Women should go back to the kitchen. There, I said it.
No, its ok, I’m not some kind of female misogynist. I didn’t really mean it. What I meant is that there might be some lessons from the “olden days” that we in the modern world could do well to learn from.
Back in those idealistic, “after-the-Depression but before-the-Second-World-War” days, Mr Jones went to work whilst Mrs Jones looked after the kids, cleaned the house and made sure dinner was on the table at exactly 5:30pm. There were some exceptions to the rule, granted, but generally everyone had their own little place in the world of suburbia.
Look at today’s suburbia and you’ll find a different story entirely. Women are expected to drop their babies off at a crèche at six months of age (to be collected shortly before starting preschool). The perfect mum will work a full time job, be able to cook like a more attractive Jamie Oliver, do the groceries, keep the house clean, get the kids to soccer, and retain the body of a twenty year old by doing their five cardio, three strength and two yoga sessions a week. Does any sane person have time for this? I think not.
Nevertheless, the media is filled with messages saying that in order to be successful everyone should be able to do everything. Open any women’s magazine and you’ll find pages of advice on “How to Get Rid of Your Tummy”, “How to Resolve Disputes Over the Work Photocopier”, “Dinner for 6 with 17 Ingredients!” or “Turn Your Lounge room Into an Outdoor Jungle Retreat!”. The everyday woman should be able to do all these things, and do them well. Balance, I think, is what they call it.
In a cruel twist of fate, however, we reward those who live an unbalanced existence. At the Olympics we honour those who have dedicated their lives to such pursuits as following a black line up and down a pool. The majority of our politicians clearly did nothing in their youth but captain debating teams or sit in the front row of their economics class. We like fat chefs who waddle through their kitchens telling us to add yet another bottle of cream. The list goes on.
What does this irony add up to? Trouble in paradise, that’s what. We’re a confused society. Should you volunteer with a charity or take the new promotion being offered to you at work? Should you play first division soccer or leave time in the evenings to cook a half decent dinner? You should do all of these and more, or maybe just one of them and do it really well. Depends who you listen to.
Whether we like it or not, society is changing. We’ve got more obese kids than ever before. More and more people are diagnosed with mental illnesses such as anxiety and depression each year. Divorce rates are up. And our politicians can’t seem to find their way out of a paper bag, never mind a sinking boat full of refugees.
I’m not saying that the pressures of the modern world are the only causes of the domestic issues we have to deal with. What I am saying is that the next time you make a disapproving comment about your grandparents’ generation for keeping women from fulfilling their potential, have a think about the way they went about their lives. No, they shouldn’t have kept women in the kitchen, but maybe they were right not to expect everyone to have super human abilities.