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The Shame of Sweetness
June 7, 2014 8:06 AM   Subscribe

Sweetness is code for feminine. It’s code for not being able to handle “reality” and having to cover it up.
posted by xingcat (234 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite

 
Why do we care if people quietly (or not so quietly) judge our food choices?

Because people love to overthink to distract themselves from reality.

But really, how many Alpha-males I know are unrepentant sweet-tooths. Besides, people put more sugar in the meals they make than the desserts they bake...
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 8:12 AM on June 7 [3 favorites]


This article gave me Diabeetus. I drink unsweetened, unmilked coffee because I like coffee. Kind of like how a good steak doesn't need steak sauce or ketchup or some god damned goop on it. It doesn't make me extra manly. It's a beverage.

If she likes four sugars, whatev. Do people actually get criticized for drinking hard cider? Maybe she just hangs out with assholes.
posted by codswallop at 8:12 AM on June 7 [35 favorites]


The Shame of Sweetness

I think it's high time we all stopped with the sweet-shaming.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 8:18 AM on June 7 [7 favorites]


Personally, I think that by rights Sweetness should be bludgeoned in its bed.

Oh Sweetness! I was only joking!
posted by Parasite Unseen at 8:18 AM on June 7 [61 favorites]


Why does it matter? Liking sweet things is OK, but confining yourself to sweet things is missing out. Sweet things are easy to like. Children like sweet things. If you don't also like non-sweet things it suggests you're stuck in a more limited taste world, that your tastes have not become wider and more discerning.

I dare say it's true that people get snobby and perhaps sexist about it, which is a shame, but that's not the real point, that's just objectionable froth on top of a reasonable feeling that perpetual sweetness is unsophisticated.
posted by Segundus at 8:23 AM on June 7 [16 favorites]


I realized I had some internalized issues around associating certain foods with femininity when I was in England and I went to a cider bar there. Cider is very popular in Chicago, where I live, but sweet ciders are generally frowned upon by the arbiter elegantiae– bartenders, food and drink writers, etc.

And here in this cider bar in England, there were too extremely burly and large men next to me. They were wearing construction gear. They turned to me and said I should definitely try their favorite cider. I ordered a pint. My mouth recoiled at the sweetness. How could they be drinking this stuff?

Then I caught myself. I had been stereotyping so long I couldn't believe it when I encountered something that didn't fit the narrative that sweet cider was for women who were too afraid of the real stuff.

Then I thought of my secret shame, the sweet wines and sherries I kept secretly in my fridge. I would never order those in front of people. I wasn't allowed to like these things. Food sexism was keeping my love for them closeted.

The reality is from a taste perspective, sweet can be used to cover things up, but it also enhances a lot of flavors. And some of the dislike of it is backlash against the food industry's over-sweetening of crap, but some of it is stereotyping muddled with internalized sexism.
posted by melissam at 8:25 AM on June 7 [57 favorites]


I think the author thinks other people notice what she's doing more than they really do. Four packets of sugar is how many tablespoons? Who pay attention to what someone else is doing with her coffee?
posted by Ideefixe at 8:34 AM on June 7 [8 favorites]


Sweet mixed drinks get called "girly drinks" even though I know quite a few men who actually like them too. The husband is a big fan of Cosmopolitans as well as whisky.

She didn't hit upon the hops=manliness issue that you can get in craft beer drinking, but I have definitely seen guys do that, or look down on those who don't like hoppy beers. Which is silly; hops lovers and non-hops-lovers should be able to drink together in harmony.

Same with spicy foods; I definitely get the side-eye for not liking peppers but dammit, I just don't. Not my thing, man.

I think a lot of men do feel pressured to eat them in a "oh yeah I can totally take it!" kind of manliness contest. I have wondered how many of them really like them versus are trying to be a tough guy.
posted by emjaybee at 8:38 AM on June 7 [9 favorites]


There are definitely "feminine" cocktails (though I see men order them) but it feels like I see men and women order the same sweet vanilla lattes. This is a country with a serious sweet tooth and people add sugar to all kinds of things that don't need that level of sweetness.
posted by Dip Flash at 8:41 AM on June 7 [7 favorites]


Why do we care if people quietly (or not so quietly) judge our food choices?

I'm currently eating a one-pound block of cheese at my desk for lunch. I may have some Haribo later. People may judge, but I'm pretty sure I don't care one whit.
posted by belarius at 8:45 AM on June 7 [11 favorites]


if men can’t respect me because I prefer a hard cider that’s their own damn sexist fault.

I imagine that if men don't respect her it's for other reasons.

She's not a very good writer.
posted by IndigoJones at 8:46 AM on June 7 [7 favorites]


Yeah, this is a thing but I've found that if someone is hassling you because of your choice of drink or food, you can easily dissolve the situation by firmly but politely vomiting in their face.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 8:52 AM on June 7 [38 favorites]


My husband refers to himself as a "girl drink drunk" (yes, like the KITH sketch) because he is the first to try any interesting sounding cocktail he comes across. He also has a weird love for Amarula, but oh man, that stuff is too sweet for me.
posted by Kitteh at 8:53 AM on June 7 [2 favorites]


She really lost me with the coffee thing. I think I'm a fairly girly person, I like sundresses, knitting, and am excited about the return of Sailor Moon, but I also love black coffee. When I'm at Starbucks, it seems like most of the customers, men and women, are drinking things with whipped cream. The black coffee drinkers are more visible at places that specialize in coffee.

Just because the writer is forcing herself to like something, it doesn't mean that everyone is forcing themselves to like it.

I do believe she's been criticized for liking sweet drinks. People who are into alcohol can get very judgey, especially if they've been drinking. Some random person once followed me around a bar lecturing me about how I should never order Guinness outside Ireland. (I like Guinness, it tastes like coffee.)
posted by betweenthebars at 8:53 AM on June 7 [6 favorites]


I like sweet stuff. I like bitter stuff, sour stuff, salty stuff whatever. There's no accounting for taste, or so I'm told.
posted by jonmc at 8:54 AM on June 7 [1 favorite]


She should feel ashamed for adding four packets of sugar. How is that at all healthy? That guilt she feels is the same guilt I feel on my fourth glass of rum. Yeah, I know it's bad. She should too. She should also gel free to disregard that nagging voice and just enjoy the fuck out of her drink.

> I drink unsweetened, unmilked coffee because I like coffee.

I always say, "If I wanted my coffee to taste like candy I would just eat candy."

In college I wrote a paper I called "The Theology of Coffee: Or Why Coffee Proves God." It was basically the "Watchmaker's argument" for existence applied to coffee. "How could something this good come about just by accident?" Anyway, I posited that coffee as as close to perfection man was ever going to get. Therefor, adulterating this divine beverage was the devil's work! It was mostly a pisstake, but sometimes I am amazed at the idea that some guy 3,000 miles away decided to roast a bean and pour water over it, and now there's a whole industry dedicated to insuring I get my morning fix!

Listen, you have your religion. I'll have mine.
posted by cjorgensen at 8:54 AM on June 7 [4 favorites]


Four packets of sugar? That's like eight freaking grams of sugar. She's not putting sugar in her cup of coffee. She's putting coffee in her cup of sugar. If she really, truly didn't care what people think she'd just eat sugar our of the bowl.
posted by dortmunder at 8:55 AM on June 7 [10 favorites]


I get what she's saying, but I stopped reading when she said black coffee tastes like shit.
posted by hydrophonic at 8:57 AM on June 7 [14 favorites]


This article does not bring the sunshine to a rainy afternoon.
posted by infinitewindow at 8:57 AM on June 7 [2 favorites]


There are definitely "feminine" cocktails

Yes. Yes there are.

But I think, really, the thing about "femininity" vis a vis sweetness is really more about juvinility. Is there sexism in society's conflating the two? Hells yes, most definitely.

All the same, at the risk of being that guy, I'd posit that on this particular issue, "girl drinks" are more to do with ridiculing men who might order such things than anything else. It's not as if women get shit for ordering something that doesn't come in a coconut.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:57 AM on June 7 [10 favorites]


I think I would trace it like this. Only wanting sweet things is viewed as childish, it's a sign you have simple tastes for unsubtle food that just gives instant gratification. Since people infantalize women, they think that is the only sort of drink the average woman can handle too. So women get typecast into sweet drinks and men have to prove they are men by not drinking sweet drinks and it's all completely ridiculous because people should just drink whatever they like and a lack of subtlety is not the same thing as being bad.

And hell, all the time at the bar I see men asking for shots which end up pretty weak and sugary but since it's a shot instead of a cocktail and it doesn't have an umbrella in it...MANLY!
posted by Drinky Die at 9:00 AM on June 7 [10 favorites]


Also in the food news lately: Brooklyn Restaurant Features Cocktails for 'Ladies' and 'Men'.
posted by melissam at 9:04 AM on June 7


I think I'm a fairly girly person, I like sundresses, knitting, and am excited about the return of Sailor Moon

OMG squee me too! The new series looks purty. Also, my favorite colors have been pink and purple since as early as I can remember. I even cried in first grade when my teacher gently said, "dear, you can only have one favorite color" and I tried to get around it by coloring with the pink and purple crayons together because I can NOT choose between pink and purple. Hellooo! Best colors evar.

Meanwhile, I can't bear to eat sugary stuff - my idea of dessert is fruit. I've eaten Thai curries (as in cooked by people in Thailand for Thai palates) and friggin' loved them, and take Laphroaig neat because holy cow it is delicious.

I do grok the sweet=feminine thing that's very often present, but it doesn't even register as a micro-aggression in my own life. I've never had people assume I'll prefer something sweet just because boobs. And I know more men who dump sugar into their coffee than I do women... but then I'm currently working in offices where the gender distribution is 90-10, sigh.

The author has a point... but makes more of it than need be, and entirely overlooks, to the point of negating, women who actually enjoy "not-sweet" stuff because, y'know, they actually enjoy it.
posted by fraula at 9:06 AM on June 7 [7 favorites]


Also related is that bitter taste perception has a lot of genetic variation. If you don't understand that, you might think people are willingly being masochists for drinking stuff your own taste buds register as ultra-unpleasantly bitter like black coffee. I'm genetically a weak bitter taster. I love things a lot of people who are sensitive to bitter flavors can't stand.

She also may not have been exposed to the types of apertifs and digestifs that are both ultra-sweet and ultra-bitter. I love those. They really make my tastebuds feel alive.

Also it's possible she hasn't had properly made coffee, though this is more an issue with tea, which some people think need milk and sugar because they've only had tea that's been totally oversteeped.
posted by melissam at 9:08 AM on June 7 [5 favorites]


Leo, my grandmother's boyfriend of 40-odd years, used to take his coffee with sugar cubes, as in, he'd put a sugar cube in his mouth and then sip his coffee through it. He was Austrian and he claimed this is how they did it there. He'd maybe have two or three cubes per cup.

For us grandkids, he cut the coffee in half with milk, and we only got one sugar cube each. The sweetness was good, of course, but I enjoyed the sensation of the cube dissolving on my tongue almost as much.
posted by notyou at 9:08 AM on June 7 [1 favorite]


"girl drinks" are more to do with ridiculing men who might order such things than anything else

But the only reason calling them that would be ridiculing men is because by implication, they are inferior--feminine--for drinking such drinks.

Also related is that bitter taste perception has a lot of genetic variation.

It really does. Some people cannot taste certain things, which raises really interesting questions about how different an experience each person is having around a table or at a bar, even if they're all eating/drinking the same thing.

though this is more an issue with tea, which some people think need milk and sugar because they've only had tea that's been totally oversteeped.

Not necessarily. The fats in milk bind to the tannins (in both tea and coffee), effectively neutralizing them.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:12 AM on June 7 [4 favorites]


I think once you get into 4 sugars in a coffee territory you're hiding that fact from your co-worker because it would probably reveal you are in fact an ant person searching for new food sources for your underground colony.
posted by Ferreous at 9:12 AM on June 7 [69 favorites]


I feel like there's a backlash against acquired tastes lately. I mean, you're a snob or putting on airs if you have or defend any kind of adult tastes, whether it's actually liking the taste of coffee and beer, or growing out of children's media or whatever. As though it's all performative, based on some kind of classism or internalized misogyny or something.

