Be Yourselves, Girls, and . . . make decisions based on what boys think

While I’m expressing dismay at NYT articles today, it’s worth a look at this gem as well. I must admit, I was fooled by the title, which declares, “Be Yourselves, Girls, Order the Rib-Eye.” Placement in the Fashion section probably should have tipped me off, but the title really does make it sound like the piece will in some way either describe or advocate women — or, uh, “girls” — 1) being themselves, by presumably 2) ordering steak if they damn well please.

How foolish of me. The article is actually about how women are now ordering (and proclaiming affection for) steak as a dating strategy! Here I am, happily clicking on this article to read about how women are eating what they enjoy, and the Times rips my heart out and feeds to it me (medium rare, please) by discussing how ordering steak is a way to portray the very confidence that could be actually displayed by just . . . ordering whatever one really wants. I know the piece is just fluff, but must we really suffer statements like this:

Restaurateurs and veterans of the dating scene say that for many women, meat is no longer murder. Instead, meat is strategy.

It may be true that restaurateurs say that, but the article provides no evidence — the only one quoted says more women are ordering meat, but he doesn’t speculate about motive. And I guess “veterans of the dating scene” just means “women in their 20s.”

It doesn’t improve from there:

Red meat sent a message that she was “unpretentious and down to earth and unneurotic,” she said, “that I’m not obsessed with my weight even though I’m thin, and I don’t have any food issues.” She added, “In terms of the burgers, it said I’m a cheap date, low maintenance.”

“[Ordering salad] seems wimpy, insipid, childish,” said Michelle Heller, 34, a copy editor at TV Guide. “I don’t want to be considered vapid and uninteresting.”

Ordering meat, on the other hand, is a declarative statement, something along the lines of “I am woman, hear me chew.”

Right: nothing says “unneurotic” like over-analyzing food choice. I mean, I’m not totally unsympathetic to similar concerns — when I’m in an initial dating period, I certainly try to avoid ordering anything that would necessitate a bib, for example — but one would hope there are limits, right? Right??

There is an anecdote, shoehorned in at the end, about a woman who threw caution to the wind and ordered a burger despite amorous affection for a tablemate, but the general tone is one of cheer at the idea that women are eating red meat for the supposed image benefits. Is it supposed to be an improvement that women are abandoning salad-only dates to impress men for steak dinners . . . to impress men?

I know everything has to be a big fake show, but lordie. Order what looks tasty! (And yes, I know I say that from a Position of Privilege, and who am I to grant permission, etc . . . but still.) If your date is judgmental about what you like to eat, probably not a person you want to be with anyway.

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