Thursday, April 5, 2012

Boys Need Boy Food

From a recent Smithsonian magazine article, entitled "The Basque Revolution," about Basque cuisine in America:

"If you happen to be at the Noriega Hotel, the only Bakersfield Basque place that still functions as a boardinghouse, this procession of dishes, known as a 'set-up,' is only half of the meal. The set menu changes daily, but there will typically be a tureen of lamb or beef stew, a plate of overboiled spaghetti in tomato sauce, and finally the main course of fried chicken or baked spare ribs or leg of lamb accompanied by vast platters of hand-cut French fries that still have the flavor of the field about them. If you are a 9-year-old boy, you will be given a vast scoop of sherbet, and after dinner you will throw a tennis ball around the adjoining tennis court while your parents linger at the bar for a last Picon Punch." [emphasis added]

And if you are a girl? (Ho ho! As if!) You will get to lick a stamp for dessert, after which you will proceed to sit daintily and mutely while the grown-ups finish their drinks.

But seriously now.

Unless this particular restaurant literally only gives boys sherbet (which would be a whole 'nother issue), why does the author inject gender into this piece in this way?

Would it have been that difficult to just say "If you're a 9-year-old" and leave gender out of it? Why alienate at least half of one's readership with the presumption that sherbet is a boy thang? Is one presuming that one's readership, that "you" the author initially references, is comprised of men?

I realize that there are Worse Things In The World for a feminist to criticize, but yes, this kind of casual, subtle instance of gender policing is a legitimate microaggression nonetheless.

It plays on the narrative that it's charming, endearing, and wholesome for boys to have Big Appetites and to Love Ice Cream A Whole Bunch, because the goal of being a boy is to eventually get big and strong- to take up space in the world. Eating and liking to eat is, to some, how boys and men demonstrate "authentic" masculinity.

Girls and women who love to eat, have big appetites, like ice cream, and who are larger than the beauty standards governing the ladies say that we should be are, meanwhile, subtly told that we are masculine. Because, naturally, men and women are complementary, opposites. This, despite the fact that I reckon the majority of American women and girls do or are all of the above.


Man Food, Again

Men Need Man Food

I Eat

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