Bente Marianne Olsen & Helene Aarseth
This article argues that a life style oriented modernization of hegemonic masculinity may serve as a vehicle for a transgression of the gendered division of work. The case at hand is food preparation in the family. Drawing on two studies of Norwegian and Danish couples the article identifies three patterns of praxis in relation to food. It is suggested that these patterns could be seen as steps in a process of change towards a more gender equal organization of family life. In the first pattern the narratives expose a feeling of shortcoming towards the ideal of equality. Food preparation is here a primary female responsibility related to care for the family’s well being. From these narratives, a second pattern evolves, displaying different forms of masculine identification with food preparation. Drawing on a fun and leisure-orientation towards food, these masculine identifications bring forth a departure from the cultural connotations between food, responsibility and care. This in turn paves the way for the third pattern where food preparation has become a new joint project in the family. Hence, the authors argue that the new masculine orientation towards food as leisure activity, exposed in the second pattern should not be accounted for as a cultural modernization that serves to retain the structural gender relation. Rather than reproducing a hegemonic masculinity, the masculine identification with food here seems to be a prerequisite for a more profound change in the gendered division of work.
masculinity, food preparation, gender division of labour, dual-career couples