I Can Cook For My Husband and Still Be a Feminist

As a writer, you learn quickly to develop a thick skin. People on the Internet will comment about, for example, how you can’t write, or how your husband is inevitably going to leave you, or how your particular style of writing is entirely responsible for any man leaving any woman, ever. And you take it, and eventually learn to laugh at it, because it’s part of the gig. You will get rejections, you will get bad reviews, you might even get nasty emails. It comes with the territory. If you want to write for a living, you better learn to accept it or get out of the game.

So it takes a lot, these days, for a review or reporter to rattle me. I can shrug off nastiness quickly. I usually share any particularly harsh feedback with my family, because if we can’t all laugh together, where’s the fun?

But a reporter asked a question recently that really irked me. I’ve been thinking about it ever since, and I know I got pretty defensive when it first came up. I tried to keep a reasonable tone, to answer the question thoughtfully, but that the question would even be asked, well, pisses me off.

It was an interview for my new book, Jennifer, Gwyneth & Me: The Pursuit of Happiness, One Celebrity at a Time, in which I write about trying to make my life a little bit more fabulous by emulating some of the stars who seem to have it all. Jennifer Aniston. Sarah Jessica Parker. Jennifer Garner. Tina Fey. In one of the chapters, I talk extensively about trying to cook like Gwyneth Paltrow. I mention that my husband—not much of a cook himself—especially enjoyed the home-cooked meals. I also write throughout the book about my longing for a baby, and about my infertility struggles.

So here was the question: “How can you write about wanting to cook for your husband, and wanting to have a baby, and still be a part of the feminist discourse?”

I was so taken aback that I had to ask the reporter to repeat the question, and even then I had to repeat it back to her to be sure I understood it correctly.

I am a feminist. I believe that women are equal to men, and that all women should have the right to choose and live the life we want. I believe that whatever decision we make—whether it is to have a family or not, to cook for a romantic partner or not, to work or not, to shave our armpits or not, whatever—is valid as long as we’ve made it for ourselves. Our lives should not be chosen for us. Other people’s ideas of what makes a woman should not dictate what our rights look like.

The idea that you can only be a feminist if you reject the notions of starting a family or wanting to cook for someone else or wanting to feel better about your body, is ludicrous. My daughter brings me joy. Putting a meal that I’ve created in front of my husband every now and then makes me proud. I am a feminist because those are choices I’ve made. No one made them for me. My husband has never demanded a home-cooked meal. I didn’t have my daughter because someone said, “you better start popping out kids soon.” These are choices that make me happy. My career also makes me happy. And so does playing sports. And so does leaving my daughter with my husband for a weekend so I can get some much needed me-time.

If another woman chooses to eschew kids and marriage and pursue a different path, I support that, too.

Women shouldn’t have to apologize for not wanting to get married or for choosing career over kids.

But I shouldn’t have to apologize for wanting the cooking and the kids, either. I am a feminist—home cooking, baby and all.

 

7 Comments

Filed under Jennifer Gwyneth and Me, The Gender Gap

7 responses to “I Can Cook For My Husband and Still Be a Feminist

  1. Danielle Yokell

    This post gave me goosebumps – couldn’t agree more! You rock!

  2. Well I completely agree, feminism is a fight for equality in the mind power.. But the ‘feminist’ battle is a power struggles and deceives itself in ideology! Nice blog :))

  3. I 100% agree. The people who question whether or not you are a feminist for wanting to clean, cook, get married, have babies, etc. are people who do not understand feminism. They are probably also the same people who benefit from the decades-long struggle for women’s rights, but say “I’m not a feminist” to avoid being lumped together with bra-burners and man-haters, which is most people’s cursory understanding of feminism. You rock!

  4. Anonymous

    Great response. I totally agree with you. To be honest with you, I’m a woman, I’m in my early thirties and I quit calling myself a feminist when I was about 20. I call myself a humanist now.

    I respect the old-school feminists like Susan B. Anthony, but it seems that modern feminism has become something that I don’t want to associate myself with which is why I am a secular humanist.

