It Is Not the Woman's Fault*
It Is Not the Woman's Fault*
Perhaps, I should have written this in early spring, on the eve of the day of solidarity among women in their struggle for equal rights and emancipation.
Should have written as a man, a husband, a father of five daughters and a boss of hundreds of women.
Should have written about gender-specific job titles, but not about subtleties of grammatical and suffixes features.
Should have written to accept the present and give proper respect, saying, somewhere deep inside, 'good-bye' to patriarchal stereotypes and inherited prejudices.
Kirche, kinder, küche.
This German slogan is translated as "children, kitchen, church" and describes social and psychological perception of a woman in men's world quite well.
This perception can be changed (by men), depending on particular events in the world.
They invited women to a public space and damned patriarchal postulates about domestic goddess only when there was a lack of working hands in the years of accelerated industrialisation.
But in 1930s, when the world was heading for the war, requiring plenty of cannon fodder, they quickly banned abortions and started praising virtues of mothers of many children.
There are lots of examples like this in every country.
I'm ready to argue with anyone, who says that modern Ukraine is different, that this is just history and a Western folly, that we love women and have dedicated numerous poems to them. Poems alone don't solve the problem of unpaid household work.
Well, where is a woman's place?
In the kitchen?
What if it's a kitchen in a restaurant?
Does kitchen’s location really define the borders in respect of a woman in the kitchen?
A cook is a profession, paid and scheduled.
It doesn't matter if a cook is a man or a woman, but quite often female cooks work at home without any payment and days-off.
Nevertheless, male cooks are more reputable.
The attitude to female cooks, as well as to female doctors, female hairdressers and female cashiers is sometimes disrespectful. Formation of gender-specific job titles in Russian varies due to grammatical features. There are some suffixes that denote female gender, but they can't be used with all job titles.
Moreover, historically, some female job titles in Russian don't define a woman of a certain profession, but a wife of a man of this profession. It's true for the words defining female professor or female general that actually mean wives of a professor or a general.
One of the character of Moscow Does Not Believe in Tears — an Oscar-winning Soviet film — says her famous: "To become a female general a woman should marry a lieutenant and roam from a garrison to a garrison with him for a while".
According to Betty Friedan, a leader of American feminism, women's magazines had been putting the idea of "feminine mystique" in women's heads for quite a long time. They insisted that true womanhood needed no career or higher education and political rights, but required only devotion to a husband and children.
Perhaps, this is one of the reasons, why a feminine suffix failed.
Feminine titles could not become equal to those of masculine, that's why they didn't spread wide enough to settle in a modern language.
Have women and men become equal?
Is there still a big gap between a professional female chef and a perceived housewife?
The world of restaurant business knows three Michelin-starred chefs, Lyon's Mothers, female TV chefs and female authors of cookbooks.
Nevertheless, men are still backstage rulers of this world.
Gordon Ramsay once said that a woman couldn't cook even on death row.
However, Clare Smyth became a Chef Patron at his main restaurant in London, while Chef Angela Hartnett headed the kitchen at his Verre in Dubai. Later on, she became Chef-Patron at at The Connaught in London and got her first Michelin star.
Anne-Sophie Pic — a granddaughter of Maison Pic owner in Nice. Her grandfather won three Michelin stars. In 2007, Anne-Sophie gained her own third Michelin star and became the only woman in France to ever win three Michelin stars. She was also among the top twenty richest chefs in France.
Hélène Darroze — an honour student at a business school, former PR manager of Alain Ducasse; inherited a hotel and a restaurant. One day she decided to become a cook and few years later she won back a Michelin star, her father lost.
Elena Arzak — an owner and a chef of Arzak restaurant in San Sebastián. She grew up in the atmosphere of matriarchy and learnt cooking in a restaurant from her mother and grandmother. The family restaurant was founded in 1897 and Elena started working there when she was still at school. She began with peeling vegetables and washing salads. In Arzak's starred kitchen, six out of nine main cooks are women.
April Bloomfield — one of a few female chefs able to keep a Michelin star for ten years.
Joanne Chang — a Harvard graduate with a degree in Applied Mathematics and Economics, who earned money at stock markets and opened a bakery. She combined culinary with maths and was the first to use precision measurement in baking. She is a regular lecturer in Harvard and a great cook.
Nicole Krasinski — a photographer in the past. She won the James Beard Award for "Best Chef: West" in 2015.
Life is changing, as well as its rules.
In the Second Sex, Simone de Beauvoir, a gender philosopher, says that men used to overmaster women because of more developed muscles and lungs they needed to catch a mammoth.
However, machine production (let alone modern technologies!) has outweighed this difference and evened up opportunities.
Nowadays, it's up to women to decide, if they want men to make decisions for them.
For your reference:
51% of employees in Savva Libkin Restaurants are women.
There are 45% female cooks.
Works manager is a woman.
We would be happy to have a female chef in our team.
P.S. Simone de Beauvoir contests a statement of a member of the British Medical Association, who, in 1878, wrote in the British Medical Journal: "It is an indisputable fact that meat goes bad when touched by menstruating women".
My article also refutes that statement of the British Medical Journal.
*"It's Not the Woman's Fault" by Dmitriy Pisarev, author of "Female Archetypes in Novels and Stories of Pisemskiy, Turgenev and Goncharov", 1861.