1. quixote says

    Is that not commonly known? I know it was the tradition in Iran, the Middle East generally?, India I’m pretty sure, and who knows where else. Women don’t eat with men. That would be too much like making shared humanity obvious. And of course you don’t want to have untermenschen taking valuable resources people could use, so women eat what’s left.

  2. johnthedrunkard says

    Jill Carroll, the Christian Science Monitor journalist held in Iraq from Jan. to March of 2006, described the daily ritual of women waiting, standing in the kitchen, to eat the scraps off the men’s plates.

    During her imprisonment, the women kept asking her if she was ready to convert. They thought their ‘way of life’ must be irresistible.

  3. says

    Ugh indeed. Someone mentioned India above. This is an uncouth custom that I have grown up watching, but could never understand. The Ramadan custom described, bad as it is, still has a sorta-kinda religious justification perhaps, but I have seen this in my household day-in and day-out, on *any* occasion. In the name of fucking ‘tradition’.

  4. says

    A related personal anecdote.

    My mother’s family is Estonian, with a tradition of saturday evening sauna baths. It starts in the early afternoon, with the women of the family preparing a large meal while the men do whatever. Just about the time the meal is being finished, the men go into the sauna and spend 30-40 minutes there. It’s a wet sauna, so they enter into a warm, dry, very comfortable sauna room, and proceed to get the benches very wet. After the hot sauna, we men then wash up in a connected anteroom, getting that room soaking wet as well, and then get dressed and begin the untouched meal that the women had set out while the women proceed down to the sauna. The men then finish their meal, and retire to have coffee (also preprepared by the women) in the adjacent room. The women then finish their sauna to come up to what is left of the meal, and then they clean up the dishes and join the men. The next day, they cleaned up the sauna.

    Growing up, I thought this was just normal. Nobody complained, and it had always been done that way. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I realized that (1) going into a sauna second, after it has already been used by another group, is not anywhere nearly as nice as entering the warm dry room initially, (2) the women did ALL the work, from food preparation to cleanup of both the dishes and kitchen as well as the sauna, (3) the men considered it their day of relaxation (which it was, because all they did was relax!), while for the women it was just another day of work.

    I once suggested that the roles be reversed, and that the women use the sauna first, while the men prepared the meal. One of my uncles is a very good cook, and I’m not shabby myself, so it’s not like it was undoable. The very idea was met with incredulity–we ALWAYS did it this way before, why should I want to change it now, they asked.

    I haven’t been back to participate in that “tradition” ever since, but from what I hear, my much younger cousins (and their wives) are continuing it exactly as before. Mind you, this is in Sweden, where my mother’s family has lived since fleeing the invading Russians in WWII. Sweden, which is not exactly known for being grossly unfair to women, and where my cousins were born and have lived their entire lives, making them basically culturally Swedish. It’s not even possible to make the argument that the women did the housework while the men earned incomes, because—being Sweden—both the women as well as the men hold jobs for pay. They just do all the housework and come second, too.

  5. quixote says

    “common knowledge needs a kick in the bum.”

    Flying spaghetti monster with extra meatballs, YES.

  6. ChainRing says

    Holy fuck. I had no idea.

    We get 17 hours of daylight here this time of year. To have to wait for the men to finish eating after a 17-hour fast … I’m speechless.

  7. iknklast says

    When I was growing up (in Oklahoma, not a Muslim nation), it was totally common for women to make the food for holidays, then serve the men, then get up several times to get things that the men wanted (new napkins, more knives, more butter, whatever), and then finally get to sit down and eat a meal that was no longer hot. And the men had already taken all the best pieces of chicken or whatever on their plates.

    After dinner, the men would go sit in the living room for weighty conversation (usually about football) while the women cleaned up, then served them dessert. Then we sat in our segregated dining room (not the comfortable easy chairs in the living room, because they were full of men) to talk about whatever was acceptable for women to talk about. I would get bored, because what was acceptable for women to talk about wasn’t what I was interested in, but I was to remain in the “proper” place with the women.

    The only time men might participate at all is when there was grilling, and then everyone gave them high praise for the entire meal, most of which had been prepared by women.

  8. John Morales says

    iknklast @12, you didn’t include doing the dishes and tidying-up.

    (So I just did, for the sake of completeness)

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