Ok, I feel I have to put my 2 cents worth here. First of all, I thought it was interesting what you said Kuan about cook books and recipes being geared toward the male eye and the male palate. I have to disagree. I like quiche, but I really like a nice big steak and the big bold flavours of peppers and spices. Why must that be described as masculine? I don't see anything especially masculine in any cookbooks that I've come across... Does that make me masculine??
Gosh I hope not! (My husband might object!) I would also like to say for the record that I HATE pastels. I stopped liking them when I turned three years old. Sorry Kuan, with respect, I think you're wrong about that one too.
I think part of the problem is that we are so focussed on trying to define what is masculine and what is feminine and then we try to compromise which means that nobody is happy. Here's the good news: compromise is not always necessary when it comes to taste. Women spend money in restaurants too: if you make something they like, they'll buy it, and believe me, you'll know when they like it!.
As for the women in the kitchen issue, many of the problems that exist stem from fact that men and women communicate differently. I know many highly intelligent women that ended up looking like idiots faced with male humour because they didn't 'get it'. This goes for jokes AND other forms of communication as well. I'm not saying that women should turn into men when they are at work, just be aware of what's going on so you can react to it in a way that is clear to a man. THe first day that I worked in a professional kitchen, there were looks and whispers and one guy called me 'baby'. I probably could have been offended but instead I cracked up and addressed him as 'baby' also to show him how ridiculous he had been. He got the message loud and clear. Never had a problem since.
Men have a certain way of dealing with things which annoy women. We call it primitive, regressive and what have you. Well, put yourselves in their shoes: one women comes along, and suddenly everyone has to walk on eggshells? I'm not condoning or accusing anyone here, but I think for peace to exist, we have to understand both sides' differences. Men belch together, women buy shoes together. So what? As long as no one gets hurt in the process, then lets just be aware of eachother's differences and learn to live together. Women, just remember: you are just as strong, just as clever and just as powerful as any guy. THe minute you allow a man to intimidate you, you're in trouble and likely engaging in a downward spiral. So stand up for yourself and never discount the power of humour.
As for the issue of equal pay in the kitchen, that's a different chapter in the 'Tao of Anneke.'