The Thinking 

How Feminists Destroyed Dinner

May 26, 2010


THE FOOD JOURNALIST Michael Pollan approvingly quotes a statement blaming feminism for wrecking a culture of shared food and civility. His assertion seems far too timid given that millions of children now eat chicken nuggets in front of the TV. But Anna Clark at Salon objects:

Blaming feminism for luring women out of the kitchen, stealing the ritual of the family meal, and thereby diminishing “one of the nurseries of democracy” is both simplistic and ridiculous. It’s true that shared meals are powerful spaces for building relationships and “the habits of civility.” But if we’re going to talk about who’s to blame for our current culture of processed food, why not blame untold generations of men for not getting into the kitchen, especially given Pollan’s characterization of the family meal as having a meaningful role in cultivating democracy? If it’s so important, why is their absence excusable?

That’s right.  Men have been doing nothing all these years while women slaved away in the kitchen. Here’s an all-points bulletin: Do not accept a dinner invitation from anyone named Anna Clark. Unless you like chicken nuggets.




Jenny writes:

From the article: people spend “a mere thirty-one minutes a day on average, including clean-up.” That cannot be true, can it? The majority of my work at home is food-related. I’m a housewife with one child (age 5). A quick estimate for me would be about 3 1/2 to 4 hours per day, and I’m not a slow poke. I would love to read the article and comment, but will have to wait until later. I must roll out the pie crust for my chicken pot pie.

I’d be interested in hearing estimates from some of the readers here; maybe I’ll ask the question on some homemaking blogs I frequent. I’m just shocked that it’s so low.

Laura writes:

I assume it is not chicken nugget pot pie you are making, but real pot pie. No one can make decent food – and clean up – in half an hour per day, but I am not at all surprised at that estimate judging from what I see people buying in the supermarket. The latest thing is to buy all your ingredients cut up and just throw it in a pan with some oil. This is Food for Dummies. The expense of these pre-chopped ingredients, and their poor quality, given that vegetables and meat immediately begin to dry out when they are cut, is stunning.

If you are organized, experienced, and tight for time, two hours is possible. If you make something for two nights, that cuts down the time considerably.  

Of course some people don’t have the time to give to food preparation. They just can’t afford it. But then they would lament this; they would see it as a problem  and not blame it on the failure of men to take over cooking as Anna Clark has done.

MarkyMark writes:

I just would love to make a quick comment to Anna Clark: while women were preparing dinner, their men were out GETTING dinner! In the old days, that meant plowing a field with a horse drawn plow, or going out hunting for it. Farming the food meant working dawn to dusk, while hunting meant competing with various wild animals for food. What do the Anna Clarks of the world think would happen to a man eyeing the same deer that a grizzly bear or coyote was, hmmm? The truth of the matter is that both men and women had it rough in the old days.

Laura writes:

Her statement makes no sense at all. Men apparently should be thinking about recipes when they are at work.

Eric writes:

I am noticing a lot of cooking-type reality shows, and the local high school is having a cooking contest. I wonder how Hollywood turned meal preparation into a gladiatorial competition.

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