    Modern feminism unfortunately criticizes women for leaving the workforce, wanting to stay at home and raise children, pursuing careers that are traditionally female like being a nanny, etc.

    Modern feminism involves man-hating, not giving men the same rights when it comes to custody agreements, giving women lighter sentences for the same crimes that men commit like having affairs with students.

    There is also a growing movement of men being sexually harassed on the job and some of them are actually winning cases in court. I think this is sad. My old company that I no longer work for used to only hire women for their accounting department, before I left, they finally hired a male accounting clerk.

    Unless a person has a butler or maid, then regardless of one’s sex, you are going to have to cook, clean, take care of the kids, etc. These are chores that most people have to do. There’s a growing movement of women starting to turn away from the feminist label.

    Katy Perry once stated she didn’t want to identify as a feminist. There’s a tumbler group called “Women Against Feminism” http://womenagainstfeminism.tumblr.com/ and there’s a book, “Men On Strike” by Helen Smith about how feminism is hurting men.

    I read here that 84% of women would opt out of the workforce, if they could.
    http://www.forbes.com/sites/meghancasserly/2012/09/12/is-opting-out-the-new-american-dream-for-working-women/

    Look I’ve been hurt by men, my own father hit me and my mother and they eventually divorced. My mom and I are domestic abuse survivors but don’t feel too bad for us because we healed and moved on. My mom remarried a great man and he’s my “true” father. He is wonderful.

    I’ve met scummy guys in the dating world and in college, but I’ve also had great male role models like my step-dad, my uncle, my male cousins, male teachers in school and college, etc. My bf is a great guy and I love him to pieces. So yes I have had some bad experiences with men, but I can’t write all men off.

    There are great men who love the women in their lives and these men can be just as hurt by women as women can be hurt by men. It was in college that I discovered gender studies and read some disgusting truths about the modern feminist movement. It sickened me what modern leaders of feminism really think of men. That’s when I realized I couldn’t continue to be a feminist.

    It also bothered me that modern feminists criticized that women didn’t always have the same work opportunities and voting opportunities that men have had but if you read history very careful, especially American history…most men couldn’t vote either, you had to own land to vote.

    Most jobs were not desirable because they were manual laboring jobs like farming. If women worked they worked as maids, governesses, nurses, teachers, in factories, etc. On the farm women worked indoors and the males usually did the harsh physical work outside.

    Women didn’t have the luxury that they do now of going to cubicle jobs. So it made more sense for women to not work back in the day. In fact I read one history book that said that *some* women opposed of women entering the work force and voting. It makes me sad how even back then women were critical of each other.

    Besides I don’t believe that women were oppressed like feminists claim they were. I believe there were *some* men who oppressed women. But also from reading history women were very influential in the household. They didn’t have the same rights within the eyes of the law but they held their own in the home. They greatly influenced their husbands, sons, daughters, sisters, brothers, nieces, nephews, etc.

    I’m not some weirdo religious woman who is against feminism, I’ve met a few of those in college too. I’m agnostic and a secular humanist, and I just want to be objective and fair to men and women. Sorry for writing a novel but that comment that journalist gave just ticked me off

  5. So glad I came across your blog. This is a wonderful post and I agree completely. I think feminism is about fighting for the ability to choose what you wish to do with your life, rather than have the choice made for you. Wanting to cook a meal or have children in no way makes anyone any less of a feminist if they can rightfully choose that course – in the same way they might choose to work or NOT cook or whatever. A ridiculous question and a thoughtful response.

  6. Elmira Kotsidou

    I couldn’t agree more. I had a fried who used to say that cooking for a man is demeaning and that she would never do it cause she’s a feminist.
    This makes me angry too as it seems that we reached a stage where women are being forced to conform to a certain lifestyle. It may not be the old housewife model but it is still something that is being forced upon women.
    I believe women are equal to men but I would not call myself a feminist as some come to understand it these days.

  7. constantly i used to read smaller articles or reviews which
    also clear their motive, and that is also happening with this piece of
    writing which I am reading here.

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