“Oh it’s not about the hamburger, buddy! Don’t you “just hamburger” me! That is just a hamburger like Elmo is just a furry toy with a stick up its butt! These things, they mean… other things! (And lead to lawsuits, in the case of Elmo.)” My breathing got faster as my hands tightened into fists. “That is just one more symbol of your misogynistic subconscious oppression of women! You might as well say you like your ladies dry aged like an angus and then served with a side of chips. Or maybe you’d just like us to be muppets too? So you can control our every move by sticking your hand… (ack, bad analogy detour! Rerouting…) We’re PEOPLE! With real human NEEDS! And I will certainly NEVER go on a date with you!!” I emphasized my point with a jab of my mascara wand… which hit the mirror in front of me. The black smudge brought me back to reality, a.k.a. the reality that I now had the extra chore of cleaning my mirror (they don’t call it waterproof for nothing!) and that the only person listening to my half-formed arguments was my cat. Who had been licking her butt for ten straight minutes. (Seriously how many hours a day do cats spend licking their butts? And then she wants to lip kiss me? I think not.)
Being generally non-confrontational in nature, all my best arguments are had with myself, generally while in the process of doing something inane like driving, putting on makeup or licking my butt. (Oh, wait I only wish I were that flexible.) And honestly it’s pretty rare when I get super worked up over something. Especially worked up to the point where I cause myself extra housework! So what was so egregious that it forced me to post a grammatically incorrect diatribe to Facebook? (I used “it’s” instead of “its” – I am an SAT essay grader, people! That just does not happen here!*) It was this quote:
“She’s got to be funny. I like a girl who does not take me seriously, you know? It’s important to be able to laugh at each other. And I like a girl who eats. I much prefer that she order the burger.”
That little gem was dropped in a Glamour interview with Jon Snow/Kit Harington from Game of Thrones – a guy I’ve never heard of on a show I’ve never watched talking to a magazine I don’t read. Clearly my opprobrium makes perfect sense!
Actually I have no problem with the first half of that quote – everyone should be with someone who makes them laugh (although preferably with each other and not so much at each other) – rather it was the second part. About the food. Them’s fightin’ words. If there was ever a phrase I’ve hated it’s this: “And I like a girl who eats. I much prefer that she order the burger.”
The next guy I hear proclaim that he wishes girls would “just eat the hamburger already!” is going to get a purple nurple. First problem is because dudes never say this because they want us ladies to be able to eat whatever delicious food we desire and be happy with them. (Some) Bros say it because thanks to a bunch of dishonest celeb interviews they now expect us to eat junk food – while looking like we don’t. First you make us care deeply about our weight and then you tell us we have to pretend like we don’t whenever we’re in public? As if there isn’t enough pressure to be “high school skinny” now we are expected to eat like we’re still in high school too? Well I’ve got news, gentlemen: For 95% of women the math doesn’t work that way. (Unless we’re bulimic and then that’s a whole other issue.) And we do not need to be made to feel guilty about that!
Second issue, I don’t like the assumption that ordering a salad or other “healthy” non-dude-bro food means we don’t “eat.” I happen to truly, deeply love salads. A big ol’ bowl (and I do mean big – Gym Buddy Allison and I eat salads out of mixing bowls) of chopped veggies topped with some grilled protein and a yummy sauce is one of life’s great pleasures. I’ve never been much of a burger fan, honestly. They’re okay but if I’m going to order what I really want to eat it’s probably not going to be a lame sandwich. (My apologies to hamburger lovers, I’m all riled up.)
Lastly, don’t tell me what to eat. I’m a grown woman (even if I’m not acting like it right now) and I’ve been feeding myself even before I could control my own urine so I’m pretty sure I’m capable of reading a menu and ordering something appropriate. I honestly don’t care what you “prefer” I order.
Whew. (Getting angry is kinda fun!)
And all this because of an ostensibly nice comment? I mean, I get it. I realize KittyJon wasn’t trying to be offensive. Indeed he probably thought he was saying something really sweet about women (nice, since he was being interviewed by a women’s mag). But the fact that he said it fully believing it was a gift he was bestowing on us diet-hamstrung women rankled me even more. “I like a girl who eats”? Really?? I hope so. Girls who don’t eat, die. And if I’ve learned one thing from Hollywood (besides that I must be skinny at all times including when I’m pregnant) it’s that zombies make terrible dates.
But as I sat stewing over this (and repeating to myself One who takes offense where none was meant is a fool but one who takes offense where it was meant is an even greater fool.) the responses from Facebook started to roll in. And… y’all dropped some serious wisdom on me. I might have been wrong. (My apologies to my mirror.)
Julie pointed out that maybe he wasn’t talking about the food so much as the lifestyle and honesty of the person ordering it:
” I’ve had a few guys explain to me when they say that what they mean is a girl who is comfortable enough to eat the burger in public. As in don’t order the salad then pick off my plate or complain about being hungry or go home and eat half the fridge in a binge. They said they like women of any and all sizes, as long as she’s comfortable with herself too and isn’t putting on a show”
Caitlin explained the societal meta-symbolism involved in food ordering (I feel an awesome SAT essay brewing!):
“The cheeseburger – and it’s more expensive cousin, the steak – is like the whiskey of food, in that people assume that if a woman is consuming them, that means the woman is Not Like Those Other Women and is therefore superior and more desirable because she’s not going to be prissy or whatever. I say this as someone who loves to eat cheeseburgers so I’m not hating on cheeseburgers here. Or steak, or whiskey. It’s just weird/sad to me how food becomes signifiers of so much more than what we find delicious to eat.”
Camille delved into the male psyche:
“What they really want is for us to go eat a bacon burger, then go rope a calf in the backyard, cut down a tree, hang some laundry on the line outside and then come in and start making dinner. ok, no…..I don’t really know. I think they just prefer us to not ever have gas so we should eat more red meat and less broccoli.”
Matt took a different view of what guys are really thinking:
What it actually means is they have an unhealthy fixation on what the women in their lives eat and how they feel about themselves.
And then Shannon went for the bottom, ahem, line:
“They say that if a woman eats a lot on a date that she is good in bed…..I’d like to know where they get this stuff!” (To which Matt volunteered to be the research subject for.)
So in the end… I don’t know. I’m probably overly sensitive because a) I have/had a lot of food issues and b) I’ve been on the receiving end of comments just like that one more time than I care to count. (Not from my husband though! He knows better than to say anything about my food other than “How is it?”) So I’m probably an extreme case. What do you think – was my mirror-rant justified? Or am I missing some larger societal context that exonerates JonnyKat? Has anyone ever told you to “just eat a hamburger already”? What did you say??
*Okay it totally does happen here. You know it and I know it. I’m sorry. Also, no one tell the high schoolers I’m not perfect ‘kay?