Friday, January 23, 2009

Feminists and cooking, part 1

"Feminism" and "cooking". Two words that don't seem to belong in the same sentence, right? I dare say: Wrong! One of my favourite hobbies (and, strangely, the one that seems to irritate my friends the most), is to try and break down stereotypes. Well founded, long established stereotypes. But, if I want to have at least a minimal chance of achieving this extremely ambitious goal, we have to go back to basics: We know what "cooking" is - even the most inexperienced of us, have a faint idea. But what is "feminism"? And why what started as a political movement, ended up being a bitter story that nobody touches?
I don't want to trouble you with all the boring historical facts. But, in a sentence, feminism started as an effort to establish women's right to vote, and generally be equal with men, in terms of political participation, social status and property. No sane person argues with the above, right?

So, every time we are able to cast a vote, whether it is the same as our husband's or not, we have "those bloody feminists" to thank for. Every time we are out there getting a job or a promotion, earning our own money, reporting sexual harassment and being protected by the law, we have to remember the ones that made it all possible for us. Women who had the guts to stand up for themselves and fight for something that, all of us, take for granted in modern times: That all people, women included, are equal.

Unfortunately, some feminist parties, took things a little (or a lot) further. Somehow, being equal didn't seem quite enough. The next goal was both a foolish, and an impossible one: Women wouldn't just be equal to men, but one and the same.

Well, guess what? We are NOT one and the same. We don't think alike, we don't act alike, and we don't look alike. We are different and unique. Each one has different strong points and weaknesses, and different roles to play. And as long as these different roles are not established, women and men end up fighting for the same ones. And it all comes down to this same ol', same ol' story: Who has the upper hand?

This ruthless fight for the upper hand that takes places in modern societies, creates monsters: Supposedly strong, overly ambitious and incredibly close-minded women on the one hand, confused, deceived, intimidated and emasculated men on the other. And, at the end of the day, they are both one and the same - lonely people who are tired of being lonely, wondering where the other sex has gone. Looking for affection and human contact, tired of fighting, but compelled to do so.

In my generation, women were told to be strong, independent, to have a life outside their home, to fight for a carreer and social status. Well, most ended up in their thirties, still trying for this promotion, still working more than their male colleagues, still being paid less. Still going out to bars with their girlfriends after work and wondering "why have all men disappeared". And, despite their strong feminist views, still feeling the urge to have children and watching time pass by, only to wake up one day and discover it is too late. And the few "lucky" ones that realise their need for motherhood early enough and get to have a family, find themselves forced to be cut in pieces: Having to be succesful businesswomen as well as affectionate mothers, dedicated housewives, and caring partners. Juggling work meetings with chidren's school projects, household chores and relationship crises. Running all day, but still having one moment or two in their busy days to realise the awkard truth: That feminism wasn't such a bargain after all. Somehow, instead of being freed, they ended up with more responsibilities and obligations than ever.

But men of my generation are not in a better position either. Their mothers raised them as princes, being at their beck and call, everything ready, all wishes granted. They never had to worry about anything, all was provided. Sadly, they discovered that their wives-to-be looked nothing like their mothers. Suddenly, the princes became despised frogs. For the first time in their lives, they were demanded to do something by themselves. And, of course, they couldn't - didn't know how, never learnt. After this, they, who supposedly "could have the world laid in front of their feet", as their mommies had told them, were declared incapable and useless by their potential princesses, and unworthy of their valuable time. In one word, they were incapacitated.

So, what do we do now? Continue our miserable lonely lives, or go back to the Dark Ages? Neither. Feminism was a start, a great start in fact. But men and women should learn to embrace not only their equality, but also their uniqueness. And try to cope with this transitional phase in modern societies, with more understanding for the other sex. It won't be easy, but it is not half as difficult as the alternative: Living alone, with no one to share life's troubles and joys with, engaged in a fight with no winners. It's not really a dilemma, is it?

[Due to the great size of the post and the late hour, more thoughts about feminism and cooking tomorrow... Good night, everybody!]

1 comment:

  1. This post is off to a great start. I'm looking forward to the rest.