I’m one of those feminists who read Silvia Federici and has a lot to say about the gender division of labour. So obviously, I had a strong response to an article in the CBC titled “Is foodie culture putting too much pressure on working moms?” But, it wasn’t the response my fellow feminists gave, and probably not the one Federici herself would give. Most of my compatriots posted it with a sighing frustration at this “foodie culture”, since working moms have enough to deal with as is. My response though, was “are you fucking kidding me?”

I have the benefit of a very good therapist, and I am also definitely a foodie. My Instagram account is filled with pictures of food that I’ve cooked myself from my favourite cookbooks (If you’re looking to get an idea of which ones I like, here’s my Pinterest board for cookbooks) and eaten at some of the best restaurants in Victoria, Seattle, Portland, and Vancouver. My therapist is important because she told me some valuable advice that I wish more people knew: “Whenever you start talking about what they expect of you, replace the they with I, and you’ll get an idea of who is putting the pressure on you.” So, when I see articles about X putting pressure on Y, I cock a brow, because oftentimes it’s just a code for “scapegoating an actual societal ill onto something else and underestimating everyone’s agency and autonomy”. My involvement in foodie culture also tells me that, if foodie culture is to blame for people feeling inadequate about what they cook at home, then that’s because they’re listening to the wrong sorts of foodies.

And, having read the article, I know that that’s definitely the case. It starts off with some celebrity chef quoted in the article praising the  sit-down dinner: “I always say to remember that every single family that takes more dinners together, there is less drop outs at school, there is less divorce, less obesity, less social problems,” This guy definitely falls in the Michael Pollan vein of “pseudo foodie who is less interested in the food and more in the fantasy.” The fantasy here, is that every Canadian family is just simply dying to sit down together to have a meal, and that the act of eating together will, for the time that it takes to eat a meal, smooth over all their dysfunctions and psychic wounds, and then world peace will follow.

I ate together with my family every night, and let me tell you, that’s not the case. Eating around the dinner table was my first lesson in why I needed feminism. When I was a small child, it was the pain of watching my mother serve dinner, then come to the table later to pick at a miserable looking, wilted salad while the rest of the family ate what she had cooked, because she was terrified of gaining a single drop of fat on her measly sparrow-like bones. Then, as a teenager, my food was swapped out for a salad, and I had to watch my stepfather and stepbrother eat the choicest meals and bully and berate me and my sister for being fat in between bites.

I probably would have been psychologically off better if I’d just been allowed to eat in my room while reading a book, like I’d always wanted to. Eating dinner together isn’t a cure for either societal or family ills, anyone who thinks that is living in a fantasy world of Leave It To Beaver style dinners served by smiling housewives and consumed by happy husbands and obedient children.

Moving away from my personal story, back to the article, I thought, “So, some celebrity chefs are dicks, is that really causing that much psychological stress for parents?” Then, I hit the jackpot. The article provided the real answer to the problem:

“”I don’t know that many Canadian realize this, but Canadian women actually spend quite a bit more time doing housework and working in the home, than do American women, and in fact women in many countries. We spend on average about 35 hours a week just contributing to home care,” she told The 180’s Jim Brown. “And interestingly, Canadian men do less than men in other countries, so in this country, for some reason that isn’t exactly clear, women are actually shouldering a much greater burden for home care than are the men.”

Bingo.

The article shouldn’t be called “Is foodie culture putting too much pressure on working moms?” The real title is, “Are lazy, stupid men who apparently don’t want to bother with helping out with food preparation or any other part of housework, putting too much pressure on women who for whatever reason can’t or won’t remind their spouses that they’re grown-ups who should be expected to help in feeding, cleaning, and caring for themselves?”

Challenging patriarchy and giving working moms a break isn’t going to happen by belittling Nigella Lawson and Anthony Bourdain. It’s going to happen when it’s no longer assumed that the problem lays outside of getting people to move past patriarchal ideas of who should do what work.

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