Stephanie Smith courted controversy with her gimmicky stunt. But it was never about the sandwiches.
So now we know that Stephanie Smith, senior reporter for the NY Post — who told the world she's a mere 124 sandwiches away from an engagement ring — is actually embarrassed by the whole incident. She went on the Today Show and basically said, "Geez guys, it was a joke."
And I'm saddened by that. Because she caved.
Yesterday, I was all for her doing a thing she wanted to do, for pushing back on the notion that a woman doesn't have to earn anything to get married. I wanted her to go bigger, stronger. To stand up for it, to say it mattered and to tell us why. To push back and defend her actions.
Instead, she backed down. She revealed that her gimmicky stunt was tongue-in-cheek. So, while she did not set the women's movement back 50 years with her sandwich-making moment, she did show that when a woman is publicly shamed, she'll surrender her power and pretend she was just kidding.
That's the biggest bummer of all. Fact is, anything you do in an attempt to get that much attention in less than 24 hours is going to attract haters — period. The prevalence of social media just means that there are more platforms from which people can spew their distaste.
But she let the haters win. The apopleptic feminists beat her into submission, which creates an interesting and disturbing turn: Women told her to shut up and she did. Which either speaks to an inflamed feminist reaction or to the weakness of a woman who gave up when everyone else didn't agree with her. (Do I need to remind you of feminism being about a woman's right to choose? Read my take on why it’s not wrong just because you don't like it it)
Either way, it sucks.
The inflammatory knee-jerk response to the very idea that a woman should make a sandwich for her man says more to me about our own feminist hangups than it does about Smith's relationship (which, in the end, is nobody's business but hers and her boyfriend’s). Here are a few issues that come up with this whole 300 sandwiches controversy.
Issue #1: The idea that feminism means never having to make a sandwich.
Smith may not have stood up for her idea, but I will. You and I have been taught to think that being liberated, from the kitchen and everywhere else, means a woman shouldn't have to lift a finger for her dude. We are heretofore released of all domestic responsibility, and how dare someone ask us to do otherwise.
The notion that you shouldn't ever have to do anything to work at, maintain, or give to a relationship is the problem. Smith hit a nerve by saying she was willing to do a thing to please a man she loves. If that’s enough to make you flip your wig, it's time to really rethink things. Because that twinge you feel speaks more to your fears and insecurities than to your position of power.
The thing that some people really find offensive is the notion that he's making her jump through hoops to get what she wants: "Make me 300 sandwiches and I'll marry you." It feels cheap and manipulative. And to a degree, it is. Yet many a woman has put a man through multiple hoops — to earn her trust, to earn sex with her — and often, to keep earning it. Keep reading...
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