Why Do Feminists Hate Cooking?

And by “feminists”, I don’t mean the vast majority of nice and normal people who believe that men and women should treat (and pay) each other equally and with dignity but who also don’t fly into a paroxysm of rage when a fella holds a door for a dame. Or uses the word “dame”, for that matter.

Rather, I mean political feminists, those overgrown undergraduates for whom life is a constant search for something against which to take offense.

Let me back up: Last night I was riding to dinner and scanning the headlines when I came across this curious item, picked up by the Sydney Morning Herald from the UK’s Telegraph:

Writing the obituary of a renowned female rocket scientist shouldn’t have been, well, rocket science.

But it proved too much for the New York Times, which began its article about Yvonne Brill, a pioneer of rocket propulsion, with a tribute to her cooking skills.

“She made a mean beef stroganoff, followed her husband from job to job and took eight years off from work to raise three children. ‘The world’s best mom,’ her son Matthew said,” the obituary began.

Within hours the article had provoked a storm on Twitter, where users complained that no male scientist would ever be discussed in terms of his spouse or his cooking.

“Toasting a late rocket scientist for her kitchen skills makes my head lean into my desk,” wrote one user.

The Times later changed the obit, disappearing the offending words in true Stalinist style (the ghost of Walter Duranty still walks the halls of the Grey Lady, even in their new HQ), but that’s not really the issue.

The issue is, so what if the obit began with a testimony – by the woman’s son, no less – to her cooking skills and her excellence as a mother? If I were to be farewelled by the Times, I’d be flattered if my scallops or short ribs got a mention. And opening any profile piece with a bit of colour is a time-honoured technique: Yeah, sure, she built rockets, but quirky details like a good stroganoff are what humanises a subject.

Ignoring the insult to all the “mere” mothers out there who never did advance the field of rocket propulsion, there’s a bigger question here as well. Namely, what is feminism’s problem with cooking?

Last week we saw the Herald’s Alecia Simmonds take out after cooking (in the course of a much longer rant in the paper’s LadyPages), making the bizarre claim that popular culture sees men in the kitchen as wusses, or, in her immortal words, “gay homosexual fops”. This hasn’t been true since at least 1965, when Len Deighton issued his very manly Action Cook Book.

Now we have a story of confected outrage on Twitter making the pages of newspapers around the world, all because of a detail about a dead scientist’s leisure-time pursuits provided by her very own son.

Weirdly, it seems as if the only people enforcing the stereotype of cooking as “women’s work” are political feminists. The reasons are complex, but let’s have a stab at it anyway: It may be that they’re desperately clinging to this antiquated idea as a fulcrum against which to leverage their desire to be pissed off about something, anything.

Or perhaps like Mecken’s Puritans, they’re annoyed that not only are men cooking, but that they are having a good time with it as well.

Either way, if one is truly concerned about a stereotype being perpetuated the correct move is not to whip up a froth of outrage at every opportunity but rather to look at a piece like the above-mentioned obit and say, “Hey, women cook, men cook, it’s fun, it’s delicious, sorry this lady died but it sounds like she had a helluva good work-life balance and was loved by all about it.”

But that’s not as much fun as being angry, is it?

Of course, as the saying goes, the dogs bark but the caravan moves on.

Oops. Probably shouldn’t have said that.

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25 Responses to Why Do Feminists Hate Cooking?

  1. Hoddle Boulevard says:

    I blame the spinster teachers these women had at their private girls schools in the 80s and 90s (and probably still their today).
    I had to bite my tongue and go along with it at uni back then as it was a good way to get the chicks, as the cute ones were all unfortunately feminists, unlike today.
    Now in their 40s, the thing I have noticed is that none of them can cook! Nada. Not only that, they dont want to learn how to.
    Their poor kids are growing up without the pleasures and classics that our mums cooked for us in the 70s such as chateu briand, coq au vin or even duck l’orange, or not even experiencing the contemporary equivalent of the pleasures of the “stir fry 80s” with satay sauce!
    It’s up to dad these days to teach them that pasta sauce does not have to contain tomatoes or cream.

    • Joel B1 says:

      “a good way to get the chicks, as the cute ones were all unfortunately feminists”

      To my great and lasting chagrin I enrolled in Sociology 236 Feminism for that exact same reason; only to find the tutorials were segregated.

      Yep, eight of us too-smart-for-our-own-good guys in our own separate tute and the lovely feminists in their own tutorials..

      At least the lectures were co-ed.

