Last Tuesday, MSU’s Culinary Services Eat at State campaign promoted and replied positively to a Tweet from a male student who said “I’m about to wife up @EatatState because they make me awesome sandwiches every day #wifeymaterial.”
Instead of ignoring it or replying differently, Eat at State’s Twitter account quoted this and added “Aww, shucks,” as if being dubbed “wifey material” for making “awesome sandwiches” is a compliment.
Myself and numerous others were offended that MSU would pander to a sexist comment, reacted with replies such as:
“Great. You managed to dehumanize employees and women in one swoop #embarrassedforyou #getout”
“Not a compliment actually. Way to promote sexism and gender stereotyping. Good job MSU…”
“Umm, I would really appreciate it if my university wasn’t so supportive of misogyny”
The response from Eat at State was as follows:
“Sorry if you took it that way. I didn’t. Simply that the student loves our food. I, too, am female”
The student whose original tweet was retweeted by Eat At state replied to the reactions via his personal twitter by defending his remark as a “joke.”
Saying one is going to “wife up” a campus dining program because they make good sandwiches and calling them “wifey material” degrades not only the outstanding women of this university, but women everywhere.
I responded to Eat at State’s Tweets numerous times because this is inexcusable. At MSU, I first found my passion to study women’s and gender studies, and I’m proud to say I will be graduating with a minor in the field. The more my eyes are opened through my classes, the more I realize none of this is to be taken lightly.
There is no such thing as a harmless sexist joke. The institutionalized promotion of sexism is quiet. It is insidious. And most importantly, it is in all of us. If I have learned anything during my course of study at MSU, it is that sometimes it is best to acknowledge problematic things and move on. One cannot fight every battle.
However, I, and my fellow students, have chosen this battle to fight. It is absolutely inexcusable that MSU has chosen to both promote and defend this overtly sexist message.
The response, “Sorry if you took it that way. I didn’t. Simply that the student loves our food. I, too, am female” does nothing to help, and was followed up the next morning with a series of tweets:
“I apologize that you were offended by @brian_sco0tt’s comments. I did not interpret his comments as being malicious, rather, he loves our food I personally am an independent woman and am proud of all I can accomplish. Had he said, “make me a sandwich” I would have been offended too. If you would like to meet with me to discuss your concerns I am willing. I hope you have a great day. There’s not much more I can do for you on Twitter.”
There is no right or wrong way to “take” the statement. It is sexist, black and white. The stereotype that a woman’s place is as a wife, and someone who makes sandwiches is not funny.
Eat at State indicates the only way for the comment to be sexist is to demand someone “make me a sandwich.” There is no one way an “in the kitchen” comment must be phrased to be sexist.
Saying Eat at State is “wifey material” for making good sandwiches is not a “simple” statement whatsoever, and has very little to do with the “delicious” food in question.
It instead is targeted at who should be preparing to food: a wife. Also, to be considered for the position of being a wife, the preparation of making “awesome sandwiches every day” is required. Luckily, our on-campus dining program fits the bill, “Aww, shucks.”
No, Eat at State, this is not a compliment. We are not blushing. The repeated assertion of the gender of the person running the account, as if somehow being female exempts them from promoting sexist comments, also is irrelevant. Being female does not exempt a person from promoting institutionalized sexism, period.
There is no requirement for every person who identifies as female to be offended by a sexist comment about their gender. The problem is Eat at State refuses to recognize the comment as sexist, which is unacceptable.
The statement MSU’s Twitter chose to promote and accept as a compliment is sexist, plain and simple. Promoting a sexist comment, taking it as a compliment and refusing to acknowledge it as sexist once it has been pointed out is inexcusable and an embarrassment to our campus.
Institutionalized oppression runs in our blood. It is in the air we breathe. It is in the words we say and think. I do not think it is too much to ask in 2014 for MSU to respect all sexes and avoid promoting sexist notions.
Veronica Allen is an English senior. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.