“Taking Back Baking” Feminism

6 Mar

Julia Child

A few years ago, my brother-in-law and sister-in-law received many kitchen items for Christmas. Basic things like cookbooks, kitchen utensils, pots/pans, measuring cups and spoons, etc. They were in college, engaged, and lived on Lipton noodles and mac & cheese. We were concerned for them. My sister-in-law’s response was “What am I? A 1950s housewife?”

Not even close. While I have never been a 1950’s housewife, I imagine they had many skills that have been lost on us younger generations. Cooking, baking bread, sewing, mending, gardening, “upcyclying” – these are all skills our grandmothers had. Most of us do not.

While we have seen many forms of feminism, I believe we are cycling back to when feminism didn’t have a name. In the spirit of asserting that we can do anything, we gave up learning Home Econimics basics to become career women. As modern feminists, we pay $15 to have a pair of pants hemmed, or toss/donate a shirt because it has a hole. We have become slaves to marketing and bix box companies. We depend on a chain of Value-Added, to supply what we think we need. But what if the most recent form of feminism is to return to simpler times, with all of our ideals intact? To become self-sustaining and not need to spend money needlessly?

Why not learn to sew and make our own clothes? Or do our own mending. We have proven that women can do anything. We can run Fortune 500 companies, build cars, program computer chips, fly to the moon, and birth babies. We have the power to educate ourselves around birth, and ensure that we are treated with respect. We can question our healthcare providers to get the kind of care that aligns with our beliefs and values. We have come a long way.

A few years ago, I lived in the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago. I friended a group of amazing women there, by inviting myself to their weekly Stich & Bitch gathering. We got together and ate homemade baked goods, drank wine, knitted, crocheted, and told stories. Some of us crafted, while others chose to entertain us. The women are all very dear to me, and are some of my greatest inspirations. And ALL are very strong women in different arenas.

One of the Stitch & Bitch men (partners of the ladies), referred to our gatherings as the ‘Taking Back Baking Movement’. Its about learning to take care of ourselves. To be independent of mass marketers telling us how to live. Its making the time to do for ourselves. Sure, its easier to buy prepackaged meals or to buy conventionally grown produce. But if we build the time into our days to water our garden, plan our meals at the beginning of the week, or sit down with our mending when a friend visits or when watching a movie, we can “have it all”.

I believe that we need to be more self-sustaining. It is empowering to repurpose a piece of furniture. To make your own baby food, or consider baby-led weaning. To save a TON of waste from the landfill (literally) and a ton of money, by using cloth diapers. To “reduce, reuse and recycle”. Our grandmothers and great-grandmothers did well with much less than us.

I encourage you to review your lifestyle every few months, and consider what changes you are willing to make – small or large. Do what feels right for your family. There is always room for improvement, no matter how intentionally we try to live.

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