On June 8, esteemed chef, author, and television personality Anthony Bourdain died by suicide at the age of 61, as reported by CNN. News of his death sent immediate shockwaves through the media, as many took to social media to share their heartfelt feelings about his life and work. Taking a look back at Bourdain's philosophy for raising his daughter further proves just how much of a feminist he really was. In the Dec./Jan. 2012 issue of Bust Magazine, Bourdain discussed sexism in the restaurant industry and shared his unabashed take on raising a daughter in this world.
Bourdain, who is survived by an 11-year-old daughter named Ariane, shared his hopes for his child's future, telling the outlet in 2012, “The best I can hope for is that I’m raising a young woman who has really high self esteem, doesn’t take any sh*t from boys, and will not take any sh*t from men.”
As undeniably tragic as this situation is, looking back at those comments may very well help bring a smile to your face. Further sharing his thoughts on the issue of sexism in the professional kitchen, Bourdain shared:
The notion that women aren’t physically up to the job is ridiculous. The notion that women can’t kick ass as well as a guy has been proven ridiculous as well. Nobody is standing in their way, but I think that though there are many great women chefs out there—like Gabrielle Hamilton, April Bloomfield, Melissa Kelly, Ina Garten, and Michelle Bernstein—perhaps they’re not as known as the male chefs because they have less of a propensity to peacock around the dining room. Promoting yourself relentlessly—maybe there is some testosterone in there, I’m ashamed to say.
Sharing more of his thoughts on raising a strong daughter, Bourdain spoke about the importance of self-worth in an interview with Mom.me in 2015. He explained:
My sole duty as a parent and as a father, particularly raising a little girl who is going to grow up to be a young woman, is that she will never look to men for affirmation, or anyone else for affirmation or self-worth or be physically intimidated by anyone. My daughter spinning arm bars is a thing of envy — Ronda Rousey quality.
In a February interview with People, Bourdain spoke again about his young daughter, revealing that her birth helped him to change his approach to life. He shared that before his daughter was born he would “go to places” where he was “asking for trouble.” Bourdain told the outlet, “In retrospect, I don’t know that I would do that today — now that I’m a dad or reasonably happy.”
Through his relationship with Italian actor Asia Argento, Bourdain had also become an outspoken advocate for the #MeToo movement. He showed great support for Argento, who accused Harvey Weinstein of rape, and others who have come forward to speak out against the disgraced film producer. (Weinstein has repeatedly denied all allegations of non-consensual sex.) In November 2017, Bourdain tweeted about making dinner for Argento, as well as Rose McGowan and Annabella Sciorra. Along with a photo of the women, Bourdain wrote, "It was an honor to cook for this meeting of the minds."
During an interview with The Daily Show in January of this year, Bourdain revealed that it was Argento who actually helped to make the issue of sexual misconduct "personal" for him and shared that it prompted a great deal of introspection on his part. In the sit-down with host Trevor Noah, Bourdain again spoke openly about gender bias and sexual misconduct in the restaurant industry, explaining:
“I came out of a brutal, oppressive business that was historically unfriendly to women. I knew a lot of women, it turned out, who had stories about their experiences — about people I knew — who did not feel I was the sort of person they could confide in.”
Reflecting on his time working with women in the culinary world, Bourdain expressed that those issues have caused him to “reexamine” his life. He continued, “I look back, like hopefully a lot of men in that industry and think — not necessarily ‘what did I do or not do?’ — but ‘what did I see and what did I let slide? What did I not notice?’” It's clear he integrated that perspective of supporting women and holding men accountable into how he raised his child.
Anthony Bourdain will undoubtedly be missed for his outspoken and brilliant persona, and though he may no longer be present on earth, his word and life’s work will certainly live in the hearts of his family, friends, and fans forever.
If you or someone you know are experiencing suicidal thoughts, call 911, or call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or text HOME to the Crisis Text Line at 741741. For international resources, here is a good place to begin.