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The Mombot
Most images of traditional Thanksgiving feature a woman doing the cooking and cleaning and prepping. How do we shake things up?

A STUDY IN PINK: Your Guide to a Feminist Thanksgiving

I love traditional Thanksgiving, but I don’t love traditional gender roles in the kitchen and homemaking. How do we balance our unconventional ways with the demands of a home-cooked Thanksgiving meal?
Most images of traditional Thanksgiving feature a woman doing the cooking and cleaning and prepping. How do we shake things up?The Mombot

Thanksgiving is one of our most tradition-bound holidays. Many people go into November dreaming of white linen tablecloths, pristine lacy aprons, and (of course) a sprawling spread of dishes that take an insane amount of work. The perfect success of all of those elements can make or break some people’s enjoyment of the holiday.

What’s more, the Thanksgiving table is usually surrounded by all our most beloved family members, and some of them may not want to hear the whole “stop saying women’s place is in the kitchen” discussion during the holidays. It can be hard to stand up for yourself in the midst of a bunch of expectant relatives.

Whether you’re attending your family’s Thanksgiving or hosting it yourself, here are some tips for how to pull off a great family holiday without shoehorning yourself into a role you don’t like:

Q: Who’s responsible for hosting the family Thanksgiving meal?
A: Whoever wants to.

Ask for help when you need it. No one should get miffed if you ask them to help with a meal that they themselves get to enjoy.

Q: Wait… that’s it?
A: Yup. That’s it. The best thing we can do for ourselves is to think critically about our traditions. If you feel like your family expects you to host, because you’re the family matriarch or the eldest child or the only one who’s married or whatever, be honest about whether you want to or not. It’s better to have an honest discussion about everyone’s willingness than to take on more than what you want and be resentful.

Q: Okay, but what if I want to host? I think it would be a nice thing to do, especially since Grandma’s getting tired of always doing it herself.
A: Then do it. If you want to, for healthy and self-aware reasons, go for it. I do—this year is my sixth to host. And my grandma’s pretty happy not to have to host anymore. Grandmas love some assistance.

Q: I’m worried, though. What if I don’t get things right?
A: What do we mean, “right”? That your Thanksgiving has to look like the inside of Martha Stewart’s magazine? Screw that. Do what you want. Cook whatever you want. Decorate however you like—including not at all. Focus on what makes you and your family feel good; that’s what makes holidays happy.

Q: But Uncle Bernie will freak out if we don’t make his favorite dish. It’s this super-complicated sweet potato casserole and I have no idea how to make it.
A: Then ask Uncle Bernie to bring it. If he wants his bangin’ sweet potatoes bad enough, he’ll get the recipe from Grandma.

Q: Okay, but what if I’m not hosting? Do I still have to be in the kitchen?
A: You should—so should everyone. Everyone should help out.

Q: But Uncle Bernie just parks it on the couch and watches football.
A: Wanna know my super-secret trick for getting people to help out? Ask them. Start washing the dishes, then say, “Hey, Uncle Bernie, can you come help me?” It’s really hard to say no to that. Ask a different person to help with each task, and you’ll be surprised who will step up.

Q: Sounds kinda bossy.
A: Nope, it’s called being helpful. Listen, you don’t have to stand there in your Susan B. Anthony apron (where did you get that, I want one) and rant about how men should get in the kitchen too. Make it feel natural for all your family members to be in there helping each other. Ask nicely, make jokes while you work, and before you know it, everyone chips in. Gender equality makes life better—demonstrate how.

Q: But I don’t want to look like I can’t handle it.
A: Man, how do you think we got into this mess in the first place? People just assuming that women will run the kitchen and make the perfect meal, and women absorbing all that work and stress and just making it happen without showing our sweat. Ask for help when you need it. No one should get miffed if you ask them to help with a meal that they themselves get to enjoy.

Q: Uncle Bernie just said, “Bring me some pie, sweetcheeks” and fell asleep on the couch.
A: Uncle Bernie is a douche.