So yesterday, the fifth of November (remember…remember…) was evidently one of those new completely made up ” National Days” that you can just go and register at National Day Calendar, who will send you T-shirts and a press release and everything to create your very own holiday! Like National Nachos Day on November 6th, or You’re Welcomegiving, the day after Turkey Day, or National Noodle Ring Day on December 11 (also my birthday). I must say the possibilities are fucking endless.
Yesterday, as well as being Fake Anarchist Douchebag Day, it was National Men Make Dinner Day. Created in 2001 and celebrated on the first Thursday of November, NMMDD is basically one long 90’s Tim Allen routine about Men who are clueless around the kitchen. Here are some of the”rules”.
Rule #3: Man, completely un-aided, chooses a ‘published’ recipe from any source, or Internet. Getting the recipe from ‘her’ cookbooks is allowed, but man gets bonus points if the recipe isn’t already somewhere in the house.
So this is off to a great start. NMMDD basically assumes a division of labor that is so retrograde Wilma Flintstone is getting disgusted.
Rule #4: Main meal must include minimum of 4 ingredients and require at least one cooking utensil other than a fork
Rule #5: Man goes shopping for ‘all’ necessary ingredients. Bonus points if he takes inventory of cupboards and fridge first, before shopping trip. So you don’t end up with two 64 ounce jars of pickled pimentos.
Rule #6: Man organizes all necessary ingredients in order of importance on kitchen counter. At this point, he may need to make a phone call or shout out the word ‘honey’! Followed by a question. This is not allowed.
Ok, the pimento joke is funny… other than that, ewwwww.
Rule #8: Following recipe carefully, man starts to cook dinner! Apron is optional, (bonus points if recipe includes one of the following : capers, saffron, or the word ‘scallopini’).
Because who ever heard of capers… oh yeah just about every male chef on the Food Network.
Rule #12: After meal, table is cleared by man, dishwasher is loaded. Man returns to table for stimulating after-dinner conversation. At this point, man is told how much his meal was appreciated. He, in turn, describes the joys and challenges of the experience. He is given a hug, and his TV remote is returned to him.
Ok… so I get that this is meant to be funny. I really do. It’s bad humor, the same tired old stereotypes of bumbling Dads and infinitely patient and supportive wives who “need a break” from their domestic routine (where’s Dad does Laundry day?). But I can’t help taking it a bit personally. Because this joke pretty much erases my family completely. Sure, they make a nod towards Dad’s who cook…
Are you a man who makes dinner on a regular or semi-regular basis?
If this describes you, then, send us your best recipe !
But the rest of the site makes it clear that those of us who cook (and clean) are exceptions, without making us feel exceptional at all. The whole silly process isn’t about teaching Dad’s to be more helpful in the domestic arena. It’s just a chance for Dad to pretend he cares, for everyone to have a good laugh, and then return to their expected and stereotypical domestic arrangements the next. day. Stay at Home Dads and Househusbands like myself don’t exist in that world. Neither do single Dads, families with no Dads, or even families with two Dads.
I’d have a little more respect for this little made up holiday if the people behind it were actually willing to engage with the very real problem of work/domestic life balance that US American families deal with. Bryce Covert, writing for The Nation in 2014
nearly half of them will do housework, but just 20 percent of men will do the same. And women put more time into scrubbing the toilet or doing the laundry—three more hours each week than men. Men carve out three more hours of leisure time. Even mothers who work full-time will still put in a week and a half’s worth more time on household tasks than their male partners each year. When the division of household labor falls along gender lines, where can we turn for an explanation?oday’s women spend more time in paid employment but still come home to the second shift. On the typical day,
conjuring up this old label. A nag is just a person making a request that annoys the requestee. Women are told by parents, advertising agencies and a host of other societal forces that they are responsible for making the house clean, and when they push back, they are slapped with a pejorative. No wonder they spend so much more time tidying up. It might be more exhausting to try and have it any other way.And any woman who wants to change this dynamic confronts another problem. What man has been called a nag? But when women ask that their husbands pitch in more, they run the risk of
Fact of the matter is, Dads need to do much more than cook one day a year, they need to start taking on even more of the unpaid domestic work that women have been shouldering all these years. No, you don’t need to go full house husband the way I have, but it should be noted that our situation allows for my wife to more fully engage in her career at Giant International MegaCorporation while still having a loving family. Basically she’s getting the same deal that the 50’s sitcom Dad got from his wife. There’s obviously value in having one person dive into the domestic arena full time. But not every family wants or can afford our kind of arrangement (or the old fashioned way either). Instead, two working parents is becoming the norm and if that’s going to be the case then Dads (and other non-Dad male identifying persons in the household) need to step up and even the playing field.
And don’t expect cookies for it. Make your own cookies…
As the person who makes dinner almost every other night of the year, this Dad said fuck it. Let’s go out for Pizza.
Featured Image Credit: Beef Stew and Sticky Rice Pilaf with Parsely by Blotz Photo Arts, also Cookies!!!