Friday, September 27, 2013

The Price of an Engagement Ring: Three Hundred Sandwiches.

You can read all about this publicity stunt (for a book?) by a New York Post reporter here.  A snippet:

My boyfriend, Eric, is the gourmet cook in our relationship, but he’d always want me to make him a sandwich.
Each morning, he would ask, “Honey, how long you have been awake?”
“About 15 minutes,” I’d reply.
“You’ve been up for 15 minutes and you haven’t made me a sandwich?”
To him, sandwiches are like kisses or hugs. Or sex. “Sandwiches are love,” he says. “Especially when you make them. You can’t get a sandwich with love from the deli.”
One lazy summer afternoon just over a year ago, I finally gave in. I assembled turkey and Swiss on toasted wheat bread. I spread Dijon mustard generously on both bread slices, and I made sure the lettuce was perfectly in line with the neatly stacked turkey slices.
Eric devoured the sandwich as if it were a five-star meal, diving in with large, eager bites. “Babes, this is delicious!” he exclaimed.
As he finished that last bite, he made an unexpected declaration of how much he loved me and that sandwich: “Honey, you’re 300 sandwiches away from an engagement ring!”

So what can a girl do?  Make three hundred sandwiches, naturally.  The story is cute, all about love and feeding those you love and the sandwiches probably are delicious, too, right?

Then there's the side with the baby monsters.  She's making these sandwiches in exchange for a wedding ring because
Things were moving at a natural pace, but I wondered what it would take for him to propose. I’m in my mid-30s, and my parents have been happily married for more than 35 years. I have always valued the commitment and dedication it takes to get married and stay married. Call me old-fashioned, but I’d like to raise a family with someone who feels likewise.
Maybe I needed to show him I could cook to prove that I am wife material. If he wanted 300 sandwiches, I’d give him 300 sandwiches — and I’d blog about it.

One way to read that is that he's not keen to marry her unless she makes him sandwiches, that the marriage is something she has to buy from him, that she has to wait for him to propose.  And then there's the fact that this contract between her labor and his future payment for it (the ring) cannot be enforced in any court.  So she may end up having made all those sandwiches and then he just moves on.  Except that this is probably a publicity stunt.

Why it isn't a very good stunt is because of this: "Make me a sammitch, bitch!" is the most common   response of sexists to anything by an uppity woman (an article, a piece of music, a sports achievement).  Typing it out doesn't take much thought.  Even a brainless person can use it, and the intention is to remind that uppity bitch that she is supposed to be subservient.  I have read that thing gazillion times.

So the way I interpret this story is as a female subjugation story.  Come to think of it, that's how it might be intended to read?  Maybe the book or blog or whatever is going to be 2013's answer to that 1970s book about how to obey your husband best so that he will buy you a deep freeze.

On the other hand, that commercial flavor of the transaction smacks of something different.  We might be able to pick and choose which tired image of women we wish to use here (obedient mate, manhunter/golddigger).  But in any case, as the happy sammitch-man, Eric, states:

“You women read all these magazines to get advice on how to keep a man, and it’s so easy,” he says. “We’re not complex. Just do something nice for us. Like make a sandwich.”

I thought it was 300 sandwiches, in exchange for a ring?   And there's the third tired image of women and men, the dichotomy of men as very very simple creatures, as long as they get fed and of women as sandwich presses.