A strong case can be made that feminism contributed to the destruction of the nuclear family, the rise in divorce rates, and The Beatles breaking up. But I hadn’t heard it considered as a cause of the obesity epidemic in the West.
Well, not until today at least. Surprisingly, a feminist made the case:
A food expert and adviser to Sadiq Khan has claimed the current obesity crisis was fuelled by feminism as more women swapped the kitchen for the workplace.
Food policy adviser Rosie Boycott — who heads up the Mayor of London’s Food Board — said the rise in the number of women in full-time jobs rather than in traditional housewife roles had led to a plunge in home cooking.
Feminist Ms Boycott, who co-founded magazine Spare Rib at the start of the 1970s, said she felt “partly responsible” for the trend and said there was a “lost generation” of people who eat processed dinners and fast food.
She told the Times: “I said ‘don’t cook, don’t type. You’ll get ahead.’ We lost it. Schools gave up cooking. Everyone gave up cooking.”
Ms Boycott, who is leading Sadiq Khan’s “food strategy” to help the capital’s food system improve Londoner’s health, was asked at the Hay literary and arts festival if obesity was an accidental consequence of feminism.
She replied: “It’s certainly been fuelled by the fact women work and that we have changed things and we have allowed this huge change to happen.”
As a constant critic of feminism, this was like a gift from heaven. A feminist criticizing her own movement for making a mistake? And on obesity — a sacred “body image” issue — no less?
The kicker is that Boycott has a point. When both parents are working, priorities change regarding food choices. Families need food ideas that can be on the table quickly. While that doesn’t necessarily mean fast food, it does mean meals that are more about convenience than nutrition.
While it’s not imperative that women do the cooking for a family, when women left the ranks of homemakers for the working world, it created an upheaval. Boycott’s comments make an interesting point, one that should be considered by people on all sides of the political divide.