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The Testosterone Apron: Domineering Men Invade the Kitchen

The Testosterone Apron: Domineering Men Invade the Kitchen

Really this is hardly news. Men (in the most general of terms) have been wandering into the kitchen, with a sense of distinct purpose and not just to raid the fridge, for a decade or more. What used to be a characteristically feminine arena, with technology and gadgetry marketed to simplify and ease the drudgery of cooking, is now a masculine proving ground with all manner of gear, gadgets, and hardware. (Case in point: I have a friend who recently used a bone saw in his kitchen to do some unspeakable act to dinner.) Cooking shows, which also used to be dominated by chatty hostesses offering daytime companionship and a plethora of timesaving kitchen tips and tricks, have been replaced by firebrand chefs/hosts with Hummer-sized egos, creating and prompting culinary challenges more than promoting ease of use. The kitchen is now officially a battleground for the hearts and minds of American men, offering adventure, achievement, and triumph, as well as dinner for the hungry masses.

Say what you will about this trend/development, but I would like to think that it is an improvement upon the days where most men wouldn’t darken the kitchen door except to pass through to gain quick access to the garage. In the last 40 years, the average amount of time American married men spend cooking has tripled, from seven minutes a day to 22, according to time-use surveys. I happen to be one of these enterprising home chefs, although to a far lesser degree than many, and have inadvertently shoved my wife out of the kitchen door and established it as unmistakably my domain. This was not my intention, and has rendered me as the sole cook for the entire family, without exception.

This phenomenon has been the source of amusement for many, a means of culinary pleasure for some, and just recently, the object of disdain for a few cultural critics that find men in the kitchen to be downright obnoxious. Hanna Rosin, a columnist for the Atlantic Monthly, recently penned The Rise of the Kitchen Bitch, a half-hearted smug attack on the male invasion of the kitchen, and the lost female dominion over the kitchen. For Rosin, who refers to this new breed of culinary men as “Kitchen Bitches,” (not her coined term, but one she uses playfully) sees this newly cultivated interest as part liberation (for women) and partly an affront to feminism. “The first wave of feminists considered liberation from kitchen duties, along with liberation from housework and enforced vapidity, an absolute must.” Rosin muses, but male cooking, for Rosin and a few other dismayed women, is turning out to be one of those feminist-friendly changes that come with an unexpected, bitter aftertaste. As Rosin cites, men cook “to show off for an admiring crowd or simply for the pleasure of it. Women cook because they’re expected to and because the people around them have to eat.”

Now I am unable to be wholly impartial on this one, seeing as I am one of the offending perpetrators, but in my own defense hardly as domineering and “x-treme” as some men I know, but does this argument ring true for anyone, or is it simply grousing and ritual dissatisfaction? Is the presence, if not dominance, of a man in the kitchen a good thing for everyone, or an unfortunate stress on the relationship? Can this be chalked up to gender growing pains? Do gender rules even apply anymore?

Home chefs, and former home chefs, are encouraged to serve up some hot commentary and remarks on this one.

Read more: Basics, Family, Food, Love, Parenting at the Crossroads, Sex, , , ,

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Eric Steinman

Eric Steinman is a freelance writer based in Rhinebeck, NY. He regularly writes about food, music, art, architecture, and culture and is a regular contributor to Bon Appétit among other publications.


+ add your own
10:51PM PDT on Nov 3, 2012

Thank you :)

5:19PM PDT on Apr 27, 2012


6:08AM PDT on Mar 30, 2011

Thanks for the info.

11:07AM PDT on Oct 4, 2010


6:02AM PDT on Apr 20, 2010


12:57AM PDT on Apr 6, 2010

have noted... many times and it's still not showing!

Care2 is acting up again today!

7:32PM PDT on Mar 18, 2010

Men have dominated the restaurant kitchen's for years!

"Women cook because they’re expected to and because the people around them have to eat." While this statement may be sometimes true, it's not always true. I cook because I like to and it's a creative outlet for me, but I also cook for a living sometimes too.

Thanks for this article. Entertaining and well written as usual!!!

2:46PM PST on Mar 8, 2010


2:37AM PST on Feb 15, 2010

thank you

9:39AM PST on Feb 5, 2010

Paula B - that sounds like a pretty ignorant bunch to me! What does Jesus say??

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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