there are a few things that i am very passionate about. feminism is obviously one of them. i’m also passionate about lgbtq equality, activism, fashion, and food. yes, i am a foodie. i realize that there’s a pretty big foodie backlash growing on the internet, but i love food: i love to cook, i love to eat, and i love to talk about great food.
many times, activism, feminism, and being a foodie - more importantly being someone who advocates a return to eating that involves foods that are not processed and/or foods that are healthy - don’t collide. they do however collide in the case of jamie oliver’s food revolution.
i first heard about the “food revolution” when someone posted a note on facebook about the episode where jamie makes “chicken nuggets” for the kids. if you haven’t seen that segment, i highly recommend it. i don’t have cable tv, and i watch the things i do watch online, but i sought out the episodes of food revolution on hulu.com. i was excited about the concept of food revolution. it’s not really that difficult to change the way that we eat, if we plan ahead. yes, it’s infinitely easier to drive through a fast food restaurant than it is to go to the grocery store, shop, and prepare a meal at home - but it’s evident that convenience has a cost that is much too high for us to pay.
i blogged about the way we eat in america, and posted a breakdown of what’s in mcdonald’s fries on my website but this post is not about food. this post is about “the girls”. as i watched the chicken nugget episode in its entirety, i immediately noticed that jamie was referring to the public elementary school’s lunch cooks as “girls” and frankly, i found it offensive. the women that he was talking to and about were women, some of whom might be old enough to be his mother. why was he calling them girls? i tweeted something about this, and my twitter feed updates my facebook status. immediately i met with resistance on calling out this behavior. “jamie seems like a sweet sensitive guy. he means no harm!” was the general attitude of the comments. now we are on episode six of the food revolution, and his continual referring to the lunch cooks as “girls” hasn’t ceased to offend me.
the truth is, jamie oliver may very well be a sweet sensitive guy. i believe in what he’s doing. i believe that we need to change the way we eat in america; the way we think about food; and the way that we allow corporations to blind us to the reality about factory farms and that french fries are way more than just potatoes, salt and oil. i don’t however think that just because he’s doing something important we should excuse behavior that is misogynistic, even inadvertently so! if you watch the episodes, you’ll notice that never once does he refer to rod, the local DJ as a “boy”. i’m not saying that he’s intentionally being condescending, but just because it’s unintentional and he’s a nice person, that doesn’t make it ok.
what happened to a society that respected its elders? what happened to the archetype of the crone as a wise woman that we hoped to age to be? now she’s evil and passing out poisoned apples. now she’s airbrushed in an olay regenerist commercial desperately hoping she passes for fifty. wtf has happened, feminists? every time oliver says “girls” i keep expecting alice - the feisty anti-heroine - to go “girl? i was chopping potatoes before you were out of diapers boy!” i find it disheartening that we live in a time where we have completely rejected the notion that a woman has any worth after the age of thirty; or twenty? i find it absurd that we forget that wisdom comes from age and experience. are only men allowed to be older and wiser in america now? i find it ridiculous that we discount the lessons of the crone, distressed or afraid to become her, when we are all going to get older and we should respect that each portion of life is a stage that deserves celebration.
every time jamie oliver calls those women “girls” he discounts her wisdom, her unique experience, and her worth as a productive member of society. whatever his intention, he is being disrespectful. whether it is malicious or not really doesn’t matter - ignorance is no excuse - and if it makes me an angry feminist who stirs shit up to say so, well, i was already an angry feminist that stirs shit up :) and at 29, i’m a long way beyond being a girl.