please check out Jessica Reed’s post on Comment is Free, which debunks the premise and conclusions of Prince’s article.

If you want families to eat well, give them better access to quality produce, give them more time in a very hectic schedule, and bring back home economics at school – for both genders.

Jessica also asked her male followers on Twitter if they cook and who taught them, and includes an interesting selection of the responses.

Image shows the covers of thee books: the Bloodroot collective’s first feminist vegetarian cook book, Sistah Vegan, which addresses the “the racialised-sexualised-gendered vegan experience in the USA”, and Lisa Jervis’ Cook Food

Comments From You

Liz // Posted 21 September 2010 at 6:44 pm

The Prince article was so mind numbingly stupid I actually laughed. My own response was a little bit more faceatious…

shameless self promotion, sighs…

Jennifer Drew // Posted 21 September 2010 at 7:23 pm

I knew it would happen one day – the Daily Male has totally ‘lost it.’ Perhaps Male’s circulation is decreasing so rapidly the male editor is having to resort to fantastical claims. Whatever next? Perhaps the headline claiming ‘Feminism is responsible for global warming!’

Feminine food – yes quite true because didn’t you know everything has to be labelled either ‘feminine’ or ‘masculine’ and that is why certain human traits/emoptions such as anger are ‘masculine’ whereas other emotions/traits such as nurture are labelled ‘feminine.’

So will we soon see pink and blue food? Just a thought.

Hannah // Posted 21 September 2010 at 9:42 pm

Ha! I nearly fell of my chair reading that piece yesterday. I’ve actually written about it for BitchBuzz (up tomorrow). It was astounding that there was absolutely no thought given to the real factors involved in people having poor diets or not being able to cook from scratch. Poverty. Not having enough spare time. The demands of life in general. Blaming feminists and completely neglecting to mention that men can cook and indeed ENJOY cooking was ridiculous.

Rachel H-G // Posted 21 September 2010 at 9:44 pm

What a stupid article (the DM one). I stopped reading about 2/3 down as I had read the argument about 10 times before in the last 5 years.

I am a feminist, and I cook. I cook because I enjoy eating, not because I’m nurturing, channelling my mother, or especially feminine. My brother also cooks, but apparently he can get on with doing so, without the baggage.

Elmo // Posted 22 September 2010 at 1:06 am

Whenever my dad cooks its always a big thing, like its a special task-but my mum does it for every other meal, no bother! (Not that I dont love them both)

I know this is pretty off topic, but I was reminded by Rachel’s comment about her brother-I hang out and take in the washing everyday at home, on the one day my brother does it my neighbour comments on how great it is that he is helping! She has *seen* me take in the washing every other day-but obviously I’m not helping my mum, I’m just doing womens work and dont deserve any praise!

Not that I really want any praise for just taking in the washing, but still.

Sarah // Posted 22 September 2010 at 1:51 am

“I knew it would happen one day – the Daily Male has totally ‘lost it.’ Perhaps Male’s circulation is decreasing so rapidly the male editor is having to resort to fantastical claims. Whatever next? Perhaps the headline claiming ‘Feminism is responsible for global warming!’

Feminine food – yes quite true because didn’t you know everything has to be labelled either ‘feminine’ or ‘masculine’ and that is why certain human traits/emoptions such as anger are ‘masculine’ whereas other emotions/traits such as nurture are labelled ‘feminine.’

So will we soon see pink and blue food? Just a thought.”

Just to go off on what I have quoted above from one of the comments on this post. Whilst I understand this is article is stupid. It is very stupid to blame the “male” editor. The article was written by a woman!!!!! Please can we stop blaming men for every stupid article we see. Can’t you just accept that there are a lot of women who say things against feminism. Why does this have to have anything to do with men?? A WOMAN, I repeat WOMAN wrote this article.

This is what annoys me about some feminists. Blame men for everything! STOP THIS. It’s very childish. I’m a woman and a feminist and can recognise that there are also other women who are against feminism.

BookElfLeeds // Posted 22 September 2010 at 8:56 am

twitter was hilarious the other day, with all of us swapping recipies for chicken stock. I know the Daily Fail (Failing Daily) article was horrendous, and I was insulted highly, especially since I was brought up by my Dad and he taught me how to cook, but its a shame it takes the thing that gets us riled up to get us talking.

sianushka // Posted 22 September 2010 at 9:17 am

this article was so sttupppiddd!

i think there are arguments to be made, which @boudledidge has made very well on her blog We Mixed Our Drinks about how the current trend for retro domesticity is dangerous in that it ignores the terrible position of middle class 50s/60s housewives with no options or choices, confined by marriages. although i love making and eating cupcakes as much as the next person, it is important not to romanticise that period of pinnies and valium, which had such a huge part in triggering the women’s liberation movement.

but this whole article was absolutely absurd. i am a feminist (obviously!) and i do all my home cooking. i love cooking, i make my own soups, i make my own cakes, i use fresh produce. the causes of childhood obesity have far more to do with cheaply produced, high sugar high fat foods, a crazy long hours working culture, the sale of school playing fields and unsafe streets…nothing to do with feminism!

also, again the daily mail forgets that pre 1970, women did actually go to work! not the mail’s middle class readers, but women have long had to juggle work and families, this is not a result of feminism.

