Warning: Men With Spatulas

There’s a million things to blog about, including President Obama’s new pick for SCOTUS and the ruling about to be handed down by the California Supreme Court on Prop 8. However, these are topics I’ll actually need to do research about, so for right now I’m going to discuss a pet peeve instead.

My father does most of the cooking in our house. Mom’s entirely able to cook, and there are some dishes designated as hers (taco shells, egg salad, cookies..), but in general, Dad cooks.

I’m not sure how the pattern got started, but I’d guess that convenience was a big factor: Dad was always home at least an hour and a half before Mom was. That’s not really the important part.

It was when I got old enough to realise that according to advertisements, I lived in a bizarro world where normal laws of space and time did not apply.

Then, and now, it is next to impossible to find a commercial or print ad for cooking (aside, of course, from the manly art of grilling) that depicts men in the role of cook/food maker. It is always, always always the wife or mother or any other females in the scene that do this. (Just as it is always the female worried about the cleanliness of or engaged in the active cleaning of the domicile. For a more detailed analysis of that topic, see Sarah Haskin’s expose on Target Women.)

I remember one ad for McDonald’s from a few years back where the mother was out of town for the weekend. She’d left an entire fridge full of colour-coded tupperware containers so that her apparently completely useless family could feed themselves, but, overwhelmed by the insurmountable challenge of the microwave (and following directions), the idiot father takes his offspring to McDonald’s instead, which is, of course, a way better experience than eating her carefully premade food would have been anyhow.

This preponderance is ridiculous, of course, but it’s also unfair and demeaning to women and men. It tells my father and my boyfriend (thank goodness, a better cook than I am) that they (and their needs) don’t exist in the minds of advertisers or the companies they’re advertising. It tells them they can’t possibly be competent in a kitchen. It tries to tell me that any other needs I have are secondary to my ability to cook and keep house (seriously, are we still in the 1950’s?), and that I can’t expect to be in a heterosexual partnership that shares duties.

Next time you’re watching TV, keep count. It’ll scare you.


2 Responses to “Warning: Men With Spatulas”

  1. 1 Marlene
    27 May 2009 at 4:07 pm

    My theory: all those advertisers are men who want you to think they are incompetent in the kitchen so they won’t be expected to cook!

  2. 6 June 2009 at 2:53 am

    Hear, hear! I am thrilled that my fiancé is a fantastic cook and that I can print recipes from Food Network’s website and hand them to him and, magically, two hours later, we can haz food. 😉 Also, I grew up with both parents (or possibly one of my grandparents) cooking, depending on who was around at dinnertime.

    Very good theory about male advertisers. Also, has anyone else noticed that while all kitchen-related advertising is aimed at women, most popular depictions of gourmet chefs are male? Any theories on that front?

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