The One Thing My Grandmom Got Wrong About Gender Roles

Man and woman holding hands, looking away towards a setting sun
Ryan Holloway / Unsplash

When we were growing up, my sister and I would go down to coastal SC to visit our grandparents (dad’s side). While staying there, they would always make an effort to welcome us into their world and show us a good time.

We’d hang out at the Moose Lodge where they worked, go out to eat at places we hadn’t been before, and Grandmom would have us help her with things like baking holiday cookies, knitting, gardening, etc.

It was nice spending time with them and getting into different things. Even though some activities weren’t really my thing, it’s always good to least try it out.

I was recently reminded of one moment in particular, in the kitchen with my grandmom. I was somewhere around 10 or 11-year-olds, and I admitted to her that I just didn’t enjoy cooking very much. I don’t remember exactly why we were on that topic, but I think it was because she could tell that my sister was more enthusiastic about pitching in to cook dinner than I was.

However, I’ll never forget what she said to me next.

“Well, you’d better marry a rich man, because no other man will want to be with a woman who doesn’t cook for him.”

As young as I was when I heard her say that, I remember thinking to myself, “Wow. That’s kinda bullshit.”

I was probably too stunned to say anything witty in response, but I did go home after that visit and tell my mom what she had said.

My mom rolled her eyes and said, “Next time tell her that you’re going to be the rich one and a man will marry you.”

I always loved that woman’s sass.

I really don’t think my grandmom meant any harm by what she said, but it did give me an insight into how differently our generations think and behave. I’m assuming she meant that a rich man would be more willing to eat out at a restaurant or hire a butler in replace of his wife cooking for him. I just thought it was funny this logic dismisses the idea of a man cooking for himself.

I know that back in the day, men did all the working and women made the home, so in her mind, she was meaning to give me some honest advice. I love her and I appreciate what she was trying to do.

However, I already knew that I didn’t want to be a stay at home wife who cooks all day for her husband. Though there’s nothing wrong with that role if that’s what a woman wants to do, but it’s just not for me. I never was very interested in traditional gender roles or expectations.

Two decades later, I still feel that way.

Though, as it is with many things in life, it’s not always black and white.

As adults, we all have to cook eventually. We can’t expect our parents to keep feeding us forever and we can’t afford to eat take out every day. I see cooking as an adult responsibility, not something that women do for men, but something we all have to do if we want to eat.

I’m not someone who thinks preparing a meal for her husband is some form of oppression against women. Clearly, it’s not and anyone who says it is, I’d say they are being ridiculous.

I don’t know exactly why I never enjoyed cooking, but I think it’s a patience thing. I get frustrated and bored with it easily. Some people think it’s fun. My idea of fun is more like dancing with balls of fire around my body, and most people think that’s crazy, but hey, it is what it is.

Even though I don’t enjoy cooking most of the time, I still make myself do it, because I have to eat.

Like many people, I have a job and I’m not always home every night by dinner time. However, on my days off and when he’s at work all day, I’ll likely be the one to cook that evening and I do it simply because I want to.

He doesn’t expect me to cook for him, which is what makes me love and respect him even more.

To me, that makes all the difference, knowing that it is appreciated and not expected.

When I don’t do the cooking, he will. Sometimes we might switch off cooking per day or even per meal. Yesterday I made breakfast and he made dinner.

And sometimes he even has a meal ready for me when I get home from work. He’s awesome like that. Not every couple is going to do things this way, and that’s fine. But this is what works for us.

There are plenty of men today that don’t expect a woman to cook for them. They understand that it’s an adult task and that women work too and have other things going on sometimes. These men don’t find themselves too busy or too masculine to do some of the cooking as well.

You see, I didn’t need to marry a rich man. I just needed to marry a good one.

For the rest of you who are reading, you don’t have to do things our way, but just know that you get to decide how you want it to be in your household. Find someone whose views and desires align with yours.

Don’t let anyone tell you how it has to be.

Your house, your rules. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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