"Can you cook?" As you asked, can you fix a broken down car on the motorway without Google searching what to do? Can you put together an IKEA cupboard without getting frustrated or requesting a cuppa or cold one 40 minutes in? OK...last one...can you shave without growling with discontent? No, I didn't think you could either, yet 21st century women are quizzed on their culinary abilities to gauge their societal validity...why exactly? I am still unsure.
Cropped Jumper : H&M | Shirt : Marks & Spencer
Waitrose Cookery School, King's Cross St. Pancras
I grew up in a fairly modern home, with an Army regimented airtight rota of chores for all; my brothers cooked and laid out the table, I and my sister/ cousins when they 'visited' swept and filled in the gaps as and where necessary. However, I noted the inane way the females' efforts were scrutinised and the males' errors overlooked. My mother would pinpoint a spec of dust on the just swept floor, but still praise my brothers' half-hoovered carpet. It caused me to fight for gender equality in my home from an early age, and exposed me to gender based bias as a result. Apparently, in this modern world, females were to be raised domesticated and males...what were they raised to be exactly?
Compressed watermelon, pardon peppers & almonds
With most homes having two earning parties contributing to the family pot, it makes no sense why we are still basing a woman's worth on antiquated values; cook, clean, etc. The concept of men being sole breadwinners has long since been challenged. Media amplification of high suicide rates and identity crises among men has resulted in zealous efforts to banish the image of macho men. Yet in the same sneeze, women aren't being cut some slack. Yes, we are hesitantly invited into the workplace, but our progress is somewhat stifled by unequal pay, poor maternity policies, expensive childcare, and the inherently patriarchal working culture.
Warm salad of confit duck with crispy fried egg & puy lentil dressing
I remember this scene so vividly. First month or so of University. New friends. New city. Invited over for a lounge session at the apartment of guys who'll turn out to be great friends in years to come. I arrive to the guys huddled in front of the widescreen TV playing FIFA, and the girls in the kitchen cooking jollof rice and chicken. I was baffled. I'm sure you're wondering why, as this won't be far from the norm for most. It was not because this scene was alien to me, but rather, because it reinforced what I feared about society. In a split second, I didn't care about judgment, I just recognised that gender inequality was so far ingrained that it took all parties by shock when I refused to conform and assist in the kitchen. Neither did I express any interest in playing video games. I didn't fit into either box; I wasn't a tomboy, and I refused to recede to a 1950's housewives as a result.
Poached Pear & Almond Tart
Ofcourse this threw to question my upbringing, understanding of societal norms, and desire to ever be happily united with a spouse in future, but sticking by values I didn't agree with felt treacherous to me. The funny thing is, I can cook a mean meal, pleasing to all chow-downers, but refuse for that to form the basis of ny identity. The same theme played out over dinner in Abuja, Nigeria. Seated among the creme de la creme of the young high society circle, I was thrown by their unified concurrence of the notion 'women should remain in the kitchen'. Ivy League graduates, self-made millionaire entrepreneurs, daughters to learned politicians, all nodding along to the idea of staying home to grind crayfish. I just think it ironic that women sweat buckets trying to prove their worth in the kitchen, yet the most famous Michelin star chefs are male!
Leggings : Mango | Boots : Dorothy Perkins | Necklace : Market
My view is this: I understand the need to define who we are by roles. I see the reason behind clear cut areas for men to handle and women to dominate, but with our roles merging more and more within and outside the home, I can't see much reason in still pitting a woman's worth to the broth she brews. If we can all agree this, we can be spared endless pictures on social media of fresh ingredients, brewing brimming pots or meticulously served entrees. I don't see men snapping a newly pumped tire, or finely sandpapered worktops as they sexily blow the sawdust to the lens.
"a woman's place is in the kitchen...sitting in a comfortable chair, with her feet up, drinking a glass of wine and watching [him] cook dinner" Elizabeth Gilbert - Commited: A Skeptic makes peace with marriage