Why Cooking & Cleaning Feels Complicated

OKREAL Amy Woodside, shot by Grey & Elle
Shot by Grey & Elle

Confession: My house is almost always dirty.

I'm not talking the ‘mail on the counter, clothes on the bathroom floor’ kind of dirty. I'm talking dusty, cobwebbed corners, sinks that need to be scrubbed dirty. It's deep rooted. But here's the thing: I have a visceral response to the idea of spending hours cleaning it. It makes me cringe.

Because in my mind, those are hours that I should be spending working on my business. I'm a modern woman after all - whatever that means. To be stuck in the kitchen with a mop in hand for an afternoon seems antiquated and unrealistic. I have meetings to take, books to edit, a magazine to write and produce, an event series to host-- you know-- business responsibilities. And I can't help but feel like I'm failing in some way if I take time out from all that to get elbow-deep in bleach for an afternoon.

I had a boss once who was a vocal feminist. Actually, most of my bosses have been strong, brilliant women who empower other women. I've worked for a whole line of feminists. But anyway, this one woman had a cleaner and a nanny to manage the household tasks so she could focus on growing her business. As a young woman, that is what I assumed it meant to be a feminist. I assumed it meant you shouldn't be spending time doing housework. Instead, you should focus on business things and ignore the unpaid work of the home.

I know differently now. I've met new kinds of women, witnessed new kinds of feminism, new versions of strength. But I still feel this every time I pick up a broom or start chopping onions. And yet - I have always enjoyed cooking. It's something that not only brings me great joy but also allows me to nourish myself and the people I love most.

I guess what I mean to say is this: it feels complicated sometimes-- teasing apart the millions of overt and subtle messages we’ve been fed about womanhood and feminism, about what success means and what it looks like. It's tricky to whittle it all down and inspect each piece individually, identifying which beliefs we want to hold tightly to - and which we’d be better off setting free.

Photo of @heyokreal's beautiful casa by @greyandelle for Issue 04: New York.