(The Root) —
"I saw on Twitter that you 'didn't see the big deal about cooking' in reference to the New York Post story on Tuesday, 'I'm 124 Sandwiches Away From an Engagement Ring.' I think it's irresponsible to tell educated women with careers to get in the kitchen to snag a man. What happened to using our brains, being equals with men and being respected for that? This story makes me wonder if this is 2013 or 1953. Should I vacuum in heels next?" —A.Y.
There's something about suggesting to some women that they should cook that evokes a visceral reaction. It seems you missed the point of the story and are reading too much into my passing commentary on it.
For some women, cooking is a long-standing symbol for female servitude, patriarchy and inequality. It inspires some women to flash back to that time when they exchanged numbers with that guy who asked them to cook before he even bothered to take them on a date. Or the boyfriend who wouldn't cook or clean the dishes after you cooked and yet still expected you to fix his plate.
I understand that these experiences were infuriating because the men acted entitled and lazy. I don't understand why some women think that providing a meal to any man ever is like taking the DeLorean back to the '50s, or that it's a red flag if a man is trying to oppress her because he's hungry.
You have to eat, and unless you have a baller's budget, you can't eat out or order in every night, and your degrees, titles and salary don't negate that. Knowing how to make a home-cooked meal is a necessary survival skill, and everyone — man or woman — should know how to do it in some capacity. If you are in a relationship, both people should cook, including you.
The Post story that you (and so many) are incensed about details a couple in which the man is a trained chef who regularly prepares gourmet meals for his woman. He asked if she, who didn't know her way around the kitchen, would make him sandwiches. Is that really a problem?
Initially, she resisted. I get why. The way he asked her — "You've been up for 15 minutes and you haven't made me a sandwich?" — struck me as odd, especially because he did it every morning, which could be seen as badgering. I couldn't figure out if he was a jerk or if it was said with a sense of humor, which doesn't always translate well in the written word. Delivery is everything. Maybe it was a standing inside joke between the couple.
Either way, when he tried a softer approach — "Sandwiches are love … especially when you make them. You can't get a sandwich with love from the deli" — she relented because he was finally talking like he had some sense, and/or she realized that sandwiches are her man's love language.
Yes, making sandwiches is out of her comfort zone. But it wasn't as if he was asking her to worship Satan. She made the sandwiches; he was happy and consistently appreciative of her efforts. And I'm sure he still cooked.
All day yesterday, I read tweets and Facebook updates from people who, like you, were practically enraged over this article because of the way it confirmed the old adage "The quickest way to a man's heart is through his stomach," and that seemed like antiquated advice for the modern woman.
If you want something to be upset over about the article, there's reason to tilt your head. But it has nothing to do with the cooking aspect. I raised my eyebrows after she explained how her boyfriend dangled a metaphoric carrot in front of her when he said, "Honey, you're 300 sandwiches away from an engagement ring!" To be frank, setting that condition for marrying her seemed crass to me.
Maybe he was joking, but the author took the bait and began calculating how long it would take before she could begin planning a wedding. She whipped herself into a frenzy in a race to get the ring before the deadline she set for herself. That seemed a tad desperate.
She, like many readers, seemed to miss the point and calculated that it was the "cooking" that suddenly made her wife material. That wasn't the core takeaway, and thankfully, she eventually got what that was.
I'm sure her sandwiches are delicious, but when she gets a ring, it will be because she took an interest in his passion. She began sharing in an essential household duty. And most important, she paid attention to his wants and put effort into making him happy. Cooking can also be a symbol of that, too.
Demetria L. Lucas is a contributing editor to The Root, a life coach and the author of A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life. She answers your dating and relationship questions on The Root each week. Feel free to ask anything at firstname.lastname@example.org.