National Men Make Dinner Day—yes, it’s a real thing apparently. According to their website, the official day of celebration is the first Thursday of every November (this year, it’s November 5th-today). As the site states, it’s a way to celebrate, “One guaranteed meal cooked by the man of the house one day of the year!” I’m sure you’re already seeing the problem with this.
The basis isn’t “all that bad.” It’s a day that is supposed to encourage men to learn how to cook if they never have and to cook a meal in the kitchen, not on a grill. It’s also a way to celebrate the men who already know how to cook. As the website explains, the “ideal participant” is a man who “helps with household chores, has a sense of humor and is a great all-around guy.” Yet, statements like, men who also “loves his wife/girlfriend, kids and pets,” just point out the many things that are wrong with this day. Let me explain.
Though the family dynamic of the female housewife who cooks for her husband is still a reality for many households in the U.S., it’s not for all. From 1965-2008, men have “nearly doubled their overall cooking time,” while women “more than halved the amount of time spent in food preparation.” This plays out to 42% of men cooking on any given day and 68% of women. The statistics from this study were published in 2008 and the numbers could have inevitably risen. There are actually a lot of men who know how to cook and cook weekly, and many cook daily! So when the creators of this day say that the kitchen is an “unfamiliar environment” to men, they’re wrong. They’re quite familiar with a kitchen, and to suggest otherwise is ridiculous.
The language of the site that discusses the day assumes that families are headed by two parents, in particular a male partner and a female partner. It firstly ignores the single parent homes headed by men. Single dads cook for their kids and themselves every single day of the year. They don’t need to “celebrate making dinner” one day of the year as they are committed to doing it all of the time. That’s their role as a parent.
The same could be said of dads who are married or co-parenting in a co-habitation. Dads should be insulted by this holiday. It’s indicating that your role of a father doesn’t include knowing how to feed your own children or your own family.
Thirdly, this “holiday” only focuses on a man-woman relationship. National Men Make Dinner Day excludes the LGBT experience. Perhaps it’s because same sex couples tend to break the stereotypes or the dynamics found in heterosexual relationships. For instance, with two gay men in a relationship or two gay fathers, there isn’t a female in the relationship, thereby dispelling any sexist notion of “who belongs in what role” of the family. They work equally to take care of themselves and divvy up or share duties according to what works for their family—not find themselves doing chores or duties based off a long gender history of family roles.
As the website says: “One guaranteed meal cooked by the man of the house one day of the year!” What about the other 364 days of the year? The wording of the site seems to indicate that women and men should celebrate men who can’t cook for attempting to cook at least one day this year. The “holiday” doesn’t seem intent on helping men to cook throughout the year, but only pats them on the back for putting their best foot forward one day of the first week of November.
The language on the site is sexist, and not just to women, but to men too! It assumes that men haven’t moved past the 1950’s. Just look at the male representation on the banner of their site. That’s a pretty nineteen fifties-esque representation of men.
One section of the site provides the “Top Ten Reasons to participate in ‘National Men Make Dinner Day.’” Number 10 seeks to reinforce a male’s masculinity with stereotypical “building” or “construction” references: “While cooking, you can still wear your tool belt, simply replace the hammer with a whisk.” The knowledge of how to “build things” doesn’t determine a man’s masculinity and doesn’t make a man, “a man.”
Number one of the list is worse: “Participating in ‘National Men Make Dinner Day’ gives you optimum points with your wife. Use those points wisely!” Here, the creators of this day assume that all men are in heterosexual relationships. Secondly, they reduce relationships between couples to point systems. They effectively have painted men as children intent on getting brownie points from their wife (like a student from their third grade teacher). They state that these points can be cashed in at some future date for a reward. Relationships whether between men and women, men and men, or women and women, are built on stronger foundations than this infantile point system that National Men Make Dinner have indicated on their site. To make it seem that relationships are based on a reward or point system is quite insulting, not to mention pretty sexist to the men who are “looking” for chance to get “brownie points.”
As was said earlier, the existence of “National Men Make Dinner Day” is basically saying that, “men don’t make dinner every day,” so therefore, “women must be making dinner each day.” And to quote Serge Belianko of Babble: “And by saying that only moms cook dinner, well, you’re just this far away from saying … you guessed it … ‘Women belong in the kitchen.’ Now there’s a day I’d like to watch paraded out into the streets of America! National Women Belong in the Kitchen Day! Oh how pleasant the Yahoo! comments section would be under that little article.”
The problems with this day are endless. It’s an insult to men, whether married, dating, or single. It’s an insult to single fathers, married fathers, and gay fathers. It’s an insult to gay or straight men. It’s insulting to women. National Men Make Dinner Day? It’s no longer 1950 so let’s scrap the sexist holidays that seek to keep us there and move toward a brighter future with holidays that show realistic versions of the family dynamic.
Photo by JLS Photography Alaska
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Originally published on The Seattle Lesbian
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