When I was a baby, an actual pre-verbal infant girl, my parents had a hilarious parlor trick where they'd feed me something sweet like pudding or even strained plums and I'd spit it out and make a yuck face. Pretty sure I hadn't yet internalized the stereotype threat at that point. I don't like sweet things very much for the most part, and if I turn them down, it doesn't mean I'm on a diet or I'm trying to act like a big tough man. I actually really don't want them, not even secretly.

I also like spicy foods and hoppy beers and only add anything to my coffee if it's so bad I have to cover up the taste. I don't like cartoons or children's books. I am not doing it to impress you, and I'm sure as hell not doing it out of some sense of aspirational masculinity. I don't like romance movies because they're boring and silly, but those are the same reasons I don't like action movies. I think both sugar and bacon are overrated.

She's not wrong about the girly drinks thing, though. I mean, that really does happen, and it's ridiculous, but let's not be framing it as though acquired tastes (and that's normally what these things are) are uniquely masculine or anything.

People think everything they don't appreciate or understand is some kind of bullshit put-on to impress other people. So if you're going to complain about people making absurd judgments about what you're eating (or reading or watching or listening to or anything), maybe don't frame your argument as a judgment against those who don't share your tastes.

The only thing that prevents me from waging an all-out "Snob Pride" campaign right about now is that I don't feel like my tastes are quite sophisticated enough to carry it out. If some better qualified snob does that, though, I will subscribe to their newsletter.
posted by ernielundquist at 9:13 AM on June 7 [35 favorites]


"girl drinks" are more to do with ridiculing men who might order such things than anything else

I think there is also a stigma to ordered them as a woman who wants to be taken seriously. I have had male colleagues in my male-dominated vocation of IT tell me they really respect how I love hoppy beers and don't go for "girly crap."
posted by melissam at 9:14 AM on June 7 [18 favorites]


The spectrum of apple flavors.
posted by bukvich at 9:14 AM on June 7 [1 favorite]


The cider thing is totally a source of drinking microaggressions. I notice it a lot as a cider drinker. But I only get two drinks a week maximum due to my medication routine, and if I want a sweet cider, I'm gonna drink a sweet cider.
posted by immlass at 9:15 AM on June 7 [3 favorites]


Where person a frowns upon or otherwise denigrates things that give person b pleasure without harming others, a is an asshole.
posted by Mooski at 9:16 AM on June 7 [23 favorites]


"People talk about drinking black coffee like a badge of pride." Yes, that's true. It's also a boringly common phenomenon that transcends any particular topic, so now let's write exactly this same column about how people brag about driving manual-shift sports cars while they mock minivans.

"Even men should be allowed to do things that they like and which are utterly frivolous." We are. I eschew alcohol and drink Coca-Cola instead, and I don't feel the need to trot out my Michelin credentials to offset my apparently pedestrian choice. I buy cupcakes all the time. I watched one of my state's Supreme Court justices eat a lollipop during a panel seminar. Likewise, I'm positive there are many women who drink bourbon without caring a whit that this author might be sitting at the next table convinced it's an attempt to look serious.

She has a few valid points (food as cultural signifier, etc) but mostly this is a column that doesn't realize it's actually about having the self-esteem to not constantly look over your shoulder.
posted by cribcage at 9:26 AM on June 7 [8 favorites]


Re-reading the article it comes across as an argument against delayed gratification and developing a palette. Do you have to do those things? No. But there's a whole host of reasons people enjoy bourbon beyond "appearing serious/masculine" and it's a shame to miss out of the wider world of flavors out there.
posted by Ferreous at 9:29 AM on June 7 [2 favorites]


It's kind of weird how many people here feel the need to criticize the author for how she's drinking her coffee or assert the superiority of their coffee choices.
posted by bookish at 9:31 AM on June 7 [45 favorites]


Man, what is up with journalism/blogging's sudden straw-man attack. Constantly we are told to not like some attitude that "society holds." Salon has been the worst--its Facebook feed is continually telling me to "Stop doing thing X!" which, of course I've never done nor heard of. That's not to say that we can't have a discussion about social mores and attitudes, but there's no acknowledgement of the actual nuance of human experience and attitude. Nothing makes a piece more "important" than to universalize the thing one is upset about. Better to describe things as a disturbing tendency than to broad-brush paint every human in the society with the thing you don't like.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:33 AM on June 7 [8 favorites]


Sys Rq: I'd posit that on this particular issue, "girl drinks" are more to do with ridiculing men who might order such things than anything else.

...yes, ridiculing men by characterizing them as womanlike. Much as people ridicule men by calling them "pussies", or "bitches", or comparing them to "little girls" (why girls specifically? why not just children?). Or with homophobia, much of which revolves around the notion that gay men are effeminate and sexually submissive, which is of course revolting and intolerable.

I can't abide sweet cocktails or coffee drinks myself, and think it's a sign of an unsophisticated palate.* So I'm not sure I buy the notion that disdain for cloying sweetness is (entirely) a sexist thing—but ridiculing people for liking sweet things specifically because they're perceived as feminine certainly is.

emjaybee: I think a lot of men do feel pressured to eat them in a "oh yeah I can totally take it!" kind of manliness contest. I have wondered how many of them really like them versus are trying to be a tough guy.

There are certainly dopey macho types who are trying to prove something with their spicy food. But some of us just like spicy food. I doubt that all of the men in Thailand, or India, or other countries where spicy food is commonplace, are eating biryani and tom yum soup as some kind of dick-measuring contest.

If you eat spicy food regularly, you actually become partly desensitized to the heat. And spice, like strenuous exercise, triggers the body to release endorphins, which are pleasurable (I call this a "masala high").

If it's not you're thing, it's not your thing, and that's totally cool. But it's entirely possible (and common) to like spicy food because one genuinely enjoys it.

* Then again, there are a lot of coffee snobs who would be horrified to see how much milk I put in my coffee, so what do I know? So sue me. Black coffee does unpleasant things to my digestion.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 9:34 AM on June 7 [3 favorites]


codswallop: "If she likes four sugars, whatev. Do people actually get criticized for drinking hard cider? Maybe she just hangs out with assholes."

I think the Internet is a big enough place that it's often easy to forget that some people really do live in markedly different situations, socially speaking. None of my friends would seriously mock someone for drinking a "girl drink," but I know it's a thing that happens among some people. Yes, probably some of the people the author has known have been assholes about this; I imagine that's why she wrote the article: to explain it to them. Probably a pretty good approach, ultimately.
posted by koeselitz at 9:34 AM on June 7 [12 favorites]


People think everything they don't appreciate or understand is some kind of bullshit put-on to impress other people. 

This a million times. It's an awful kind of conformist strain in our culture rooted in deep identity insecurity. One of our biggest cultural problems right now, differences in individual taste are seen as attacks on one's attempt to define one's own identity, as a form of performative criticism or judgment. Madness this way lies, but it's where we are right now for some reason.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:38 AM on June 7 [11 favorites]


I'm not sure if the linked piece is 100% successful, but her main point about the gendered discourse around food choices is thought-provoking. She is on to something, regardless of what you think of her sugar use. It gave me that neat "hey, whoa, yes, I see and participate in this, and have never considered it before" moment. So, I dig.
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 9:38 AM on June 7 [5 favorites]


I keep thinking of JD's love for appletinis on Scrubs, and the epic shit he gets for it (not from Turk, of course).
posted by workerant at 9:39 AM on June 7 [3 favorites]


...yes, ridiculing men by characterizing them as womanlike.

Yes, and women to children, which is the first thing I said in the comment you quoted.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:41 AM on June 7 [2 favorites]


*shrug* I prefer sweet coffee (three sugars for me) and sweet cocktails, and I always have. I prefer less-sweet tea, and I find some sweet fruits too cloying and want some acidity from lemon juice to round them out.

And I can't recall ever considering what these gustatory preferences might say about my femininity, nor can I recall ever giving a glorious god-damn about it either.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:41 AM on June 7 [3 favorites]


It was Kierkegaard who poured some coffee in his sugar bowl and ate/drank it. It was Balzac who drank 50 cups a day, black. Was one more effeminate in some way than the other?

And saulgoodman, you should tell about a culture that doesn't ever denigrate the other. I haven't seen one. It is merely that the other in this case is interpreted solely in individual ways, because Modernity.
posted by curuinor at 9:42 AM on June 7


Re-reading the article it comes across as an argument against delayed gratification and developing a palette.

Maybe, I don't think so after giving it another read. She says not to consume things you find disgusting to make a social point. That's a different scenario from trying something, experiencing some things you find appealing and some you find off putting or too intense, and seeing if you get used to it and enjoy the full experience over time because you genuinely want to experience that process for your own pleasure.

So when she says, "There is an odd cult of masculinity around things that taste like shit and being able to eat things that taste like shit." I think there is an implied, "that taste like shit to you." I don't think she was arguing the only reason people drink black coffee is to prove they can take it.
posted by Drinky Die at 9:42 AM on June 7 [3 favorites]


Also related is that bitter taste perception has a lot of genetic variation.
Aren't women much more likely to be super-tasters than men are? I wonder how much that plays into the perception that strong flavors are masculine.

I'm pretty sure I'm an under-taster, and I love Turkish coffee, dark sludgy beer, spicy food, anything with a ton of vinegar in it, etc. I have definitely noticed that there's a fair amount of gender meshugas about this and that I sometimes get cool-girl points for drinking dark beer and black coffee. And it's not that I'm a grown-up who has acquired grown-up tastes. I actually think you could turn it around and say that I have an unsubtle palette and that's why I like things that have such strong flavors. I honestly think it's just because I taste strong flavors differently than some other people do.

I also have a huge sweet tooth, but I'm really trying to cut back on sweet stuff, because that shit is addictive.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 9:44 AM on June 7 [5 favorites]


I'm not getting why folks in this thread are equating enjoyment of sweetness with lack of sophistication or implying appreciation of salty, bitter, sour, etc. is more sophisticated. I spent much of my early childhood eating dill pickles, cheese and mustard sammiches, and spinach covered with cider vinegar, but this hardly made my tastes more adventurous or sophisticated than those of other four-year-olds. Those were just things served around my house that I have a natural affinity for. I also like sweet things. I have never met people who "confine" themselves only to sweet or bitter or whatever foods or enjoy "only" that category.

I did, however, have a friend who used to refer to putting honey or milk in my tea as "adulterating" it. Can't we all just stop food-policing each other?
posted by FelliniBlank at 9:47 AM on June 7 [13 favorites]


I get what she's saying. I bar tend for catered events sometimes, and I always feel bad when women come up and apologize for ordering a Cosmo, or when they similarly apologize for ordering a beer and therefore appearing low class and unwomanly. Or when men come up, and specify that the wine they've ordered is for their wife. I don't give a fig, to be honest. They're paying me regardless of whether you order plain water or a triple Jim Beam shot that's been set on fire.

I do think that she sort of over corrects the other way, and seems to get mad at people who like the things she says "taste like shit." Still, it has to be frustrating to have to have people constantly mocking or degrading your personal choices that don't effect them at all.

On the other hand, I still find my internal monologue being like "you should get yourself to like black coffee! it's so good!" or "there're so many types of beer! you're missing out on a world of flavor." I sort of wonder if it's because people get their first taste of coffee from really terrible convenience store crap (which, to be honest has its own appeal sometimes), or like Folgers drip brewed stuff. Or if they have a bad experience drinking skunked Beast Ice at a party and never come back to beer. Or on the other hand, if I only developed a taste for coffee because I saw my parents drinking it every night while watching the evening news, and therefore have associated it with contemplation and adulthood.

Really, all I can do is to not give people shit for their tastes, and not try to win people over when they say they legitimately don't like something. For example, I hate organ meat, despite the fact that I've heard that brains and livers and hearts can provide some of the most complex tastes in cuisine. I would be pissed off if someone gave me a hard time for turning down liver.

Taste is a complex thing that's born out of past experience, cultural expectation/aspiration, and biological reality of how your taste buds are built. If someone says they don't like something, maybe the best thing to do isn't to automatically assume that they're ignorant or under informed about it. A lot of American culture in my experience takes food as a discrete experience that has objective quality. However, I can enjoy a burned cup of Royal Farms generic brand coffee if it's part of the experience of going on a road trip, or if it's warming me up after a terrible drive on snowy roads. You can't separate experience and memory from taste - they're linked inextricably.
posted by codacorolla at 9:48 AM on June 7 [14 favorites]


I just do what I want. Strawberry ale and hard apple cider are just about the only alcoholic drinks I can stand. Three heaping tea spoons of sugar for my coffee, with half-and-half.

