Thursday, September 24, 2009

Feminist? Or just a Product of my Generation and Family?

A little story for you: (it will give you some context for my next post)

Several weeks ago, I was hanging with some friends at the home of an acquaintance-friend. (Mostly acquaintance, but I'm friends with his friends... you all know what I'm talking about, right?)

So, earlier in the day this guy had purchased two containers of chocolate chip cookie dough from some little kids peddling it door-to-door. Their dad was out of work, and they were selling cookie dough to try and help bring in some money. So he bought two. Sweet, right? I thought so.

A little later that night, we're all hanging in the basement playing a game, and someone mentions that those cookies were sounding pretty good right about then. The problem? They were still in dough form in the containers they came in.

So this guy leans back and smiles like he's really proud of himself, motions to the door leading upstairs where the kitchen is, and says, "Ladies?"

Do I even need to finish the story at this point?

So, apparently the look I gave him was pretty expressive, because another guy friend who was there reacted pretty quickly to my reaction. The gist of what he said is, "Whoa. Sarah looks pissed."

Well, no kidding.

First of all, who's making the assumption that just because someone is female they are automatically at home in the kitchen?

And secondly, where the bleep did his manners go? I can guarantee to you that if he had made the same assumption (that we could all bake cookies well) (incorrect assumption on his part--I can't bake a cookie to save my life), but at least phrased it more appropriately, I would have been happy to head upstairs and bake the freakin' cookies. But what on earth makes him think that his 1) ignorant assumption and 2)smug presentation would make anyone want to go bake him cookies?

Let me be clear--it's not like I threw a fit about it. I don't remember if I even said anything (verbally). My face just conveyed my feelings for me.

I don't consider myself to be a feminist, but I do get annoyed when guys say idiotic things like "The man is the prince of his home and shouldn't have to help clean. When he gets home from work he should just get to relax. He shouldn't have to help around the house or with the cooking or the dishes." (A semi-direct quote. It was said in French, so... you know. But you get the idea.)

So, this leads me to wonder... would you say that makes me a feminist? Is that something that just comes from growing up in the family I did? Or does it just make me a product of this generation?

Would you say that you are a feminist? Or a champion of women's rights (men, if you're not okay with calling yourself a feminist.)


Denise said...

Yea, you! My newlywed advice has been "Don't do anything in the first year that you don't want to do for the rest of your life". You are starting early. I APPLAUD you.

Jess said...

Hmmm, I've never considered myself an all out feminist but I would have reacted the same way (but with a verbal jab.) I think your reaction is probably from your family and society. You and I were raised in a society where we saw mothers, aunts, people in tv and in books, and teachers all telling us that we are equal. The glass ceiling is higher than it has ever been before for us. To be pushed down again is so shocking that we can't help but react.

Billy Bob Bambino Bombabious Baby the Third said...

You do totally rock, Sarah! This is why we can be friends...

Not only was this person WAY out of line, he probably doesn't deserve to be the recipient of any female affection. Period. If his estimation of women is so low, well, I think it should be reciprocated.

My wife and I have a fairly good arrangement - at least, it works for us. She cooks because she likes to cook and is really good at it. I clean up. I do the laundry and vacuum and clean the bathrooms. She cleans the hard surfaces. There are some traditionally "man" tasks that I do - like changing oil or mowing the lawn - but it's usually because I am more physically capable of performing them. Not that she is incapable - it's just more convenient for me.

And PRINCE?!? Really? My goodness. I thought that attitude had pretty much gone from the world... I guess not.

PS - I am horrible at cooking. I could burn water. If I asked someone to cook it would be shamefacedly and with the utmost humility. And I certainly wouldn't have looked expectantly at the "ladies" to take care of the situation for me...

Erin said...

Oh boy. This is the question of my life right now. You and I could sit and have some pretty interesting discussions.

I have never considered myself a feminist, until a couple of months ago when I was talking to my husband about what a feminist is. He told me there is an entire method of psychology based on feminism. He said it is about empowerment, and recognizing your own strength. He said other things I can't remember, but it made me realize that we can all be feminists just by standing up for ourselves. And based on the little I know about you, you are really good at it!

So yeah, that guy was out of line. I don't know if he was trying to show off, but what a jerky thing to say.

Meridith said...

I would have made the same facial expression—I even did when I read the post. I don't think that makes you a feminist; I think you just learned a bit more tact growing up.

Deborah said...

There are two movements: "feminism" and "womanism." I fall into the "womanism" camp, though either one would just laugh at the man with the cookie dough.

I think the story illustrates less about you as a woman and more about the man and his misunderstanding (not to mention misguidance) of his own role as a man.

Men try to please and protect, and take care of women. And women try to take care of and please men. Either one of them can do this in the kitchen or cleaning a house or getting a door or whatever. It really doesn't matter.

However, neither of them waste time dictating to the other (or encouraging...) how to fulfill their roles.

Yeah. It's a real shocker this guy is still single.

meagan said...

I like Deborah's clarification.

I have little patience with the majority of the "feminist" movement as I think it takes what began as a valid point too far.

I do, however, believe in the empowerment of women and take issue with any action -- by men or women -- that detracts from that power.

I would have been more than happy to bake the cookies in most instances, but a smug assumption like your friend made would turn me right off.