This topic is particularly interesting to me because recently I've faced more than a few encounters where people have questioned my gender due to the fact that I more than happily pronounce cooking and baking as my favourite hobbies. I came back to Malaysia after spending a couple of years in Canada doing my undergrad where I learned to cook and developed a somewhat obsessive passion for it while there.
During my undergrad years (which wasnt that long ago) a bunch of us students (3 guys and 3 girls) lived in the same building and I would be the resident cook almost every weekend. We'd all come together at someone's apartment to eat while watching TV, playing poker, mah jong or just spend the whole night chatting. I found it kinda awesome that by my cooking meals for my friends every weekend I could bring everyone closer together as a group. It was almost like family. So the kind of satisfaction you got out of it was more than any words could describe.
So after coming back, when I met new people, of course I happily declared my passion. I loved doing it because I could make people happy. But more often than not, the people I've met so far raise their eyebrows when you tell them your favourite thing to do in the world is cook and bake. They go "Erm, yeah ok...you like to cook. Sure." and promptly change the topic of conversation. A female colleague at work even asked me "You like girls right?" just to make sure. It was shocking to say the least that I was considered effeminate by virtue of the fact that I liked to cook and was proud of it. Such a far cry from how it used to be.
I dunno. Maybe it's a cultural thing. Asian culture (at least back in Asia) is still very much paternalistic and a lot of the times women are still considered subservient to men. In other words they do the cooking, cleaning, laundry etc. So maybe it's just that cooking in the domestic environment is still so entrenched in the minds of many as a woman's domain that people just don't see that it really isn't gender specific anymore. It never was.
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