Fact: You Can Make Dinner and Still Be an Independent Woman

I find myself getting really judgey about my fellow so-called “career women” lately.

Usually, when I’m coming from a place of judgement — particularly about other women — I eventually catch myself and think “Am I holding her to a higher standard because she’s a woman?” If the answer is a resounding “yes,” I reconsider.

That’s right, meninists, you heard it here: a self-proclaimed feminist stating that she sometimes succumbs to double standards. See how gracefully I admitted it?

Lately, it’s particularly grinding my gears that so many of my “career woman” friends seem oddly proud to lack domestic skills. There’s this current to the tune of “Making money, building my career, eating out on the daily, kitchens are for stay-at-home moms,” and it has me pretty worried. As scripted in the Millennial Theatre in my mind:

“My inability to boil an egg is an accessory to my intimidating pantsuit. #TheDevilWearsPrada #WorkSwag”

As a recent college grad, feminist, founder of a fledgling business, and owner of a shiny “Meh… I’ll figure it out later” approach to all things romantic, I too could very well, and very believably, take on that attitude.

“Don’t need a man, don’t need a pan, just need to edit my business plan.”
-Opeola Bukola

I don’t, however, because I think a young woman not knowing how to feed herself is ridiculous… In the same way I think a young man not knowing how to feed himself is ridiculous. That wasn't always the case, though.

For a lot of my life, I wanted with everything within me to disrupt the idea of what girls should do. My mom insisted that I needed to be able “to feed my husband,” but didn’t seem to think my brother was ever going to need to feed anyone. I hated that. Learning to cook was an affront to my feminism, dangerous to my strong/ beautiful/ business savvy/ independent/ clever womanhood, and a total cop-out to the patriarchy, who wanted me to suffer in subservience for all of my days!!

No, sir, you make me a sandwich.

I call that phase “Thirteen” Feminism — a time when insisting that my practices matched up with those of male counterparts looked like equality to me. When you’re being a Thirteen Feminist, you ignore the nuances of actually applying feminism, and look at women as if men and history don’t exist. In the case of cooking, I was so caught up in proving that I could function in a “man’s world” that I forgot that the male-dominated world was , and is, flawed.

“I can be just as inadequately suited for adult life as a man, dammit!”

It’s not okay that men aren't expected to learn to cook. A Thirteen Feminist, or a Thirteen anyone, for that matter, might overlook this, but as a grown-up feminist, I’m throwing it on the table and pointing at the ugly parts. Look at it; it’s insanity. It’s culture in flux. It’s a society trying to figure out how to achieve gender equity without ignoring difference. And we are in this.

One of the biggest challenges that women face is trying to assert themselves in the face of sexism while also trying to be nice about it. There have been men and women alike fighting feminism since it became a thing. Today, instead of arguing that it “breaks the natural order of things”, the dominant argument is that feminism hurts men, and that if women speak up about sexism, they may be offending a man, so if you’re pointing out sexism, no matter how flagrant it is and how delicately you handle it, you are certainly not being nice. This ideology sucks. And it’s messing with us.

On a scale of 1 to “throw away all bras, razors, and makeup,” I’m like… a 7.

In the face of gender inequality, career women should identify areas, like cooking, that men tend to lack, and hold on to them. Instead, some women are foregoing important life skills because those skills have been feminized and therefore rejected. That is not how it should work. Things like being able to prepare a meal are crucial. They’ve become devalued because femininity is seen as the lesser and, throughout history, women have primarily taken those roles. We should not forget, though, that cooking is like eating — it’s pretty important to humanity, so really everyone should learn to do it.

I’m partially on my soapbox about this now because I’m A) starting a business and can’t afford to eat out. B) a long-time feminist and proud of it C) very smug about being a good cook while my brother eats out for every meal.

Put that in a bell pepper and STUFF IT, mom!

I’m also here to make a point about being a “career woman,” though. We’re dedicated to our work, we want to be seen as professionals and taken seriously, but that doesn't mean we should try to “man up” at all costs. You can come home from a day of trading, coding, engineering, hedging, or otherwise being the boss you are and make yourself a dank rice pilaf. You can do and be whatever type, version, or combination of woman you want.

The demand to man up, in a culture where that doesn’t necessarily mean being the best, happiest, or most efficient you can be, is a problem.

To refer back to my title, it’s true: you can make dinner and still be an independent woman. In fact, if you can’t make dinner and you’re proud of that, you should learn up, grow up, and remind anyone who gives you shit about it to shut up and do the same.

Throw your hands up at me on Twitter @Opeola_B or on my website, www.opeolabukola.com.

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