Ancient is the new contemporary: living femininity today

From personal experience, I would guess the demographics of cooking look rather funny. Thinking of a population pyramid, I would say the base — young people up to their mid to late twenties – contains equal parts of men and women who can and enjoy cooking; the middle — early thirties to late forties — is marked by a significant reduction in cooks from both sides; finally, the top of the chart should have a lot of women who can cook (much more than in the previous sections) and a significantly low — let´s approximate to none — amount of men who are apt to perform this activity.

I think this joke of a chart (well, literally, it was meant to be a joke — and a stylized representation of the facts as well) shows two interesting cultural phenomena taking place in our contemporary female gender scene: the first, the growing interest of men in the traditionally feminine environment that is the home, the daily domestic activity of preparing food for yourself and the family; the second and the one with which we are more concerned here, is the lack of interest in the stove from the women born in those wacky seventies and had early access to microwave ovens, versus the refreshing, though timid return of the younger ladies to the kitchen.

I guess what we see here is a difference between cooking as an obligation — even, perhaps, an instrument of forced categorization or blunt repression of the female in the domestic environment — and cooking as the pleasurable, daily experience of preparing your own meal. But is there any more meaning to this move?

I believe society in general has been interested in artisanship as a whole. Brew your own beer, sew your own clothes, do it yourself — whatever IT may be. Hands are again being seen as useful parts of the body that are able to create new stuff, as opposed to simply being the things you use to grab your wallet from your bag or pocket and pay for everything you need done. Tools are now cool, and manual activities are even recommended for their therapeutical properties. Of course, everything comes updated with a new hurried pace that becomes our crave for speed – hence, Jamie Oliver (I´m picking on him, but I am actually a fan. See sidebar for proof).

What I think is more interesting, though, is the fact that traditionally feminine activities are being sought by men and women alike, such as cooking. They are not simply brewing beer or, I don´t know, making their own footballs or something — the gents are entering the kitchen, the space that once was dedicated to the loving wife, and they are helping with the dishes too. On their side, the ladies are also turning their passion for fashion into a channel for displaying their creativity as well as their personalities, taking sewing classes or developing their own jewelry.

These creative endeavours with material consequences on our daily lives — clothes and accessories we can wear everyday, or the food we eat at least at night at home — are of extremely feminine nature, of the most traditional kind. They are an expression of love, care, attention to detail, both in a personal and a collective level. And if once they were considered as an intellectual production of a lesser degree, they are now finding redemption in the admiration and engagement by individuals pertaining to both genders.

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4 Responses to “Ancient is the new contemporary: living femininity today”

  1. Man – this blog is really cool. Is this jus stuff that you think about on a daily basis and decided to write down for the benefit of all us take-significant-phenomena-for-granted readers?

    I love how this really got me thinking. I know DIY is popular in times of economic recession, and I also know (or have been told) that so too are cooking and crafts that comfort us and remind us of youth.

    I actually wrote this article about the surge of the cupcake while I was in DC, and I interviewed a whole bunch of people in the district for their opinions (economists, city planners, psychologists, professors, and bakers-obviously).

    Cheap and comforting were basically the 2 main theories for its success, and I wonder if the same applies for cooking.

    Maybe men are just now embracing that which reminds them of their mothers In a time of stress – that which just happens to be a major turn on for women across the board.

    I don’t know – lots of stuff to think about here. Huge fan of this blog.

    -Gabrielle

  2. Now you got me thinking on that — yes, certainly these times of recession turn the diy thing in general into something rather fashionable.

    Your comments are so thoughtful — I am lucky to have you as a reader! Thanks 🙂

  3. Happy to have found your blog! Loveeeeee. -Art a la Rue

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