Family members tend to have all kinds of strange expectations for their relatives. But in some families where gender roles are still going strong, the expectations can be especially irritating in 2020.
One woman found herself fed up when her mother continuously expected her to cook dinner for her brothers, simply because she's female and should know how to cook.
Redditor "ishya123" wrote into the "Am I the A**hole?" (AITA) subReddit, asking if she was in the wrong for refusing to cook for her whole family.
The Redditor asked:
"[Am I the a**hole] for refusing to cook because I'm female?"
The Redditor explained first how it had always been in her family.
"I'm the only girl and the baby of my family. My mom put a heavy responsibility on me ever since I was in middle school to learn how to cook. She was preparing me to be able to cook dinner every night once I was old enough so she could kick back and feeding the family as my job. She put this responsibility on me only because I am female."
The problem was, she was the only one given the responsibility.
"My issue is she never taught my older siblings, all boys, how to cook."
"When they were in late high school/college, they were depending on a 16 year old to feed them everyday because they couldn't make an omelet. I didn't question it until I entered college, and here they are +21 and still can't make a sandwich."
The Redditor went along with it for a while, but now she's in college.
"I'm in college. I get busy, I get stressed, I get tired. I've been cooking less and less frequently."
"This bothered my mom."
"Her defense is something like 'I'm too old to be cooking for you, I should be able to come home and relax!'"
The Redditor was more worried about her brothers learning to take care of themselves.
"The thing is, I do cook. For myself! I am perfectly fine feeding myself, but my older brothers cannot. They have to resort to fast food and frozen meals almost everyday. This bothered me a lot."
"I urged them to start teaching themselves by using resources like Youtube just as I did, and cooked less frequently to give them some incentive. They do try every now and then, but still primarily resort to ordering food."
Finally, her mother confronted her about it.
"This went on for months, then years. I went from cooking from every other day to once a week. Finally my mom confronted me about it:"
"Mom: 'Why don't you cook like you used to?'"
"Me: 'Doesn't it bother you that we have full grown men in the house who can't feed themselves and have to resort to unhealthy fast food everyday?'"
"Mom :'They are boys, they don't need to learn how to cook. You, however, are the girl so you need to be the one cooking.'"
The Redditor continues to cook for herself but believes her brothers should be independent.
"Let me say this: I love cooking! I taught myself how to cook using resources like Youtube and HowToRecipes because my mom's methods are outdated or meh."
"I understand she's getting old and tired, but neglecting to teach my brothers this basic life skill is harming their health. What if I were born as a male too? I seriously think that she would continue to feed them for the sake of tradition."
"My mom is trying to raise me how she was, but the thing is that was a whole different generation and there were other women in her house. The responsibility to feed several people everyday did not fall on one teenager."
Now the Redditor wonders if she's wrong for feeling this way.
"We had this talk several times and it always ends in a stalemate."
"When I feel like the boys are independent and we can share at least part of the responsibility, I'll go back to cooking dinner."
Fellow Redditors commented on the OP's (Original Poster's) stalemate anonymously, using the following scale:
- NTA: "Not the A**hole"
- YTA: "You're the A**hole"
- ESH: "Everybody Sucks Here"
- NAH: "No A**holes Here"
Many Redditors confirmed for the OP that her mother's ideas were very outdated.
"NTA, no offense but your mom has really outdated ideas. These kinds of dumb gender roles shouldn't even exist anymore, there are plenty of well known male chefs and men who cook their own food in their homes! My 12 year old little cousin cooks breakfast for himself, and he's only a kid. If a 12 yr old can do it then your grown a** brothers can too. Your mom is being sexist." - foxysfantasty
"NTA- I went through something similar (except I'm a dude too, my mother was just lazy and wanted me to do all the s**t she'd usually do), I respect the f**k out of you for standing up to that s**t. My brothers are still mostly useless in the kitchen and depend on everything being microwavable." - SquirmyBurrito
"NTA. Did the same sort of thing with my parents. I was the only girl of 3 kids and I was the ONLY person to ever get assigned chores. When I refused to do anymore until they started doing them too they said 'well boys should be playing' and my response was 'should I not be playing too?' My youngest brother can now cook at least meats and breakfast food but my middle brother is useless." - crashmurph
"NTA. Whether or not it is due to the environment she was raised in, your mom is being incredibly sexist. It's sad that your brothers are in their 20's and don't know how to cook just because your mom thinks them having penises grants them some imaginary superiority. You have your own life and your own responsibilities, your brothers' meals aren't one of them."
"I understand that she must be exhausted from raising you and your siblings (parenting in general is hard), but she CHOSE to have you guys. She willingly chose to have kids knowing what that lifestyle entails. It's completely unfair that she passed off her responsibilities as a mother to you just because she's tired."