  2. TimT says:

    I just can’t get past the use of the word ‘dame’, which I don’t believe I’ve ever heard any Australian use at all. Many Righteous Internet Feminists might be too puzzled by the word when they hear it to remember to be cranky….!

    (Actually having dipped into pre-20th century texts a fair deal I do regret the loss of older words like ‘dame’ from modern Australian English, but it’s too late to do anything about that word, I fear.)

    • Hoddle Boulevard says:

      Dame Edna would disagree.
      But like her, its a 50s expression (remember
      Sinatra etc) replaced here in Oz by the word “chick” I would suggest.

      • Dan Lewis says:

        “Broad” also passed us by.

      • TimT says:

        ’50s expression? 1350s, maybe.

        One of those interesting words that the US retained while other parts of the English-speaking world largely dropped. In both cases – ‘Dame Edna’, Queen’s English, or ‘there ain’t nothing like a dame’ – US English, there’s a sense of honour associated, I suppose, with the sense that it’s an archaic word.

    • General O'Pinion says:

      @ TimT: I ca get past the use of the word ‘dame’, but not spelling the noun ‘offence’ as ‘offense’. Has the man no self respect? Or cannot set his spell check at other than the American default? Celebrate diversity! Keep Australian spellings!

    • In John O’Grady’s ‘They’re a Weird Mob’, the characters use the word ‘dame’. And O’Grady took a lot of his dialogue from real world conversations. So it must have been in some sort of use as late as the mid-50s.

  3. old44 says:

    Maybe they don’t like cooking because like everything else in their lives, the cooking tastes bitter.

  4. rubberduck says:

    Feminists are just the 20th century version of Puritans, so they hate anything pleasurable, like cooking and sex. In my humdrum suburban existence, it’s a long time since I bumped into a real live specimen, but I recall that they prefer sex of the “non-genital” or “non-penetrative” variety, which is even worse than food without salt.

  5. Those feminists can wear the blame for all those obese kids and adults that have been grwoing exponentially since their hate movement was generated in the 60s. Instead of cooking they line up at Maccas. No one else to blame but those nasty, sexist feminists. They would be proud. I made sure all my four kids could cook and they now do it better than I do. Even went to cooking school at night to get the sauces, stocks and soups down pat. They will never know the sheer enjoyment of a Sunday afternoon lunch with friends, a great smorgasborge and a nice glass of sauvignon blance.

  6. Forest Hill says:

    The linked Len Deighton article reminds me of that scene in The Ipcress File where Michael Caine/Harry Palmer seduces his date with a can of champignon mushrooms.

    Imagine Daniel Craig trying to pry open Olga Kurylenko with a tin of asparagus spears.

  7. Ooh Honey Honey says:


  8. Pingback: I hope I don’t hurt your feelings this morning | Dacka's Razor

  9. Mike Farrell says:

    Tim Blair has linked to your blog, as he often does. Here’s my reply to your article:

    Like PWAF, I would be quite happy for my culinary skills to be mentioned in my eulogy or obituary. My Caramel Cream Cheesecake, prepared lovingly from a Womens’ Weekly card file system, was in high demand in my 20s/30s.

    I just hope that no mention is made of one Christmas lunch, where I prepared two lemon meringue pies. I couldn’t figure out why the egg white wasn’t fluffing as I beat it. It was only on tasting at the dinner table that the problem became apparent. I’d used salt instead of castor sugar.

    The Village Idiot (Reformed) (Reply)
    Thu 04 Apr 13 (08:39am)

    PS James: Did you watch #mkr last night ??? So happy the Spice Girls won.

    • chiefprick says:

      No, I missed it – the Little Pricks are here all week and I am informed that quality time does not involve me getting pissed on martinis while banging tweets into an iPad … who knew!?

  10. Garry says:

    Careful, you will inflame the Sisters of Perpetual Outrage even more!

  11. yauming says:

    To cook is to live. Thats something those Fascist Feminazis have forgotten. The only degrading thing about being able to cook a decent meal – or bake a delightful cake – for friends, and family lie in their putrid self-retarded minds.

  12. Feminists (the hatery kind) generally make absurd generalizations about everything. Their wizened little brains would explode if they had ever met my father. He was a man’s man if ever there was one, and yet he loved to cook, and could play the piano, and even did a paint-by-numbers picture of a rose once. My father-in-law was Archie Bunker in the flesh, but he loved antiques. It’s ridiculous to put people, any people, in little politically-folded boxes.

  13. It’s about that crack-hit of interpersonal power that’s typical of suffers of Borderline Perosnality dissorder, AKA dramatic value.

    Feminists want men to do the cooking because they think it’s women’s work.

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