Welcome to Sounding Off, where writers have the chance to express their thoughts on the food and drink world. These opinions belong to the writer, not Tasting Table.
The year is 2017. How are we still seeing headlines like "These are NYC’s manliest meals" on an article that classifies so-called "masculine" meals and restaurants as ones that are "bucking healthy trends and serving up decadent, meat-packed dishes"?
As one might imagine, the list of "six of the best meaty delights" consists of burgers, steaks and other carnivorous conquests. Pardon me, but I had forgotten that the enjoyment of animal protein was limited to the male sex.
NEWSFLASH: Women eat steak, prime rib, burgers & pizza too.— Korsha Wilson (@korshawilson) June 21, 2017
Why are these lists still happening in 2017?https://t.co/fj3KK4ZYFo
And then there are the thinly veiled, Playboy-worthy sexual innuendos in the piece: "There’s no pool of butter to lubricate the flesh . . .," as one sentence whines, followed by a cry to "go topless" with your French dip. Completely unnecessary. Find me an article describing avocado toast as "topless," and I'll buy you breakfast.
The womanist within me seethes with rage when reading articles like this, but part of me wonders if it was purposefully written to elicit such a reaction and, thus, more attention to the piece—which might make it even worse.
And what about those doing the cooking? Should a steak made for a man be grilled only by a man? Not if you're Angie Mar of The Beatrice Inn or April Bloomfield over at White Gold Butchers, two women (and top NYC chefs) luring diners with their reputation for meat cookery. In my eyes, both their restaurants are worthy of inclusion in any best-of meat-focused NYC list, yet both are notably absent here. Is it because they're led by badass women that they were excluded?
And on the flip side, what does it say about the masculinity of men like Jean-Georges Vongerichten with abcV or John Fraser at Nix whose restaurants forgo meat altogether to focus on vegetables? The gendering of food—along with careers, household duties and clothing, just to name a few—needs to stop. Immediately.
When Time released its "13 Gods of Food" piece a few years ago and didn't include any women, the controversy and conversations that followed highlighted early on the gender issues in the restaurant industry. In a conversation with Eater, Time editor Howard Chua-Eoan stated, "There was no attempt to exclude women, we just went with the basic realities of what was going on and who was being talked about." Maybe it's time to change the conversation.
The reality is that there are still issues with not only who gets press coverage, but also how people are treated in general. This includes the existing pay gap between women and men in the restaurant industry, turning our backs on traditionally marginalized voices and the lack of widespread parental-leave policies. Though part of me applauds attempts to move forward on some of these issues, missteps like the Best Female Chef Award prove the lack of diverse voices in positions of leadership—and prove there's still room for improvement.
Society's notions of gender roles aren't perfect yet, but they should definitely be further along than this. I would have hoped that one of the many people who laid eyes on the piece before it was published would have spoken up. Or maybe someone did and their concerns were stifled. Either way, I consider this a crime against food journalism. Come on, world—do better.
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