John Heaton (jheaton) wrote,
John Heaton

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Today in retrograde societal expectations and gender stereotyping

Here is an article from a recent edition of the New York Times: ‘Store Bought’ Spoils the Potluck Spirit

Nothing is quite as depressing as the modern bake sale, where amid the veritable celebration of poundcakes and misshapen cookies are the inevitable Ziploc bags filled with Oreos or perfectly formed bakery-bought treats. … The practice has also crept into potlucks, where Whole Foods containers of chicken and endless boxes of pizza have replaced the disposable flats of ziti and divine chicken tetrazzinis that have marked holiday parties and hockey award ceremonies for years.

Her point is a little muddled, I think. I don't necessarily disagree about the bake sale issue—if I see some high school kids holding a car wash, I expect them to actually wash the cars, not just hand you a token for the automatic wash at the Gas n' Sip—but on the other hand there are plenty of fundraisers, like my old Scout troop's Christmas wreath sale or the magazine subscription drives we did at Edison Junior High, where there's no expectation that the sellers made the item, so maybe sellers of baked goods shouldn't be held to a higher standard.

And I think potlucks are an entirely different breed. For one thing, I'm not sure she knows what a potluck is. The "disposable flats of ziti" she describes are, in my experience, a certain sign that the event has been catered. But setting that aside, the food really isn't even the point of a potluck; the point is that you're together with your friends having a good time, so who cares whether you're eating made-from-scratch roasted edamame salad, a pasta salad made from a box, or potato salad from Wegman's? All of which I've brought to potlucks, all of which have been gratefully and graciously received, and all of which have been eaten.

Beyond all that, the article is weirdly gender-specific for something written in the 21st century. It's all moms this and women that. Men never make things for potlucks or bake sales? Not according to Jennifer Steinhauer, the author of the article. I wouldn't go so far as to call Steinhauer a "sanctimonious bitch" or a "PC, liberal Phyllis Schlafly" like Ayelet Waldman did on Twitter the other day, but she also used the word "retrograde," which seems pretty on the nose to me, as does what Emily Matchar wrote:

"there's something to be said about Steinhauer's piece perpetuating some deep-set sexist assumptions. Mothers are still considered the moral guardians of the family kitchen in this country, and it's mothers who are being judged in Steinhauer's piece – several judgmental moms are quoted in the story, included one who says she gossips about people who bring store-bought stuff to bake sales. "

For the record, I will be home-baking the cookies I take to my choir Christmas party tomorrow—but from store-bought dough. Feel free to not eat any if that offends.

Tags: cooking, current events

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