Whether we like it or not, what food we select in Lower or Hillside does say something about us. There is no innocent steak and cheese nor skim Americano with soy—every selection you make is noted by someone and is accompanied by an almost involuntary snap judgment.
We already know that in the real world, certain foods are marketed towards either men or women. For example, Hungry Man dinners are branded with meaningless words like “XXL” and “Power-meal," and in their commercial, men who eat smoothies and yogurt are called women.
Campbell’s “Chunky” soups are also really just for men, either because they have lots of meat that us delicate women would choke on, or because our long days of manicures and cooking just don’t warrant the protein consumption that our male counterparts require.
Our culture dictates that women should have small, dainty rabbit-like appetites and that men should eat massive amounts of food devoid of fancy names, exotic ingredients and lettuce. Gender-specific foods exist, and BC Dining is no different. Here, too, the foods available are subtly marketed towards guys or girls, and we fall right into place, ordering the appropriate foods. When someone breaks the unspoken norm and ventures into a different food line, it is noted by other students. And judged by me.
A guy getting a salad from the salad bars
A quick glance into Lower shows only women orbiting around the twin salad bars, picking their marinated veggies and broccoli spears. Do people notice if they see a guy getting a salad, and do they think something of it? Yes. Guys who were asked about this said unanimously that it is something they would notice. Many said, “I associate salad with girls,” and one said, “salad is not for men.” Others said that if they were at Lower for dinner and one of their friends got a salad, they would definitely say something.
Girls also said they would take note of a guy getting a salad. No guy can get a salad without someone thinking, “huh” to themselves and then wondering why he was. Girls said, “I would expect that he was going to grab something else too,” and whenever I see a guy getting salad I wonder if maybe he is trying to get more cut. There must always be a reason, though—whether it's society or it's BC, no one thinks a man can be getting a salad simply because he enjoys the taste.
A girl getting a salad
A salad is acknowledged nearly the world over as “a girl thing.” This is a sentiment echoed throughout campus by nearly every person that I asked. When asked what a guy would think if he saw a girl getting a salad from the salad bar, responses ranged from “that’s a go-to for girls” and “I would think, there’s a typical, healthy girl” to “duh.”
The overwhelming girl response to “What would you think if you saw a girl getting a salad?” was “typical,” along with an eye roll or laugh. When I see a girl with a salad my reaction is the same: an “ugh, typical” in my head. Whether I am derisive of girls buying salads because I think it means they are giving into pressure to look skinny or eat “like a girl,” or because I am incapable of choking down a salad more than twice a week, for some reason I judge them. I’m sorry, but I do not think it's possible that someone really gets such joy from ordering a bunch of mixed vegetables every day. Advertisers would disagree with me; check out these images from real ads, depicting women sitting alone, eating a salad and laughing with joy.
A guy getting a fancy coffee drink in Hillside
Hillside Café has a beautiful selection of fancy coffee drinks to rival any Starbucks, but what happens if a burly male makes the mistake of asking for a frou-frou iced treat? Emasculation, that’s what. Guys who were asked what they would think if a guy ordered a fancy coffee from Hillside said, “that’s definitely not normal,” and the majority said they would notice. Even the guys who said they do order vanilla lattes admitted it was “unusual.” None of them, however, said they would pass a judgment on a guy who did, though one did say, “I could see how that would be seen as feminine.”
Girls unanimously said they would notice, and when asked what they would think of the guy, one said, “I would wonder if he wanted to go shopping later.” I agree; when I hear the guy in front of me in line ask for an iced Americano with soy milk and a vanilla shot, all I can think is “Aw, honey, where did you learn how to order that?” Sorry guys, but ordering anything more fancy than a hot coffee with milk and sugar will make everyone picture you doing this:
A girl in the Steak and Cheese line
I thought that the bro-dominated steak and cheese line was a battleground of sexism, and its saucy, bready, meaty products the very paradigm of gender-specific foods. I was wrong. Although I expected that guys would notice if a girl was standing in the steak and cheese line, the majority of guys shrugged and said that they wouldn’t even notice. The only guy who said anything besides “I wouldn’t think anything of it” was someone who said, “I would think she was ordering the chicken, and if she didn’t, I would think, huh, that’s different.”
Women who were asked whether they would notice a girl in the hot sub line and what they would think about it, responded either that they wouldn’t notice, or they responded with clear pride,“I get those all the time!” Some girls said they would think, “Hell ya! Go woman!” which is exactly what I would think. It seems that getting a steak and cheese is the BC version of taking a stand against female appetite norms and the evil Man-Media. It boldly says, “Hey, I don’t care what men think about my appetite, and I could care less what impact this sandwich will have on my weight!” **Ladies**: Run, do not walk, to the nearest hot sub line, and get your steak and cheese today! Hungry Woman Dinners: Satisfy Your Craving and End Patriarchy ™.
Interestingly, though neither guys nor girls thought it would be unusual for a girl to be in the steak and cheese line, they both accused girls of noticing this. Many guys said “that’s something that only girls would notice if other girls did it,” and many girls echoed this, saying, “a girl is going to be the one to notice a girl in the steak and cheese line, not a guy.” Even though the reality is that none of the girls I asked said they would think it was unusual to see a girl getting a hot sub.
The good news
Here is the excellent news for all you bros out there reading The Gavel: you can now get Chobani, judgment free! Although people poke fun at BC women and their ever-present Chobani and Smartwater, this fat-free staple has become acceptable for men, too. Casual research has shown that people don’t bat an eyelash when they see a guy buying a Chobani. As one student observes, “Chobani is definitely a guy thing now, which is new because guys who got Chobani a few years ago would have gotten made fun of.” I maintain that Chobani only became socially acceptable because of all the protein in it, which men need to build manly muscles. Buying a Chobani tells people, “Today was chest day.”
Along with your yogurt protein, you can ALSO now buy an omelet! Although I definitely notice if I see a guy in the omelet line, I am apparently the only one. It is clear through asking students that no one, guy or girl, thinks it’s weird for a man to get an omelet. I do, but hey, as long as you are careful to load it up with Man Ham and Man Bacon Bits, then I suppose it is okay with me. But God help you if you ask for egg whites.