So my kid got a pre-Christmas play kitchen from my mom, who dug it out of my brother's basement, where it'd been hanging out since his kids - now 6 and 8 - decided cooking wasn't cool. Ruby loves it. She "wanna cook!" all the time, and so far, she's a pro at making tea, and stew, and cake. She also washes her hands a lot. So I think one major parenting goal has been accomplished.
But I must admit, at first this big, plastic play kitchen scared the hell out of me, largely because it was big and plastic. But also, what would it mean for Ruby to play with a toy that so specifically targets girls and entices them into the cult of domesticity (yeah, there's that 90s college feminist again), that attaches their self-worth to their facility with pots and pans?
When I let a little of my discomfort show, I think my mother rolled her eyes and told me I was being ridiculous, but I can't keep myself from believing that everything Ruby comes into contact with - every toy, every book, every asshole the FD is related to - will shape her. And despite the fact that in our house it's Dad who's the cook and the stay-at-home parent, I can't help but wonder if giving my daughter a kitchen to play with at this young age is going to start the trickle of anti-feminist expectations that I thought I stunted when I recycled (i.e., shredded) a pink, glittery costume with a tiara on it given to me by a coworker before my girl even left the womb!
Ultimately, I think the fact that Mama is a feminist and that FD & I are raising Ruby to be a feminist by indoctrinating her. . . ahem, exposing her to people and places and books and ideas that will assist in that process will mean more than a plastic play kitchen. Plus, Ruby's daddy is a superstar in the kitchen and as someone who loves me a good meal, if Ruby grows up to be a great cook, I'm going to be thrilled for her. . . just as long as she cares more about good food than "dish pan hands."