BookElfLeeds // Posted 22 September 2010 at 10:34 am

yes! @boudledidge’s blog post was spot on about romantacising a period of history where a man could legally section you for masturbating as some sort of golden era! It really really pisses me off this whole 1950s craze, its so insulting to the women who lived through it, in my opinion. Though obvs if you wanna wear those clothes, then do, but don’t pretend like you wanna be a housewife.

Though cupcakes rock.

Deborah // Posted 22 September 2010 at 11:27 am

I am somewhat confused; is the Daily Mail wanting women to feed ‘feminine food’ to their sons?

Jess McCabe // Posted 22 September 2010 at 11:45 am

@Sarah Of course the article was written by a woman, and in fact one of the reasons that I don’t go along with calling the Daily Mail the Daily Male as many feminist bloggers like to do, is that in fact it is very specifically targeted at (a particular segment) of women.

That said, the Mail’s tactic is sell sexism to women, and their appetite for woman-blaming and feminist bashing has clearly created a market demand for articles like this. To see it purely in terms of the fact it is written by a woman, is to take the article out of the context for which/in which it was produced. Also, the Daily Mail does have a male editor, of course – given Paul Dacre’s reputation, I don’t think it is fair to say it is “childish” to comment on his influence and role in the publication of this piece. (Or at least in setting an editorial agenda which facilitated the publication of it).

Horry // Posted 22 September 2010 at 1:12 pm

My mum used to always say “I never knew how to cook when I got married and had to go to evening classes”. I always found this bizarre since she had lived alone for several years before meeting my dad, and hadn’t exactly starved. I later realised what she actually meant was “I hadn’t learned how to make cooking a basic meal last all day as a vague justification for not being in paid employment since the latter would have reflected badly on my husband’s middle-class professional status” (voluntary work was always okay, mind – as long as you’re not being paid, let them eat all the Findus Crispy Pancakes and Angel Delight the seventies can offer …).

marie // Posted 22 September 2010 at 1:51 pm

sarah i totally agree with your comment. i am also fed up of the “if it is against feminism then it must be a man” attitude. i read the article yesterday and i am pretty sure it was written by a woman. not all woman identify as a feminist.

Rose // Posted 22 September 2010 at 3:24 pm

Funny, I was taught to cook by my ex, Joe.

He loved cooking, and would meet up with his friends Mark and Tom to experiment with world cooking styles together. They loved it.

We ate lovely meals together – ususally, he cooked something lovely, while I worked in the vegetable garden. Teamwork.

Saying that, I think I could totally prepare the classic 1950’s feminine food – two valiums and a bottle of gin, easy!

nick // Posted 22 September 2010 at 5:01 pm

i dont think there are masculine/feminine foods …but in Ad land there seems to be…

I’ve never seen a man eat Special K ,

but men do drink Carlsberg ….mums love to shop at Iceland , dads dont , and women eat flakes whilst men only eat burger kings and mccoy crisps ,

women love ice creams and drink lots of lambrini ( i have no idea what it tastes of ) ….

Sarah AB // Posted 22 September 2010 at 6:21 pm

What a willfully stupid article. My husband does most of the cooking in our household. He hovers round me, a bit suspiciously, if I attempt to take over his domain. My father is also an absolutely excellent cook, a real enthusiast. To be fair, so is my mother-in-law. Obviously division of (domestic) labour is a feminist issue but cooking is one of the *nicest* household tasks, and although it’s great for children to grow up appreciating good food, and knowing how to cook it, it doesn’t matter who teaches them – I think this division into ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’ styles of cooking is very unconvincing.

polly // Posted 24 September 2010 at 10:55 pm

I know it’s slightly off topic, but in fact the Daily Mail is read equally by women and men. So it may be ‘specifically targeted at women’, but if that’s the case, it isn’t working.

Sheila // Posted 25 September 2010 at 12:46 pm

I wonder if any serious research has been done to suggest that women who identify themselves as feminist either cook less or appreciate nutrition less well than women who don’t. I know plenty of women who wouldn’t see themselves as feminists who hate cooking and eat badly, and the converse is also true. I love cooking, but I do not identify the pleasure of cooking as either male or female or feminist or not. It just is something I like, and bring up all my children to do. I guess if I’m searching around a bit for gender stereotyping, I rarely find a man who bakes cakes and biscuits. But men’s working hours are increasing and no one links that to childhood obesity, or do they? Do people link childhood obesity to the increase in supermarkets? To increased concern about child safety meaning children don’t play out any more? I don’t believe it is feminist or not feminist to take an interest in nutrition and in cooking. Ending up doing the drudge day in day out cooking may fall to women more often, but it isn’t feminist not to do it.

Ritzy // Posted 27 September 2010 at 12:53 pm

But the Fail employ this tactic all the time. Wanna have a pop at women or feminists? Have a woman write the article. That apparently gives it more credence as you can’t just go ‘sexist pig’ (even though you can!).

They do the same with certain racist articles-they have an ethnic minority person to write the article so that the readers can go ‘oh look even a black person thinks this is stupid, so that makes me not a racist’.

To say it was written by a woman so don’t blame the male-dominated structures of the media is, I believe, missing some of the bigger picture.

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