Bitch, Make Me 300 (Feminist) Sandwiches!

28 Sep

On September 24th, New York Post writer Stephanie Smith published an article entitled “I’m 124 sandwiches away from an engagement ring” which opened as follows:

“My boyfriend, Eric, is the gourmet cook in our relationship, but he’d always want me to make him a sandwich.

Each morning, he would ask, ‘Honey, how long you have been awake?’

‘About 15 minutes,’ I’d reply.

‘You’ve been up for 15 minutes and you haven’t made me a sandwich?'”

I will give you a moment for an exasperated breath and a huge eye roll.  You back?  Does this make anyone else think of that scene from Pleasantville with William H. Macy?  You know, that whole “where’s my dinner?!” thing?  Okay.  I would just like to point out here that in my mind, the joke about a woman’s place being in the kitchen is never funny, ever.  I cannot even stand it when I overhear people “jokingly” say, “bitch, get in the kitchen and make me a sandwich.”  You know what? Make yourself your own damn sandwich.  And also, you know why that joke is not funny?  Because there are too many people who actually believe that a woman belongs in the kitchen making food and I would venture to guess that a lot of people who make that joke actually believe that a little bit themselves.  It is not funny because we still have very powerful gender stereotypes that tell us what jobs are within the realm of a man’s world, and what jobs live safely in a woman’s.  Sandwich-making is, historically, woman’s work.

Anyway, this Post article acted as an admission of ownership.  For the previous 176 sandwiches, Smith had been keeping a blog at 300sandwiches.com that had garnered the attention, according to The Post, of such culinary greats as Emeril Lagasse, Michael White and Ken Friedman.*  The blog was a documentation of the 300 different sandwich creations Smith had thought up on her journey towards marrying her live-in boyfriend.  You see, after making her boyfriend an apparently life-altering ham and swiss sandwich where the “lettuce was perfectly in line with the neatly stacked turkey slices,” (siiiiiigh) her lovely boyfriend declared her “300 sandwiches away from an engagement ring.”  And a blog was born.  Only it wasn’t until this Post article that Smith took public responsibility for it.

As part of her explanation for her blog, she talked about being in her mid-30s and wondering where the relationship was heading.  She was feeling a lack of security that was not put at ease by the daunting task ahead of her.  In her words,

“Ten sandwiches or so in, I did the math. Three sandwiches a week, times four weeks a month, times 12 months a year, meant I wouldn’t be done until I was deep into my 30s. How would I finish 300 sandwiches in time for us to get engaged, married and have babies before I exited my childbearing years?”

Oh, woe-is-Stephanie!  Stephanie wants to finish making these sandwiches SO badly that

“Even after covering movie premieres or concerts for Page Six, (she) found (her)self stumbling into the kitchen to make Eric a sandwich while (she) still had on (her) high heels and party dress.”

That actually just makes me feel a little sad.  Seriously?  Could that be any more…ridiculous?  If it was so important to make the sandwich at that very moment, why didn’t she take the less then 2 seconds necessary to kick off her heels?  Eric couldn’t possibly have been that hungry.  And also, in Rebekahland, and in the land of most of the ladies I know, making a sandwich while wearing high heels and a party dress is not something to be proud of.  It is something to never be spoken of with anyone ever.  But that’s just me.  And my friends.  To each her own.

Here’s the thing I guess.  I think it is crappy that a blog that I find to be in somewhat poor taste is getting so much interest, a lot of it positive.  I simply don’t understand why there is this belief amongst women, spoken of in Smith’s article, that to prove you are “wife material,” you have to demonstrate your prowess in the kitchen.  There are lots of women who don’t know how to cook, don’t have time to cook, or simply do not like cooking who are very successful partners.  There are lots of men who don’t know how to cook, don’t have time to cook, or simply don’t like cooking who are very successful partners.  For a multitude of outdated reasons, we are more easily forgiving of men than women in this particular regard.  That should not be.

I also think she is very smart, knows the writing world and knows what sells.  I think she wrote this blog with thinly veiled hopes that she would get a book deal out of it.  If that happens, good for her I guess.  I just hope sandwich-making in exchange for an engagement ring doesn’t become a thing.  And lastly, while I find the premise of this blog icky and while you couldn’t pay me to date someone like Smith’s boyfriend Eric, I don’t think it is doing damage to the feminist movement.  Although I wish she would engage a little more critically with her project, she is still a business-saavy woman with a well-paying job who is turning her personal life into a potential money maker.  How very American of her.  I don’t know.  I’m on the fence about this blog.  I don’t like it, that much I know.  And normally I would say that it’s none of my business to have an opinion on it but she made it public.  So, I guess if someone said to me either you give me your opinion on this blog or I will shove you off a cliff, I would say this:  this blog is a sign to me that people are not critical enough of their roles in the world and I think we all need to work very hard to change that.

On a positive note, out of this blog we got the hashtag 300feministsandwiches which is AMAZING and hilarious.  I seriously love internet feminists.  Here are a few of my favorites:  from @nprmonkeysee: Lucretia Mozzarella And Tomato; @CecileRichards: burn your bratwurst!; and @DailyDot: Who’s hungry for a little equal pay-strami on rye?

So if we have to put up with Smith’s personal foray into gender stereotyping (which is also at play in the fact that she is waiting for him to propose rather than just popping the question her damn self) in order to get some good jokes I guess it’s all worth it.

*Admittedly, I have no idea who either Michael White or Ken Friedman are and the only reason I know who Emeril Lagasse is has something to do with cajun seasoning and non-stick pans but if The Post says they are important, then it must be so.

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