Is Cooking feminist? I will begin by explaining my view point in regards to the feminist aspect of food and in this particular case–vegan smoothies. However, this all ties in together to the larger picture–sexism in the food industry which coincides with a subconsciously reinforced patriarchal society. When people think of smoothies they normally associate it with a kind of femininity that could only be attributed to women. Because men don’t harbor any feminine qualities right? (I don’t believe this FYI) So when people think of smoothies, they easily and without thinking associate women consuming them as apposed to men. Conversely, when we think of protein shakes and the like–most people would associate protein shakes being mostly consumed by men. These are both general statements and are subjective to the individual but for the most part this is what is considered the norm according to society as a whole.
Of course my view on this is that this is all a total fallacy. The fact that we even have these gender roles and norms to limit what men and women can and cannot do is appalling to say the least. It is also a lie that men don’t drink smoothies or vegan smoothies as much as women, they do in fact. Check out this well known athlete for example here Tim Shieff. He comes up with his own vegan smoothie recipes and shows his viewers how to make it–and yes he himself is a vegan. What he creates here is a mango and coconut vegan smoothie, a great snack that anyone can enjoy. What’s interesting is that Tim Shieff–this big deal athlete who is also the world free running champion not only drinks smoothies regularly, but also doesn’t consume any meat and is still one of the best athletes today. Who says you can’t be fit when going vegan anyway?
And make no mistake– there are numerous fit women out there who consume protein shakes as well and have popular fitness channels, blogs, ect. So this thing about society’s standards for the roles women should play and men as well are misconstrued –and I strongly feel that this is slowly but surely changing and hopefully we will put an end to gender politics once and for all. Gender roles and beliefs not just in the food industry, but in every industry constrict and limit our views and does a disservice to the boys and girls of future generations. Men and women both harbor feminine and masculine qualities; it is all a part of being a human being. When it all comes down to it, that’s all that we are.
With that being said, you can’t assign a role to one specific gender and not have repercussions. In my experience there is still so much ingrained misogyny and bigotry instilled–stemming from generations of patriarchal ideologies from both men and women. In the food industry, take for example British television personality Nigella Lawson–self proclaimed domestic goddess. For those that don’t know the meaning of domestic goddess, it is a woman with exceptional domestic skills such as cooking and cleaning. She is seen as a feminist woman who has a strong voice in the food industry, however is she really? In an exclusive interview with TIME (which you can check out here), the interviewer asks Nigella why is it that even though women have traditionally been for many years the cooks, why is it considered a man’s profession? In response, Nigella states that it “suits men better” and supports the notion that women are supposed to carry out the role of raising children as apposed to men.
This doesn’t seem like gender equality to me at all or like the feminist views she claims to have and it only supports the gender role stereotypes. Instead of helping and empowering women she is indirectly reinforcing the values of a system that is way outdated and that can’t work in today’s time where we see an emergence of working women and independence from men. I feel like the reason why she is popular to begin with, in addition to being attractive and a good domestic cook– it was mostly her connections and the decision of her superiors to have her on the food network to support their own ideologies. Her father was already a well known British politician, a member of parliament, a journalist, and now sits on the house of Lords– he definitely had a hand in her connections. The people behind her rise to fame are predominately white males that are currently in control of the industry; it seemed only natural for producers of the food network to have her with her own show, mostly targeted towards women because it more than likely coincides with their own personal beliefs that a woman’s role with food is only in domestic spaces, such as the home, kitchen –serving the family and rarely will they ever receive a title of being a professional cook or chef for that matter. We see in today’s workplace that those titles such as professional chef or cook are mostly reserved for men. There is a huge gender gap in the food industry when it comes to professional chefs, more men harbor those titles than do women. According to an article in the New York Times, which you can view here it states:
“Despite the fact that women make up the vast majority of home cooks, and despite four-plus decades of modern feminism, women still run just a small percentage of top kitchens in New York and elsewhere”.
And again, this all ties back to the gender roles being thrust upon us since birth, even in today’s seemingly “progressive” society. It is generally accepted that women usually have to take on the primary role of raising children, cooking, cleaning and if they do happen to work—they are likely to do twice the work in a household. This is what I speculate but it seems to make sense given the evidence and from what I’ve seen coming from my own family and others.
“A woman’s place is in the kitchen”
is the old and well known quote that is still being upheld today, albeit more subtly; however despite this, women are still not given nearly as much credit, pay, nor the titles that are way past due for their “efforts in the kitchen” and instead those credits, and benefits are reserved for their male counterparts. The beliefs of society in this sense is a paradoxical and ironic .
If a woman who was a professional chef wanted TV air time, she wouldn’t get near as much views or popularity as apposed to her being in a domestic space like Mrs. Lawson..or maybe they would? I don’t think I know a woman currently on the food network who in addition to cooking, also creates new recipes and travels. TV producers of the food network so far are not willing to make that risk. Men are perceived as adventurers, daring, and are not confined to the primary role of taking care of a family or rearing children. Not only that but someone that comes to mind who travels often on tv food network and isn’t confined to a domestic space is Guy Fieri, restaurateur and tv personality. Guy Fieri is fun, adventurous, and isn’t held back by the responsibility of raising children. His adventures are included in the shows Guy Fieri’s roadshow which showcases him traveling the country on his culinary tour that is part cooking demo part rock concert. He also has a tv show called Drivers, drive ins, and dives which basically him going on road trips across the nation where he visits some of the country’s most classic “greasy spoon” restaurants. Despite the progression we’ve made, it’s still not nearly enough because of all the ingrained misogyny within cultures, conscious or unconscious. It always perplexed me that this was the norm because in my personal experience, my mother was the bread winner and my dad often was took care of us at home before they separated. Despite this, my mom still did twice the work; in addition to being the primary source of income, she also cooked, cleaned, and helped to raise us whenever she was home. It takes two people to create a child, therefore the role should be given to both the father and mother to raise a family.
Update**: A guy friend I spoke with recently actually said that the role should be split 60/40 because women are “more nurturing”. I informed him of my view that it should be 50/50 and that men could be nurturing as well. Just want to throw that at there–the roles should be equally distributed, women don’t have this innate nature to nurture, every individual is different. There are many that still don’t believe this and this is why we need feminism.