CLICK ABOVE TO PLAY MUSIC
“Stereotypes” from Hyrrs – Festive Hymns Made Feminist by Goldstein. Released: 2017
Sexism is generally described as “prejudice, stereotyping, or discrimination, typically against women, on the basis of sex“. Synonyms include chauvinism and bias. So, of all the venues to find incidences of sexism, cookbooks would not generally come to mind for most people. However, in my cookbook collection I have several cookbooks, which I would deem “sexist” in one fashion or another. The earliest one dates to 1925 and features some interesting observations about the male sex!
In previous posts, I have often referred to my favourite cookbook in my collection: “Feed the Brute!“, written by Marjorie Swift in 1925 and published in London. In her introduction, the author acknowledges that”the brute” works very hard to support his family, and “…in connection with culinary affairs at least, the most important member of the household“.
Concerning the poor housewife, who slaves over a meal to serve “the brute”, Swift comments on the notion of appreciation. According to her, the “average” man “…disapproves and leaves one in no doubt as to the depth of his disapproval, he appreciates – and says nothing“. Ain’t it the truth. (Is that a sexist comment?)
One of her most eloquent comments once again concerns the male sex. She notes that “The well-fed man is a happy man – and a very easily “managed” one too. And since we women know that to maintain harmony every man however clever, however efficient, however charming, must be “managed,” let us feed him well first and manage him afterwards.”
Concluding her introduction to the book, Swift tells women to “Feed the Brute!” in order to create and maintain happiness of home…” Geez. What a woman has to do to pacify the brute.
In the book, “Pre-Hispanic Cooking” (Cocina Prehispanica), by Ana M. de Benitez, first published in 1974 and translated into English by Mary Williams de Varela, there is a brief paragraph in the introduction, titled “Cooks” (Guisanderas). At the end of the paragraph is a quote:
“A woman who is not good at her duties is tiresome and annoying for she cooks badly, is dirty and swinish, greedy and sweet-toothed and cooks tortillas badly, and her dishes are burnt or salty or sour, and she is completely vulgar and coarse”(Tlaloc (Cod. Vaticano, A)
Fast forward to the 60’s and the 70’s. Jinx Kragen and Judy Perry penned “The How to Keep Him (After You’ve Caught Him) Cookbook“, noted as “An irreverent and affectionate guide to the well-stuffed spouse”. In their introduction, the authors note that “It’s true that men are much maligned, and at times rightfully so, as thoughtless, feckless creatures“.
Further, they comment that “Honestly. What he does care about is what goes into his stomach, that you still look like the girl for whom he gave up his precious bachelor days and that you don’t greet him at the gate with an inventory of domestic difficulties” No sexism here. Just truth, right?
In 1974, Cory Kilvert wrote “The Male Chauvinist’s Cookbook” and gets right at it in his introduction. “When you step into the kitchen to compliment the chef, whom do you find yourself addressing? A woman? Certainly not. You find a man, a chef. These two words are synonymous. Cooks, on the other hand, are women, and this title never had – nor will ever have – the prestige or “panache” as chef“. Tell that to Cat Cora or Alex Guarnaschelli! Chapters include “Appetizers Guaranteed to Appetize Her“, “A Loaf of Bread, a Jug of Wine, and Pow!”and “The Morning After“.
Check out the cover of vintage 1972 “How to Boil Water”, by Betty Jane Donahoe. Note the position of the woman’s left pinky stuck in the gentleman’s ear. Ick.
More recently, there has been a lot of flack on the internet for cover photos on some of the “Instant Pot” series of cookbooks. Judge for yourself.
And, finally, two pithy quotes:
“The feminist agenda is not about equal rights for women. It is about a socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians.” (Pat Robertson)
“If a man is talking in the forest, and there is no woman there to hear him, is he still wrong?” (