Cooking, while very practical in the means of sustenance, has become a new creative outlet for me. I look forward to crafting my dinners at the end of each day — gingerly picking spices from my pantry, mixing them with the vegetables that I just recently learned how to mince, and finally gawking at the finished product in awe of not only the delicious smells wafting through my small kitchen, but because the burst of color on my plate.
Similar to my art, I love sharing the food I create with my friends, which has led to numerous Rumikub nights masked as dinner parties. As my roommate inspired me to be adventurous with my cooking, I dutifully listened to her with the end goal of feeding myself delicious food that made my body happy.
Cooking meals with foreign spices and colorful vegetables is liberating. It’s an expression of creative instincts that had longed to be exercised after months of repression during hectic schedules that kept me from drawing or painting. This liberating feeling and the gratitude from my body is why I cook the way I do. It’s purely selfish (even when friends are over because that means having someone to join my roommate and me in a board game).
Comments on my meals have varied from “your eggs are overcooked” to “this is the best dish you’ve ever made,” which are all very appreciated.
“You’re so domesticated” is most definitely not.
You hear this jest often, a girl finally learns to cook and someone tells her: “You’re so domesticated! Now you’ll find a good man.” I had never paid much thought to this joke until I realized the subtle power of restriction that it forces upon women.
Like I said, cooking is liberating for me. Calling me domestic, though, ties me up and sticks me right into the home-sphere, where women are meant to stay in the kitchen and immediately assigned to the role of homemaker. Implying that I learned to cook in hopes of finding a husband is saying that I have no other aspirations besides that one.
Forget my upcoming two degrees and hopes of working in the public interest communications field. Why would I be in college to get BS and MS degrees when I can easily get a housewife degree instead? I’d spend a lot less time studying, that’s for sure.
Have you ever heard a man be called domestic for being able to cook if it was not meant in sarcasm? Tell me, why can’t I be talented, instead of domestic?
When men can cook, they’re praised for developing an extra skill, one that will be valuable in the period before they find a real cook, or a wife, to feed them. When women can cook, it’s as if they’re living up to the expectation of the future dutiful housewife. We should just agree that both sexes can enjoy pleasing their taste buds by cooking their own meals instead of paying to eat out.
Having the ability to cook or sew doesn’t make you domestic. It makes you capable.
Even when said in a joking manner, the implied restrictions that come with the comment are pervasive. They perpetuate the stereotype that the corporate world is for men alone and women are just better off remaining at home.
They discredit women as being nothing more than cooks and caretakers, unworthy of being at the same level as the opposite gender.
Stop being so sensitive, you think, it’s just a joke. This joke doesn’t hurt my feelings; it hurts the chances of my male peers seeing me as an equal. And that pains me more than your mysoginist comment.
I refuse for my creative outlet to be twisted into a social restriction. I won’t allow for my infatuation with a skill that is both nutritionally nurturing and therapeutic to be demeaned as a step in finding the right man.
With that being said, I will thoroughly enjoy my ratatouille dish — a steaming combination of vegetables, creativity and talent.