Of course, on this Friday afternoon, these girls did belong in the kitchen. Mabry and I decided to bring our pie making activity to my sister’s house where we were joined by her two little ones, Ruthie and Mary Mae. We made Grasshopper Pie, which is really a chocolate pudding pie with mint Oreo crust and a bit of peppermint extract. The girls had so much fun crushing the Oreos, mixing the pudding, and of course sampling everything during and after. My sister and I joked about how difficult it is to bake with little ones, how you have to throw out the order and accept the chaos. But when you do let go of control, it can be a lot of fun, and incredibly messy.
While I was baking with these sweet and goofy little girls, I could not help but think about the symbolism behind the activity. Here we were, two women and three girls spending the afternoon in the kitchen. I got a bit nostalgic for Laura Ingalls Wilder and her prairie life. But women back then had few choices besides working “in the kitchen.” Today, women have many more opportunities to work beyond the confines of the home.
And yet, girls today do not have all the opportunities they should, despite the fact that women make up nearly half the work force, and over half of college graduates are women.
44% of eight year old girls say they want to be leaders.
Only 21% of girls say they have what it takes to become a leader.
Here are the statistics on American leadership positions held by women:
Also consider this:
- Teenagers spend an average of 10 hrs and 45 min a week on media, whether it be listening to music, watching TV, playing video games, or updating their Facebook pages.
- By the age of 12, an average girl has seen an estimate of 77, 546 commercials.
- After spending just 3 minutes looking at fashion magazines, 48% of girls report they wish they were skinny as models.
- Girls are twice as likely as boys to become depressed.
- (Go to www.missrepresentation.org for more information like this).
I Do Not Belong in a Kitchen
The other day, I went to Panera with a bunch of friends just to catch up and talk about recent events. The subject of the Nobel Peace Prize somehow worked its way into the conversation, and since my Global Issues class had just discussed this topic earlier, I was eager to share the news of the Liberian women who had recently received the award. I told everyone about their bravery and courage and the struggles they had to overcome in order to bring peace to their country.
After I was finished explaining this, I heard a whisper and a giggle amongst the boys in my group. I asked what they were laughing about, thinking it was a joke or something funny I had missed, and one of the boys said:
“I didn’t know they gave women Nobel prizes for cooking in the kitchen?”
I stared at him for a long time thinking about what he had said. I was aware of the “women in the kitchen” jokes, but this one really bothered me. After a couple minutes of silence to gather my thoughts I simply said:
“Well, do you want to know how these women achieved peace in their country?”
I didn’t give him a chance to answer, and continued on.
“These women had to deny their men SEX. That’s what brought about a revolution. I personally think that says a lot about the character of men and where they belong in society.”
The boy I had directed the comment at just stared, completely stunned for a moment, contemplating the validity of my argument, and all the girls nearby agreed with me and praised me for standing up to him.
After this encounter, the conversation shifted to other things, but I kept what had happened in the back of my mind. I decided to bring it up again later and explain the reason behind my outburst. He inquired as to why I was so upset about his simple “joke” and I explained:
Why had it bothered me?
It bothered me because that is exactly the mindset of men that leads to rape, domestic abuse, and degradation towards women. No joke should ever demean or degrade another race, ethnicity, or sex, even if it’s all in “good fun”. Sexually violating a woman because she is considered the weaker sex is “good fun” to a rapist. Betting on the sex of a woman’s unborn baby, and then proceeding to cut her open, killing her and her baby, in order to find out what it is, is all in “good fun” for a murderer. Hitting a woman in the face because she “disrespected” you is completely accepted for an abusive husband. Similarly, making the “women in the kitchen” joke is all in “good fun” to immature, disrespectful boys. If you think about it, these jokes are harmful because the mindset behind them is exactly the same. Even though you may not be degrading women through your actions, you are certainly degrading them through your words, and by letting men make these jokes, women allow themselves to become subordinate to them. So I encourage all girls to stand up and not allow a man to say a joke that degrades them, especially in their presence.
It is easy for me to get anxious about the many pressures and struggles my daughter will face as she grows up in today’s society. But Elle, and other strong, courageous girls like her, remind me that I have nothing to fear. These girls will be the ones who will challenge the system and will make a difference.
They already are making a difference!
1 Package OREO Mint Chocolate Sandwich Cookies
1/4 cup butter melted 2 cups cold milk 2 pkg.
(4 serving size) JELL-O Chocolate Flavor Instant Pudding & Pie Filling
1 (8 ounce) tub COOL WHIP Whipped Topping, thawed, divided
- Finely crush cookies and then mix with butter. Press firmly onto bottom and up side of 9-inch pie plate (save a few to sprinkle on top)
- Pour milk into large bowl. Add pudding mixes. Beat with wire whisk 2 minutes or until well blended. (Mixture will be thick.)
- Spoon 1-1/2 cups of the pudding into crust.
- Gently stir 1/2 of the whipped topping into remaining pudding, add peppermint extract, and spread over pudding layer.
- If you have more room in your pie, use remaining Cool Whip on top and sprinkle remaining crumbs.
- Refrigerate 4 hours or until set.