Problematic on TikTok is a weekly column that unpacks the troubling trends that are emerging on the popular platform and runs on Tuesdays in the Daily Dot’s web_crawlr newsletter. If you want to get this column a day before we publish it, subscribe to web_crawlr, where you’ll get the daily scoop of internet culture delivered straight to your inbox.
Two weeks ago, Payal Desai went viral on TikTok for her videos about the important lessons she is teaching her sons to ensure that they are able to take care of themselves emotionally and physically when they grow up. The point of Desai’s lessons is to equip her sons with self-care tools so that they aren’t a burden to their future partners.
For example, Desai posted a video of her showing her son how to wash dishes “so your daughter doesn’t have to deal with a man who was catered to his whole life.”
Many other mothers made videos similar to Desai’s and shared how they were empowering their children (of all genders) to be responsible and considerate to others at a young age. However, at its core the trend was about Desai teaching her sons to be good partners (potentially) to women, who still do a disproportionate amount of household and emotional labor for their male partners.
Unfortunately, some boy moms have taken Desai’s positive trend in a negative direction. Instead of saying that they’re teaching their sons life skills to empower them, some women have been posting about showing their sons how to cook so that they aren’t satisfied when their future wife makes them a microwaved meal.
“Making sure my son can cook so he’s not impressed by your daughters stuffers lasagna,” Laura Elizabeth Graham wrote in her video’s overlay text—I’m assuming she meant “Soutffer’s,” a frozen food brand. In the video’s caption, she wrote that her son’s “gonna need a home cooked meal.”
Why it matters
Everyone should learn how to cook, and lessons in the kitchen from a caring parent can be a wonderful bonding opportunity. That said, teaching your son to cook so that he demands a higher level of household labor from your daughter is a mean-spirited and—frankly—sexist take on this trend.
Amber Wardell, a psychologist and mom who is raising a son, put it best in her reaction to a TikTok of a woman yet again saying she’s teaching her son to cook “so he is not impressed by your daughter’s Stouffers lasagna.”
“I’m teaching my son to cook so that he will show up for his future wife as though she’s his partner,” Wardell says. “And not his servant.”
Like what you are reading?
Sign up to receive web_crawlr, a daily newsletter
from the Daily Dot, in your inbox each morning.