People can just go fly a kite if they don't like what I drink.
posted by Redfield at 9:49 AM on June 7 [1 favorite]


Course, all the people getting defensive about black coffee here just prove her point.
posted by MartinWisse at 9:52 AM on June 7 [11 favorites]


I'm currently eating a one-pound block of cheese at my desk for lunch. I may have some Haribo later. People may judge, but I'm pretty sure I don't care one whit.


Respect. You can eat a midnight snack any damn time of the day.
posted by louche mustachio at 9:56 AM on June 7 [2 favorites]


I drink almost exclusively "girly" drinks (though I don't like cosmos or most wine because those are still too sour/bitter) and I don't care, but I'm not going to pretend that there's no societal expectations on what men and women are supposed to drink. JD's appletinis, Robin's love of scotch and cigars, hell just the existence of the term "girly drink".

If you and all your friends are hoopy froods who are blissfully free of mainstream culture's influences, good for you, but that's not everybody.
posted by kmz at 9:57 AM on June 7 [5 favorites]


The thing about black coffee, is if it's properly made, in a clean percolator (or however you make it) it's really good. But it really is an effort to brew it that way. Most black coffee tastes like hades and in my mind needs the adulteration. But in the few instances (usually in nicer restaurants and the equivalent) a black cup of coffee is pretty darn tasty with no help whatsoever.


I wonder, when it comes to wines and beers and suchlike, if people are just saying they like something because it's cool and sophisticated to like it. Would they drink some of what they drink and like it if it wasn't so "cool"? (Said by the woman whose wine drinking is about 70% Duplin County scuppernong Koolaid.)
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 9:58 AM on June 7 [2 favorites]


Sys Rq: Yes, and women to children, which is the first thing I said in the comment you quoted.

I'm not sure what that has to do with my point, though.

Yes, femininity and juvenility are often conflated, and this reveals and reinforces sexist assumptions in society, and this is unfortunate.

How is that connected to whether or not ridiculing men for enjoying so-called "girly drinks" is sexist or not?

I read the second part of your comment ("All the same, at the risk of being that guy...") to argue that "girly-drink ridicule isn't sexist because women aren't the [direct] targets of the ridicule". Perhaps you meant something else?
posted by escape from the potato planet at 10:08 AM on June 7


Sweetness is code for feminine. It’s code for not being able to handle “reality” and having to cover it up. Because people really need to read that much into a desire to eat or drink something that tastes good/actually listen to your palette when it says that you do or don’t like something.

Odd... I feel the same way about people who insist on putting hot sauce on everything. Like, what are you afraid of, dude?

On the other hand, I have a hell of a sweet tooth, and ride my bike hundreds of km a week (in part) to compensate. And I can't stand booze so about the manliest "drink" I can handle is a Shirley Temple.

Of course, as a man, people are likely to see these things as cute quirks, worthy of a few seconds of light ribbing, if anything. If I eat something "manly," I'm invisible. If I eat something "girly," I'm interesting. I can't possibly lose. People don't start judging what men eat until they become obese.
posted by klanawa at 10:09 AM on June 7 [2 favorites]


I have never heard the "black coffee" -> "manly", "sweet coffee" -> "girly" associations made before. Is that really a thing? I have certainly seen people who are proud of their taste for black coffee, and I've even seen people who are smug about it who will (usually playfully) deride others who sweeten or put milk in their drinks. But the smug remarks, and those who air them, have always come across as reflecting a kind of generic elitism (black coffee being "cool" and "authentic" in their books) as opposed to being anywhere near the realm of masculinity.
posted by tybeet at 10:09 AM on June 7 [2 favorites]


She make an interesting point; the equivalency between sweetness and femininity, but reality is more complicated.

Inaccessibility or acquired tastes are equated to sophistication; knowing the difference between what makes a particular single-origin coffee different, why the cask matters in production of a single malt whisky or what character certain hops impart to an IPA etc.

Sugar and milk decreases the acidic bite of coffee.
A mixer with Auchentoshan hides the lactones that distinguish this single malt.
A pilsner may not display it's hop characteristics as well as a double IPA.

Misogyny is people equating sophistication to "manliness". Even worse is equating inability to appreciate complex acquired tastes as feminine.

From the article,

"I’ve seen this happen in an internalized misogyny kind of way too: women who refuse to drink anything but straight bourbon because they’re convinced it makes them look more “serious”. Women who feel like they need to learn how to drink beer... "

She sabotages her feminist slant altogether, hinting at her own internalized misogyny in this sweeping, judgemental statement about women who may very well like "manly" beverages because, well, they like them.
posted by ianK at 10:10 AM on June 7 [10 favorites]


The author has it all wrong. When I see a person doing something like pour a bunch of "French Vanilla" creamer into their coffee I don't think they are being too "girly", I think they're a rube.

I don't order sweet, umbrella drinks when I go to a bar not because I fear I will be perceived as "unmanly", but because I suspect, from experience not unjustifiably, that the bartender won't put enough liquor in it.
posted by The Gooch at 10:12 AM on June 7 [3 favorites]


Celebrate the moments of your life.
posted by FelliniBlank at 10:14 AM on June 7


The spectrum of apple flavors.

Huh. I generally prefer the apples listed on the tart side of the spectrum (Braeburn, Pink Lady) to the apples on the sweeter side (Fuji, Gala). If you'd asked me before I'd seen the chart, I'd probably say that I liked Braeburns and Pink Ladies because they were sweeter than other apples. I don't know if this is a case of my palate not being as discerning as I'd thought, or people just experiencing different tastes differently, or my own preconceptions that if a fruit tastes better to me, it's because it's sweeter.
posted by creepygirl at 10:16 AM on June 7 [2 favorites]


Surprised nobody has mentioned Laurie Anderson's que es mas macho.
posted by kokaku at 10:17 AM on June 7 [4 favorites]


The constant panicky paranoia that I was being JUDGED ALL THE TIME went away when I started on anexity medication.
posted by The Whelk at 10:21 AM on June 7 [15 favorites]


I feel the same way about people who insist on putting hot sauce on everything.

I assume it's a addictive craving sort of thing. When I first started liking vinegar, it became a constant obsession: if the thought so much as crossed my mind, my tongue would water and I'd feel like I needed to get some vinegar peppers with my dinner. Similarly when I first got into Moroccan food (live outside Boston? GO HERE!) I was constantly craving lemon. I assume that's what's up with people putting hot sauce on pizza, over ice cream, into coffee, yuck, etc.
posted by cribcage at 10:22 AM on June 7 [5 favorites]


Her point about sweetness and femininity (and the corollary lack of masculinity) is interesting, though the generalizations are a bit much. It also seems very White American in its focus, or at least I don't think the sweetness/bitterness feminine/masculine divide can as easily be applied to other cultural contexts at all.
posted by ndfine at 10:22 AM on June 7 [5 favorites]


(also, as the English know, three things must be bitter : tea, beer, and family.)
posted by The Whelk at 10:23 AM on June 7 [7 favorites]


I think it's interesting to do a semiotic analysis of the correlation between sweet and femininity, but this is a bit axe-grindy and paints a bit too broadly.
I never sit down to a giant slice of coconut cream pie and wonder if I'm being judged.
posted by OHenryPacey at 10:23 AM on June 7 [1 favorite]


All this talk about sweet coffee is making me want a big glass of Vietnamese coffee, with gloopy condensed milk.
posted by codacorolla at 10:26 AM on June 7 [16 favorites]


In my own (academic) circle, a lot of these judgments seem more related to social class distinctions than to gender. I certainly have felt taken less seriously as a colleague or ridiculed a bit for some of my food and drink preferences. It's actually not enough to enlarge or diversify one's palate; there's the unstated and sometimes explicit expectation that you're supposed to disavow or "outgrow" some tastes along the way that are perceived as less refined or adult.

Miracle Whip, for instance. A BLT with Miracle Whip is the fucking food of the gods, my friends. It's just as divine as the ceviche and little turmeric-smothered potatoes I had at some Peruvian joint in midtown Manhattan one time (washed down with a delightfully sweet Pisco sour).

It all makes me very glad I almost never eat with people anymore. Except for the one coworker who also grew up in Chicagoland and once bought me a shopping bag full of Maurice Lenell Pinwheels when she saw them at a local (non-Chicago) store and remembered I like them.
posted by FelliniBlank at 10:27 AM on June 7 [8 favorites]


Hot sauce is also the easiest way to make bland or mediocre food more palatable. Many of the most common hot sauces (Tabasco, Cholula) aren't even that hot.

Gotta agree with the objections to the author's sweeping assumption that anyone who eats something she doesn't like is forcing themselves to do it to prove something. Maybe they just like something that she doesn't. Drinking a Sazerac or what-have-you, instead of a Mai Tai, doesn't deny me of something that "goes down easy", because for me it's the Sazerac that goes down easy and the cloyingly sweet drink that's unpleasant.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 10:30 AM on June 7 [3 favorites]


I'm currently eating a one-pound block of cheese at my desk for lunch. I may have some Haribo later.

After a pound of cheese, I might suggest the sugar free haribo.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:32 AM on June 7 [14 favorites]


Course, all the people getting defensive about black coffee here just prove her point.

So your take home from the piece was that she was making the obvious point that telling people they are wrong about arbitrary matters of taste will probably make them want to defend their right to have individual preferences without having to be told their expression of preference is really just subversive performance art meant to make her question her own arbitrary preferences? Because that's the only conclusion I see these reactions justifiably reinforcing.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:33 AM on June 7 [4 favorites]


I found this article very thought provoking for highlighting American attitudes towards gender... Particularly how similar (in unexpected ways) these attitudes the author describes are to those outside the Western world.

What I noticed in my own experience - not saying this is true for all - while living in the rural Caribbean, is that most food accessible to the general (i.e. poor) population is bland or bitter and is made more palatable with salt, oil, and hot peppers (keeping sugar in the house inevitably draws hordes of disease-bearing insects, unless you keep it in the fridge, and not everyone has one). Obviously sugary treats are all around and easy to purchase, yet still more expensive than just using what grows in your backyard. The added seasonings make you eat the food slower and stretch out the meal... You feel fuller on less.. It also makes unpleasant or slightly spoiled food taste good. I notice in North American home-cooking and even restaurant fare there is not as much respect for greasiness and salt, even though (or perhaps because) it is used in the lower-end foods to make them tasty, and also because it is considered bad for the health in excess... Likewise not much cooking with hot peppers.

Because hot pepper and plenty of greasy things were most commonly used in meals, the "cult" of manliness was more about real men eating spicy foods or greasy abominations without batting an eye while women couldn't really manage such feats of masculinity. Similar to what was described in "The Shame of Sweetness" article only using a different taste than sweetness. I always wondered if this Caribbean phenomenon was just an excuse for the men of the household to eat all the most edible and healthy things (for that culture where food was scarcer), without seeming like horrible greedy people, and convincing the women to eat all the yucky leftovers. Taking this observation and applying it to the examples in "The Shame of Sweetness" I wonder if there is some similar idea at play.
posted by partly squamous and partly rugose at 10:35 AM on June 7 [6 favorites]


We are a milk-in-coffee household and are nearly out of milk this morning, but then I remembered that we have the remnants of some coffee ice cream in the freezer and could use that in the coffee!

We also have a liquor cabinet filled to overflowing with brown liquors; this is an all-female house, except for the two boy cats. I don't know what all of this means, if anything.
posted by rtha at 10:36 AM on June 7 [4 favorites]


ernielundquist: "I feel like there's a backlash against acquired tastes lately. I mean, you're a snob or putting on airs if you have or defend any kind of adult tastes, whether it's actually liking the taste of coffee and beer, or growing out of children's media or whatever. As though it's all performative, based on some kind of classism or internalized misogyny or something."

