That is the first thing I hear when I tell people I’m a feminist. The cooking issue non-issue is usually brought up my non-feminist, as a derailment tactic. Let me just do a mini-PSA: Feminists are NOT against women cooking for their households. I am not against women cooking for their households, however, I am against the social norm that dictates that women belong in the kitchen (*coughs*Mr President*coughs*) and that they MUST cook for their husbands to be good wives. [I can’t believe our President actually said that his wife belongs to the kitchen in Germany of all places, the country that has been under the strong leadership of a woman for 11 years].
Remember how much heat Tiwa Savage received for hiring a cook because of her busy schedule. She didn’t have time to cook because she was very busy earning money for her family BUT she hired someone to make sure her family had something to eat. What is so wrong with that?. I saw a lot of people commenting that she wasn’t a good wife because she didn’t cook herself and all that (insert smh emoji).
Anybody who’s ever opened an anthropology or even a history textbook knows that the norm of cooking being the woman’s duty came from an era when men went out to gather the resources for the home either through hunting or farming while women took care of the home and children: It was a division of labour. In present day Nigeria and the world, only a handful of households can survive on a single income. I mean, it is possible to survive (if you want to be literal with the word) but if the goal is to maintain a reasonable standard of living, two incomes are required.
Earning an income is the modern day gathering of resources and since both men and women are now gathering resources for the household, shouldn’t the household duties be divided? Women are now assisting men in their ‘traditional’ duties, shouldn’t men also assist women in our own ‘traditional’ duties? We are not asking for the world; we just ask that household duties be divided fairly. It doesn’t even have to be cooking, the man can assist in cleaning the house or with the laundry or whatever. I know there are feminists who take pride in their ability to do both and see themselves as real feminists because they aren’t “trying to be men” (I don’t know what that means) but I don’t subscribe to the ‘superwoman’ brand of feminism (the “a woman can be a boss at work and still be a good traditional wife and mother” brand of feminism). Women are not robots OK, we need help. We can’t work all day in the office and come home to do all the household chores: It’s unfair. Most middle-high class families in Nigeria can afford to hire help but if a family can’t afford to hire help, I believe it is wrong for the working woman to be solely responsible for the household chores.
I am also not down for the demonization of women who aren’t ‘traditional’ wives. I recently watched a “New Nollywood” movie titled ‘Mr & Mrs’. It stars Nse Ikpe Etim and Benjamin Joseph. In the movie, there was a female character who was the primary breadwinner of her household. The husband worked too but his job wasn’t her demanding as hers. Due to the demanding nature of the wife’s job (she was a banker), she hired help and surprise surprise (not), the husband had an affair with the maid. According to the writers, the man cheated with the maid because his wife was not performing her wifely duties. The husband said that if the maid leaves the house, who will take care of him and his children. The man wasn’t as busy as his wife, why couldn’t he help around the house and look after the children? We live in a society where men are not even expected to do the basics. Honestly, there were so many problematic overt and subvert messages in that movie and I don’t have the energy, time or will to tackle them.
In my future household, I would prefer not to cook because as I stated earlier that I don’t particularly enjoy cooking (Ok fine, I said I hate it) but that’s not because I’m a feminist: I disliked cooking way before I identified as a feminist. I think it’s because when there is no ‘light’ or petrol for the generator, pounding/chopping peppers and onions was the way to go and any Nigerian girl can tell you how much that hurts the eyes. I can and do cook because I think it is a life skill that everyone should have (unless you have the money to hire a chef in which case, I’m very jealous of you). I do however enjoy cleaning with good equipment so I would prefer to oversee cleaning the house. Good equipment is necessary for me to enjoy cleaning because bending over to sweep with a local broom, makes my waist hurt so I would pick a vacuum over a local broom.
So, to answer the question in the title; it depends on how the household chores are divided.