"I wouldn't bother arguing with her about it, she seems stuck in a patriarchal mindset. Do what you need to do for yourself and continue encouraging your brothers to learn to take care of themselves. That's the best you can do for them. Just because your mom failed to parent in that aspect doesn't mean it's your responsibility to fix it." - k710see
"NTA. honestly, the biggest issue here is the fact that she claims you need to cook because you're a girl, but doesn't think that applies to her. it's glaringly obvious that this is just a way of excusing herself from doing work and dumping it on you instead, lol" - lidlesaun
"NTA. This is the 21st century not the 1950s anymore. Tell your mom she is hanging on to sexist bulls**t - why does she even bother to send you to college? Shouldn't you be married by now popping out babies in the dozen, hanging on to the husband you learned that cooking for?" - DocSternau
"You're just as busy and as stressed out as your mother. Your brothers are full-grown men. It's pathetic that they can't learn how to cook."
"Also, you should remind your mother that some of the best/famous chefs world-round are men."
"Case in point: Gordon Ramsay, Jamie Oliver, Bobby Flay, Wolfgang Puck...ect."
"Edit: I have three brothers, 2 are older and one is younger. The two older ones are actually great cooks!" - JettAnnie
Some pointed that cooking is an essential life skill, period.
"NTA - cooking isn't a gender role, its a basic survival skill." - smlgirlbigworld
"Anyone (with some exceptions for older generations and people with disabilities) who isn't able to feed themselves and by extensions to survive as a one person household is a child, no matter how old they are. NTA." - jus1tin
"NTA, but your mom's sexism is also hurting your brothers. Cooking is a life skill. Everyone should know how to cook." - N0S0UP_4U
"For the record, my dad cooked half the time when I was growing up. My brother cooks for his family now. I'm 42f and my brother is 40. My parents taught both of us to cook because it is a life skill. Your mother is hamstringing your brothers. NTA" - purpleprose78
"NTA. You really won in this situation. Once you move out and your mother refuses to cook these boys are going to be SOL. You are set up for life. Cooking is a great skill to have and something you can share with your friends, future partner, and future children." - vaultergirl7
Others agreed that it's not just an essential life skill, but also a potential partner skill.
"NTA. As someone who is dating a guy 4 years older than me who just cannot cook, please keep standing up to your mom and trying to teach your brothers. I love my bf, but it is annoying that he doesn't even know how to cook basic meals."
"I don't mind doing most of the cooking, but some nights we fight over me not wanting to cook 24/7. It was a fight to get him to make his own lunches for work instead of getting fast food every day. And even with him working from home during quarantine, he wouldn't eat anything for lunch unless I made it for him. More men need to learn how to cook" - bipolar-butterfly
"NTA - you're going nowhere with your mom. Teach your brothers to cook, start with the basics. Teach them to follow a recipe and instructions and now they can cook pretty much anything. If they're lazy that's on them."
"Your mom should've taught them, but she failed as a parent in independence. They have to rely on a woman who was raised with sexist stereotypes and given this world and how it's changing, those odds are getting less and less in their favor. She raised them and set them up for failure."
"Imo (in my opinion), a person who can't depend on solely themselves are unattractive."
"I want someone who can live on their own and not have to depend on me because that tells me they're with me not because they rely on me, but because they love me and enjoy being in my life. It also is nice because people who are independent tend to appreciate it when people cook for them and other things." - dbDarrgen
"NTA. And personally, I'm sure you're brothers' future spouses appreciate your efforts too - as I doubt they want to be the only one cooking forever." - ExtraSpecialAgent
"Omg you are NTA. When my younger brother and I were both in high school she made both us of cook once or twice a week for the whole family. I am their only daughter but my brother had to do the same thing as I did so it was equal. I hate that some people still believe women are the only ones to belong in the kitchen. Best of luck to their future spouses." - aspiringwriter21
A few suggested potential alternatives to the OP having to cook all the time.
"NTA - I would tell your mom that there are 5 adults in the house (6 if you are counting your dad). I would say 'I will cook dinner for the family one night a week and so can every other adult in the house. The other 1 or two days we can either agree to order takeout independently or cook for ourselves'" - dragon34
"NTA my mom and dad taught me and my brother and sister how to cook and all of us split up the responsibility of cooking dinner a couple nights a week. What you have in your pants has no bearing on whether or not you should be able to cook for yourself." - blazebot4200
"NTA. It seems like she won't listen you. I would suggest to talk with your brothers and let them understand that you're not cooking that much because it is something they REALLY need to learn for themselves and for the people they're gonna live with in the future."
"Ask them to try and learn to do a new meal, they could change and your mother would see that and would stop complaining that much (she could still feel horrified but she would get over it). I think your brothers are key in this situation." - asecretCIAproject
The OP may be in a difficult situation right now with being pressured to cook for everyone in her house, but if she moves out and has her own place, she'll have the independence she needs.
Hopefully she can talk some sense into her brothers, so they can experience the same.