Let’s take a look back. Not too far back, but to our grandmothers and great-grandmothers. There’s no doubt that life was different for them. We often say it was harder or more difficult. She was often a version of a woman similar to Mad Men‘s Betty Draper: A baby bouncing on her hip as she eagerly puts a roast in the oven before her husband, the bread winner, comes home from work. She couldn’t just order in a pizza or pick something up on her way home from her own office. Her role was to nurture and care for her family, while her man went out and earned the money.
For whatever reason, and we’ve heard many of them, women may have been told rather that than being a homemaker, a housewife, a stay-at-home mom and cook, or a strong, independent working woman, we should be flexible and proficient enough to be both. Despite new critiques that may suggest some form of weakness in a home-maker role, being strong and in control in the kitchen can make us feel like modern, empowered women.
In its attempt to advance the rights and position of women, feminism has, in its wake and desire to be equal to men, created a pressure for women to abandon interests and passions that were once linked to past subordinate roles. If we take a moment to look at some of the greatest minds in the culinary world like Mario Batali, Anthony Bourdain, David Chang, Wolfgang Puck and Tom Colicchio, we see it is often men who are revered and respected by both their peers and fans in the cooking industry. For some reason, a woman enjoying cooking in her own home is sometimes considered to be in violation with what it means for a woman to be a strong feminist.
For some reason, a woman enjoying cooking in her own home is sometimes considered to be in violation with what it means for a woman to be a strong feminist.
It was when looking back at the women in my past that I realized that being confident in my kitchen actually made me feel more empowered. We as women should feel compelled to pursue whatever passions make us feel whole. Food and cooking is integral to our survival, not to mention the essential role it plays in comforting and nurturing our friends and family. The power that feminism offers is that we have the right to choose, and we should feel empowered in those choices. It’s when cooking becomes forced on us as our duty as a woman that our desire to be empowered is taken from us.
Being in the kitchen, for me, goes beyond putting ingredients together in the hope that there will be a tasty outcome. Instead, it can become a much needed moment of Zen. It’s like when a conductor steps in front of the orchestra and suddenly pulls together different pieces to create a masterpiece. We may not always be creating dishes reminiscent of Nigella Lawson, but what’s important is how we feel while doing it – when we take control over the things we love doing and dive head first into them.
We should feel thrilled by the smiles on our loved ones faces as they take their first bites of their meals, and we should also marvel in how it feels to bring raw ingredients together through science, skill and passion to make a meal.
When we pursue our passions and explore the things that make us feel good, we can find great strength and happiness.
How do you find empowerment in the kitchen?
Image via Hart & Honey