Feminism Killed Cooking? What About The Microwave?

There’s an article in the Daily Mail today about how wonderful home-cooked food used to be. Until feminism came along and decided everyone should be obese. Because women today, they just won’t cook. And it’s not what our great feminist leaders intended. When people talk about how “the feminist movement began in Betty Friedan’s kitchen” they meant that it was because she was so happy there. She did all her best thinking in that kitchen. Anyhow:

The modern ladette culture is not quite what the strident feminists of the Seventies had in mind. Both Germaine Greer and Fay Weldon have spoken out against such male impersonation.

Greer wrote that the point was to change the male system, not join it. It was touching to watch her in the Celebrity Big Brother house making stock from the bones of the previous evening’s roast — an act with all the practical, economical purpose
of a Fifties stay-at-home mum.

First of all, I’m sick of the economic argument. You don’t save money by cooking food from scratch. It’s most likely much healthier than popping a  Lean Cuisine in the microwave for dinner, but a Lean Cuisine costs $3.00. Making meals with fresh produce costs more, at least in my experience. I’m sure it does become more cost efficient if you’re happy eating the same dish night after night (if you’re by yourself) but that often isn’t all that appealing. It seems like much of the time when I’ve decided I’ll make some weird thing involving blueberries I just end up paying for a carton of blueberries that then grows moldy in my fridge.

And honestly, isn’t this more about  time constraints than wanting to show that we’re independent women? Yes, women entering the work-force probably did mean that there are fewer one-income families where the wife stays at home cooking. But there are also a lot of jobs where a full day means working 5 to 9, not 9 to 5. And at the end of a long day people – male or female – don’t want to spend more time cooking. They just want to eat something. Preferably something that tastes good. Pizza. Pizza sounds nice. Maybe Chinese food.

But mostly, we don’t cook the way we did in the 1950′s simply because we don’t have to. They didn’t have microwaves. We all have microwaves. All of us. And we don’t even think they’re going to give us cancer anymore. And if you give people an option of doing something difficult in 7 minutes without really thinking about it or doing something for 45 minutes concentrating intently, they’re going to take the 7 minute option. It’s what people do. Is it necessarily the option that yields the best results? No, it gets you a Lean Cuisine (though I really do believe their potatoes and broccoli one is delicious). But it doesn’t have anything to do with women being independent.

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    • non

      Seriously? Because I have a full time job and a decent social life and I still find time to cook all of my meals. Like on the stove top or in the oven! * gasp *
      I normally only use the microwave for reheating…
      Really! these days it isn’t that hard to make a healthy, home cooked meal. You can always substitute some of the harder ingredients for ready made things. IMO a home cooked meal almost always tastes better than a frozen dinner or fast food.

    • SugarBlind

      Blaming feminism? Really? Whatevs. It’s absurd as the “feminists” who criticize my choice to cook and serve a healthy, hot meal to my boyfriend. They defeat their own point. The point is to have the choice and ability to cook for him. I love to do it: I feel like I’ve created something good, something tangible, something that will make our lives slightly better, immediately. And because he’s an enlightened man, he never expects that I’ll do this for him. He appreciates it when I do, and he’s happy to cook for me or have tv dinners if I don’t feel like cooking, or don’t have time, or am too tired, or whatever. Ours is the most equal household I’ve ever been part of. So no, blaming feminism instead of time constraints, or easy access to fresh foods, or whatever else for the “downfall” of real cooking sounds like bullshit.

    • K

      With a little bit of planning, I find home cooked meals to be about the same price as frozen dinners with far more variety than what Lean Cuisine provides. I don’t eat the same thing every night, but I do repeat some produce throughout the week. Broccoli might end up steamed with garlic and a balsamic glaze one night, be in stir fry another, and in a twice baked potato the third. If it’s just me eating, that’ll use up a crown without feeling like I’m eating the same thing over and over again. Other veggies can be used similarly.

      Cooking doesn’t feel like forty-five minutes of intense concentration to me. Usually it feels like fifteen or so minutes of creativity during prep time and then just the occasional checking on it while it cooks. I generally use the cooking time to do day to day tidying.

      I don’t cook and keep house because I’m a woman. I cook and keep house because I’m an adult and it’s part of being a grown-up.

    • Emily

      It’s time to brag a little here. I got a graduate degree and a fantastic job. I am the major wage-earner in my house, but I not only bring home the bacon I use it in a gourmet french stew. You don’t want to? That’s fine too. Feminists gave us the right to decide whether we want to be cooks our not.

      And homecooking is currently undergoing a major resurgence. Fueled by greater interest in nutrition and the source of our foodstuffs, and carried by a million foodblogs, there’s probably more from scratch cooking than there was in the 50s, the decade that saw the birth of the frozen dinner and the cake mix.


    • Leah

      I agree with previous commenters that it’s a health thing for me. I’m not someone who’s naturally thin and unless I want to weigh 80 billion pounds than I have to be picky about what I put in my body, and cooking for myself lets me do that while eating things that are awesomely delicious. Even if you look at prepared things that are considered diet, the amount of added sodium or oil is outrageous. I know cooking’s not for everyone and that’s cool, because that’s what feminism is all about!