On the nonsense of kitchen and sandwich jokes

A SYTYCB entry

Publicly support women’s rights on the Internet (or you know, simply exist on the Internet as a woman), and you’ll inevitably encounter some form of the following allegedly hilarious silencing tactics: “get back to the kitchen” or “make me a sandwich“.

Pictured above: humor?

The reasoning behind these pervasive jokes is baffling, and they are the bane of logically-minded people everywhere. Let’s take a closer look:

For one, women “being in the kitchen” is statistically inaccurate, at least in a professional setting. Not only are women as executive chefs incredibly rare (survey estimates ranging from 4.3-11%), but with the exception of pastry chefs, women are overwhelmingly underrepresented in the culinary industry, from line cooks (34%) to sous chefs (18%).

From the Washington Post:

While women make up more than half of the food-preparation workforce, fewer than one in five is a chef or head cook. The industry’s most prestigious awards go mostly to men. Most of the recognized top chefs in the country are men. Most of the students at the L’Academie de Cuisine in Gaithersburg are men.

And while our government doesn’t keep updated statistics on sandwich makers, we can easily take a peek at Adam Richman’s Best Sandwich In America and see that for the most part, who are the sandwich makers? Men.

Which is not to say that men are objectively better chefs because of these statistics of course (since the culinary world is certainly no exception to patriarchy in full force), but to highlight the utter nonsense these jokes are supposedly grounded in – if the culinary world is so male-dominated, why are kitchen and sandwich jokes skewed strongly against women?

Maybe these jokes are really saying that we women “belong in the kitchen” as an active effort to even out the stark gender imbalance in the culinary world? If only.

Kitchen/sandwich jokes against women are ultimately an assault on domesticity, and a testament that not only are the jokes inaccurate, but that misogynists will use something as innocent as home cooking and sandwich making, and warp it to humiliate, silence, and laugh at women.

Moving forward, how you respond to these attacks (if at all), and what have strategies have you found to be effective or ineffective?

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One Comment

  1. Posted September 3, 2012 at 10:19 am | Permalink

    I say fight bad meme’s with bad meme’s — I once saw this picture of a sandwich with knives and swords and daggers between the slices of bread, entitled “The Manwich — Just shut up and eat it”. Anytime you see a post saying ‘Woman, make me a sandwich’, post that picture in return with a sweet ‘Here you go’.

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