I think because there's an awful lot of people for whom it IS performative and who CANNOT WAIT to tell you all about which beer you SHOULD be drinking and the 15 best beers they "experienced" in Prague and how you really have to "develop a taste for it" but once you do you won't ever drink Budweiser again and they ask the waitress questions about the restaurant's beer storage and get all grumpy when all they can order is a small-but-not-tiny brewery's beer and you just want to a) fall through the floor in embarrassment for them and b) make them SHUT UP because this is a boring conversation.

I don't like chocolate, which means a lot of people politely re-offering me deserts, assuring me it's particularly delicious or low-calorie or has no carbs or whatever, and I say, "Oh, no thank you, I'm just not a big chocolate fan." People always get ready to defend their own love of chocolate against what they assume is about to be my lecture about why my tastes are superior and elite and theirs are plebeian and childish. I always just shrug and say, "I don't know, I just never have, but it LOOKS absolutely delicious!" People are always so surprised that my dislike of a category of food does not come with a lecture on either diet sins (Carbs: the worst! Animal fats -- are you fucking kidding me? Or, god forbid, I'm Paleo and let me tell you why.) or a lecture on their uncultured and incorrect taste in food.

On the one hand food is something that's interesting to talk about. But on the other hand, apparently the only conversation a lot of people know how to have is My Taste Is Right And Yours Is Wrong And Here Is Why and its partner The Sixty-Page Defense Of Why My Food Tastes Are Justified. So few people are willing to accept "eh, it's not for me" or "I just like it that way," and so many people feel compelled to defend themselves when other people get dickish about what they like and dislike.

(I have a lot, lot, lot of years of observing these conversations since not liking chocolate is definitely a minority position and one to be treated with suspicion and people can never let is pass uncommented upon. Sometimes just in benign curiosity, but often with great suspicion and distrust of me as a human being.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:39 AM on June 7 [22 favorites]


It's kind of weird how many people here feel the need to criticize the author for how she's drinking her coffee or assert the superiority of their coffee choices.

Sometime in the 70s, my dad was working with a group who were organizing a large protest, and this involved standing on the street in the cold and basically directing foot traffic. He said it was cold and exhausting, and so people (out of, you know, solidarity) started handing him their coffees, which he was all too happy to drink. Up until that point he was a staunch cream-and-no-coffee guy, and looked down on both sweet coffee and black coffee as inferior beverages. But, he told me, that day he wound up trying every possible combination of coffee and milk and sugar- black, black with sugar, white with sugar, white with a LOT of sugar, etc etc. And he said he had this weird moment of realization (possibly boosted by the whole atmosphere of the protest) that they were all perfectly good, and that he'd been living under this assumption that only he understood the One True Way of drinking coffee when really there was no wrong way to drink it. Apparently it stuck with him enough that he told me this story at Christmas last year.
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:45 AM on June 7 [45 favorites]


To be fair, I always thought you where a Cylon Eyebrows, just now we have proof.
posted by The Whelk at 10:45 AM on June 7 [4 favorites]


This kind of thing is what happens when someone steeped in an absolutist culture tries to apply certain half-understood concepts of cultural relativism to thinking about an issue they're heavily (maybe even a little excessively) emotionally invested in.

Eyebrows: It makes more sense to me when you realize those people are insecure about their own preferences too and are seeking validation and affirmation of their own identities, not trying to shame others intentionally. The effects can be the same though: those people see other's differences as undermining their hold on their self-identities, too.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:47 AM on June 7 [4 favorites]


I don't like chocolate, which means a lot of people politely re-offering me deserts

I have never understood why anyone cares what someone else dislikes eating, or indeed why it isn't looked upon as awesome. People who dislike chocolate, or seafood? You people rock. Because there's only so much chocolate and seafood to go around, and I want as much as I can get. Please tell me you crave brussels sprouts, and my faith in universal balance will be solidified.

Vegetarians (vegans, etc) are another category. First, I'm always intrigued to hear the reasoning, because it's so diverse. One person will tell you it's a moral choice about slaughterhouses, another will say it's about diet and health, someone else will say it's just how they were brought up, and then you'll get the people who just plain don't like the taste of meat. But more to the point, there are only X-number of cows in the world and price rises with demand. I am totally cool with vegetarian people. Besides, all those vegetables have to go somewhere. It's like attorneys who practice tax law: I thank God for people who enjoy it, because somebody has to do the work and it ain't gonna be me.
posted by cribcage at 10:52 AM on June 7 [6 favorites]


When I was a barista, we'd sell the sweet drinks to as many men as women (though women were slightly more likely to ask for sugar-free syrup), but the sweetest drink I made there was the daily order of one of the guys from an AA group which would hang out on our patio after meetings. This guy's signature drink was five shots of espresso over ice with twelve- TWELVE- packets of sugar. (That's 4 tablespoons- we eventually got sick of tearing all those packets open and just measured it from the big sugar bowl.)

Did I mention he always ordered two of these? And looked to weigh about 140 pounds? I don't know how that man was still alive.
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:52 AM on June 7 [1 favorite]


(I have a lot, lot, lot of years of observing these conversations since not liking chocolate is definitely a minority position and one to be treated with suspicion and people can never let is pass uncommented upon. Sometimes just in benign curiosity, but often with great suspicion and distrust of me as a human being.)

You can do the same thing with the cacao percent in chocolate, which gets quite bitter when there's less sugar in the mix. Just a little taste of quality unsweetened chocolate is enough.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 10:54 AM on June 7


Oh, yeah- I've run into increasing numbers of people who insist that only dark chocolate is good and milk chocolate is always inherently inferior. If confronted with a Hershey's Dark and a Valrhona milk they'd still pick the dark one for some twisted reason.

Meanwhile, the second I mention I actually like white chocolate, people lose their damn fool minds. "It's not REALLY chocolate!!!" Ok, fine. So what? Geez. Relax.
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:57 AM on June 7 [9 favorites]


I do think this piece has a point but she's not making it well. Yeah, we do privilege "tough" or "powerful" things -- dark chocolate, spicy food, hoppy IPAs, black coffee, whatever -- and look down on mild or sweet things -- milk chocolate, mild cheddar cheese, sweet coffee drinks -- and yes, I do think there's some gender encoding there. And yeah, I think a lot of our society is about "What men like is good! Women should just be more like men!"

I actually know a lot of men who tend to go for cider or fruit beers over IPAs or whatever and I'm so happy to recommend the good ones to them. I'm a believer in liking what you like but liking the best of it. But hey, if my friends want to continue drinking Woodchuck cider because that's what they like, that's what they like. (I always frame it in a "Hey, have you tried this?" way rather than "YOU ARE WRONG FOR LIKING THAT!")

And so yeah, that's cool if you like sweet coffee, but start with good coffee first! Use good syrups! Or whatever (to your budget/ability). Also, hey, sometimes eating something that's bad -- cheap candy! convenience store coffee! -- is just fine too.

I would always rather people be more concerned with what they're consuming (and enjoy what they're consuming) and be less concerned with what other people are consuming. I think we will all be better off.

(I personally don't have much of a sweet tooth, honestly -- if I want things that are bad for me, give me some barbecue potato chips over that candy bar -- but as much as I do like whiskey, I will take a good rum over that any day. And death to hoppy IPAs. I'm finally at the point where I'm happy to try IPAs again. FINALLY.)
posted by darksong at 11:03 AM on June 7 [1 favorite]


When I worked a coffee counter, one of our regulars was a volleyball coach. She would stop in a couple times a week on her way to or from her team's practice. I forget what her drink was, but she carried a bottle of Hershey's syrup in her backpack that she would hand across the counter, and we'd add a bunch of it to her drink before mixing. She had a twin sister who had kids, and I remember thinking this woman must have been the coolest aunt in the world. Imagine if your aunt always had a bottle of Hershey's syrup with her.

The only customers who annoyed me were the ones who talked in code. "I'll have a black eye with a half Mary Turner, natch." Dude...I am getting paid to make your drink, I have all manner of ingredients back here, and I am more than happy to mix them in whatever combination pleases you. I am not, however, paid to decipher your Navajo code talk. Tell me what the fuck you want.
posted by cribcage at 11:03 AM on June 7 [14 favorites]


I don't care for overly bitter things or overly sweet things. This is why I only consume steak, whiskey and lightly sweetened iced tea with no lemon.

The super-hoppy beer thing seems to be coming from the same "all food needs the hottest hot sauce I can find" crowd.
posted by spaltavian at 11:06 AM on June 7 [2 favorites]


Vegetarians (vegans, etc) are another category. First, I'm always intrigued to hear the reasoning, because it's so diverse.

Heh, in line with what Eyebrows said about unexpected answers, nobody expects it when I tell them: "Because I'm an insane, fanatical Eagles fan and I felt bad about cheering for Mike Vick so I balanced out the karma by not eating animals."

"Oh, think they're gonna have a good season this year?" is usually the reply, as various hypothetical arguments about eating meat when castaway on an island are shuffled back into the brain for the next vegetarian encounter.

Now it's also for animal rights, but that isn't the best reply to the question.

Food is an important cultural signifier. We use it to communicate our values (see veganism and vegetarianism)

So along with the black coffee thing this makes me wonder about the author. I think she is not intending to do this, but it implies people are vegetarian to send a message about our values. For me, not eating meat is practicing my values. I don't really care if I communicate a message or not in the process. I don't really want to be asked why I don't eat meat or shame people for their choices. It's rude in a lot of contexts.
posted by Drinky Die at 11:10 AM on June 7 [11 favorites]


I think this whole thing is just over thinking a plate of pink, girly jellybeans that are only consumed by children and women incapable of handling savory kidney beans. Those are the beans a real man over-thinks.
posted by vorpal bunny at 11:11 AM on June 7 [5 favorites]


This guy's signature drink was five shots of espresso over ice with twelve- TWELVE- packets of sugar.

I once served a customer a drink with 14 equals, 4 pumps sugar free hazelnut, and 4 shots of espresso with skim milk on ice. She was so ashamed she wouldn't say the order out loud.
posted by Night_owl at 11:11 AM on June 7 [7 favorites]


but the sweetest drink I made there was the daily order of one of the guys from an AA group which would hang out on our patio after meetings

Oh yeah, every AA person I know has a huge sweet tooth!
posted by maggiemaggie at 11:15 AM on June 7 [3 favorites]


This a million times. It's an awful kind of conformist strain in our culture rooted in deep identity insecurity. One of our biggest cultural problems right now, differences in individual taste are seen as attacks on one's attempt to define one's own identity, as a form of performative criticism or judgment. Madness this way lies, but it's where we are right now for some reason.

It's the natural result of 100 years of advertising preying on our emotions and insecurities, combined with the intense modern cult of individualism. Every little hobby, food choice, habit, etc. can no longer just be something I do but is now something I am. It explains the vitriolic personal attacks that every discussion of beer or coffee or preferred operating system degenerate into.

Example, I've recently grown a beard, so naturally my facebook wall filled up with all these beard fetishizing memes posted by my friends about how dudes with beards are more manly, handsome, can fight grizzly bears, all that shit. It's the most annoying thing, because none of that shit is true. I just don't feel like shaving, that's it; but it's surprisingly hard for people to wrap their heads around that.
posted by mrbigmuscles at 11:27 AM on June 7 [20 favorites]


I think it's interesting that some people feel that coffee and tea shouldn't be adulterated, since there is already a lot of adulteration before it makes it to your cup. We don't drink the raw, unprocessed beans or leaves. If the beverages didn't have so much cultural meaning, I think we would see adding fats the same way we see mixing flavors that balance each other in a sauce. People would probably still enjoy coffee black, but we wouldn't judge so damn hard.

I used to work as a barista and learned to appreciate all types of coffee, but my favorite is still espresso lightly sweetened with a little full fat milk or cream. I think it brings out what I enjoy the most about coffee.

We can say that there is stigma surrounding girly drinks and that some people feel pressure to drink something seen as more sophisticated or masculine, without saying everyone who orders a whiskey or hoppy beer is faking it.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 11:28 AM on June 7 [2 favorites]


mrbigmuscles: It may be that your friends are just playing (clumsily, perhaps) with a cultural meme, without necessarily buying into it or actually believing that you are skilled in ursine combat.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 11:30 AM on June 7 [1 favorite]


Well, I'm not in AA but did quit drinking because of binging problems. And I never had much of a sweet tooth before I quit drinking, but now it's insatiable. And I tend to really pig out with the same frequency in which I binge drank. So I figure it's a quirk of my biology and it's not like I have "no power over drinking" but it IS kinda like that. I do really miss whiskey (because I was a woman who drank straight whiskey, to bring it back to the article), but damn a pint of Jeni's ice cream is also pretty delicious.
posted by jeweled accumulation at 11:30 AM on June 7 [1 favorite]


We also have a liquor cabinet filled to overflowing with brown liquors; this is an all-female house, except for the two boy cats. I don't know what all of this means, if anything.

