My daughter is starting to show interest in cooking. She likes helping in the kitchen and recently she has begun watching the cooking shows that our PBS station airs on Sunday mornings. At first I really like the idea of this. She helps mix the pancake batter for breakfast with her mom and later we sit on the couch sometimes talking about what the different chefs were making, It’s great that, at this early age she seems to share a common interest in food with me. It is starting to make me worry though. I also got interested in food at a young age and I suppose it was a near inevitability that I would end up employed in the field. It is, from my observations, a truly shitty field for a woman to go into.
The cooking world is tough for those just entering the field. Even today, cooking is highly dominated by a boys club type of mentality. The back bone of most kitchens are made up of a few lifers that define that kitchen’s practices. These jackasses generally feel that it is their sworn and solemn duty to dish out a healthy dose of abuse towards the slightest misstep in procedure, etiquette, or speech. Women entering into the culinary world are going to be facing a tough time getting employed in some kitchens and when they are hired they seem to get it a little harsher than the guys in the name of not getting any special treatment. Episodes of routine bullying and overt sexual harassment are too often the norm. Just as in a other fields of they typically are passed over for promotion and paid less than their male counterparts. However the pay is usually shite to begin with so, if someone made only seventy percent of what I currently receive my job would not at all be a viable means of supporting a family. Kitchen culture is rife with big, strong and extremely insecure men who are quite fond of exploiting perceived weaknesses, some of whom still count being a woman as a weakness.
Women who do brave and eventually thrive in the business often wind up being “tough broads” that tend to act like one of the guys. They have largely and unfortunately grown to accept the misogynistic behavior of their coworkers as just another part of the job. This includes participating in the demeaning of other women, often in the name of inuring the new chick to the slings and arrows that come as part of the territory.
The worst part, I feel as I glance at my daughter, is that I have been and in some ways am still part of that culture. I know that I make inappropriate, rude and more often than not insensitive statements. I try not to make my snarky comments have anything to do with someones gender or race but, I know I’ve done it. I know it’s wrong, I know I should hold myself to a higher standard but, there you go. I am part of the problem and I am working on that. Having a wife that keeps me in check, and a beautiful daughter who’s future I worry about is a big help.
I know that I am not raising a delicate little flower and we are teaching our daughter to stand up for herself and to be kind to other people. I also know that it will be several years before my darling and innocent little girl enters the work force and even longer before she settles on a career. Right now she is torn between the options of becoming a teacher, or a fire fighter, or a dancer, so I am most likely worrying over nothing, maybe that’s just being a parent.