Starting in 1911, people around the world have observed International Women's Day, initiated to drive forward the campaign for a woman's right to work, vote, hold public office, and ultimately live in a world that does not discriminate based on gender. History tends to be largely male-dominated, but I think we've made considerable strides in only the past century. In the U.S. women gained the right to vote in public elections in 1919, and since then women have moved into the work place, earned college degrees, and held public offices. We seem to have come a long way.
For the past two years, on March 8th I have focused on women in agriculture, first in developing countries and then in the U.S. However, as I was baking a loaf of banana bread last evening, I thought about how the skills and knowledge imbued by traditional gender roles are actually getting lost. Now, busy with one's career, fitness, and social life, there is little time to spend in the kitchen (for both women and men). A Guardian article from a few years back laments the fall of home-cooking and rise of prepared meals of questionable nutritional value. This revolution of frozen, canned, and otherwise packaged foods may have been the gateway to women's liberation from the confines of the kitchen and household drudgery, but it has also served its part in the degradation of family mealtimes (in conjunction with the many other pressures in our modern society).
As it turns out, women are still more likely than men to head back to the kitchen and prepare meals for the fam. But at the same time, State Department's former high-up Anne-Marie Slaughter is telling us women actually can't have it all...family time and high-profile career. While mixing together a tried-and-true combo of flour, sugar, oil, and banana, there is almost an extra weight, a conflict of interest, stirring. Despite loving the joys of being in a kitchen and making my own food, am I somehow undermining the fierce independence and goal-oriented lifestyle I have set for myself as a young, educated, and pretty self-sufficient female? Or can I bake my vegan cake and eat it too, without either starting up a cooking business or relegating myself to a domestic existence? I'm going to vote yes!
Happy International Women's Day! Apologies for the lack of posts and food this week. I'll blame the (non-existent) snowquester for that one...stay tuned for lentils, business, and kombucha!