It means your cats are drinking all your vodka and gin while you're out of the house. C'mon, rtha, you gotta keep that booze locked up. Hungover cats are no fun for anyone.
posted by soundguy99 at 11:32 AM on June 7 [9 favorites]


Well sure, and I didn't delete their posts or chastise them or anything, but it's just an example of this weird product/identity fetishism or whatever you want to call it, that is applied to EVERYTHING now. And Ursine Combat is my next band's name.
posted by mrbigmuscles at 11:34 AM on June 7 [3 favorites]


I think because there's an awful lot of people for whom it IS performative and who CANNOT WAIT to tell you all about which beer you SHOULD be drinking and the 15 best beers they "experienced" in Prague and how you really have to "develop a taste for it" but once you do you won't ever drink Budweiser again and they ask the waitress questions about the restaurant's beer storage and get all grumpy when all they can order is a small-but-not-tiny brewery's beer and you just want to a) fall through the floor in embarrassment for them and b) make them SHUT UP because this is a boring conversation.

Oh word. I don't think anyone would deny that pretentious people exist, and boring people exist. They're not fully overlapping categories, though.

I mean, think about what those types of pretentiousness would entail. You'd have to regularly be consuming things you didn't actually like just to impress people. That's what it comes down to. And there are some implicit assumptions in that article that that's exactly what people are doing. She doesn't care for certain things, so people who say they do are probably faking it. That seems like it'd be a pretty miserable way to live, and also a really weird thing to accuse people of unless you had some really compelling evidence. (Not to mention the fact that if it's designed to impress other people, it is really ineffective, because it seems even more likely that it's just going to make people think you're an asshole.)

I mean, some people do talk about drinking black coffee as if it's a 'badge of pride,' it's true. But is that always just macho posturing, or is it maybe because people who've developed a taste for it actually have a genuine taste for it and are talking about something they have an interest in? When she says that people act as though it's a sin to want something yummy, she's actually yucking the coffee snobs' yums right there. Coffee snobs think coffee is yummy.

As to the boring thing, we're all kind of boring when you hit on one of our pet topics. We all have snobberies and things we're prone to rattle on about. Those are our hobbies, the things we have a passion for and some knowledge on that not everyone shares. They're things we've spent time on and things we know more about than most people. The problem, if people are expounding on them to unwilling audiences, is a social one. It's not always snobbery. Sometimes, it's just social cluelessness.

But let's say I were to mention, in a participatory discussion of opera, that that J. G. Wentworth commercial is pretty great, and accuse everyone who disagrees of being pretentious and secretly liking it. It would be perfectly understandable if those people were to discount my opinions about opera, or even to try to share their interests with me by pointing out why some boring ninety hour Wagner thing is somehow better or whatever.

It doesn't mean they should think I'm a bad person overall, or that they're morally superior to me. Just that their opinions and critiques on that topic are weightier than mine.

And that is all cool. Nobody is a snob or a nerd of everything, but almost everyone is a snob or a nerd of something. Maybe let's just assume some sincerity when people try to share their interests with us. Now if I tell them that I don't care and tell them to stop being boring and they persist in addressing their discussion directly to me, they're being jerks. But that jerkiness is the problem all by itself.

In conclusion, if you have a structured settlement and you need cash now, call J. G. Wentworth, and stop pretending you don't secretly love this song.
posted by ernielundquist at 11:37 AM on June 7 [6 favorites]


When I was a barista, we'd sell the sweet drinks to as many men as women

When I worked as Starbucks, the majority of frappucinos I rang up were for teen- and college-aged women...and construction workers.
posted by threeants at 11:39 AM on June 7 [4 favorites]


Funny how this thread is full of people claiming that being judged for what you drink is not a thing, and yet count up all the comments saying, "if you put creamer in your coffee, you're a rube." Or "it's a sign of an unsophisticated palette."

Yeah, I don't think that people who feel judged for insignificant things are paranoid and need anxiety meds, Whelk. There are several examples of petty snobbery right here, whether it's gendered or not.
posted by Toothless Willy at 11:44 AM on June 7 [9 favorites]


"We can say that there is stigma surrounding girly drinks and that some people feel pressure to drink something seen as more sophisticated or masculine, without saying everyone who orders a whiskey or hoppy beer is faking it."

There for a while, I knew more women who had what I'd consider "hardcore" tastes in beer than I did men. Like the people I knew who were knowledgeable about beer were women and they'd pick accordingly; the men I knew were happy with their Coronas. So I know plenty of women do genuinely enjoy these things. I never order or buy anything looking to impress anyone.

But there is still gender coded into a lot of these things, sadly. My boyfriend is allergic to brewer's yeast so he can't drink beer. If we're at a place that just serves beer and wine, he'll get a glass of white wine. I tend to go for a dark beer. Even when the same person who has taken our order is the one to serve us, there's still momentary confusion about who's suppose to get the porter and who's supposed to get the pinot grigio.
posted by darksong at 11:45 AM on June 7 [4 favorites]


All of my self-worth is built upon my love of pure, unblemished, correct black coffee so what you guys implying

guys
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 11:45 AM on June 7 [1 favorite]


1) An artist uses a palette; people possess palates.

2) I like to eat yummy things. If you don't like the yummy things I like, that means I get moar yummy things! I will try to share my yummy things with you because I like sharing like that, but that's all.

de gustibus etc
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 11:49 AM on June 7 [5 favorites]



All of my self-worth is built upon my love of pure, unblemished, correct black coffee so what you guys implying


RIGHTEOUS BLAMELESS INFALLIBLE COFFEE

posted by The Whelk at 11:52 AM on June 7 [1 favorite]


It means your cats are drinking all your vodka and gin while you're out of the house.

That would explain the cat who is passed out in a very awkward position in the planter in the corner!

We were at a meetup the other night, and our visiting guest of honor and her person had late reservations at a hot restaurant, and so of course a lot of us spent a lot of time talking about food and restaurants and stuff like that. As is always the case when I am with mefites in meatspace, nobody was a dick to anybody else about any of this stuff. There was no "your favorite foodthing sucks" - it was all "oh that sounds awesome have you tried/been to/eaten/cooked otherthing?"

Nobody got judgey on anybody else for what they were drinking. Or what kind of phone they use. It was a very nice evening.
posted by rtha at 11:52 AM on June 7 [12 favorites]


I think that proves only one thing, rtha: mefites, in general, are awesome.
posted by Night_owl at 12:08 PM on June 7 [1 favorite]


I remember sitting on the edge of my bed one night when I was a junior in high school, glancing around the room for a moment before I got under the covers and turned out the light, and reflecting that, from the scattered reports I'd received, most of my classmates probably did not have a box of sugar cubes on their night stands, or a big wicker Easter basket full of individually wrapped Kraft caramels sitting on the floor for easier access while lying down, and that it might be better if I didn't talk about these things too much.
posted by jamjam at 12:14 PM on June 7 [1 favorite]


Feeling superior for not needing to pretend to like whisky, beer or black coffee is off-putting enough, but saying that people only like things that "taste like shit" to appear masculine or be accepted by men is ignorant.
posted by ianK at 12:17 PM on June 7 [3 favorites]


Oh man why's it gonna be one or the other? I like my whiskey, I like my stupid craft beer, I like my fruity cocktails. Sometimes when I want to drink caffeinated/alcoholic sunscreen, I order a malibu and diet coke. So many options!

But then maybe that's my thing. I predictably zag. We all have special snowflake tastes.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 12:25 PM on June 7 [2 favorites]


yeah but all the cool kids are zigging now
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 12:28 PM on June 7


In conclusion, if you have a structured settlement and you need cash now, call J. G. Wentworth

I raise you the Education Connection rap. Or the K-A-R-S "cars for kids" jingle, which I once sang at a coworker until she called them and donated her car. (True story. Jingles are SCIENCE.)

I think that proves only one thing, rtha: mefites, in general, are awesome.

Or that people are less likely to be judgey and antagonistic in a group of strangers. Not necessarily to strangers, because in my experience the type of people who do this will happily criticize a newcomer in an existing social group. Put the person in an entirely new pool, though, and often those behaviors take a while to seep out.

Or maybe it proves that the type of people who show up to a MetaFilter meetup are already on many of the same pages, so to speak. Back before the IRL section, when meetups were posted on MetaTalk, I'd see people propose Boston meetups and it always went the same way: "Boston" immediately became "Cambridge," and the location talk immediately settled onto bars. Which is appealing to a very particular demographic, and hey cool for them, but you're kinda screening out a bunch of other people so no surprise that everybody who shows up is on similar pages.
posted by cribcage at 12:31 PM on June 7 [1 favorite]


I'm really tired of the sheer amount of meta-discourse that goes on about people's tastes and mundane choices. Like what you like. Take your coffee how you want. Read Divergent. Get sloshed on appletinis. How the fuck does it impact me in any way?
posted by Sara C. at 12:32 PM on June 7 [6 favorites]


I think the first time I was really aware of the "sweet == feminine, weak" concept was in Pulp Fiction, where Harvey Keitel as the Wolf walks in and asks for a cup of coffee, "lotsa cream, lotsa sugar." I was like "wait, what?" and then "wait, why do I find that jarring?" and then ". . . huh."

I love, love, love sweet drinks, but recently have developed some kind of weird thing where if I drink a very sweet alcoholic drink, I wake up in the morning with a powerful sinus headache. I can't figure out the mechanism of that (it's not dehydration, and it's definitely a sinus headache and not a hangover), but it's enough to put me off them, so now I usually order a manhattan or an old fashioned. Both of those are still sweet, of course, but somehow they don't trigger the headache the way a sweet cider or a lambic or a Mike's Hard Lemonade does. I also don't like extremely hoppy beers, and the condescension I get for that sometimes is really irritating. . . but at the same time, I can't ABIDE sweetener in either my tea or my coffee.
posted by KathrynT at 12:32 PM on June 7 [1 favorite]


sweet ciders are generally frowned upon by the arbiter elegantiae– bartenders, food and drink writers, etc.

This is most likely because sweet ciders are often that revolting alcoholic apple juice garbage marketed to college freshmen.

IME most tastemakers tend to prefer dry alcoholic beverages to sweet ones, because sweet has an association with cheapness and adulteration, not because it's "girly". Someone drinking moscato is outing themselves as having bad taste in wine, not being female.
posted by Sara C. at 12:34 PM on June 7 [3 favorites]


KathrynT- I read in a book about Tarantino that he has all his American characters drink their coffee with cream and sugar, but only Fabiana, a European drinks it black. In Pulp Fiction, anyway.
posted by jonmc at 12:35 PM on June 7


I think there's two separate things going on here, with a sort of murkily defined border between them.

1. sweet things a large subset of the population likes*, independent of gender. i'm talking about stuff like how ALL mcdonalds coffee is ridiculously saccharine sweet, unless you order a plain black drip(which i think they probably sell 4 of for every 100 cups they sell). There's an awful lot of this kind of stuff that mostly men buy. See: energy drinks, jager bombs, etc.

2. "girly" sweet things like certain mixed drinks, etc.

"There is an odd cult of masculinity around things that taste like shit and being able to eat things that taste like shit."

This is where she lost me. This is quite literally, the kind of thing i both thought and discussed in high school. There's a huge amount of projection going on here with the "It tastes like shit to me, therefor it tastes like shit in general, therefor...". It's a dorm room philosopher if-then chain.

At the risk of dudesplaining, i think she's taking that is real, and is an aspect of misogyny in culture... and expanding it into dubious places it may or may not reach.

