This one was directly inspired by one of my past blogs, so if it sounds familiar, you know why. It truly is an issue of serious magnitude. The best part is that when the paper published it they put a huge picture of steak right next to my face. Unfortunately it could have been a more appetizing photo of meat (no char lines or anything), so I am hoping they weren't trying to undermine my message by showing a fatty, greasy slab of low quality beef. Whatever! They published me, so who cares?
Where’s The Beef?
Something happens to a girl when she turns eighteen and reaches the status of “woman.” No, I’m not talking about voting, or being able to finally get a Blockbuster card, or get married without parental consent (although those are real milestones). What I’m talking about involves the expectations suddenly placed on a girl-turned-woman to no longer enjoy food. Since I turned eighteen and began participating in various women’s organizations both secular and religious, I have come to loathe three words: “light refreshments served.”
Why do people assume that all women want to eat a skiff of salad, a quarter cup of soup, a lonely, butter-less roll? How is a “light meal” motivating enough to convince us to leave our homes (where our stash of bacon beckons us from its place of honor in the fridge), possibly taking pains to get a babysitter for children, or leave our husbands with the kids? Who wants to go to all that trouble just so she can sit around with other women and eat salad (which I consider obligatory food), secretly wishing she could sneak out and head to Ruby River for an artery-clogging good time?
I realize that there are other motivators for these gatherings—good messages heard, programs painstakingly prepared, lasting friendships forged. These are all important, too. We attend such meetings to hear the message that we women should go a little easier on ourselves, cut ourselves some slack, love ourselves for who we are. This is a good message. It would be even better if it were served up with a big steak and baked potato instead of rabbit food. Just once I would love to bring home a flyer for a women’s gathering that reads "a rack of ribs and half a chicken will be provided for each woman.” I would even be willing to bring my own meat, if I knew there would be a grill to cook it on. Is that so much to ask? I can do without the pretty centerpieces, and other superfluous, frilly decorations. When it comes to budgeting for these things, I say put your money where your mouth is. Spend on the food.
Even when I am not gathering with other women, I still feel the pressure to eat like a bird. My rule for eating out is to get the largest slab of meat I can afford. My husband’s rule is to eat something exotic, like seafood. So he usually gets some sort of fish (which is considered exotic for us) and I get a big t-bone. When the server brings our meals to us, he or she inevitably tries to give me the salmon and my husband the steak. Why is this the case? Why can’t a woman unabashedly love meat without being judged by society? Why assume that the woman ordered from the “light” section of the menu? Is it inconceivable that I might actually be able to eat my husband under the table?
The feminist movement has made great strides in the history of our country: we’ve achieved the right to vote, the right to wear pants, to go to college, to be treated equally in the workplace. Women occupy positions of power and authority in government. Susan B. Anthony would be proud. Why, then, does the right to consume copious amounts of meat continue to elude us? Why is Freedom of Meat our glass ceiling?
I have a dream that some day women who love meat can come together, free from judgment, and fire up our grills and smokers. We will form “meat of the month” clubs, and discuss the virtues of various rubs and brines, cuts of meat, and cooking methods. We’ll gather around the table, enjoying each other’s company--even sharing an inspirational message, just like in the old “salad days,”—and return to the ribs from whence we came, picking the bones clean, and licking our satiated lips.