"Storm the kitchen!" popular representations of masculine domesticity in the male cookbook genre
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In a century in which women have achieved the right to vote, gained reproductive freedom, and began to work outside of the home in greater numbers, audiences might expect cookbooks for men, like their mainstream, feminized counterparts, to have evolved from the early part of the century when they debuted to reflect changing gender roles. A sampling of recent cookbooks marketed explicitly to men, however, reveals that the male cookbook genre has a particularly tenacious hold on traditional portrayals of masculinity and femininity. Contemporary cookbooks for men exhibit many of the features Jessamyn Neuhaus describes in her study of male cookbooks from the 1920s to the 1950s. The resiliency of the genre suggests that the cultural mainstream still believes that men have to justify being in the (home) kitchen because domestic cooking is an inherently feminine endeavor. The cultural work male cookbooks do is highly problematic not only because of the naturalized gender roles they emphasize, but also because of the models of masculinity they offer their readers. After briefly considering the figure of the exceptional male chef, this paper will examine the salient features of the male cookbook genre and the types of masculinity the genre authorizes, as well as how several contemporary male cookbooks portray men, women, and gender relations.