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Stay In The Kitchen / Literature

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Examples of Stay in the Kitchen in literature.


  • In Dragon Queen, Badan tells Trava that she can't run the tavern without a man; it very much comes off as this trope.
  • In the Tortall Universe, noble women were mostly trained to be polite, beautiful and good at managing estates. Alanna decided she would be having none of that, so disguised herself as a boy and trained to be a knight. After revealing her gender, saving the land several times and the King marrying another competent fighter from another land, this begins to dissolve. The follow-up series, Protector of the Small, shows that the attitude is alive and kicking as sexists continually try to block Keladry from becoming a knight.
    • The prequel Beka Cooper series shows how this starts; a religious movement of the Gentle Goddess (or some such) that would eventually gain enough popularity to kill off the Action Girl. In hindsight, this shows why Alanna is the Goddess' champion; she must have gotten tired of being pushed aside and pretty much jumped at the chance Alanna offered her to gain her reputation back.
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    • Note that the above examples pertain to Tortall, the main setting. Other cultures in the setting range from worse than the Tortallans to full gender equality, and in the case of the Copper Islands the rightful ruler is always a queen regnant.
  • In the Wheel of Time series, Rand repeatedly goes out of his way to avoid getting any women killed—even his Amazon bodyguard and the evil sorceresses trying to kill him. Rand is rapidly going out of his mind, and knows that this is stupid behavior and all it does is annoy said bodyguards and his three girlfriends but he can't make himself stop it. Likely a result both of upbringing and having killed his wife in his last incarnation. The aforementioned Amazon Bodyguards at one point threaten to commit mass suicide if he doesn't let them go into battle with him. Another time, when he does manage to sneak off without them, they then come in when he's canoodling with his girlfriend and beat him up as punishment.
    • Nynaeve and Elayne go on numerous adventures together and constantly grumble about the men wanting them to stay out of danger. However, they do have a point since they are undertrained apprentices with no combat skills and get kidnapped often.
  • The Reynard Cycle: This is played straight and inverted. The Arcasians have this attitude, but their enemies the Calvarians are a gender-neutral meritocracy capable of fielding entire companies of female combatants. Then Reynard adopts the Calvarian model when building his Army of Thieves and Whores and ends up with one-fifth of his own army being women, some of whom are later made Chevalier (Knights) for their efforts. This doesn't sit well with the more traditionally minded Arcasian nobility.
  • Action Girl Brienne from A Song of Ice and Fire is frequently reminded by minor characters that "a woman's war is in the birthing bed," even though she'd really have no problem mopping the floor with all of them. It's very worth pointing out the society of Westeros is incredibly sexist, being based on medieval Europe, and Lord Randyll Tarly is not only against women being anything but wives and mothers he is also against noblemen being anything other than warriors. His merciless and brutal attempts to 'make a man' out of his cowardly, obese, book-loving, song-singing, home and hearth inclined son Samwell are wonderful evidence. Lord Tarly takes gender roles very seriously...
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    • This is a particularly dark example because there's really nothing protective about his attitude toward her. He doesn't bother to hide the fact that he's really, really hoping something terrible will happen to her so that she'll learn her lesson and get back in the kitchen where women belong. Also deconstructed. This mentality actually puts most women in danger more than it protects them from it. Most women and girls in Westeros cannot defend themselves because they've been discouraged from learning how; nor can they enforce chivalry. Without male guardians, a situation that occurs frequently, especially for peasant women, they're sitting ducks. And there are many men out there who Would Hit a Girl.
    • The in-universe histories, set while dragons were still around, reveal that the Targaryen royal family and their Velaryon cousins used to have a lot more martially inclined women, although they were from a different cultural background. This trend seems to have died out with their dragons when they would likely have felt the need to assimilate more Westerosi cultural values as they no longer had their superweapons
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  • In the Star Trek novel Ishmael by Barbara Hambly, a ST/Here Come The Brides crossover — an amnesiac Spock is taken in by Aaron Stemple. At one point two characters have gone missing in the rainy Seattle woods and Spock suggests Biddy Cloom lend a hand in the search. "But she's a woman!" says Stemple. "What has her gender to do with her ability to locate missing persons?" asks Spock.
