Monday, January 4, 2010

the gender politics of dining out

I'd like to propose a scenario:

A woman is out on a date with a man. A host takes their drink orders, and it includes a Coke and a Diet Coke. Their waiter, coming over to introduce himself and deliver the drinks, brings them by. Where do you think he sets which drink? Would any waiter place the regular Coke in front of the woman and the Diet Coke in front of the man? Chances are, the answer's no.

I've grown up drinking regular Coke, and have never, ever, even in my super healthy-eating stages, drank Diet. In fact, I'd rather cut out soda entirely than have to "suffer" through drinking a Diet Coke sweetened with aspartame (I don't like Splenda either, for the record). But undoubtedly, on the (many) occasions when I've been out with a man and he's ordered a Diet Coke or Coke Zero, the diet drink is placed in front of me and the regular drink is placed in front of him without the waiter even asking whose drink is whose.

Now let's be fair--I'd say that in my little scenario, it probably is more likely that a woman would've ordered the diet drink (although I don't have research to back it up, at least among my friends it seems to be colloquially true).

But still. The first time? It was funny. The second, third, hell, even twentieth time? It was still funny, but by then it had also started to make me think. What does mean that a great majority of waitstaff think it's such a given that a woman will be ordering the diet drink that they don't even bother to ask and I end up swapping drinks with the guy sitting across from me at the table? To extrapolate further, why is the woman always considered to be the one "on a diet" or the one being "calorie conscious" and what does that mean for us both as women and as a culture?


  1. Yup, we're all on diets all the time, because nobody loves a fatty. If we're big, we need Diet Coke to get smaller. If we're small, we need Diet Coke to get smaller.

    And at the end of dinner, the waiter comes over and offers to "tempt" you into some "decadent" dessert, making it sound all illicit and naughty. It's fucking FOOD, people.

  2. A better question to propose would be "Why do women get more offended than men when they perceive a gender-based stereotype?" As a male I couldn't care less if the waiter/waitress offers me the regular Coke, which according to your logic, I should feel offended that they would think I didn't care about my health, or that I wasn't conscious of my appearance.

    Instead of perceiving the perpetuation of a female stereotype, you should feel grateful that most servers believe that women care more about their health and well-being than us slobs, and have more self-control than men in ordering that Diet Coke instead of the much unhealthier regular Coke. Additionally, scientific data provides more incentive for the servers to assume that women would order the Diet instead of the men. Men have higher metabolism, contain less fat than women (ideally, in nature and not in human society, for protection of vital organs and the premiums placed on rearing offspring); and statistically, since ANY study on this, I am confident, would show that more women order Diet than men. Taking those reasons into consideration it seems that servers are ahead of the game by offering you the Diet. You being a feminist, I would expect you to be up in arms at such a preposterous and heinous act of gender-based stereotyping, but, really, it's a compliment, not a crime. If you think these servers have it out for you, or are stereotyping you...get over yourself.


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