Bringing Home the Bacon

There is an odd juxtaposition about this blog, for me. Cooking, particularly the labor-intense work that our fore-mothers put into cooking daily from scratch, is to most a taxing symbol of a bygone age.
Sayings like "barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen" show contempt for the traditional roles of women, and use humor as an acceptable platter for misogyny. Get up before dawn, milk the cows, do the chores, then work for hours over a hot iron stove for a meal your family gulps down in moments, with no voice outside your own home, and just glad that you have a husband who doesn't make your life a living hell with legal impunity? I don't think so, thank you very much. No wonder so many of our great grandmothers ran away as quick as they could cast a ballot.

So began a revolution in the kitchen. Millions of products and kitchen gizmos clamoring for the housewife's attention, all promising freedom, a release from the slavery brought about by cooking. But did they really improve our lives? I doubt it. If anything, time is showing that designing a product for shelf life causes all sorts of problems for the health and well-being of the consumer. The bar just gets higher from there. My mother's generation loudly proclaimed that a woman meant bringing home the bacon, frying it up, kissing boo-boos, and working a five to nine job(and after-hours sex kitten). Never mind equality, we could do everything better, all at the same time.

And what about today? I regularly see people from both ends of the spectrum. There are some who are shocked that I have come to love the traditional, "girly" things that I'm learning how to do. Sewing, cooking, decorating, cleaning, with two children in tow and wanting MORE? You HAVE to be kidding, right? In my religious community there are some who can be harsh towards those who don't, or can't follow a traditional path. I see other young mothers who I quite frankly am terrified are going to burn out, who despite all their hard work seem to worry that they are a failure that they don't have a perfect, spotless home, taken food to everyone in the neighborhood who's ailing, and then settled down with a throng of angelic, perfectly dressed children gathered quietly around them while they beatifically read bible stories. It's an impossible standard, just like our 70's commercial bacon-bringer above is. Either, if pushed on you by outside sources, can lead to feeling empty and depressed.

I am so humbly grateful that it's not a question of choosing one extreme or the other. I'm grateful for the women in the past who weren't afraid to speak up, loudly and obnoxiously if need be, to give us today the rights that we enjoy. I really like being able to vote, drive, and hold my own property. I enjoy the fact that my male relatives don't determine the fate of my body, or my children. It makes me feel secure to know that if something were to happen to my husband, I can work and not be shortchanged by virtue of being female. I'm grateful to be at home with my children. I'm grateful that while my church embraces conservative gender models, it leaves all important decisions, including how many children you should have, up to the couple making the choice. I'm grateful to be able to jump into home skills with open arms, knowing that if I want to, I can do it for the rest of my life, but I can also continue my education, open my own business, raise farm animals, start a band, or whatever else I can dream up. My potential is unlimited!

...And so I spend my time learning how to make home-cooked meals from scratch. I couldn't be happier.


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