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“Do you cook?” This was one of the first questions he asked when he initially met me. To some, it may seem like a simple conversation starter, but for me it was borderline offensive. He hadn’t asked what profession I was in, where I was from, or any of the basic getting-to-know-you questions. Instead, he wanted to know if I cooked and if I was any good at it. I wouldn’t have been surprised if the next question that came out of his mouth was “When can I come through and get a plate?” Although possibly more blunt in his approach than some, the cooking question is one many men pose to decide if a woman is ‘wifey’ material. In a society where acts of chivalry have dwindled and antiquated gender roles are less respected, is it fair to consider a woman less than simply because she doesn’t cook?

Let me begin by saying, I cook; but not every day. And while I have a few specialty dishes that receive praise from those lucky enough to eat one of my sporadic meals, I am certainly no Rachael Ray. That’s because I don’t want to be. As a single woman, I cook and eat what tastes good to me. Some days I crave a three-course meal, other days a turkey sandwich. My dish selection doesn’t consist of an array of choices for different palettes, and I’m okay with that. But as a woman who hopes to one day get married, should becoming a stellar cook be a goal of mine?

According to the guy I referenced above, it should be. “Women are supposed to cook,” he said. “A woman who can’t cook won’t be a good wife or mother.”

Well, that’s a bold proclamation. As long as husbands and kids are fed properly, does it matter if the food wasn’t prepared at the hands of the woman in the house?

I understand and accept that women and men are respectfully different; but should their roles in relationships be defined by societal norms? Many men just want to eat, and if they are no longer eating their mother’s food, they want another woman to cook it for them. These types of men are possibly getting their narrow perception of women in the kitchen from a different time. My mom cooked every day when I was a child. Might I add, this was back in the ’80s. She also didn’t work a full-time job, and my father took care of all of the financial responsibilities in the home. Let’s face it. Times are different. Men are different. And gender expectations are blurry.

Now, more than ever, there are more women in the workforce. Many of these women are career-driven, working long hours. So what happens if the man gets home early while the woman works late? Who should be the cook that night?

Or what if the woman is the breadwinner of the family and works much more frequently than the man in the home? Should she still uphold the ‘man-made’ mandate that states women should perform all the cooking and cleaning duties in the household?

If we want to adhere to gender roles when it comes to women and cooking, what does this mean for men? Should the man of the house then be the one to take care of all financial responsibilities in the relationship?

Here’s my stance: What works for one relationship won’t and shouldn’t necessarily serve as the blueprint for all. And just because a woman can throw down in the kitchen doesn’t automatically make her a good mother or mate. Just as a woman who doesn’t cook isn’t necessarily against all domestic duties and is too independent to take care of her man. I don’t mind cooking for my significant other, but my issue is when it becomes a requirement or expectation.

What do you think? Are women still considered less ‘wifeable’ if we don’t cook?

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