  • In Jim Butcher's The Dresden Files, Harry has a chauvinistic sort of chivalry about him that firmly believes women shouldn't be in trouble or hit or anything like that. This might partly be because his chief mentor, one of the few people he really, genuinely respects, is about three hundred years old. Subverted in that he recognizes that it's a limitation, one that frequently almost gets him killed because as often as not, the people gunning for him are women themselves. It's just one he has to be really under pressure to start working around. Also subverted in that every woman he knows that's an ally is a straight badass, and the one he teams with most consistently is Karrin Murphy, who is also a Badass Normal, who only after several books came to understand the limitations of the "normal" part. She loathes it, but she understands it. And never let it be said Harry doesn't respect her. It's generally faded into non-existence by the sixth book, though he still does the opening doors and paying bills thing — though probably just to annoy Murphy.
  • In The Lord of the Rings, everybody tries to keep Éowyn away from the battlefield, and King Théoden wants her to stay in Meduseld and rule Rohan in his absence, thereby giving her another "man's job" instead. Éowyn disguises herself and goes to battle anyway (though it's never made clear whom she deputized to stay and rule Rohan). And while she's at it, she brings Merry with her, when he has also been excluded from the troops on account of being too short. She and Merry kill the Witch King of Angmar, a.k.a the guy who killed King Théoden. Who, we should point out, is thousands of years old and mighty enough to give Gandalf serious pause, and there's a prophecy claiming that no man can kill him. Isn't irony great? Possible subversion: In this case "the kitchen" is being regent of Rohan. Someone from a less militaristic people than the Rohirrim might have considered it a compliment.
  • Spenser and Susan Silverman in the Spenser series often discuss this, with Spenser often doing his best to protect Susan. It annoys her, but since he's an ex-cop and private detective and she's a psychiatrist she grudgingly defers to his judgments on matters that could get them both killed.
  • H. Beam Piper's Lord Kalvan of Otherwhen does this with Rylla, who has been raised as a boy owing to her father's inability to produce a son. When she breaks her leg leading an otherwise successful cavalry charge, Kalvan tries to get her nurses to pretend that her limb hasn't healed so she'll hopefully miss the rest of the fighting. Fortunately for him, she figures out what he had been doing and leads a small squad of cavalry who happen to arrive in the right place to capture an enemy commander who had been attempting to flee the battlefield. In a twist, Kalvan knows entirely well that his wife is one of the better fighters around. He also knows that she's very reckless of her personal safety and that the dynasty cannot survive both of them dying in the same battle. Later on, when she finally learns to be a little more careful, he raises fewer objections to her leaving the castle.
  • In The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Susan and Lucy Pevensie are advised not to fight when they are given their weapons because "wars are ugly when women fight" (the movies left this line out). By The Horse and His Boy, however, which also introduces the Rebellious Princess Aravis, the grown-up Lucy has already made her way to the military as an archer, as Corin tells Shasta that she fights "as well as" a boy. Susan has decided to stay aside, but according to Corin it's because fighting just doesn't suit her sensitive personality ("Queen Susan is more like an ordinary grown-up lady. She doesn't like going to war, despite being an excellent archer"). Lucy becomes known as "The Valiant" and Susan as "The Gentle," making their involvement in combat a matter of personality, not societal rules. Jill is portrayed quite well when it's her turn to go out on adventures in The Silver Chair and The Last Battle. The movie threw this right out the window, with the producers pointing out that if Susan wasn't supposed to fight, Santa really shouldn't have given her a bow and arrow.
  • Star Wars Expanded Universe:
    • Depending on the Writer, Luke Skywalker is either somewhat protective of his prickly friend and later wife Mara Jade, wanting to stand between her and the worst danger but entirely willing to fight alongside her and acknowledging that she's better in some areas of combat than he is... or he's much more protective and less appreciative of her skills. Either way annoys her.
    • Tenel Ka goes through this with Jacen Solo. But she's less snide about it than Mara is.
  • Harry Potter:
    • The bizarre case of Tonks. Once she becomes a mother, Lupin and others are mostly concerned with keeping her safe. She's a fully-trained Auror, and probably the second best fighter left in the order. Once she shows up, though, she heads to the front lines immediately. Harry even notes this in Deathly Hallows, when Lupin offers to join the group on their quest and adds that Tonks is staying with her mother. Harry thinks this is odd and that Tonks would be more likely to want to join in on the action as well. This is right before he finds out Tonks is pregnant. When Tonks shows up to fight later in the book, it's after her son has already been born.
    • Also in Deathly Hallows, the entire Weasley family and Harry refuse to let Ginny join in the fight at the end. It's not that they think she's incapable, but that she's underage (everyone else underage has been evacuated) and they don't want to lose anyone else they love (Mrs. Weasley doesn't even want her other children fighting, but they're all legally adults, except for Ginny, and thus she can't keep them from doing so). Ginny is not happy with this and cheerfully runs off to help the first chance she gets.
