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Woman, Know How To Run A Kitchen?

Posted: October 30, 2012

Do any of you remember that ‘modern girl’ in the movie Hum Aapke Hain Kaun, whose one major crime (besides wearing Western clothes) is that she cannot cook to save her life and hence falls far short of being the Adarsh Bharatiya Naari?

Well, I haven’t seen that movie for some 20 years, so I could be getting it all wrong, but I seemed to remember that as her besetting sin. Can’t cook? No Salman Khan for you!

woman in the kitchenTurns out that 20 years now, a woman’s place is still in the kitchen, and anyone woman who cannot cook, is surely lacking in some way, never mind if she is the President of a major political party.

Why exactly did Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi single out Congress President Sonia Gandhi, saying that “She does not know how to run a kitchen. If she knew, she would not have allowed capping of LPG cylinders. Indian women, who run kitchens, are suffering.” Why not point out that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh does not know to run a kitchen? Or that (then) Petroleum Minister Jaipal Reddy does not know to run a kitchen?

It is possible that his logic is that Sonia Gandhi is responsible for every government decision (and yes, policies do flow from the Party to the Government), but who else detects a strong whiff of misogyny here? Would he have made this remark if the President of the Congress was not a woman? There is nothing wrong in pointing out the errors in the Congress’ actions, but the basis for them is not that Sonia Gandhi cannot run a kitchen (and surely, Modi does not run his kitchen himself, but still manages to understand housewives’ suffering? Oh I forgot, he happens to be a man!)

No doubt Modi thought he was being very clever, but Mr. Modi, a woman needs to be a cook only if she plans to be a chef. Otherwise, she can pretty much be anything she wants to be, and no, understanding petroleum product pricing is not contingent on one’s kitchen running abilities. Perhaps its time for Sonia Gandhi to do a Julia Gillard, not that any politician in this country would have that kind of courage.

Pic credit: Mike Willis (Used under a Creative Commons license)

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  1. Agree with every word. Only… I can’t imagine not having Salman Khan in your life as anything other than a good thing!

  2. I don’t think most politicians(male or female) have the guts of Julia Gilard but confining women to the kitchen or making such remarks is an old joke. Surely we have risen above that but Modi has not.

  3. @Unmana – LOL at that Salman Khan bit. But that poor girl was crest-fallen no? And all because she couldn’t make the perfect jalebis or whatever tsk tsk

    @Meera – true. It’s so old that for a moment, I think I had time-travelled to the past, say 1960?

  4. That is how it goes here! A woman needs to be a good cook and home maker to save her soul! Everything else like career are things she may or may not have! As for Julia Gillard, she is miles away from the average Indian woman politician one has ever seen! The way in which she handled her Tripping over the heel incident at Rajghat is commendable! Imagine the behenjis, ammas and didis reacting to the situation if that ever happened to them, then re-defining misogyny just meant more of classy courage to her credit!

  5. Bachelors harbour terrible stereotypes about women, for instance, the belief that females are sex-starved temptresses out to use their wiles to dupe men. Celibacy and bachelorhood give one a warped view of humanity, particularly of womanhood. Modi should have got married. But he couldn’t because the RSS wants monks.

  6. Well, if SHE does not know to run the kitchen, does HE? I bet he never thought of that before shooting off 😐

  7. Dilnavaz Bamboat -

    Your Salman Khan analogy had me chuckling. If being awful in the kitchen spares me the Khans and Modis of this world, watch me set fire to dinner every night.
    Glad you wrote this piece!

  8. You have to be in arranged marriage market to understand ‘woman in the kitchen’ issue fully, trust me. Culinary skills (or the lack of it) are of utmost importance here. A factor that decides your future!

    I so wish Sonia Gandhi does a Julia Gillard. That would be an epic moment in the history of our country.

    @Unmana: totally with you on the Salman Khan thing 😀
    @Dilnavaz: ‘set fire to dinner every night’ – way to go girl!

  9. Pingback: Are you a feminist? Why not?

  10. Tell me something, if you are the president of a party you are not supposed to how how to cook is it? And being able to run a household is an easy job?! Why do you demean the kitchen from which food which gives sustains our life gets made? And why is your definition of a woman so limited? A progressive woman is one who does not care about people around her? There is something inherently wrong about this idea. Woman empowerment is the topic we need to talk about. Not feminism. There is a difference. It is not all about being able to wear a short skirt.

    • Chetana, IMO, everyone should be able to cook and feed themselves. Not just women. I have nowhere said a kitchen is useless. Please do not make assumptions about what I am saying. (Also, where did short skirts enter the picture at all?) My objection is to the expectation that women should cook/manage a kitchen – an expectation that does not exist for men.

    • Feminism means EQUAL RIGHTS for everyone, irrespective of sex.
      So, which part of Feminism seems like a bad thing to you?

    • Umm I don’t know which article you read but nowhere in this article does the author ‘demean’ the kitchen or those women who chose to invest the time in cooking. I’m a good cook myself but I am what I am only because my husband had the patience to teach me how to cook! The point is that expectations are different for men and women. Like the author says, what does LPG pricing or balancing the budget have to do with running a kitchen? If Sonia Gandhi is disqualified from making policy changes for not being able to cook, so should Modi! How come only she has to have cooking knowledge to understand the suffering of cooks but Modi does not?

      By extending his logic, no male politician should have any say on issues that affect women then…Modi cannot make policy changes regarding abortions, safety of women in public, women’s health, women’s education etc But no one questions him or any other man when they in fact, pass laws which affect women. But all of a sudden, Sonia Gandhi is expected to not change LPG caps because she doesn’t know how to cook! Please that’s just a load of nonsense at best, deep seated misogyny at worst.

  11. Tanusree Debnath -

    I completely support the author in this…

    The expectation of knowing to cook and run a household is always on women….why
    Men should also be able to feed themselves

  12. The only point she has made here is that running a kitchen or knowing cooking does not define you as a woman or makes you less so. Both men and women should be up for every role. Its a personal understanding between the couple.

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