One of the places i work regularly is a really high end coffee shop in seattle. The kind of place that has signs advising you to drink your espresso at the bar for optimal flavor, and other instructions about how to drink it... and a million other things. The point is, people who are really serious about coffee come in. There's no blenders, or frappucino type drinks at all. And nothing is served besides coffee and tea. no smoothies, etc. A TON of men come in here, look at the menu all stoic and serious... and order a giant white chocolate mocha.(which is of course made with like, artisanal white chocolate... but is still sweet).

There's a weird arbitrary dichtomy here which is worth writing about, where on one hand you have frat boys slamming super sugary booze drinks/bombers and four lokos and shit when that was around, and on the other hand other very similar tasting stuff is "girly".

I guess i just reject the premise of this line: Sweetness is code for feminine. It’s code for not being able to handle “reality” and having to cover it up., because it needs a big ass star on it saying "offer valid only where advertised, some restrictions may apply" or something.

Like, these things are real: ’ve seen this happen in an internalized misogyny kind of way too: women who refuse to drink anything but straight bourbon because they’re convinced it makes them look more “serious”. Women who feel like they need to learn how to drink beer because otherwise they won’t be taken seriously when they go out with coworkers or go to networking events.

But it's not as simple as "and therefor everything else i posit is true!". That and the entire next paragraph about how fucked up it is to be teaching people that it's some rite of passage or thing you need to do to eat things you hate is true, but it's not talking about the same thing as the first half and never really does a successful job at linking the two together.

So yea, i can't help but feel like she's talking about two different issues here. Plenty of men put tons of sugar in their coffee, and it's a completely separate thing from the whole appletini/booze thing she jaunts off into later. Alpha man wannabe gelled hair late 20s business bro wearing a suit on the weekend and sunglasses indoors, who double parked his BMW in the load zone and radiates almost forced masculinity will order some silly sugary giant coffee drink. This is like, the spec sheet platonic ideal of the same guy who would make fun of an appletini. I'm not trying to say "I don't understand or accept why you feel uncomfortable putting lots of sugar in your coffee in front of other people due to your other experiences", i just think the entire premise of the article going "there's some goose stepping undercurrent in society surrounding sweet things" is a reach.

Let me know if i sound like an ass.

Overall, i was surprised to see this on skep chick because i thought it was written by well, the skep chick at first. A lot less surprised when i saw it was a guest/staff writer.



*in the US at least
posted by emptythought at 12:40 PM on June 7 [9 favorites]


From the article:

For the ladies who can’t handle “real” booze

Wait a goddamn second, there.

Actually, "girl drinks" are for people who can't handle real booze. There's almost never much real alcohol in them. Anytime you see a drinks menu and the cocktails are all full of amaretto, midori, and other liqueurs without an accompanying shot of rum or vodka, yeah, the whole point of them is that there's almost no alcohol in that. It's literally not real booze. I mean, I'm sure they taste good, and they're probably a good choice for a designated driver, but yes, exactly, they're for people who can't handle real booze right now for whatever reason.

Which is fine, obviously. The goal of drinking a cocktail isn't to achieve maximum inebriation. But, yeah, sorry, an amaretto sour is for people who can't handle real booze.
posted by Sara C. at 12:44 PM on June 7 [2 favorites]


*sips FourLoko from Big Gulp cup*
posted by jonmc at 12:47 PM on June 7 [1 favorite]


(also, as the English know, three things must be bitter : tea, beer, and family.)
posted by The Whelk at 17:23 on June 7 [1 favorite +] [!]


Oh no, if your tea's bitter you've let it stew.
posted by Segundus at 12:48 PM on June 7 [5 favorites]


I would dispute the assertion that most people make their beverage choices based on what they can "handle."
posted by cribcage at 12:48 PM on June 7 [9 favorites]


We are a milk-in-coffee household and are nearly out of milk this morning, but then I remembered that we have the remnants of some coffee ice cream in the freezer and could use that in the coffee!

Hell yes, nothing says good morning like a makeshift affogato.
posted by palomar at 12:50 PM on June 7 [4 favorites]


"can't handle" isn't a great choice of words there, in my opinion. "Don't want" is a bit more inclusive, a bit less judgey. I can "handle" "real booze" perfectly fine but sometimes an amaretto sour is what I want.

Also, liqueur is still real "booze," it contains alcohol.
posted by troika at 12:51 PM on June 7 [6 favorites]


It’s code for not being able to handle “reality” and having to cover it up

This is another "yaaaah but" quote.

The reason we associate sweetness with something needing to be covered up is that sweet flavors are often used to cover things up. Poor quality coffee. Well booze. Industrially processed and chemically adulterated wines, beers, and ciders. When "sweet" is the first thing I taste, I know I'm probably not getting something of value.

There's a reason Four Loko is blu razberri flavored or whatever and not scotch flavored, and it has nothing to do with gender.
posted by Sara C. at 12:51 PM on June 7


Wait a goddamn second, there.

Actually, "girl drinks" are for people who can't handle real booze. There's almost never much real alcohol in them.


Huh, I always associated them more with drinks that mask the taste of a standard amount of booze...not ones with reduced alcohol content. Like the upscale version of a big gulp full of vodka and fruit punch. (An excellent cocktail!)
posted by Drinky Die at 12:51 PM on June 7 [1 favorite]


full of amaretto, midori, and other liqueurs without an accompanying shot of rum or vodka, yeah, the whole point of them is that there's almost no alcohol in that. It's literally not real booze.

Um, what? Amaretto is 40%ABV or pretty close to.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 12:51 PM on June 7 [4 favorites]


Also, liqueur is still real "booze," it contains alcohol.

Sure, in the way that a light beer contains alcohol. A jigger of amaretto plus twelve or sixteen ounces of non-alcoholic mixers isn't really an alcoholic drink in the way that two fingers of Lagavulin is an alcoholic drink.
posted by Sara C. at 12:52 PM on June 7 [1 favorite]


Hmmm. I'm going to have to ask the wife to stop introducing me to her friends as her sweetie.

It makes me seem unmanly.
posted by notreally at 12:52 PM on June 7 [1 favorite]


would dispute the assertion that most people make their beverage choices based on what they can "handle."

Alcoholic drinks are not just a beverage, though. They're a highly potent, poisonous intoxicant. The factors in play are different than the ones in play with ordinary food and drink, aren't they?

Hell, for my first couple of years as a drinker, I literally held my nose when I drank because it was not about the refreshing flavor of the beverage...
posted by saulgoodman at 12:53 PM on June 7 [1 favorite]


If I had a dollar for every time I read "but PROPERLY (in a percolator/french press/witches' cauldron) made black coffee is delicious!" I'd have so many fucking dollars. And I still wouldn't waste any of them on black coffee.
posted by lydhre at 12:55 PM on June 7 [4 favorites]


Most amarettos are about 25% alcohol. Midori has about 20%.

Liqueur is absolutely real booze. Thinking it isn't is how they get you.
posted by Sys Rq at 12:55 PM on June 7 [3 favorites]


Actually, "girl drinks" are for people who can't handle real booze.

did you see my thing about my headaches above? I drink "real booze" because I can no longer handle "girl drinks."
posted by KathrynT at 12:55 PM on June 7 [8 favorites]


I think the idea of "being able to handle booze" is deeply gendered and also kind of fucked up. I'm a small woman. I fake it reasonably well, but I can't "handle booze" the way that someone twice my size can. If that makes me weak or pathetic, then that makes women weaker and more pathetic than men, because women can, on average, handle less booze than men can, if only as a function of our generally-smaller size.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 12:56 PM on June 7 [8 favorites]


One of the lines I often walk is the line of being taken seriously.

I think most women know that line - the moment when the people around you begin sharing smiles with each other and someone hides rolling their eyes. My most vivid memory of this is one time I went out drinking with a new group of people, and one of them tried to argue that "The Secret" was real because poor people imagined themselves poor, and that's why they were poor. I pointed out the lack of money and low wages and high costs of things probably had more to do with it, but he wasn't convinced - and I got the eye roll, the disbelieving but indulgent smile, and the slow walk away.

What can make you be taken more seriously is coded masculine, but for women it doesn't always work.

Speak loudly. Be demanding and insensitive to other peoples' needs. Be hard. Be uncompromising. If you watch a lot of the language around Barak Obama or John Kerry among the Republican pundits, you see them trying to cast both men as non-masculine, as weak and soft and compromising and ineffective. This is about determining the meta-narrative, not actual reality - about casting Democrats as soft and feminine, and Republicans as hard and masculine. The same actions taken by a Republican would, and did, have an entirely different set of language attached by those same pundits.

It's about the meta-narrative; who is the "real man" and who comes from Connecticut.

It's harder culturally to argue that taking care of all of our citizens is the long and difficult and uncompromising path we need to take because taking care of people - nurturing - is coded feminine, and a lifetime of associations says that feminine things can't be long and difficult and uncompromising even when they factually are.

(One place you can see the catch-22 women who want to be taken seriously are caught in is in running large companies. Recently, a woman was fired for being "too hard to work with". She was probably loud, demanding, uncompromising, insensitive to others needs, and hard - all the things she needed to be to get that far and be taken seriously - and it lost her the job because women, at the end of the day, aren't supposed to be like that. The simple fact that women sometimes are, naturally, exactly like that doesn't change the "should" in play.)

We use the terms "masculine" and "feminine" because a lot of the assumptions are gendered. The easiest place to see where this idea of gender makes no factual sense is in infants, who tend to be even more similar than children and adults - gender bias in infants is well documented and often expresses itself as adults misjudging what the baby is actually doing based on the baby's gender (example: "Mothers of girls underestimated their performance and mothers of boys overestimated their performance. Mothers' gender bias had no basis in fact." example: "The results indicate that knowledge of an infant's gender is not a consistent determinant of adults' reactions, but more strongly influences young children's reactions (if you read further it talks about how children change to fit the assumptions of the adults, even from infancy)."

Most of this gendering is pre-verbal - that is, by the time we have language to say we are a girl or a boy, we have already internalized that girls like pink and boys like blue (not true a hundred years ago), that girls can endure less hardship than boys, that boys should not show emotion unless it's anger, that girls like dolls and boys like trucks, etc... There are children whose internal attraction to things is strong enough to escape this conditioning, but they are a minority and they will feel the full weight of cultural approbation for being different.

What are little boys made of?
Snips and snails, and puppy dogs tails
That's what little boys are made of !"
What are little girls made of?
"Sugar and spice and all things nice
That's what little girls are made of!

It's seriously unsurprising that food, and sweetness, is gendered. Yes, there are individual tastes, but there is also a complicated social environment which we navigate largely unconsciously (not to say we are largely unaware, but rather to say that it is so complicated that we are unaware of most of the decisions we make, and the reasons for those decisions).

My favorite girly drink: Blue Motorcycle. Make a Long Island Iced tea, but trade the splash of coke for a splash of Blue Curacao. One hundred percent alcohol, in a long, tall glass - six shots in all. Even in this thread, though, girly drinks were described as "weaker" due to the alcohol they contain being sweeter - the calls are coming from inside the thread.
posted by Deoridhe at 12:57 PM on June 7 [13 favorites]


I drink "real booze" because I can no longer handle "girl drinks."

Me too, in fact.

At this point I order a PBR because I can't handle the 22% ABV craft beer I really want to be drinking. And that's fine.
posted by Sara C. at 12:59 PM on June 7


On the one hand food is something that's interesting to talk about. But on the other hand, apparently the only conversation a lot of people know how to have is My Taste Is Right And Yours Is Wrong And Here Is Why and its partner The Sixty-Page Defense Of Why My Food Tastes Are Justified. So few people are willing to accept "eh, it's not for me" or "I just like it that way," and so many people feel compelled to defend themselves when other people get dickish about what they like and dislike.

Definitely. I had a very wonderful but disorienting conversation with another woman who I just met that evening; she was encouraging me to have some tiramisu, and I made noncommittal noises (it was a potluck and she was the host, so I didn't want to seem rude about not wanting it, but I really just am not a huge fan of sweets), and she said that she wanted some but had given up sugar several years ago. So we talked about that for a while, but not in a "Sugar is eeeevil!" way but just in a "Why sugar creates problems for her individually" way (as in, she finds it very hard to stop at moderate amounts), and I said that I had similar issues with refined carbs like pasta but can easily pass up sweet things, and we had a nice moment of "Huh! Bodies are so weird! So many individual differences!" and I freaked out a bit, in a good way, that I had just had a conversation about restricting triggery foods with a female stranger in which neither of us shamed each other, shamed ourselves, categorized any foods as universally evil, gave unsolicited advice, or made generalizations about all bodies based solely on our experiences with our own.