  • Discworld:
    • The entire nation of Borogravia is like this in Monstrous Regiment, although it's suggested it's less out of a feeling women should be protected, and more out of a feeling women shouldn't be allowed to do anything, or they might get ideas, and the whole thing is enforced more by old women than men, who prefer not to even think about it.
    • Parodied in Jingo, where Nobby complains that he's being expected to do the cooking, just because he's a woman. This is despite the fact that 1) He's not actually a woman 2) Nobody expected him to do the cooking, he just started doing it and 3) there is an actual woman present who everyone is very clear "doesn't do cookery". She's Sergeant Angua, so no-one's going to suggest she can't fight.
    • Jingo also parodies this when Carrot says that the D'regs have a particular view of women fighting. Jabbar, the D'reg Wise Man replies "Yes — we expect them to be good at it."
    • Lancre, despite being a very rural and generally "backward" place, has a reputation for producing very tough women who can handle themselves well. The presence of witches has a lot to do with it. Invoked in Carpe Jugulum when a (not local) priest demands to know why the townspeople have no problem with Granny Weatherwax going out to face monsters alone. They respond "Why should we care what happens to monsters?"
    • Subverted in Men at Arms, where the Watch is forced to get some new, "minority" recruits. They get a dwarf, a troll, and a werewolf. Vimes, in particular, is unhappy about this (he doesn't like werewolves), and so the others keep trying to explain that Angua's been taken on as a "minority recruit" because she's a "w—" and then looking horribly embarrassed and having Angua herself call their attitudes old-fashioned. At one point, Colon even says that "The Watch is a job for men." All of this sets up this trope magnificently. It then turns out her status as a female has nothing to do with their misgivings, and if anything, they're worried she'll be a little too good at fighting for comfort.
  • The Kzin of Known Space are what happens when a bronze culture gets genetic engineering. The Men are warriors and all violent. The women are modified into being non-sentient.
  • Played for laughs in The Alphabet of Manliness, especially in the Obedience section, which is a "taking care of your pet" manual... written for women.
  • Despite what they're famous for, this is the real point of John Norman's Gor books. Definitely meant as an example of the "sweet and well-intentioned" variety but since every single woman enjoys being enslaved it just feels creepy.
    • At least in some of the early books it was more even-handed, discussing that all women want both freedom and slavery in different amounts at different times, and the same being true for men.
  • The well-intentioned but misguided variety shows up in Dracula, where the males think it's best if Mina is shielded from knowledge of their plans to kill the villain. This enforced ignorance means she's a sitting duck for the very man they wanted to protect her from. After their actions lead to Dracula attacking her, they quickly change their philosophy.
  • Exists to a lesser degree in the Antares novels — female spacers are a rarity on Alta. It is explained as a cultural holdover from when they needed to populate their world, women were expected to produce many children and therefore avoided dangerous occupations. That said, nobody voices any objections to female spacers, especially when they need to expand their navy to defend against the Ryall.
  • Able Team. This backfires badly on team leader Carl Lyons when he deliberately leaves behind his Action Girlfriend, DEA agent Flor Trujillo, as they're about to bust a convoy of drug smugglers. The smugglers start shooting at them with an RPG-7 and Flor, who's commandeered a helicopter to catch up with them, flies right into it.
  • This was why Toulac, a career soldier, had to retire from the army in the Shadowleague trilogy by Maggie Furey.
  • In Eragon, the eponymous character desperately wants Arya to be evacuated with the children when Urgals attack, although not out of chauvinism but because he doesn't want her to get hurt. She doesn't listen, and she continuously shows over the series that she is a formidable (and superhuman) fighter and eventual Love Interest of the title character.
  • This is the twist ending to The Stepford Wives. It is revealed that the men of Stepford are quite happy to murder their wives, just to replace them with gorgeous robots that have no outside hobbies or interests and live only to cook and clean and care for their husbands. The result is that after roughly six months, the women seem to turn perpetually happy and talk about how they're giving up photography or whatever because they just weren't very good at it anyway and now they're too busy.
  • Wulfgar in R. A. Salvatore's Forgotten Realms novels (you know, the ones with Drizzt Do'Urden) starts getting entirely irrational ideas like this when he's to be getting married to Catti-Brie, even though he knows she's an Action Girl already. If he'd only admitted it made no sense and seen it was just his dumb culture keeping hold of his subconscious, but no...
  • In the Adrian Mole series, Adrian behaves this way with his first girlfriend Pandora, wanting to marry her straight out of school and for her not to work outside the home. Pandora, being promiscuous and The Ace, laughs him down.
