We had visitors at home one day – my mother’s friend, her son and a little girl who I think was her grandchild. I withdrew into my room to work, but I could still make out the sounds of my mother and her friend working and talking in the kitchen.
At some point I had to go back into the living room to check on the internet connection. By this time my mum and her friend had finished preparing and serving the food in the kitchen, and they were taking plates into the living room, for the little girl first and then for themselves. My mother’s friend said to her son, ‘You can go and get your food from the kitchen.’
This was what surprised me; he said something like ‘why should I be getting my food from the kitchen?’ (Not his exact words, but the essence remains the same.) Now he didn’t say this in a tone that suggested, ‘Oh, I’m in an unfamiliar house and I don’t know how they do things here, or if it’s okay for a visitor to just walk into their kitchen’. It was more like ‘Why should I be getting my own food when you are here?’ And I thought, we’re talking food that has already been prepared and served for you o; nobody is asking you to cook. This from a man in or around his mid-twenties, who should have learnt at least a few things about life by now, like there are no monsters in the kitchen that are out to get you and kill your Manliness.
I realised, as I sat there watching him, that this could not be a new thing. At some point in his childhood this young man must have been taught, or at least allowed to believe, that kitchens are a threat to his masculinity, and that it’s okay to order his mother around – you should have heard his tone when he spoke to her. I was raised in a family of all girls, so maybe I have no firsthand experience with how boys are brought up. But I refuse to believe that it’s okay or normal for boys to be raised to feel so entitled that they cannot simply walk into a kitchen and get food that has already been served for them. What next, ‘feed me, Mummy,’ ‘come wipe my arse for me, Mummy’?
My mother’s friend went into the kitchen and got the young man his food. If you ask me, what that man needed was a good spanking. But by now it’s probably many years too late.
Dear young man, I don’t know what they told you but I can assure you, your penis will not shrivel up and disappear if you walk into a kitchen. Try it today.