As for the article: I think she has a definite point about alcoholic drinks getting gendered, and maaaaaaaybe coffee, but her generalizing that into "sweetness" (as a taste) being coded feminine is a gigantic stretch that she doesn't even try to back up with evidence. I think it's also worthwhile splitting out things that are inherently sweet from things that are sweetened, and I think it's the sweetening that gets coded as feminine or childlike. Because I for one actually think of bourbon as a fairly sweet drink, but it's not one that's sweetened in the way that an appletini is.
posted by jaguar at 1:00 PM on June 7 [7 favorites]


Even in this thread, though, girly drinks were described as "weaker" due to the alcohol they contain being sweeter

Since when is a Long Island Iced Tea a "girly drink"?

That's another thing I find sort of interesting about the gender dynamics of alcohol. We're now at a point where almost any cocktail = "girl drink" simply because the total set of all cocktails contains mudslides and appletinis.

(Both of which definitely contain real booze, to set the record straight.)
posted by Sara C. at 1:01 PM on June 7


"Don't want" is a bit more inclusive, a bit less judgey.

It's not just about being judgey, though. There are, in fact, many other criteria that people consider than just, what can I "handle." Eg, what taste do I want, what will complement my meal, what did I drink yesterday, what looks creative or unique, etc. Most people do not look at a beverage menu and see a ladder a la American Gladiators that they must climb for accomplishment's sake. That's exactly part of the mentality the FPP talks about. It's ignoring multifaceted reality, quite deliberately, in favor of some oversimplified fiction that allows you to fit your preferred narrative around the facts. "Oh, she's drinking ____. She must be ____."
posted by cribcage at 1:05 PM on June 7 [2 favorites]


Since when is a Long Island Iced Tea a "girly drink"?

Since it became a Blue Motorcycle and was served with an umbrella. Like I said: "My favorite girly drink: Blue Motorcycle. Make a Long Island Iced tea, but trade the splash of coke for a splash of Blue Curacao." It's bright, neon blue and delicious. I highly recommend it, especially with an umbrella, or maybe one of those swords, a cherry, and a slice of pineapple.
posted by Deoridhe at 1:06 PM on June 7 [1 favorite]


I just like that it's called a Blue Motorcycle.
posted by Sara C. at 1:07 PM on June 7 [3 favorites]


Even in this thread, though, girly drinks were described as "weaker" due to the alcohol they contain being sweeter - the calls are coming from inside the thread.

You're comparing apples and oranges to make your point here, and setting up a straw man. No one is calling those drinks girly here. The "girly" drinks being talked about generally contain mostly mixers and/or low ABV liqueurs, and maybe one shot of 80 proof booze.

I mean, wasn't it maybe a year ago that there was a similar thread to this, and a huge chain of comments came up where lots of women were talking about how that was a drink men ordered for women with nefarious intentions, and that no women actually ordered it nor did it have that association from anyone but creepers? Oh yep, found it.

I don't know anyone who associates long islands/blue motorcycles/tokyo teas/etc with anything but "getting turnt".
posted by emptythought at 1:08 PM on June 7 [2 favorites]


If confronted with a Hershey's Dark and a Valrhona milk they'd still pick the dark one for some twisted reason.

That's definitely an error people make, upon developing an appreciation for the acquired taste factor - dark chocolate, hoppy beer - to see food and drink possessing that factor as necessarily superior. Me, I like some Koelsch too, which I describe as "kinda what Bud Light would be if it was good."

The reason we associate sweetness with something needing to be covered up is that sweet flavors are often used to cover things up. Poor quality coffee. Well booze. Industrially processed and chemically adulterated wines, beers, and ciders. When "sweet" is the first thing I taste, I know I'm probably not getting something of value.

This is a big factor, and sometimes it's not even poor quality, just masking the base taste too much, which can start to seem like defeating the point. It's like in college when parties often had a 5 gallon cooler full of diluted Everclear loaded up with Kool Aid powder - it was more up front there and no one was asking for that to be considered on the same level as the craft beer sixers and single malts the more particular drinkers would bring.

Does make some sense in the case of drugs - easier to stomach ethanol and caffeine solutions, hell, even weed edibles. Shit, we were eating some illegal mushrooms once and while I don't like the taste but could chomp 'em down, this one guy had to break them up and wash 'em down with orange juice like choking down pills.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 1:08 PM on June 7


I just like that it's called a Blue Motorcycle.

That's totally why I ordered it when the server told me about it. I almost drank two, because I really didn't feel it and it was delicious, but he'd told me it was six shots and I knew I'd drunk it too fast to feel all the alcohol. I was happily tipsy for hours after, too, which was simply delightful.
posted by Deoridhe at 1:09 PM on June 7


Oddly, putting oneself in situations that require pain or discomfort is seen as good and manly and powerful and strong

Unless it's childbirth, or the many ways that women are expected to be uncomfortable, which of course are not discussed or celebrated.
posted by bile and syntax at 1:10 PM on June 7 [11 favorites]


Confession: I used to really like Maker's Mark, and then I was out with a guy friend who tasted it and said it was "sweet". I switched to Knob Creek shortly thereafter.

Which means maybe this article is true.
posted by Sara C. at 1:13 PM on June 7


Maker's Mark tastes a bit watery to me. I prefer just about any other bourbon among its peers.
posted by Sticherbeast at 1:14 PM on June 7 [1 favorite]


Bulleit is nice. So's Buffalo Trace.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:17 PM on June 7 [3 favorites]


Which means maybe this article is true.

i don't think many people, and at least not i, are saying that nothing about this article is true. I defended the bit about booze with relation to this. I just think the "and therefor EVERYTHING!" is shaky at best.
posted by emptythought at 1:17 PM on June 7 [2 favorites]


Is Knob Creek a more... butch bourbon? That's going to make me giggle all day. Tee hee. Knob.
posted by palomar at 1:19 PM on June 7 [3 favorites]


That's another thing I find sort of interesting about the gender dynamics of alcohol. We're now at a point where almost any cocktail = "girl drink" simply because the total set of all cocktails contains mudslides and appletinis.

I had me a Cocktail once: Rye, Maple Syrup, Laphroaig, Lemon, Tobacco Bitters. It was called the "Death of a Ladies' Man" and while I can't say I'm much of a ladies' man I can vouch for the Death part, which I would say comes from the tobacco bitters. I mean, is that shit even legal?
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 1:20 PM on June 7 [2 favorites]


Yeah but the bottom line is that, personally, I think Maker's is fine. It also meets most of the standards of Snobbish Alcohol Consumption: it's hard liquor straight up, it's not objectively shitty, and it looks cool. And, again, regardless of its reputation among liquor snobs, I enjoy drinking it. The price is usually right, too.

And yet the second some dude told me it was "sweet", I started having second thoughts.

If the guy had told me it was "harsh", or "boring", or "unsophisticated", I probably wouldn't have cared.

Except that I'm a Cool Girl. I have to drink Manly Drinks. If my manly drink of choice is "sweet" according to a dude, I have failed in my Cool Girl mission.

This is so fucking dumb. Maker's Mark rules.
posted by Sara C. at 1:21 PM on June 7 [4 favorites]


Well, that was a productive session. Matt will collect your co-pay.
posted by cribcage at 1:23 PM on June 7 [12 favorites]


Is Knob Creek a more... butch bourbon?

I don't know, I think I picked it because some dude hadn't told me it was "sweet", and it's in the same basic price range. I just picked any other bourbon. Because I'm a dumbass.
posted by Sara C. at 1:24 PM on June 7 [3 favorites]


to be clear, Sara C, I faved that not because I think you're a dumbass, but because I love these ". . . oh" moments of epiphany.
posted by KathrynT at 1:26 PM on June 7 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I figured it wasn't out of some kind of WOODFORD 4 LYFE thing or anything.
posted by Sara C. at 1:26 PM on June 7 [1 favorite]


Look, all I know is that brown liquors taste like essence of kindly grandfather mixed with Satan, and I find that emotionally confusing. I stick mostly to gin, because after two gin drinks everything turns into a screwball comedy from the late 1930's.
posted by palomar at 1:31 PM on June 7 [16 favorites]


My problem with gin is that I have very specific taste in particular gins. Great for mixing at home. Insufferable in a bar. "Do you have Hendricks? No. What about Bombay Sapphire? How much is that? Oh, nevermind. Um. Yeah, hm. I'll just have a glass of prosecco I guess..."
posted by Sara C. at 1:34 PM on June 7 [1 favorite]


It is becoming clear to me that what I really want is a much more nuanced take on the broader topic of the social signifiers of bar drinking.

Because, yeah. I kind of care.

And I know the girls drinking mudslides also totally care, they're just trying to send a different message.

It's like the fucking Victorian Language Of Flowers.
posted by Sara C. at 1:36 PM on June 7 [2 favorites]


"...as if it was a sin to want something that tastes yummy."
You know what's a sin? For a grown-ass adult who's supposedly a professional writer to use a toddler word like "yummy." Man, that grates on my nerves. Grow the fuck up.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 1:37 PM on June 7 [8 favorites]


I think the idea of "being able to handle booze" is deeply gendered and also kind of fucked up. I'm a small woman. I fake it reasonably well, but I can't "handle booze" the way that someone twice my size can. If that makes me weak or pathetic, then that makes women weaker and more pathetic than men, because women can, on average, handle less booze than men can, if only as a function of our generally-smaller size.

Yeah, there are a ton of reasons to choose lower proof drinks. I am a tiny woman but I can actually "handle" a fair amount of booze. I also rarely get hangovers. But I started seeking out lower proof drinks because, honestly, sometimes I want the complexity of a good drink without the being drunk part. Or I want to enjoy a greater variety of drinks rather than just one super strong drink like a Sazerac or Old Fashioned.

Unfortunately many bartenders and other drink professionals do associate proof with some kind of machismo or "realness." Especially in the Midwest where I feel like I have to really explain myself to get a lower proof drink that doesn't taste like the bartender didn't give a crap. It is really dumb because there are a whole host of classic complex cocktails that are lower proof like the Americano and the Bamboo. In SF they seem to be in fashion here and I've gotten some bartenders in Chicago to start making them.

Hilariously, the girl drinks cocktail menu that people have been talking about uses high proof base spirits.
posted by melissam at 1:38 PM on June 7 [1 favorite]


A lot of the "For Men" drinks on there look like they are lower in alcohol than some of the "girly" ones. I mean it depends on the pour I suppose, but as written their Melon Ball is definitely going to pack more of a punch than their Zombie.

So.... yeah.... date rape?
posted by Sara C. at 1:41 PM on June 7 [1 favorite]


It's OK to not like things
posted by K.P. at 2:12 PM on June 7


This is so fucking dumb. Maker's Mark rules.

I always associate Maker's Mark with my Grandfather, so I keep a bottle in the house for offerings that are particularly important (my religion includes offerings of alcohol as brib..I mean gifts to the gods). How funny that someone called it sweet.

So.... yeah.... date rape?

According to confessed multiple rapists, alcohol is one of their chosen weapons. It also has the advantage that most people will blame the woman (sometimes including the woman herself) for being raped because she was drunk, so their chances of being prosecuted drop a lot.
posted by Deoridhe at 2:16 PM on June 7



My problem with gin is that I have very specific taste in particular gins. Great for mixing at home. Insufferable in a bar. "Do you have Hendricks? No. What about Bombay Sapphire? How much is that? Oh, nevermind. Um. Yeah, hm. I'll just have a glass of prosecco I guess..."