  • In The Inverted World, Helward's wife Victoria complains that the Guild system encourages this kind of attitude: women aren't allowed to become Guild members and are expected to devote all their time to producing children. The root of the problem is actually the skewed gender ratio of births in the City: the live birth of females is so rare that, even with mandatory marriage at a young age, it is becoming difficult to keep the population up.
  • A variant in the Star Trek: Voyager Relaunch novels. Tillum Drafar has the view that mothers should not be working outside the home. Among his people, biological necessity compels women with young children to dedicate their time entirely to the infant. When confronted with B'Elanna Torres, who balances her work with her motherhood, he implies she is a poor mother for doing so and initially treats her dismissively. B'Elanna, once she understands the reason for his prejudice, manages to challenge it in a non-confrontational but effective manner.
  • In Death: Commander Skinner explicitly states this attitude to Eve Dallas in Interlude In Death. She quickly demonstrates that she just does not fit in his view of the world.
  • Fifty Shades of Grey has this be Christian's idea of the 'place for a woman'. He practically mentions the trope itself, by saying that he would much prefer Anastasia to be nothing more than 'barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen'. He seems to have no problem with his second-in-command, Ross, being a working woman, but that might have to do with the fact that she is stated to be a lesbian.
  • Oddly, Esme in Twilight. Rosalie and Alice are formidable fighters always in the thick of conflict, but there is never any question of whether or not Esme will take part. In fact, it is stated at one point that Esme is not a fighter. Presumably, this is related to her role as "mother" in the family (and her conscious decision to refrain from violence), but it's still pretty strange since she must be just as strong and capable as any other vampire and they could always use the help.
    • In Breaking Dawn, Edward is constantly upset with Bella taking fighting lessons from Emmett, at one point outright forbidding her from having any one night. It's supposed to be because he can't stand the thought of her being hurt, but as a vampire, there's very little that can harm her. Plus, she's a newborn and thus has more strength than a normal vampire, and the Volturi are coming for a fight, so having her be untrained for combat comes across as just silly.
      • It is implied to be because he has to see Emmett's thoughts about ways to hurt her that it bothers him, and he says outright that it is because he can't bear to think that way about her that he can't train her himself.
  • In The Cat Ate My Gymsuit, Marcy's father expresses this attitude toward her and her mother.
    Father says that girl children should be born at the age of eighteen and married off immediately.
  • Invoked by Septimus in Syren where he tells Jenna to stay with Milo Banda rather than follow him into the Ice Tunnels, as her survival is critical for the safety of the Castle.
  • In Animorphs, Andalite society has traditionally only allowed males to be warriors. Females can still be as highly respected scientists or artists, but not warriors. By the events of the actual series, where the Andalite's have been in a brutal war with the Yeerks for years, there are actually female cadets in the military.
  • Played with in EverworldDavid and the other guys often try to convince April to stay out of the fighting (even against Hel, whose powers mainly affect men). She always refuses and acts offended, but in her narration is ashamed to admit that she really, really wants to take those offers.
  • A twist in The Stormlight Archive - the Alethi have very strict gender roles (particularly in the aristocracy) that define "masculine arts" (politics, combat, commerce, etc) and "feminine arts" (art, science, history, etc). For either gender, stepping outside these roles is seen as scandalous - a woman who wanted to fight would be "told her place", but the same would go for a man who wanted to write a book. There are a few exceptions, though. The priesthood is open to both genders, and priests have at least some leeway in terms of gender roles. And since all the gender roles are based on an ancient book defining them, jobs that didn't exist back then (such as horse groom) are gender-neutral.
  • Enchanted Forest Chronicles: Princesses are expected to act in "proper" ways, which generally mean being ditzy and useless and waiting for a prince to save them from something and marry them. Cimorene is considered "difficult" by everyone in the castle she grew up in because her practical mind led her to want to do things that actually served a purpose and let her take care of herself. Subverted in Searching for Dragons, when Cimorene has just met Mendabar and tells him she thinks Kazul is trapped in the Enchanted Forest and is going to go search for her. Mendabar tells her she shouldn't do that, to which Cimorene angrily asks him if it's because he thinks it's improper behavior for a princess. He tells her no, it's because he's king of the forest and thus knows that it's an incredibly dangerous place, full of dangerous stuff she's probably never seen before, and plus as the close friend and assistant of the already-disappeared king of dragons, her getting lost or killed or enchanted would likely spark massive political problems between the dragons and the citizens of the forest, which is the very thing they're trying to avoid. Cimorene is amazed because this is the first time someone ever gave her a legitimate reason not to do something. (She still goes, but accepts Mendabar's offer to come along and help her out).
