And you know what I really, really like? Cooking. I love creating delicious food, love cooking with new ingredients, love the challenge of cooking at someone else's house with their selection of ingredients, and love sharing the food I make with others.
You know that old saying? Something about it being good to keep women pregnant, barefoot, and in the kitchen? People often say that derisively when they deem someone to be obviously, over-the-top sexist. And my mother made a similar comment, once. Something involving barefeet and kitchens, in a rather derisive way, and I was rather insulted. Really, mom? I'm usually barefoot (as soon as it's warm enough in the spring that I won't freeze, and until I start freezing in the autumn) and in the kitchen (aforementioned love of creating with food), and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that (or the pregnant bit).
|My friends had to practically drag me out of the prize veggie barn at a country fair we went to.|
As long, of course, as those choices are made freely.
I was thinking the other day that I'd like to start a food blog at some point. Not right now, as I've just started writing this blog with my sister, have been feeling guilty about how much I've been neglecting my unschooling blog, and have also been feeling guilty about having not finished the first draft of my unschooling book that I'd planned to finish the back in November. But sometime when I had a bit more time, maybe this coming summer or next fall. It would be great if I could call it Barefoot in the Kitchen, I thought, with some catchy and clever sub-title that made it very clear I was someone who was very happy being barefoot in the kitchen, but also a cool radical person who was using that title to be clever.
I searched it though, and it's already taken, by a homemaker who identifies as a Mormon, so somehow I think she meant it less tongue-in-cheek than I would have, though I could be wrong.
I'd think it would be obvious, and accepted by the vast majority of feminists, that choice, made freely and with all the options that should be available to every person, was the important thing, but somehow it often seems like that isn't the case. It seems like many feminists have some idea of The Perfect Feminist, though because feminism isn't a secret club with an entry exam different feminists have a very different idea of what the feminist ideal is.
Yet there seems to be a disturbing commonality with what many self-described feminists seem to consider that ideal to be. Most glaringly this ideal is extremely white, middle class, "well educated" (a university education is a must), able-bodied, and childless. And if that's the ideal feminist, what they're also saying is that that is the ideal woman.
I'm quite sure that this is largely subconscious, but it's come about precisely because so many feminists have remained unwilling to examine their own privileges and prejudices, and to think long and hard about how their privilege affects their feminism.
This seems like a very good time to acknowledge my own very substantial set of social privileges, and to recognize that I most definitely fuck up sometimes (quite possibly often). I just feel it's important, as a person with a lot of privilege, that I confront and address other very privileged people when they're refusing to acknowledge or think about their privilege and how that privilege is expressed and affects other people.
I've mentioned the most obvious and seriously problematic aspects of what's often held up as the feminist ideal, and there are so many more things about it that I could discuss (mostly and especially quotes from and resources by people who experience marginalization in those above ways that feminists often don't discuss). But in sticking with the topic of food and my own penchant for hanging out in kitchens, what I want to talk about now is the issue of feminism creating it's own gender roles.
Sometimes, it feels like someone took a list of all the things expected of women: all the things women are supposed to do, and like, and ways they're supposed to feel, according to the dominant culture, and then decided that feminists should do and be the exact opposite of everything on that list.
(Of course, they didn't do all that good a job, since they kept key oppressive things in there like talking about white women as if they're the default, same as the dominant culture does, but you get the idea).
Women shouldn't want or have kids, and if they do have them, they certainly shouldn't want to spend too much time with them, or heaven forbid, become the primary caregiver and/or become a stay at home mother. Women should want to have a "good career," regardless of whether they're much happier being a homemaker, or unworking, or one of any other non-career things you could do. Suddenly, it starts to seem less like a fight for equality and more like an attempt to gain "equality" with men by taking on the gender roles traditionally considered male, instead of challenging the existence of gender roles entirely. Trying to be more like men (are supposed to be), instead of wondering why men couldn't be more like women (are supposed to be), and wondering where in this binary mess people who don't identify as either men or women are supposed to fit.
I see this especially with more old school feminists, but I also see a slightly more subtle form of this with feminists from my generation. Especially when it comes to having and raising children, the feminist movement as a whole is rife with child and mother hatred (those things almost always go hand in hand).
But with other things, too. Like being barefoot in the kitchen.
Maybe it seems strange that I'd choose, for
Because feminism is supposed to be about equality, about choice, about recognizing, challenging, and dismantling systems of oppression.
You know what it isn't supposed to be about? Following the "right" rules to be a part of the feminist club.
So now, I think I'm going to take my feminist self to the kitchen, where I'm going to cook supper. Yesterday I made pita bread, falafel, and hummus, and I still have some leftover dough, so I might just make some more pitas and maybe some lentil dahl to go with it...