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September 4 2014

Burden: It's What's for Dinner

Hadley Heath

The Slate blog is featuring an article from Amanda Marcotte called, “The Tyranny of the Home-Cooked Family Dinner.”  Yes, ISIS is terrorizing the world, but all Ms. Marcotte can find to write about is how oppressive are those pork chops!  (And Jessica Valenti wonders, “Why aren’t tampons free?”)

Come on, feminists, can’t spare any ink for Rotherham?

Here’s a sampling from Amanda Marcotte on home-cooked dinners:

Beyond just the time and money constraints, women find that their very own families present a major obstacle to their desire to provide diverse, home-cooked meals. The women interviewed faced not just children but grown adults who are whiny, picky, and ungrateful for their efforts. “We rarely observed a meal in which at least one family member didn’t complain about the food they were served,” the researchers write. Mothers who could afford to do so often wanted to try new recipes and diverse ingredients, but they knew that it would cause their families to reject the meals. “Instead, they continued to make what was tried and true, even if they didn’t like the food themselves.” The saddest part is that picky husbands and boyfriends were just as much, if not more, of a problem than fussy children.

 

Usually I don’t respond when I think American feminists have gone too far. I agree with Napoleon that you should never interrupt your enemy when she’s making a mistake. Surely rhetoric like this from Marcotte and others only serves to turn many mainstream American women off from the modern-day feminist movement. Plus, often I can just enjoy a response from someone wonderful like IWF’s Charlotte Hays, IWF’s Julie Gunlock, or the Federalist’s Mollie Hemingway (who did respond here).

To her credit, Marcotte pointed out some real hurdles to cooking dinner, like time and money constraints, which I’m sure can affect some families more than others. But the thing I found particularly troubling about Marcotte’s piece was in the final paragraph:

The researchers quote food writer Mark Bittman, who says that the goal should be “to get people to see cooking as a joy rather than a burden.” But while cooking “is at times joyful,” they argue, the main reason that people see cooking mostly as a burden is because it is a burden. It's expensive and time-consuming and often done for a bunch of ingrates who would rather just be eating fast food anyway. If we want women—or gosh, men, too—to see cooking as fun, then these obstacles need to be fixed first. And whatever burden is left needs to be shared.

 

This isn’t just about cooking anymore. This reflects an attitude too common in our culture today that, if something is a burden, run from it! Seek only your own pleasure at all costs. Never mind the consequences.

Look, I love to watch “Chopped,” and yesterday I made some banging crab ragoons. Cooking (in my childless home) is more often a joy for me.  But I understand that many people just don’t like it. But we all make choices to do things we don’t like doing: Cleaning my house is a burden. Paying my bills? Oh yeah, burden.  Going to work sometimes feels like a burden too.  Sometimes our friends and family members create all sorts of burdens for us.  And there’s no arguing that despite the immeasurable joy that parenthood brings, kids create a burden. 

But my goodness, my life is not all about me! I’m afraid we’ve lost sight of the fact that duties, responsibilities, burdens… all of these restrictions on our freedom and our personal pleasure… bring deep meaning and reward to our lives.  

Independent Women's Forum is an educational 501(c)(3) dedicated to developing and advancing policies that aren’t just well intended, but actually enhance people’s freedom, choices, and opportunities. IWF is the sister organization of the Independent Women’s Voice.​
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