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I Will Never Be A Domestic Goddess

I don't like cooking. I don't like cleaning. Get over it.

26/03/2017 6:12 AM AEDT | Updated 26/03/2017 6:13 AM AEDT
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Why are we still sold the idea of the domestic goddess as the 'perfect catch'?

There are women who are born with a baking dish in their hand, complete with a cute gingham-printed apron and matching oven mitts. They are the perfect hostesses, always warmly welcoming company into their pristine houses, ensuring that guests are never without a drink in their hand, expertly juggling and timing each course to come out at the right time and always -- ALWAYS -- with a smile on their face. These are the domestic goddesses, the Nigellas and Marthas, of the world -- and nothing is too difficult a task for these wonder women.

I am not a domestic goddess.

I have no qualms about not being a domestic goddess. Yet I still feel like I need to justify my lack of skill in the domestic domain to friends and family.

I do not own an apron, let alone matching oven mitts, and when it comes to hosting I prescribe to the school of 'the-drinks-are-in-the-fridge-help-yourself' line of thinking. Entertaining is a chore, rather than an enjoyable task, which is probably evident from the unintentional get-the-hell-out-of-my-house scowl on my face when hosting dinners. Don't get me wrong, I love having friends over; it's the actual hosting part that makes my stomach twist into knots.

I have no qualms about not being a domestic goddess. Yet I still feel like I need to justify my lack of skill in the domestic domain to friends and family.

Why?

Society still holds and perpetuates deeply ingrained ideas about a woman's place in the world. Despite the focus on and plight for gender equality, there is still an underlying belief that even if a woman's place isn't meant to be in the kitchen, women are at least meant to be capable in this space; they are the homemakers and mistresses of the culinary domain.

It is not dissimilar to a man being expected to blindly navigate his way around a toolshed; his masculinity dependent on whether he can tell the difference between a Phillips and flathead screwdriver; and how skilled he is in front of the ultimate symbol of manliness and virility: the trusted barbecue.

The image of the woman as a homemaker has a strong presence in our lives. I grew up feasting on my mother's home-cooked meals and she unquestionably fit the mould of the token housewife. Although generational changes have inevitably affected societal ideals, this notion of 'woman' is still propagated through the messages that surround us in advertising and television with these mediums idolising the stereotypical perception of women as mother and homemakers. We are continuously sold this idea -- almost subliminally -- of the domestic goddess as the 'perfect catch' because God forbid you would want to be with a woman who doesn't know how to cook or clean.

I won't ever live up to this stereotype of the domestic goddess due to the simple fact that I don't like cooking. I never have and I never will. I take no enjoyment from cooking, aside from the fact that I require sustenance as a basic necessity of life.

Cooking for some people is a cathartic release, but for me it is akin to acting out those awkward teenage years again -- I just feel so out of place. I don't possess the innate ability to scour the ingredients in a pantry and conjure up a gourmet meal within minutes; and I certainly don't possess a sixth sense guiding me around the kitchen and helping me avoid the mishaps that inevitably occur whenever I try to whip up a meal.

This is why I actively try and avoid it.

It makes sense that you want to avoid doing things that you don't enjoy, right? Some people don't like the gym; other people don't like reading: these are all personal preferences and choices. So why do I need to explain to people why I don't enjoy cooking and why my husband does most of the cooking in the household? Why does my aversion to cooking get met with pitying looks? Why do I feel like I have somehow failed as a partner/friend/daughter/WOMAN just because I can't make [insert gourmet dish from celebrity chef's restaurant]?

Men aren't expected to be competent in the kitchen and, frankly, can still get away with never stepping foot in this arena.

My male friends don't get this same response; they don't have to contend with those pitying looks. I have male friends who are great cooks and who take pleasure in entertaining, and I have other male friends who would gladly live on takeout if their significant other wasn't at home to prepare a meal. Yet I don't see the latter getting pulled up on their culinary and homemaking skills.

Men aren't expected to be competent in the kitchen and, frankly, can still get away with never stepping foot in this arena. And if they do, there is lavish praise bestowed upon them because there is this sense of them doing something beyond what their gender permits them to do.

I know women who frantically tidy up the house and go on cleaning binges before they have guests come over, and I am also guilty of this. "Why?" my husband asks during my rampant purges, to which I reply: "Because you're not the one who gets judged if the house is filthy." It's evident from terms such as 'bachelor pad' that it is accepted for men to be grimy creatures when it comes to their abode -- women, on the other hand, are not afforded such leisure when it comes to matters of the household.

These subtle examples of unfairness skewed in favour of the patriarchy raises a double standard and an unfair expectation of women. There is already more than enough societal pressure on women to be the 'ideal woman' -- juggling careers, family and life -- isn't there?

I don't submit to this notion of the ideal woman being a domestic goddess, and neither should you.


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