How to be a Feminist #1

Many times I hear people claim to be feminist, men and women alike. And yet, surprisingly, these people still cling to many sexist ideas. Frankly, it’s not their fault though. The great majority of us were raised and educated in very sexist systems and have internally accepted and believed that this is ‘the way it is and has to be’. While we try to unlearn outdated ideas and to be forward-thinking and open-minded, we still find that our knee-jerk reactions at times are actually still sexist.


The way to move past this is to identify those reactions one after the other, acknowledge they are sexist and that there is a more progressive way of regarding the situation and reacting to it. Only then can we make the effort to adjust our thoughts and actions.


So I’m starting a series to identify those times and situations in which my initial thoughts and actions and that of those around me were sexist. By bringing our attention to them, we can identify how we can adjust them in a more open-minded and progressive manner.

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So How to be a feminist #1

When a married man tells you that he’s cooking, don’t ask where his wife is. That reinforces the idea that it is her job to do all the cooking. There is absolutely nothing wrong in a couple sharing the cooking duties. These days, couples share in the financial duties as well. As financial responsibilities are not solely the man’s duty these days, likewise domestic duties are not solely the woman’s. The home belongs to both couples and the smooth running of the home is the responsibility of them both. Anyone can contribute in different ways.


Instead, encourage him. Ask him what he is cooking. Jokingly tell him to make sure it’s delicious. Praise his efforts. Gently give tips on how he can do better.

Do not make him feel weird for being in the kitchen. Do not laugh or mock. There is absolutely nothing ridiculous about a man being in the kitchen. Most of the grand chefs are men. They are highly respected and respectable. Cooking doesn’t mean effeminate or gay. It is an essential skill that is useful to every individual.

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You do not need to ask why he is in the kitchen, as though it is an anomaly. Whatever reason made him decide to cook is valid, reasonable, and acceptable. We don’t need to know the reason why he chose to do it. He’s doing it and that’s a wonderful thing.

Who cooks in the family should be a decision between the couple and does not concern anyone else. A family can decide to be flexible in their system of running the family. Both partners can share the financial responsibilities, the domestic responsibilities, and the child-care responsibilities. It doesn’t have to be all black and white. We don’t all have to have the same system. We can embrace more flexibility in the running of the home. The wife can cook on weekdays, while the husband cooks on weekends. They can each cook one day on and one day off. And if it pays both partners for the husband to take care of all the cooking, while the wife contributes by doing other household tasks, that’s also not bad. Likewise, if it’s more possible or profitable for it to be the wife in charge of that, while the husband contributes by doing other household tasks, that’s also wonderful.

The point is the title of ‘wife’ doesn’t have to automatically come with the ‘cook’ label. There is absolutely nothing wrong with the husband being the better cook in the family. This is already the case in some families. Some women are just not meant to be excellent cooks. Some men are already skilled at it. Even if they aren’t, nothing stops them from making efforts in that domain as well. After all, overtaking is allowed. As the men work on their skills, they may discover that they really like cooking or are actually good at it. Some people are gifted at it and some are just not. Not everyone can be perfectly talented in everything, men included. Every man can decide to go into carpentry, but not every man will be skilled at it or prove to be creative or resourceful at it. Likewise, every man could learn DIY which is very useful around the house but not every man would be good at it or grasp it easily. This is perfectly normal and fine as well. Every individual is different and has different sets of skills, men and women alike.

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So some men are showing up more and more in the kitchen these days. No big deal. Let’s normalize this. Let’s encourage them just as we would women. Weh done. No where is it written that a set of genitals come with a fixed set of skills.


As we embrace more flexibility and variety to suit our individual skillsets, with love, understanding and support, we’ll find that we have much happier and fulfilling homes in the long run.


Akpanabasi is a lover of literature and languages. She studied French and French education in various international institutions. She is a prolific reader and writer. She is a strong believer in society’s ability to change and evolve for the better – as it has been doing for several centuries now.

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