Crowded Kitchens : the 'democratisation' of domesticity?
Building on previous work concerning the gendered nature of domestic space, this article focuses on the kitchen as a key site in which gendered roles and responsibilities are experienced and contested. As men have begun to engage more frequently in cooking and other domestic practices (albeit selectively and often on their own terms), this article argues that kitchens have become ‘crowded’ spaces for women. Drawing on evidence from focus groups, interviews and ethnographic observation of kitchen practices in South Yorkshire (UK), we suggest that men's entry into the kitchen has facilitated the expression of a more diverse range of masculine subjectivities, while also creating new anxieties for women. Specifically, our evidence suggests that family meals may be experienced as a site of domestic conflict as well as a celebration of family life; that convenience and shortcuts can be embraced by women without incurring feelings of guilt and imperfection; that cooking is being embraced as a lifestyle choice by an increasing numbers of men who use it as an opportunity to demonstrate competence and skill, while women are more pragmatic; and that kitchens may be experienced as ‘uncanny’ spaces by women as men increasingly assert their presence in this domain. Our analysis confirms that while the relationship between domestic practices and gendered subjectivities is changing, this does not amount to a fundamental ‘democratisation’ of domesticity with significantly greater equality between men and women