So I was in the kitchen last night, getting stressed over the tasteless pasta I was making that happened to be both undercooked and soggy at the same time, and I came to a realisation. I don’t think I’m ever going to enjoy cooking or being in the kitchen. It’s something that I’ve always envisaged suddenly enjoying “when I grow up” but newsflash, I’ve grown up now and it still hasn’t happened yet.
It occurred to me how female gender roles have been hammered into us from a very young age – women are the caretakers, they spend time in the kitchen, they keep the house clean and look after the kids. My parents were very traditional and raised me to do chores and look after the house.
But as I’ve grown up, as I’ve become more independent, the focus on my career and pursuing my passions (such as this blog) have really taken time away from developing my cooking skills or devoting time to that sparkling clean house or that extensive herb garden. When is that maternal instinct going to kick in? When am I going to look like I’m getting it together without stressing every single weekend when the house is a mess?
Now there’s the very likelihood that it’s not going to happen. Which brings me to my point – in media, in books, in TV and movies, we often see that the same societal female gender roles that my parents have raised me to strive towards. This often features a stay at home mother, wearing an apron, who sends their kids off to school with their lunch bag, or the working mum who still somehow has a sparkling clean household. Sometimes it features the upmarket career woman who spends all her money socialising, hunting for Mr Right and shopping, who never devotes a thought to when her laundry is getting done or how she feeds herself. I often find this frustrating and misrepresented because where’s the everyday ‘me’ in books and in media, who has the same worries and stresses and getting the house together?
Maybe that’s why I prefer fantasy books, because I’m always frustrated with female representation in contemporary books. I’m obviously not a teenager anymore, but the older sister, aunt or mother always seems to be fictionalised to a traditional typecast. If the older females are struggling for survival, hunting demons or living on a space ship, there’s no way I can compare myself to what they’re going through. The search for more realistic fictional females in their 20s will continue.
Do you have the same struggles that I do about fictional females? Have you got any book recommendations that do represent us well?