Why Don’t Women Order Their Own Fries?

Posted: August 23, 2015 in Diet
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Comic shows a man and woman getting married. In the first panel the priest asks “Do you promise to love him in sickness and in health?” The bride answers “Yes.” Second panel the priest asks “Do you promise to love him ’till death do you part?” The bride answers “Yes.” Third panel the priest asks “Do you promise to order your OWN fries if you want them, instead of saying you DON’T want fries, then requesting a ‘taste’ of his, and helping yourself to roughly half of them?” Fourth Panel the bride says, “Wha… who wrote these vows?!” The Groom says, “Just answer the question”.

I saw this the other day, shared on a website, and honestly didn’t think too much into it at the time. Yet it’s been stuck in my head a bit since then, bugging me a bit more over time.

The thing that bugs me about this comic strip is that it plays on a pretty common trope- women want something like fries but don’t order them instead eating a large portion of their (typically male) partner’s serving of that food.

If you want fries, just order your own fries, right?

Why is it apparently so common for women to not just order their own fries?

I feel pretty sure the issue is mostly related to pressure women feel to not be seen ordering too much food or the “wrong” kinds of food. That is the part that bugs me. Makes me mad actually. That we worry, that there is any cause to worry, about being judged if we did just order what we want.

Which to be clear- I order what I want when I eat out. Still, I can certainly relate to worrying about being judged for ordering what I want. Especially because of my size, but also certainly because I’m a woman. Because femininity is associated with daintiness and being small- and so we should be eating small, dainty portions right? Or better yet just not eating those foods at all because food is for some reason very gendered in our society! Burgers and fries? Those are guy foods. Women should order a salad. There is also this social image of women as dieters, where in it almost feels like an expectation that women be dieting, and trying to eat better (and less). Even if we don’t, how normal is it to preface such things with comments about how bad we are being for eating this or ordering that? It’s not the slightest big out of place to hear “I really should get the salad but that burger just looks so good!” To the point that it starts to feel like a social obligation to make it clear we know we aren’t supposed to be eating the burger and fries.

I certainly fall into this. Especially because I do tend to eat a lot in one sitting, particularly since I practice intermittent fasting. When I eat out at a restaurant, that’s often the only meal I eat that day, so yeah, it’s going to be big. It’s just common sense it will be bigger than someone for whom that is one of 3 (or more) meals they eat that day. Because of that I do find myself thinking “I really want to order this, but what are the people I’m with/the server going to think of me ordering that much?” I think more often than not these days I end up at “well fuck what they think, I’m ordering the food I want”, but it’s also pretty clear that this is something a lot of women, myself included, struggle with thinking. I also find myself making comments about it sometimes, like I need to acknowledge to someone that I know it’s a lot of food, or even apologize for that. I remember for instance going to a Coney Island restaurant with a friend who was visiting from out of state, who had never been to a Coney before. Looking at the menu, I really wanted a chili dog. I also really wanted a greek salad. And also chili cheese fries. So what did I order? All of the above. (Also ate all of the above plus half of a big dessert dish split with my friend after. And it was good.) I also remember making some comment to my friend essentially apologizing and saying that I was about to order a whole lot of food for myself.  Which is of course completely ridiculous. I don’t need to apologize to my friend because I’m eating a  lot of food. If I want to eat it, I don’t need to justify it, or apologize for it to someone else.

I suspect though that this is the underlying reason why it is, according to popular culture at least, so common for women to say they don’t want something like fries, and then eat part of their partners. This eliminates some judgement about what the woman orders for herself- not just from her partner, but the (often imagined) judgement from other random people, as well as from herself. “I’m bad for eating this” isn’t just something people say far too often, but also something far too common for women to feel. Yes, we want the fries, but we have years of programming telling us we are bad if we give in and order them or eat them. So you don’t order them, you just eat a few of your partner’s, which maybe ends up being more than a few because damn it you did actually really want the fries.

So, I absolutely agree that if you want fries, go ahead and order fries for yourself! But also, while we laugh about this phenomena of women who won’t order their own fries, why don’t we also consider what we are doing as a culture to make women feel bad for ordering fries?

(Also, I have some frozen fries in my freezer that I am definitely thinking of digging out and cooking later tonight thanks to this post! lol.)

  1. GlenysO says:

    Excellent points! I think this falls under the feminist category of “women don’t own their own bodies.” We don’t order fries to maintain a smaller body (in theory) to please everyone else or to please ourselves when we compare ourselves to everyone else. If we fully owned our own bodies, what they looked like wouldn’t matter to anyone and we also wouldn’t worry about it ourselves.

    They forgot the rest of the comic where she says, “Do you promise to love me as my body fully assumes its own natural shape when I order my own fries?” Gee, wonder what his answer would be? Hopefully the groom is a feminist.

  2. Elizabeth Kara says:

    Sorry if you’ve gotten a bajillion nominations for this award! Accept one more? 🙂 https://elizabethkara.wordpress.com/2015/08/24/starting-fresh-starting-new/

  3. Jessica Venable says:

    Corollary to this, the comic brushes against the idea that women are generally afraid or admonished when they say things that they want openly and honestly. Not just food. I think it is called “speaking woman”. Instead of asking for a jacket or for the heat to be turned on, a lady might just say that she’s cold and hope that male partner will read her body language and reply with action. God forbid she walk over and get her own coat and take control of her own destiny.

    The thing is, women are taught to be like this from a very young age– if girl is too forward about her desires, she’ll be judged harshly. If she is too active and not demure enough, she’ll be criticized. It is a difficult pattern to realize while you’re a woman, at least it was for me.. I need to be forward and not apologize so much. I can ask for help, or some food, or a something or another without apologizing for being inconvenient. DH loves me and he wants to do nice things for me and I should let him. I can’t always be the giver. And DH won’t know exactly what i want if I am vague about it and apologetic about my preferences.

    What do you think? Or am I reading too much into it? lol.

    • ebay313 says:

      I definitely see what you’re talking about, that we are taught are to not ask for things. There definitely seems to be an issue with women feel less inclined to “impose” on others than men, which means being less direct. Even outside a relationship, women are often more inclined to seek consensus before acting. Which can be a good thing! Though I think it does come back to being taught in our culture that our needs don’t come first.

  4. Excellent post, and I can totally relate – it took me a very long time to get to the point where I decided I’ll eat what I want when I want and I don’t care what other people think. Also, to the above poster’s point – I think there’s something to that. When I started getting more vocal and more firm about my opinions and needs, I started hearing about how I was intimidating, high maintenance, and bossy. *sigh*

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