How Julia Child and Tim Keller Schooled Me In Femininity
Julia, meanwhile, admired many of Paul's manlier characteristics. He was physically strong (a black belt in jujitsu) and passionate about his work. He opened up for her a new world of ideas, experiences, and most of all, tastes. They made homes in several different countries, toiled through career ups and downs, but, most importantly, they ate together, deepening their bond through sharing everything. They approached all of life as a team. "That attitude was, for its time, truly remarkable," said Ruth Reichl in her Smithsonian article Julia Child's Recipe for a Thoroughly Modern Marriage. She went on to say:
Mastering (the Art of French Cooking) was published just a couple of years before The Feminine Mystique. Women all over America were feeling oppressed—and with good reason. I cannot count the women of my mother's generation who paid heavily for their success. Their husbands resented it; their children did too.
But Paul Child was a supremely confident man. "Whatever it is, I will do it," he told Julia, becoming her manager, photographer, recipe-tester and taster, proofreader, illustrator... Few men of Paul Child's generation would have been able to enjoy their wife's success as he did.
Indeed, Paul and Julia's marriage exemplifies both the masculine and feminine aspects that Keller suggests make an excellent marriage, characterized by love, sacrifice, and helpfulness. Paul said of Julia that she was "the bread to my butter and the breath to my life," suggesting that not only did Julia make his life worth living, she sustained it.
Thanks to Julia, I see how much being a good wife and a good friend to my husband is intrinsically linked to the feminine gifts I possess. While many might contend that Julia Child's legacy lies in the gender stereotypes she broke, for me, her legacy shines through the feminine strengths she mastered. Like my grandmother, Julia would cook in the heels and pearls, always looking fabulous. Like my mother, she would make silly holiday cards and pound the meat with abandon. There is no contradiction, just a great woman.
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