Can Women Claim Their Share Of Food?

Posted: January 14, 2015
In the traditional Indian family, women’s share of food tends to be overlooked. Is this changing fast enough?
How do you look at a girl or woman who loves to eat? (I am referring to the quantity here) Not with kind eyes, I am sure. And a boy or man? That’s normal, right?
Women who love food are over-eaters and men who love food are foodies. Women are meant to cook and men are meant to eat, right? Huh! Nonsense.
Most of the times when I dine with men (all age groups), a question pops up in my mind. This question is to all men out there: How many of you actually consider taking lesser portions at your first helping so that the food is equitably available for all? At home, do you think for a moment that the woman (women) who cooked for you painstakingly also gets a portion as she would like to? I don’t think so. And if you really do, then my boy, you are a gem.
You might say I am judgemental and going overboard. But I am just saying what I have been observing since childhood. I distinctly remember the story of an aunty whose family consists of her husband and two sons. While the husband and the boys were quite healthy and heavy, she was quite thin. She used to narrate how when she cooked meat and placed it on the table, all that was left for her were the neck and bony pieces which the men did not like.
When my grandmother got married and went into a joint family, she, along with the other daughters-in-law cooked for the huge family but ate at the end, after the men and children. And what they got was leftovers. This is what usually happens in households. But is this right? I feel that the only time that due attention is given to what a woman is eating is when she is pregnant. Pardon me for the bluntness.
I feel that the only time that due attention is given to what a woman is eating is when she is pregnant. Pardon me for the bluntness.
I have seen girls eating very little in social gatherings, mostly out of fear of what people will say if she is seen with a plate loaded with food. Slim girls having little portions are considered ideal.
But why such mannerisms and perceptions?
May be the answer lies in our upbringing and culture. Girls are always taught to be considerate, sharing, submissive and sacrificing (including in matters of food). And those who don’t adhere to such behaviour aren’t considered to be good sisters, wives or mothers. They are also told that fat girls are not ideal brides and they should be slim and trim to get good grooms. Sons are seldom told that they have fixed portions and to leave portions for their sister or mother, but daughters are always taught to be sacrificing or they learn that by observing their mothers. And the irony is that it is the women in your home who cook.
Your mother, wife or sister knows what your favourite dish/fruit is, saves you food when you are not around, asks you if you are hungry and cooks for you day after day, meal after meal without complaining. Do you do the same for her or at least bother to give it a thought?
How many actually know the favourite dish or at least fruit of their mothers, sisters or wives? Have you ever tried helping your mother or sister in the kitchen? She is also a human being. She also gets tired or falls sick. She also needs her strength and nutrition. And yes, she also loves food. Your saying that the food is delicious (if you do)  is only half the job done, if you don’t take care that she is eating well too.Luckily, things have been changing over the generations. Women are at least now shedding their inhibitions including in the matter of eating. Also, men are becoming more caring.
For men, it is important to learn that good and tasty food is not only your birthright. Women also need and enjoy it as much as you do. Even if they cook it so painstakingly, they are the ones who take the last serving. So learn to be thankful, caring and considerate to the women in the kitchen. And ladies, please bring up your boys as you do your daughters, and believe me the women in their lives later on, will be grateful to you.
First published at the author’s blog
Banana leaf meal image via Shutterstock

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Comments

2 Comments


  1. This is true.
    Most men are very uncultured.

  2. Very thought provoking! My Masi and my Foi (bua) was married to two brothers in the same family with many members! My Foi used to take out bowlful of sabzi and hide it for later use for herself! When women of the family ate after the men were done, they all will have less because my Foi already took so much out! Nasty little woman did that, too!

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