Monday, September 27, 2010

Another Instance of Scape-goating Feminism...

This article from the UK Daily Mail by Rose Prince claims, basically, that the reason that there is a growing obesity problem is that feminism took women out of the kitchen and replaced their loving and healthy prepared meals with unhealthy fast food.

When the feminist voices of the Sixties made home cooking into a symbol of drudgery, they no doubt had the best intentions. Equality in the workplace was a noble cause and a degree of sexual revolution was necessary.Domestic cooking was chucked aside as an irrelevance, an icon of unfairness to women — which allowed a very eager food industry to leap forward with the convenience-food solution.Yes, it’s feminism we have to thank for the spread of fast-food chains and an epidemic of childhood obesity.

Okay, so this article is obviously ... crazy. There's a great response at the Guardian UK that deconstructs Prince's article pretty well, which I am thankful for, as reading Prince's article nearly caused me a heart attack. Prince is among a traditionalist camp of women who believe that women are naturally more nurturing, thus must be the primary providers of domestic care for their families. Quite frankly, I don't know a lot about the psychology of nurturing in men vs. women, but I do know that it is incredibly sexist to assume that men can't be nurturing, caring, good cooks, and involved in domestic work. Many times, the finger is pointed at feminists for "destroying" this or that, when really what we should be looking at is how sexism is harming our ability to progress as humans.

So what's Rose Prince's problem? Well, first of all, she doesn't have any evidence to back up her claims. Food is a lot unhealthier than it was 30 or 40 or 50 years ago. The world is also just a lot more expensive. Most families cannot afford to have one spouse stay home and do domestic work full-time. And even when both spouses work full time, women often end up doing more domestic work.

This graph shows how even among men and women in "elevated" professional positions, there is hardly equality among domestic work.

And although this graph shows that women are spending more time doing paid work as opposed to domestic work, and that the amount of unpaid domestic work (housework, chores) that men are doing has increased, domestic work is still disproportionally completed by women.

One of Prince's points in the article is particularly telling about how she perceives feminism and the roles of women:

It’s important to remember that women can embrace cookery without betraying their cause. Being a feminist does not mean dropping femininity.
Both of these sentences are absolutely true. Feminists are absolutely mothers, they are absolutely women who can cook well, and they are absolutely women who ascribe to traditional gender roles. These women are JUST AS MUCH feminists as the feminists who can barely boil water, who don't plan on having children, and reject traditional gender roles. Prince is confused, which is not that hard to understand considering the depictions of feminism and feminists that are out there. Prince should have researched her article better. While obesity and lack of healthy food options is a problem, it is not the fault of feminism. It is the fault of fast food, large portions, less exercise, a culture of excess, cost of organic food, availability of healthy food in low-income areas... Instead of trying to blame women for abandoning their roles as personal chefs in favor of earning money, we should be trying to make healthy food more affordable and helping educate people on how to make healthy food choices. It seems like a no-brainer.

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