I’ve no idea how this one came about but let us discuss it anyways.
In any Muslim marriage, there will be a dowry paid by the groom and this is determined by the family of the soon to be wife.
Now, the price could be heavily inflated by the will of the bridegroom’s family, in order to show just how serious the man is about the marriage as a whole.
A lot of stories are in circulation particularly on social media detailing that the beidegroom’s family setting the dowry far too high – in fact, it is noted that some do ask for as much as RM10,000 or even higher.
But the fact is, this cash is held by the future wife and spent at her own discretion, not her family, nor does the husband have the right to somehow see it as a rebate when she finally marries him.
And yet, some grooms go so far as to look for entitlement for a discount from such a huge dowry. One most popular excuse is her inability to cook.
Thus, the title.
Is a woman’s worth in terms of her dowry paid by the husband to be, truly determined by her ability to cook?
First off, let’s zoom out and look at history. Malaysian women started joining the workforce at the same time as men, and thus therefore are not facing the same issues as other nations.
One of the reasons this idea of women not being able to cook lowering her status isn’t even an Eastern thought – it is Western.
The US particularly had this mindset entrenched due to advertising. Women were kept in the kitchen to market appliances and food, which men were supposed to buy for them while they sat at home and tinkered away with ovens, toasters, even simple step recipes.
The birth of a two income household triggered by women joining the workforce during World War II and beyond, led to the undoing of this mindset.
And in our country, the two income household is in fact the staple to an average household income statistics run by the government.
In Malaysia, however, we seem to have gotten stuck somewhere in this limbo idea that women must not only work, but must also be Nigella Lawson’s in their respective kitchens.
Let us start by bursting the biggest bubble when it comes to cooking – it is now men who dominate the kitchens on a worldwide scale.
At the same time, men and women are now earning almost equally in terms of salaries here in Malaysia.
(DISCLAIMER: Single divorced women make less than single unmarried women)
Now, if a woman makes the same amount of cash, we can infer that she does the same amount of work. On top of that, more men have become role models in the kitchen then women.
So why is this bias that women must be good in the kitchen to justify her dowry still existing?
Is there still a cultural basis these days to say that a woman’s place is in the kitchen?
Or is this a fallacy of sexist thinking brought back from during the days of Western advertising and television saying so, and further derived from today’s television here in Malaysia?