Someone beat me to the punch on this, but I was quite proud of what I came up with in a late night writing flurry, so here it is.
A perspective from an aspiring male domestic goddess (god?).
You may want to read the article that provoked this article, so here that is.
Or, if tl;dr: the title of Ina Garten’s upcoming book was not unanimously liked.
A bit of (hopefully) relevant background on me: Son of a punk (mom) and a hippie (dad). Mom’s the best damn cook this side (and that side) of the Mississippi. People always think we’re super uptight Born Again types, but we’re only all too counterculture-y.
That article took something beautiful – a person cooking the best possible food for the person they love – and fucking ruined it with its uninformed, half-baked pseudo-neo-Feminist attempted takedown of Ina. Ina, it should be noted, is easily one of the most influential players, female or otherwise, in today’s food scene at large. And BEFORE she was even in food, she led an incredible life: pilot, self-taught cook, MBA from GWU, nuclear budget analyst under Presidents Ford and Carter, hosted weekly dinner parties, house flipper, business owner…at which point she finally got around to mentorships under Eli Zabar and Martha Stewart and putting out TV shows and books.
So yes, let’s have some college student tell us, not to mention her, how she’s failing to keep up the side by dedicating the latest of multiple cookbooks to her loving and supportive husband of 48 years.
I personally plan to do pretty much all the cooking in whatever serious relationship I find myself in eventually because I fucking love cooking (and maybe I have a bit of an ego about it). And hey, guess why Ina does all the cooking in her relationship! Because she likes to! She started teaching herself in the late 60s, for god’s sake.
In today’s world, a variety of phenomena collide when discussing who should do household duties. As societal roles become less regimented, so too do those household duties. In same-sex partnerships, the very phrase “gender roles” is, if such a thing is possible, even more meaningless than in a heterosexual partnership. Anyone in any relationship can be the cook, cleaner, nanny, gardener, handyman, etc., as long as they have the drive and the know-how. At least, that’s what we’re working towards, right?
I ask the following of the author of the offending article: would you have Ina turn away from an endeavor that is not only her passion, but her business, simply because of a silly thing like traditional gender roles? Or, if that was too blunt, would you have her not title her book as it is, even though it is nothing but adorable and admirable to cook for one’s partner?
Cooking is a beautiful thing, and it is made even more so when it is shared. What better way to show love – platonic, romantic, whatever – than to transform ingredients and make something wonderful with your own two hands?
If this book had been written by a man and dedicated to that man’s wife, the entire fucking internet would collectively swoon. It’s sick that this book drew the ire of the very people who claim to want to help women. Now, I’m more than smart enough not to dig myself into the hole of mansplaining Feminism, but I know I can safely ask this: how stupid up is it when a group – any group – attacks one of their own who is talking their talk and walking their walk?! A major American political party comes to mind, and it’s not the Democrats.
Super stupid, is the answer to that.
But really, the upshot of all this is just do what you want and love, for whomever you want and love.
And, if you have the will and the way, cook. Cook for your loved ones and friends. Food is beautiful. Don’t let society’s temporary problems soil it.