Yes, I’m A Woman. No, I Don’t Cook. So?

Bleh. It should have been my first sign that today was going to amount to a bag of crap.

So, I’m sitting at work very early, so sleepy…willing my Emergen-C drink to kick in (which I now officially believe doesn’t work). I had my unlucky shirt on, which I deemed as such after having a couple of royally bad days at my previous job the first couple of times I wore it. As the car I was in approached the street where I work, I mentally said to myself, “I hope I didn’t make a mistake wearing this shirt.” I’m not particularly superstitious, plus I “know” it’s ridiculous to attribute bad days to a shirt.

I made a mistake wearing that shirt.

So many things happened today, but there’s only one I want to share with you because it brings out the philosopher in me. This is the very first thing that got under my skin.

So, Chatty Cathy rolls up and starts talking to me about Mother’s Day. And she asks me if I’m going to cook for my mother. To me, sleepiness is very similar to being drunk in terms of how it affects the brain. So, my reaction was at least a bit uninhibited. I am repulsed by the idea of me cooking, so I’m pretty sure I turned my face up. And being that I was too tired to speak any louder, I kind of muttered something like, “I don’t cook.” And I am almost positive I said it in a way that came out as snobbish or disgusted. I assure you, it was meant more in disgust than in snobbery. I cannot assure you that’s not how it was taken.

In response, CC goes something like, “Uh oh. She’s one of those.” And she says this to the only female I actually work with–you know, the chick I don’t particularly care for and who, it seems like, doesn’t particularly care for me.

Now, if I were blacker than I am, I would have busted out with, “What the fuck does that mean?”

People, I’m sorry (no, not really)–I’m repulsed by the idea of cooking, okay? I mean, for me. If you want to cook or if you feel that cooking is a necessity for you because you don’t want to pay to eat out all the time, you have kids or you just believe that you should cook for your husband or that everyone should cook, that’s you. It’s okay. But for me, it’s just one of those things. I can’t really articulate it. I think, for me, there’s just something about stuff like cooking and cleaning that symbolizes being at the absolute bottom of the rung…which makes asking me if I cook damn-near offensive.

There are a lot of people who would never work in fast food because that seems to symbolize the bottom of the rung. In fact, there are a lot of people out there right now who need a job, and most of them who say they can’t get a job are not being honest. They probably could get a job either ringing up fast food customers or mopping some floors, but they wouldn’t dare think of it. Now, I have recently seen a few people who actually are saying, “Dude, what the hell? I can’t even get a job at McDonald’s!” But they are probably in the minority of unemployed people who have actually tried to get a job at McD’s. A lot of us just won’t even go there, regardless of how bad things have gotten, because it’s perceived as too demeaning and menial. Not putting ’em down–right there with them (and for people who need these jobs, will work these jobs and do work these jobs–do what you have to do). I just seem to, on pure reflex, take that attitude beyond work and into my personal life, for some reason.

This doesn’t mean I never cook or clean. I prefer not doing these things for myself, but I will every now and then. But since I am not married and don’t have kids, I have rarely seen a real need to cook. Since I live with my parents right now, I don’t do any grocery shopping. But when I lived alone, my grocery shopping consisted entirely of food that either did not need to be prepared or could be prepared via microwave. You can so get away with this nowadays, and, for the most part, I never wanted for anything. When I lived by myself, I was buying and eating things like vegetable medleys, yogurt, cereal (for the whole grain, fiber and other benefits that some cereals offer), cheese, oatmeal, tuna. I microwaved stuff like mac and cheese, pizza and chili. Way back when I was a freshman in college and had to figure out how to eat in the dorms, I would make sandwiches and even microwave stuff like spaghetti. You might not be able to make elaborate, home-cooked meals, but you can eat a lot of the stuff that people think necessitates cooking skills. Best of all, it’s quick.

Do I refuse to cook–and let me make it clear that I do refuse to cook–based on some feminist principle? I thought so, until I realized that example about how so many people who need jobs won’t even take fast food or cleaning jobs. Yes, I’m a woman. But a lot of people won’t cook or clean for a living on principle, pride or whatever you want to call it. Of course, there are those people who justify it by saying those jobs don’t pay enough or they’re too educated, but is that really the very base of what they’re saying? I’d think that would only be so for people who won’t take any job that doesn’t pay enough or for which they’re over-educated. But most people are not like this, especially in regards to being over-educated.

To me, the feminist issue is not much different (but there are differences) from the issue that both men and women have with working in fast food or cleaning–the belief that some people have that those who are less than, and only those people, are “supposed to” cook and clean. As I said, other people only see this in relation to work. I happen to see it this way beyond work and only towards myself. And much more so with cooking than with cleaning, for some reason. If there is anything feminist about it for me, it’s the assumption and irritation that people ask me about cooking only because I’m a woman.

I understand exactly how most other people view cooking. They think it’s a normal part of life. Although I grew up seeing both of my parents cook, and then my sisters, I just seem to have internalized the way society seems to view cooking in relation to a career over how people view it domestically. And maybe this is because there’s not very much that is domestic about me. I have always been more career-focused, and I have spent most of my life doing things just because of what they might do for my career. I know one can be a chef or caterer, but I think even those careers get reactions that are only a little bit better than telling people you’re a musician or an actor when no one has ever heard of you and you don’t yet have any hits…or deals.

Okay, well, maybe I was wrong–maybe I can articulate it.

Look, I did a cursory internet search regarding people’s views on women who don’t cook, and I ran into one post where someone seems to view women who say they don’t cook as being proud about it. I am neither proud nor ashamed. I just know myself. I know I have status-based issues with the idea of me cooking and that when I do cook I suck as a cook. It’s not my thing, and when something is clearly not my thing it makes me not want to do it all the more because sucking at schitt hurts my perfectionistic self-esteem. It’s yet another thing that “confirms” to me that I should not ever have kids, and it is yet another thing that makes me feel relieved that I’m a lesbian and don’t have to deal with a guy thinking like a guy on this issue.

And I know this about you–you’re better off not asking me anything about cooking.

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