  • In John C. Wright's The Hermetic Millennia, Lady Ivinia tells the male Chimera warriors that Chimera women, of course, obey their men, and as a meek and gentle woman, she has no place in the councils of war, she will only tell them, in the name of the motherhood, that they must overcome the foe they face, and they should commit suicide if they fail. Then she withdraws, and one warrior observes that he's glad that their women are gentle, because if they were bold, who could imagine what they would be like?
  • Gender-flipped in A Brother's Price where it's the men who are expected to do this type of thing. The main male character does follow his gender role but he's also an Action Guy which deeply impresses his wives-to-be even as it's driving them out of their skin with worry.
  • In The Infernal Devices, one of Benedict Lightwood's claims against Charlotte Branwell's leadership is that women are incapable of running the Institute.
  • In Dying of the Light, this may well be Stay In The Rape Closet, at least for native women. A Gendercide plague had forced communities to either do that or be selected out. A few generations later, it became the societal norm.
  • Agatha H. and the Clockwork Princess: Mention is made in a footnote that Bangladesh Dupree has encountered people with this attitude... towards her. Never more than twice though, and their replacements are always incredibly polite towards her.
    • Baron Wulfenbach, meanwhile, takes incredible strides to avert this trope, having entire all-female regiments in his army. Meanwhile, the number of the Baron's enemies who subscribe to this idea becomes increasingly small, usually because said all-female regiments have melted them, or blown them up.
  • This is oddly invoked in Agatha Christie's 4.50 from Paddington, or What Mrs. McGillicuddy Saw!—oddly because it's the woman herself who invokes it. Main character Lucy Eyelesbarrow is an intelligent young woman in her early thirties who attended Oxford University and excelled in mathematics, which might have led to a promising career in science. However, she realizes that academic jobs don't pay well; as she freely admits to liking money, she decides to go into the field of domestic service instead. The trope is then downplayed, as Lucy is able to make a fortune off of her work as a housekeeper/nursemaid/odd-job holder: British nobles pay highly for her services, she refuses to settle in a single home (despite being offered small fortunes to do so) because she likes making her own schedules, and she even takes luxurious vacations whenever she pleases.
  • The Honorverse has a (mostly) justified variant with the planet Grayson, a colony of Space Amish who left Earth on a colony ship to get away from all technology. Unfortunately, they unwittingly chose a Death World to settle, and by the time they got there, they didn't have the resources to go anywhere else. As a result of the absolutely toxic atmosphere (heavy metals, et al), the death rates in the early days of the colony were devastating, and the stillbirth and miscarriage rates were astronomical. As a result, Grayson men became extremely protective of their womenfolk, who faced enough risk and tragedy from their own bodies that subjecting them to any more was practically unthinkable.
  • Inverted in Catherine Asaro's Skolian Saga. The upper classes of the Skolian Empire are like this—some of them even forbid their male family members from seeing anyone who's not a relative except under strict supervision, although they're considered to be ultra-conservative and somewhat out-of-touch for it. The kidnapped princeling in Undercity desperately wants to go to university and become a marine biologist, but his mother won't allow it. After Major Bhaajan figures out that the kidnappers were able to get him because he was so unhappy he ran away, she relents, and by the end of the book he's enrolled.
  • This is true for most of the polities in Victoria. The New Confederacy finds women in the military incompatible with Southern chivalry, and the Nazis share similar sentiments, as does the reactionary Northern Confederation. The only significant exception is Azania, which is a Lady Land and is mocked by the Confederation in particular for its female soldiers.
  • A Sweet Valley Twins book had the girls dealing with a homeroom teacher who had this attitude. Literally — he takes the money collected for the class to buy lunch on a class trip and gives it to the girls for them to buy supplies and make lunch for the entire class. He also assigns the girls to clean up duties and seems genuinely incapable of believing that the girls are just as adept at sports and class offices as the boys are.
  • The Dreamblood Duology: The city-state of Gujaareh reveres its women as "goddesses", which, conveniently for the men, generally involves keeping them comfortably sequestered in the home with minimal actual power or involvement in public life.
  • Books of the Raksura: Gender-flipped and Downplayed with Raksura Consorts, the only males among the titular shapeshifting Draconic Humanoids who can reproduce with Queens. They generally lead pampered lives within their home colony and almost never leave, so some of them see Moon, a Consort who grew up outside a colony and remains an active, deadly fighter after joining one, as a sort of Rebellious Princess for not playing the role properly.


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