Big Brother

Is Cooking A Gendered Strategy In ‘Big Brother 25’ Or A Sexist Advantage For Men?

Anything could be used as a strategy in the Big Brother house. That’s because the game is a social one. Houseguests live together and every week they have to evict someone from the house. A jury is built and votes on a winner between the last two houseguests remaining in the house on the CBS and Paramount+ show. The dynamics between houseguests often reflect the dynamics between people in the real world. Technically the cast is roommates and the same perks and annoyances with living with someone else could help or tank the game. Chores have also been gendered in our society so is cooking an advantage or sexist disadvantage to women?

Felicia Cannon and Blue Kim Cook in Big Brother 25

Big Brother 25 showed Felicia Cannon and Blue Kim starting the season by cooking for other houseguests. Blue notably cooked breakfast for Jared Fields as their showmance started to form. Felicia tends to do big family-style meals with the houseguests lining up to make their plates, then sit down to eat together. Fans noticed Felicia wasn’t quick to sit down with the rest of the houseguests to eat with them. She tends to stand up and clean around the kitchen.

This dynamic isn’t abnormal to what we see in real homes. Many family holidays are spearheaded by a matriarch or several matriarchs making the big meal and being the last one to eat because they’re too busy taking care of everyone else. Of course, this comes from a place of love and care and the family loves them back. The problem is that love doesn’t always return with service and action. That sometimes looks like a huge imbalance in effort, which leads to the question if the people enjoying the fruits of the matriarchs’ labor are taking advantage of them.

The Big Brother 25 Men Discuss Keeping Women In the House For Their Cooking

Cameron Hardin, Jag Bains, and Matt Klotz are working together as The Fugitives. Cameron won Head of Household in week 9 and he nominated Felicia and Mecole Hayes. He was determined to evict Felicia because he believed she would never vote for him on the jury after he nominated her. But he acknowledged one reason he wanted to keep her with his allies.

“But of course, I want good food, and that, we do have to consider that,” Jag told Cameron and Matt on the live feeds. “Cirie cooks,” Cameron responded. “Cirie cooks, Blue cooks, we eat,” he said. “So I think we’re good.” Cameron said that solves their concern over who will cook for them. It’s noticeable that these men didn’t plan on cooking for themselves and were just banking on female houseguests to do this for them. They don’t even offer to protect their games in return.

Pew Research reports that 80% of U.S. married or co-habitating mothers say they are the ones grocery shopping, and 80% of them said they are preparing meals. Then 71% of them said they handle both of these responsibilities. Women on average report spending more time in the kitchen than men. The houseguests normally go to the diary room to put in their request for food. But this season we’ve seen Felicia ask the cameras repeatedly for different seasonings and food for the house. It’s been played for laughs but women spending time on these responsibilities could mean men are spending more time on other responsibilities or relaxing. In the Big Brother house that means they have more time relaxing or strategizing to win the $750,000. If you look at it from that perspective, then the female houseguests are being hurt by this unsaid expectation rather than helped. However, there is another way to look at this.

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Women Have Cooked and Used the Strategy to Succeed in Previous Seasons

This season isn’t the first time women have cooked for the house, and it’s been listed as a strategy before. In Big Brother 24, Nicole Layog was on the block and her last plea to stay in the house was the offer of poached eggs in the morning. It was played off as a joke, but the private chef definitely could use cooking to her advantage. Jun Song from Big Brother 4 was known for using the kitchen as part of her strategy to gather information and win the season. However, the trick is continuing to play the game hard with the cooking.

The good news is that Felicia might be the head cook this season, but she isn’t just that to houseguests. Cameron who has won most of the competitions is afraid of her and that says something. She fought hard to stay in week 9 and luckily the house underestimated her chances of winning in competitions to keep her over Mecole. But she’s a great social strategist. She has a habit of being direct with houseguests and putting them on the spot with her questions. They usually answer tough questions about their strategy even though it’s not good for their game.

She also sees what’s wrong with Cameron’s game. Felicia correctly read that Cameron doesn’t have good relationships in the house, so he has to win to stay. He was already evicted during the double eviction, so his days are numbered. Even if he makes it to the final two chairs it’s uncertain if the house would respect him enough to vote for him to win when they already evicted him. On the other hand, Felicia commands a lot of respect in the house as the eldest houseguest. Her caring actions through cooking and her conversations could turn into jury votes.

It’s understandable why it puts a bad taste in female fans’ mouths watching the men talk about the women like they are their personal cooks. This dynamic reflects a real inequality that is going on in households. So it’s valid to say there is some sexism at play. But it’s also valid if women decide to cook because they love it or because they see it as a strategy for their game. The house doesn’t have a lot of comforts and sometimes food is taken away when houseguests become Have-Nots and can only eat slop. But that means people who can cook amazing food can be valuable socially in the game, which is a plus for the female houseguests.

We are seeing women speaking up about not wanting to mother grown men every day, which is understandable. The ideal situation is the men in Big Brother would show more appreciation for what the cooks in the house do for them, return the favor, help out with cleaning, or start fending for themselves. But if that doesn’t happen we need to hold out hope that the ladies could use this situation to their advantage.

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