“Make me a sammich!” is a horrendous command for a man to give a woman.
And yet earlier today that piggish edict was spun into a love story, brought to you by the New York Post, in which a thirty-something woman living in Brooklyn took her boyfriend’s smiling sandwich sexism to heart, putting fillings between slices of bread in pursuit of a wedding ring.
“You’ve been up for 15 minutes and you haven’t made me a sandwich?” is the kind of thing boyfriend Eric says to Stephanie Smith, who wrote the Post story herself. After the first time she made him a sandwich, Eric told her “Honey, you’re 300 sandwiches away from an engagement ring!” So naturally she started a blog, 300sandwiches.com, and started cooking her way toward a wedding. (He also responded to that first, fateful sandwich by saying, “Babes, this is delicious!”)
Feminist Twitter had a field day, and the hashtag #300feministsandwiches was quickly born. Here are a few of our favorites.
Mrs. Dalloway Said She Would Buy the Sandwiches Herself
In her famous essay about woman and fiction (and education and culture), Virginia Woolf wrote about women needing space and independence in order to write. Asked to address a much broader topic in the lectures the piece is based on, Woolf apologized famously, writing, “All I could do was to offer you an opinion upon one minor point—a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.”
The money bit meant not depending on a husband for financial support—and having to earn that support with domestic work. Rather than being told to make a sandwich, she, like Mrs. Dalloway and her flowers, could buy a Rueben of her own.
The Zipless Sandwich
Erica Jong Mi #300feministsandwiches— Ismat Sarah Mangla (@ismat) September 25, 2013
In her 1973 novel Fear of Flying, Erica Jong’s Isadora Zelda White Stollerman Wing, a married poet, engaged in casual, “zipless” sex in a way that only male characters had previously been allowed to do. Her sexual liberation resonated with a generation of women stuck making sandwiches for husbands who left them unfulfilled.
A tuna fish without a bicycle #300feministsandwiches— Zack Handlen (@zhandlen) September 25, 2013
Gloria Steinem once said, “A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle.” Which has particularly weird consequences when considered in terms of sandwiches—would the sandwich have fish? Or be fish-less? Either way, don’t even think of asking Steinem to make one for you.
The Sandwich Mystique
"The Feminine Mysteak," by Betty Fried-ham #300feministsandwiches— Amy Tennery (@amytennery) September 25, 2013
It’s likely that no generation of American women made more sandwiches for their working husbands than the highly stereotyped housewives of the 1950s: “the dream image of the young American women and the envy, it was said, of women all over the world.” That’s what Betty Friedan wrote in her 1962 book, The Feminine Mystique, which addressed the “the problem that has no name” that women faced in the post-war era. In doing so, she helped spark Second-Wave Feminism, which helped liberate countless women from being cast as nothing more than homemakers (and sandwichmakers).
The Sandwich’s Handmaid
A Hamburger's Tale #300FeministSandwiches— Erin (@erineliz77) September 25, 2013
The make-me-a-sandwich male is not likely to seek out The Bell Jar or The Yellow Wallpaper as leisure reads. But a dystopian novel set in a near future where a totalitarian sect of Christians has overtaken American society? That kind of sci-fi action could conceivably distract him from wanting for another sandwich. Of course Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale is an allegory for the very real subjugation of women—and how they can gain agency despite the patriarchy.
Supreme Sandwich Justice
Arguably the most powerful feminist in the country, Ruth Bader Ginsburg worked on the American Civil Liberties Union’s Women’s Rights Project before becoming only the second female justice to sit on the U.S. Supreme Court. Critics have danced on her would-be grave twice now, following two separate cancer diagnoses. But she’s made it very clear that she doesn’t plan on leaving the Court anytime soon. To cook her a hamburger would be an honor, not a task.