What Is The National Men Make Dinner Day Hashtag? The Hashtag Is Sparking A Lot Of Controversy On Twitter
It's the first Thursday of November, and you can celebrate this glorious fall day by buying half-priced Halloween candy or using Pinterest to find elaborate Thanksgiving recipes you'll end up being too tired to actually do anything with. Alternatively, you have the option of celebrating a somewhat sexist holiday: it's National Men Make Dinner Day, according to Twitter, which was started in 2001 by Sandy Sharkey. It's meant to be a tongue-in-cheek nod to the emotional labor men need to pick up in heterosexual relationships, but Twitter doesn't think #NationalMenMakeDinnerDay is even a little bit funny, and I'm inclined to agree. The holiday has rules like, "Man is 'allowed' to gloat no more than three times during the meal" and "his TV remote is returned to him" after cleanup is finished. I get the joke — I just don't think it's a good one.
In the 1950s, it may have landed well with its audience, when women were generally responsible for housekeeping. Today, it isn't particularly humorous that women bear the brunt of physical and emotional labor. Nearly 60 percent of women over the age of 16 have jobs, but we tend to do more household chores regardless of how much we're already doing at work. As Bustle's Caitlin Abber wrote, women are conditioned to take on more household chores because of the myth that we're somehow better at it. Abber shared how she and her husband divided cooking responsibilities to help lift the burden of emotional labor women are faced with, but the crucial difference is that their experiment wasn't founded in a bunch of sexist stereotypes. #NationalMakeMenDinner Day gave rise to a lot of folks on Twitter calling out the sexism inherent in this holiday, and shows how if you really want to make a difference in how gender roles play out, it's going to take more than a day.
Plenty of people on Twitter were quick to call out that, for men who date men, everyday is National Men Make Dinner Day. Not only is the concept rooted in outdated ideas about gender generally, but it also ignores the fact that hey, non-heterosexual relationships exist, and that people don't have to be in a relationship with men. Women who date women or nonbinary folks are pretty much out of luck on #NationalMenMakeDinnerDay, much to the chagrin of... well, no one. Because it's 2017, and any and all members of a relationship should have a responsibility over feeding themselves at the end of the day.
It Ignores The Men Who Already Put In Work
Per the official website, here are the top 10 reasons to participate in National Men Make Dinner Day:
This fits neatly into the "bumbling husband" trope often used in television and advertising, where men are portrayed as lovable idiots. Even as a joke, it plays into a harmful stereotype that puts more work on women (to "fix" their hapless mates), and also encourages men to help out around the house to receive accolades from their partners, which they absolutely do not need.
The Jokes Just... Aren't Funny
This is a pretty straightforward reason the holiday should be done away with: The jokes about men not knowing how to cook are unfunny and unoriginal, and play further into the stereotype above that men can't do anything domestic, which is completely untrue and harms men just as much as women.
Here's the thing: When men are viewed as helpless individuals who need a woman's help to get anything domestic done, it further perpetuates the idea that women are responsible for housework. It also furthers the stereotype that men can't like or take pride in domestic work, which is harmful for men as well. If your partner cooks dinner for you as a result of this made-up holiday, great! But it may be time to ask yourself why it doesn't happen more often — and take steps to make it more of a thing.