dVerse: Haibun Monday

Today is Haibun Monday over at dVerse. Frank is asking us to write about Pleasant Surprises. We are being inundated with #Me Too stories. Good! I published my #Me Too story for Real Toads last week. This week headlines caused me to write this haibun. Coming along in the 70’s was rough for women in the food business, unless you were wrote about society dinners, recipes, and that sort of thing. Working towards chefdom was hard and sexually grueling. It has gotten a lot better now. We will see how the culinary world reacts towards older women going after their chef recertification. I think the world is changing for the better in that respect. I’m going for my recertification in the spring. I am 66 years old and can still lug huge pots and weild sharp knives with the best of them!

Old School Chefs
Today I was perusing USA Today online. I was pleasantly surprised to see that chef Mario Batali was “stepping down” and stepping away from various functions as owner, CEO, host, and Food Network star due to allegations of sexual misconduct. Of course he apologized for all his badness. He will be back in a few months with his dignity intact and his money still flowing. The women he groped and made sexual innuendos towards will not be as lucky. Many of them lost jobs or quit due to his “misconduct”.  My first food related job (https://kanzensakura.wordpress.com/2017/12/07/me-too/) I walked away from due to the extreme misconduct of one of the owners.

As a woman, coming up in the kitchen business was hard, tough, and often times sexually insulting. I was groped, pushed into corners, comments made…the whole gamut while I was working for my culinary degree and ultimately, my reign as head chef in various restaurants. Eventually I walked away from all of it to finish my engineering degrees. I had comments made towards me then but not as badly as the male dominated food scene. While working on my engineering degrees, I did food styling work and food photography for one of the greatest newspapers in this country to pay for my education. I was not harassed or groped while working for that paper. I was treated with respect. A first pleasant surprise! But women still have to work three times as hard as men to prove themselves.

my knife chops quickly –
outside snow falls – another
man has fallen – I smile

44 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Björn Rudberg (brudberg)
    Dec 11, 2017 @ 15:22:11

    I have read that young girls in the restaurant business still are harassed… I hope that it get better… it’s shocking that a woman has to be pleasantly surprised for not being groped… maybe at least we can do that… we should be shocked every time it happens…


    • kanzensakura
      Dec 11, 2017 @ 16:30:47

      It is better for chefs. Wait staff are always considered easy pickings, mainly because they are young and often flirt for tips. Sad but true. But we should be ashamed when anyone is harrassed. I knew an older woman chef who would harass the young male waiters…

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  2. Frank Hubeny
    Dec 11, 2017 @ 15:26:44

    I am glad to hear you found places to work without suffering harassment.


  3. alisonhankinson
    Dec 11, 2017 @ 15:49:07

    You have led such a busy and complex life, I am glad for all the good things that have come your way and I like the knife chopping quickly. It speaks volumes.


  4. Vivian Zems
    Dec 11, 2017 @ 15:58:56

    It’s horrible – what we face. But I’m so happy it’s coming into the light. There are small nuggets of good stories out there…..so we hope this tidal wave of bravery will continue. Kudos to you for holding your chin up!


  5. Jane Dougherty
    Dec 11, 2017 @ 16:23:16

    I like the way you smile and chop when thinking about another one biting the dust.


  6. annell4
    Dec 11, 2017 @ 16:44:05

    I applaude you!!! Unfoerunately, the more things change, the more they stay the same. I hope, even though it is slow, things will change for women…the big problem is men. So hard to change what is natural to men? Poor things have to prove how powerful they are, how attractive they are, and that they aren’t really jerks. But we know, for they have proved this to us.


    • kanzensakura
      Dec 11, 2017 @ 17:14:51

      This is true. And in the food industry, women have as much to prove as the men. There is many a female chef who harassed and groped young men or make sous chefs.


  7. annell4
    Dec 11, 2017 @ 16:45:35

    I read a short story once, “The Old Man Sharpens His Knife”…maybe your story will be, “The Old Woman Sharpens Her Knife.”


  8. Frank J. Tassone
    Dec 11, 2017 @ 18:24:55

    A great survivor’s story. I can see in haibun like these why you are a true samurai poet!


  9. Sascha Darlington
    Dec 11, 2017 @ 18:49:55

    I love that you found peace with the journalists. I like to think that most journalists have integrity. I do feel sad at how much women have had to accept in order to even participate in society. And there are those, even women, who would still hold us down.


  10. X
    Dec 11, 2017 @ 19:55:00

    I find the haiku sad.

    Taking joy in the fall of another man.

    I have born witness to the fall of too many pastors. It always saddens me to see anyone fall. Behind them there is a family that will have to pick up the pieces. Face the shame.

    I am glad that you found your place. It is terrible what you went through. What all the whistle blowers and women (and men) all over have been through. Am I happy for justice, yes.

    I struggle with the smile.


    • kanzensakura
      Dec 11, 2017 @ 20:06:41

      I should be sad but I am not. They knew what they were doing was wrong. My question to them is, what if this were your wife or your daughter, your sister, your mother. When confronted with what he had done, Batali said badically, not denying it, that is in line with my behaviors. He apologized for what he had done to those her hurts…the women, his family. I have a feeling his wife already knew about his behavior. In a few months,he will be back in the carried away with all the money he made and still makes from the restaurants he owns. There are men whose families are shamed by their behavior but this is not one of them. I have known padtors, doctors, enginerfs, teachers, policemen, etc. who couldn’t keep their pants zipped. I have know women as well. It is the thing now for these people to be ashamed. I am afraid all of this will pass, all of this will go away. #me too is stylish now. I fear the shame will pass. You haven’t been grooed, pawed, comments made, laughed at, be little all because you had the “misfortune” to be born a woman. I smile. ..with no trouble.


  11. kanzensakura
    Dec 11, 2017 @ 21:15:29

    Cat bird seat…stupid spell check….


  12. rothpoetry
    Dec 11, 2017 @ 23:59:41

    Very interesting story. Good for you for standing up to harassment. You head chef account reminded me of the song: “Another One Bites the Dust!”


  13. kim881
    Dec 12, 2017 @ 02:21:33

    Another enjoyable autobiographical haibun – I love gutsy women, Toni!, and your haiku is brilliant!


  14. lillian
    Dec 12, 2017 @ 07:22:19

    Thank you for sharing, Toni. My hope is that this all signals a culture shift. Similar to the way the MADD movement began a shift in the way we perceive drunk driving.
    At the very least, I am hopeful the metoo movement is acting as a deterrent to men and women — as well as motivation to finally speak out and use the power of words to reveal what was, to be heard, and to know that one woman is not alone. Sadly, there are many.


  15. Namratha Varadharajan
    Dec 12, 2017 @ 12:07:10

    Good luck with that recertification.

    Thank you for sharing that with us. I do believe it is quite brave as well as speaking about it lets others know how tough it is for women in this world.

    Enjoyed your haiku immensely.


  16. Singledust
    Dec 12, 2017 @ 17:49:56

    i salute your tenacity and passion to go against so much challenge and still be motivated to do your best. its all made you the beautiful human you are now.


  17. lynn__
    Dec 13, 2017 @ 16:42:01

    Cannot “like” reports of boorish behavior…glad you followed your dreams, Toni. I respect your determination and accomplishment!


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