Feminism is the radical notion that women are people said someone famous. That sums up feminism better than any long winded definitio...

Saturday, 18 July 2015

When the joy is removed from Feasting

Thinking this Eid of all the women hunched over their kitchen stoves, toiling over copious amounts of festive food. Our festivals and celebrations are inextricably linked to food. Often such occasions have integral to them, recipes handed down over generations, cooked with love, care and devotion. Wait! Sounds corny to you too? 

Yes, the trope if the all-nurturing all-sacrificing mother is such a well worn cliche, specially in the Indian context. Why is it a cliche? A cliche is a "trite expression or phrase, a hackneyed theme, something that has become over familiar or commonplace" yet it never grows old, does it? We all happily buy into it. 

Mother became synonymous with woman. When did it happen? It's no accident; it didn't happen overnight. 
All misogynists for whom the ultimate put down of a woman is 'get back into the kitchen' or 'make me a sandwich' know very well they are hitting hard, where it hurts. 

Woman is reduced to motherhood, which in turn came to represent a cook, a care giver, a nurturer. The plan is to keep women house bound, so men can have a free run of the 'real world'. So while we are at it why not make it sound noble and fulfilling? Yet, paradoxically most major celebrity chefs are men, not women. 

The fact is that one is not born a woman, but becomes one. Similarly one becomes a mother, not a parent - men have wilfully built a system where they are left out of the caring and nurturing parts. 

Yes, yes, before you start shooting off on how it's the loss of men that they have to give up claims to their emotional sides in order to keep up their masculinity- or its facade- let me stop you in your tracks right there! That's a different discussion altogether and this ain't it, my friend.

Getting back to the talk of women. Yes, there are many women with love to cook and many who find it therapeutic even.  And that's fine too. As long as it is in small doses, for yourself. The problems begin when women, out of conditioning try to cook to please those around them, specially, loved ones. What's wrong with that, you may ask. Nothing, I agree. 

Yet, who doesn't have the one family member who  spends hours conjuring up the perfect meal, laying it out in the perfect manner. Of course once you pour so much of yourself into a meal you are raising your hopes for some appreciation at least. Alas, often it is hard to come by. Sometimes, even if it does it's not enough. 

Cut the women in your life some slack. Dissociate all celebrations from food, or at least home cooked extravagance. And  if you're a man, do get into the kitchen once in a while while you're at it!  

P.S: Writing about Eid as it happens to be Eid today. Of course this post applies equally to all festivals and feasting 

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