“B****, make me a sandwich.”
At least five different guys have said this to me on different occasions and on different continents. It seems as though no matter where I go, there is inevitably some group of jerks who think that they are being witty or alluring or macho by ordering me to serve them food. It’s infuriating to deal with this sort of blatant sexism and even more disgusting that it doesn’t seem to be lessening, but rather, growing, over time, as the “B****, make me a sandwich” meme careens around the Internet.
It seems pretty clear where this stereotype of women being submissive homebodies comes from; the era of the perfect 1950s housewife was not that long ago. In those days, and in most eras before the late 20th century, a woman would be confined to her home while her husband went out into the world, and she would only glimpse this life during their after-dinner conversations, when he reclined on a sofa and nursed a dry martini that she had kindly mixed for him. In those times, women did what the men wanted, when the men wanted it done. Even as far back as 467 BC, men associated women’s rights with aprons. “A woman’s place is in the kitchen,” Aeschylus, a famous Greek playwright, said.
Traditionally, mankind associates women with cleaning, cooking and rearing children. However, in culinary schools these days, men outnumber women seven to three. Some of the most successful and famous chefs include Gordon Ramsay, Mario Batali, and Bobby Flay—all of whom are men. This proves the idea that women are the only ones who should be serving and preparing food is ridiculous.
In some ways, though, the advancements that men are making in the field of cooking are also hurting women. Female chefs make 24% less than male chefs, and only 13% of executive chefs are women. So ironically, women are losing representation in the field most often associated with female talents because women are not usually considered to be leadership material. This forces us to reexamine the stereotype and ask ourselves whether “B****, make me a sandwich” comes from the belief that women are good at making food or from the notion that the only thing women can do is make food, and nothing more.
Women, as we well know, are capable of accomplishments unrelated to frying pans and Saran wrap. As of 1998, 76.3 % of women age 25 to 34 worked full time, as opposed to 34% percent in 1950. Surely not all 76.3% were chefs. As females have shown time and time again, we can do everything that men can do (only better). According to The Economist, women receive better grades in school than men and are thus more likely to excel in the workplace, because they are prepared for more jobs that require intensive background knowledge.
Perhaps the part that bothers me the most about male sexism, though, is that, had these boys who wanted me to make them a sandwich bothered to get to know me, they would find that they would be better off swigging from a bottle of poison than eating something I had prepared. I once almost set the house on fire trying to make a piece of toast. I had to be driven to the ER at age 11 after slicing my finger open whilst attempting to cut up some strawberries. Under no circumstances do you want me making you a sandwich. The point is you should never assume that food preparation runs in women’s genes, just as you should never assume truck driving or baseball playing runs in men’s.
So how can we fight this stereotype? We can pursue our education, be who we are (not who men want us to be), and continue to beat boys in every conceivable fashion.