“The Kitchen is the New Garage”

13 Apr

In my continued effort to move away from the advertisements, here’s a lovely article published on 4/11/11 on MSNBC: “Home Kitchens Heat Up as More Men Start Cooking.” According to the article, men spend thrice the amount of time in the kitchen today as they did 40 years ago, and are developing new interests in cooking. To meet men’s new cooking needs, some interesting new resources are popping up. The article features three:

  1. Food Republic‘s mission is to “[explore] the new culture of food through stories, interviews, global conversations, and experiences. This is the site for men who want to eat and drink well, and to live smart.” Its “philosophy” section claims: “men are underserved in today’s conversation about food,” “a good drink is as important as a great dinner,” and “entertaining will enrich your life.”
  2. Man Tested Recipes offers “grilling tips and recipes for all types of meaty, greasy goodness,” according to the article. Indeed, the site’s homepage is a smorgasbord of chili, ribs, chicken, pork, burgers, pastas, bacon, shrimp, tacos, and pancakes. Of the 61 “top tags” (categories/descriptors attached to recipes), 25 contain the word “easy” (e.g., “easy chicken recipe”), 4 contain the word “football,” and only 2 vegetables appear (corn and carrots). The word “family” appears once.
  3. Cook To Bang, new book and website, offers tips on cooking and seduction, linking the two in a symphony of misogyny. The author suggests, “Food and sex have been linked since the dawn of civilization,” and that all men should learn to cook, for three simple  reasons: “1. Cheaper than a restaurant. 2.They’re already in your home. 3. You’re dessert.” The site also contains ads for AshleyMadison.com and recipes such as “Garlic (My Balls) Bread”, “Ho’s May Blow-Tatoes”, “Lick My Zucchini Stick”, and “Reverse Cowgirl Eggs”.

The article goes on to make some pretty bold statements. Some of the gems include:

  • Food Republic offers “man-friendly topics such as how to cook a rib-eye steak or make a Rob Roy cocktail”
  • “Because if there’s anything every man is obsessed with, it’s gadgets”
  • “The kitchen is the new garage”
  • “Food Republic offers recipes that are fast and easy to execute, using seven ingredients and taking just 20 minutes — leaving plenty of time for cocktail-making”
  • Reasons for men’s increased interest in cooking include: “single guys needing to fend for themselves and, of course, their need to impress the ladies”

The article and all of the sites it promotes are bewildering in their ignorance. In so many ways, they shove men into the same boxes that we see over and over: men should be able to drink; men should be tech-savvy; men are simple-minded; men are obsessed with sex; men are the life of the party. These stereotypes hurt men by creating unrealistic expectations, both for themselves and for others. They deny of any man who does not live up to them his masculinity, thereby threatening his self-esteem and the respect of those around him. The man who cannot drink alcohol, is not interested in sex, is boring, or is emotion is demoted to the status of un-masculine (or, feminine).

What’s even more enraging about this article is that it plays at promoting social justice. According to the creator of Food Republic, “Traditional gender roles have been turned upside down, and now being a well-rounded man means knowing about food, too.” The article attempts to trick its readers into believing that it is good for men and women. Men – because it will get them laid. Women – because “Relationships are growing stronger as they cook alongside their mate.” Yet in reality the article is an attack on masculinity by defining it in the same way it has always been defined.

Sadly, in less than 36 hours, the article has already received 82 reTweets and 77 Facebook recommendations. Its popularity is a testament to its appeal – people want to believe that men are becoming more “feminine” and that the genders are become more “equal,” when in reality this is simply more of the same. I’m afraid that too many people reading this will not be shocked by the stereotyping it commits, especially since it’s coming from a reputable news source – MSNBC.

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One Response to ““The Kitchen is the New Garage””

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. The Last and Worst: Rules for Men « The Conscious Man - April 27, 2011

    […] social workers. They’re in the way we talk about cars, male friendships, illness, cooking (twice), and interior design. And they come from everywhere: the media, our parents, the news, other […]

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