In today’s modern, progressive world it turns out that the kitchen is a really bad place.
John Kasich got in trouble earlier in the week when he said that his election to public office back in the 1970s was made possible because women, “left their kitchens” to get the word out about him. Before the word kitchen had fully left his mouth, progressives and feminists pounced on the opportunity and/or offense depending on how you look at it.
Most politicians make a living out of saying what people want to hear and these days, everything that you could possibly hear is offensive to someone. I can’t believe that these guys are still giving speeches.
Maybe it’s just my status as a privileged male who grew up in a lower middle class, single parent family but I don’t see what’s so offensive about linking women to kitchens.
My grandmother spent most of her life in a kitchen. When I would go visit my grandparents, she would have a full breakfast ready at 7 in the morning. I would roll out of bed around nine or ten, just in time for the buffet she had prepared by hand for lunch. At around two we would have what she called recess. Recess was nothing more than us sitting in the kitchen and eating sweets. Almost immediately after that was over it was time for her homemade dinner. And then after that, more recess.
When I think of my grandparent’s house, I can’t help but think about that kitchen. It’s where we spent most of our time. We would eat mashed potatoes, pork chops, fried chicken and drink sweet tea that had more sugar in it than every Dairy Queen franchise combined. My grandmother never said anything about wanting to get out of the kitchen, trade in her apron for a pant suit and run for president. Get this. She actually enjoyed cooking. And we all enjoyed eating what she cooked. What a tragedy.
But that was in a different time. The generation after my grandmothers is when women were finally liberated from those heavy chains us chauvinist pigs think are just apron strings.
My mother was a part of that generation. Unlike my grandmother, she worked outside of the home. It wasn’t because she was trying to make some kind of a statement. That’s just what single moms did. My mom worked for the Leader Tribune newspaper in Fort Valley, Georgia. She was a secretary for a roofing company in the greater metro Atlanta area. And she was a church secretary in College Park, Georgia before she finally had to hang it up.
So yeah, she left the kitchen.
But she came back to it every day.
She didn’t have time to make meals like my grandmother did. We had a lot of Hamburger Helper, fish sticks and tater tots. And we had something that she called Coca-Cola Chicken. Coca-Cola chicken is just a chicken breast marinated in mustard, ketchup and a can of, you guessed it, Coca-Cola. One time a friend of mine called that a white trash meal. Maybe so. But it was good. Oh yeah. I almost forgot. We still drank that same sugary, sweet tea.
My mom spent a lot of time in her kitchen. But she wasn’t some depressed woman who was being held down by her evil male child. She was a mom. She was a chef who knew how to make a gourmet meal (by white trash standards at least) on a shoe string budget. She was a counselor. And not just to me. A lot of people from our neighborhood and our church got some good advice from my mom in that kitchen. And it usually came with a side of her sweet tea.
My wife works outside the home too. She’s a teacher. But cooking is one of her favorite things to do. Last week I asked my son what he liked most about his family. The thing he likes most about his brother is that he plays with him. The thing that he likes most about his mom is her good cooking. How rude! What a pig that boy is! For the record, he still hasn’t been able to say what he likes most about me. Either it’s too hard to narrow down for him or I need to see a counselor.
Sometimes, in typical evil male fashion, I volunteer to cook for the family. My wife takes me up on the offer and enjoys her time off. But most of the time she doesn’t. Part of that probably has something to do with the fact that she doesn’t want to eat my specialty that night. I call it Frosted Flakes. It’s a mixture of corn and sugar and milk. Send me a private message if you’d like the recipe. But there’s another reason. She told me once that she actually likes to be in the kitchen.
I’m 40 years old. That seems like lightyears away from the kitchens of my childhood. But every now and then something takes me back to those days. It’s usually a funeral.
I guess in the rest of the country, when a family member dies, people offer to pay for a government certified grief counselor. Where I live they don’t do that. People cook. Go and visit someone just after they’ve had to bury a loved one and you’ll find a kitchen covered up with casseroles, fried chicken and potato salad. And it’s all home made. Believe it or not, there are women who actually enjoy cooking in their kitchen and the fruits of their labors actually makes a difference in the community.
Today, womanhood is defined either by power or sexuality or some combination of the two. I think that’s the real tragedy.
The women who I’ve loved the most, my wife, mother, grandmother and friends from church display their womanhood through their service and their joy. Some of those cooks have multiple degrees and some have hardly any. But that doesn’t matter. Any female can go to school or get a high paying job but a real woman finds her joy in helping others rather than reminding others of how important she is or should be.
I’m no fan of John Kasich. He won’t be getting my vote for president. But my disagreements with him have more to do with policy than anything he said about women and kitchens.
At this rate, I’ll probably end up writing in a name for president. Maybe I’ll write down the name of Margaret Sanders, the lady who introduced me to 10 a.m. lunches and recess.
The world would be a lot better off if they could all sit at her table together.