I can sympathize. I don't go out for drinks that often anymore, but in general the people I go out for drinks with are cocktail snobs, and I can always depend on them to find a place that has at least one good gin drink with quality gin. And then there's a nice little distillery/bar here within walking distance of my apartment that makes a pretty decent gin. I had a drink there last night that was their Hedge Trimmer gin, fresh lemon juice, mint, and ginger beer. Damn good. I think you can buy Hedge Trimmer in California if you look for it...
posted by palomar at 2:31 PM on June 7


Deoridhe, I don't think this friend really meant anything by it. The truth is that Maker's does have a slightly sweeter flavor profile than some other bourbons. And bourbon is relatively sweet by brown liquor standards. But there's nothing wrong with any of that, Maker's Mark is delicious, and seriously if a "slightly sweeter flavor profile" is challenging my self-image, that's kind of a mess.
posted by Sara C. at 2:39 PM on June 7


One of the things that occurred to me as I was reading all the pondering about what people like and don't like in terms of sweet and sour and bitter and so on is that people's taste changes over time for a lot of different reasons. There's always "educating your palate", but for me, the biggest change in food enjoyment i've ever had have come from medication. There are entire categories of tastes and even textures that I seem to have lost interest in and others where my enjoyment has increased a great deal, and I'm certain that the (prescription) drugs I'm putting into my system are a big factor in that change.

I wouldn't say the change makes my palate more sophisticated, for all that the effects make me look more like a srs bzns eater sometimes. For instance, I enjoy sushi a lot more now without much, if any, soy, and I know that's supposed to be a sign of a more sophisticated sushi eater. Based on other foods I eat, I think it's just that I don't want as much soy on anything.

(Not that this has anything to do with perception or sexism; just a food-related/taste-related thing I've noticed.)
posted by immlass at 2:40 PM on June 7 [1 favorite]


Back when I was a token lady in bro-infested tech startups, I had a come to Jesus with some other hiring managers about their "culture fits." They'd base their hiring decisions in part on hobbies and interests of the candidates. And those hobbies and interests leaned pretty heavily bro, like video games and sports. Some but not many of them also fell into the category of those obscene Man vs. Food style performative masculinity things where you drink the most alcohol and eat the most ghost peppers or meat or whatever, but most of it was just legitimate interests in activities that are coded male.

I don't do that macho crap because I think it's horrible and actually kind of evil, but the same doesn't apply to sports and video games and stuff. It's not that I'm not interested or because I couldn't get into them if I wanted to, but because leisure activities take time, and I was mother to a small child and flat out didn't have that time to dedicate to my personal entertainment. Many of my male colleagues also had small children, but apparently, their wives did most of the parenting, allowing them to go home after work and pursue their own interests instead of making dinner and shopping and changing diapers and giving baths and all that stuff.

So a lot of time, developing 'adult tastes' and specialized interests is gendered. Not because the things are themselves gendered, but because men are more likely to have the time to devote to non kid-friendly activities after they have kids. Women disproportionately get sucked into that kid hole full of cartoons and cheesy pop music and bland, kid-friendly foods. If there's a moral judgment to make here, it's going to come out against the men who aren't raising their kids.

But another factor is that women grow up in a patriarchal system that often excludes them from adult activities. We give our daughters earlier curfews and tighter restrictions than our sons. We chastise and shame girls who do fun and risky things in ways we don't do with boys. And sometimes, we accuse girls of internalizing misogyny and trying to impress boys for having male coded interests and behaviors. I have gotten that a LOT, and seriously, it hurts. It hurts when other women tell me that I'm not performing femininity to their standards, or accuse me of being self-loathing for doing things I like to do, or for objecting when someone makes an insulting assumption about it.
posted by ernielundquist at 2:41 PM on June 7 [30 favorites]


> Then I thought of my secret shame, the sweet wines and sherries I kept secretly in my fridge.

Gimme a double bourbon, house brand, straight up. But the worst hangover I ever had in my entire life was from peppermint schnapps with chocolate syrup chasers. My shame is nothing, nothing, to the chance that speaking out may prevent even one other person from doing as I did and suffering as I suffered.

> The black coffee drinkers are more visible at places that specialize in coffee.

Or, y'know, the Waffle House.
posted by jfuller at 3:24 PM on June 7 [2 favorites]


I stick mostly to gin, because after two gin drinks everything turns into a screwball comedy from the late 1930's.

*Kicks in door wearing a white tuxedo and shaking a silver mixer.*

"Aviations for all!"
posted by The Whelk at 3:25 PM on June 7 [11 favorites]


Then I thought of my secret shame, the sweet wines and sherries I kept secretly in my fridge

I'm actually fairly sure that sherry is the next big thing.

I was seeing masturabtory lifestyle articles about it in more rarefied circles a year or two ago, and it's certain to trickle down eventually. Watch out for pedantic hipsters referring to it as Jerez.
posted by Sara C. at 3:29 PM on June 7


Yup.
posted by Sara C. at 3:31 PM on June 7


Sherry can only be drunk in the presence of Vicors.
posted by The Whelk at 3:34 PM on June 7


I need to track down my sources, but I swear there was a great explanation of food and femininity online somewhere about how in the 1950's or thereabouts, it was a big thing to be sure the man of the household got the big cuts of meat and how sweet snacks were a cheap way to "power through" daily chores as a housewife. In that narrative it's definitely not jus about coffee and booze. I'll see if I can find the article I'm thinking of.
posted by rivenwanderer at 3:39 PM on June 7


The reason I hate people who mix in creamers and multiple sugar packets and flavorings is that now when you order coffee they'll gleefully give you a cup that is only 80% full, perhaps less so with iced coffee. It's to the point where I have to say "no room" and then "seriously, none" to get a cup even 9/10ths full. Baristas have learned that they need to leave room for all the mad scientists performing alchemical rituals with the various powers and liquids on hand.
posted by 2bucksplus at 3:50 PM on June 7


A lot of the "For Men" drinks on there look like they are lower in alcohol than some of the "girly" ones. I mean it depends on the pour I suppose, but as written their Melon Ball is definitely going to pack more of a punch than their Zombie.

So.... yeah.... date rape?


A lot of the so-called "girly" drinks are not weaker in any way shape or form but are pleasant-tasting concoctions of hard-assed liquor designed to go down as easy as a Pepsi while getting the imbiber shit-faced in short order. E.g. jello shots, kamikazes, and lots of other tasty treats often combining multiple types of booze. There's no mistaking a (real) martini for something else, but a chocolate one? I've seen people toss down three or four of those without batting an eye.
posted by FelliniBlank at 3:52 PM on June 7


As a milk only person my issue is that I really don't dig people who dominate the ENTIRE milk/sugar area. Like, seriously, I'm very proud of your nine sugars and salted caramel on top, but could you just hand me the 2%?
posted by Sara C. at 3:58 PM on June 7


My favorite girly drink: Blue Motorcycle. Make a Long Island Iced tea, but trade the splash of coke for a splash of Blue Curacao. One hundred percent alcohol, in a long, tall glass - six shots in all. Even in this thread, though, girly drinks were described as "weaker" due to the alcohol they contain being sweeter - the calls are coming from inside the thread.

True, especially given the Blue Motorcyle's alternate name: Adios Motherfucker. Which was probably named as a way to sell the drink to men without them feeling insecure. (Which now also makes me wonder what other drinks bartenders have been renaming according to gender or some other criteria)
posted by FJT at 4:18 PM on June 7


Oh look, Negroni hour draws nigh.
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 4:28 PM on June 7 [1 favorite]


I'm havin' a Pimm's-and-Iced-Tea Cup with dinner, but this thread is making me want a glass of port.
posted by FelliniBlank at 4:46 PM on June 7 [1 favorite]


Red wine and fried chicken with pickles.
posted by The Whelk at 5:06 PM on June 7


One thing that's missing from this is that children's taste sensitivities develop over time, with younger people being both more sensitive to flavors overall and demonstrating a stronger attraction to sweet flavors. So the "more sophisticated" gloss isn't simple snobbery — it's part of a physiological process that most people go through.

"I think the idea of "being able to handle booze" is deeply gendered and also kind of fucked up. I'm a small woman. I fake it reasonably well, but I can't "handle booze" the way that someone twice my size can. If that makes me weak or pathetic, then that makes women weaker and more pathetic than men, because women can, on average, handle less booze than men can, if only as a function of our generally-smaller size."

Men and women metabolize alcohol differently.
posted by klangklangston at 5:35 PM on June 7 [1 favorite]


In recent years it seems like food has really come into its own as a theater of identity construction for the western first worlds. Obvious examples are the whole local/organic/"clean" thing, and then the kind of masculinist (for some value) hyper-carnivore thing like you often see on food shows, and maybe kale and bacon are kind of like sigils of these kind of "food stances." And then there's just a big ambient cultural pressure to be attuned to all this stuff in the way maybe you had to have a "take" on bands or movie directors or something in past generations, with certainly some of the classism and snobbery of those earlier configurations, but maybe in some ways even worse, because there's more of a pretense to egalitarianism in the food case...
posted by batfish at 6:13 PM on June 7 [3 favorites]


Speaking of 1930s... I just have what Nick and Nora are having.
posted by yeti at 6:23 PM on June 7


Maker's Mark is heavily wheated bourbon which gives it that characteristic of being sweeter than a typical corn/rye mashbill. It is standout different in a muted way.

Knob Creek and Maker's are both squarely in in the "upmarket deliberately overpriced" niche but Knob Rye is the bomb. So is wild turkey, everything Evan Williams, etc. Knob Creek is 9 year Jim Beam. Not bad but Jim is good too.
posted by aydeejones at 7:05 PM on June 7


Everything Buffalo Trace is good too, for sure... My first bottle of bourbon was Maker's and I've had their higher end stuff but Evan Williams Single Barrel is older and still have the cute wax dip, and I thank metafilter for showing me I don't have to spend more than $20-25 a handle or fifth depending on how smooth I want my sippin'
posted by aydeejones at 7:08 PM on June 7


The reason I hate people who mix in creamers and multiple sugar packets and flavorings is that now when you order coffee they'll gleefully give you a cup that is only 80% full, perhaps less so with iced coffee. It's to the point where I have to say "no room" and then "seriously, none" to get a cup even 9/10ths full. Baristas have learned that they need to leave room for all the mad scientists performing alchemical rituals with the various powers and liquids on hand.

To be honest this is actually mainly because baristas don't get paid extra for burning themselves.

KathrynT: I usually order a manhattan or an old fashioned. Both of those are still sweet, of course, but somehow they don't trigger the headache the way a sweet cider or a lambic or a Mike's Hard Lemonade does.

Could it be sulfites?
posted by threeants at 7:14 PM on June 7


The problem with the menu with the "for men", "for everyone", and "for women" drinks is that those people obviously can't be trusted to know what's in, much less, make a good zombie.

3/4 oz. fresh lime juice
1 1/2 oz. Jamaican rum
1 1/2 oz. gold Puerto Rican rum
1 oz. 151-proof Demerara rum
1/8 tsp. Herbsaint or Pernod
1/2 oz. falernum
1/2 oz. Donn’s Mix (one half cinnamon simple syrup/one half grapefruit juice)
1 tsp. grenadine
1 dash Angostura bitters
6 oz. crushed ice

Mix well in a drink mixer. Add ice cubes to fill. Garnish with a mint sprig. Look askance at anyone who uses OJ in a "zombie".

Ok, the last step is optional.

Zombies will eat the brains of both men and women.

Note for purists: This is the 1934 zombie, the original one people were warned off of having more than two of. Not the absolutely delicious, but very different tasting, 1950's backyard version, that also has no orange juice in it.
posted by bswinburn at 7:15 PM on June 7 [4 favorites]


For me Knob is challenging because I can't "handle" 100 proof without a peppery bite. So the rye works great, whereas the regular one I find myself wanting to mix (the horror!). They're all good to me in the end, Maker's just has a pretty straightforward explanation for the snobbery lobbed its way. I like it but for $50 a handle I'll get buffalo trace and still get flak from bourbon snobs who demand more proof and bite...
posted by aydeejones at 7:22 PM on June 7


Note: bourbon snobbery is OK when the snob is at least ten years your senior and you're under forty. At that point it can be endearing and it's usually in the form of "anti snobbery." You can learn a lot and still stick with what you like, but figuring out you can get a good bourbon for $18/handle (old Grandad, for example) helps you splurge on fifths more judiciously
posted by aydeejones at 7:26 PM on June 7


Well, I'm not in AA but did quit drinking because of binging problems. And I never had much of a sweet tooth before I quit drinking, but now it's insatiable.

Yeah, this is very common, and I count myself among ex-drinkers who crave sweet tasting food and drinks. Alcohol, like sugar, is empty calories, a source of energy that is depleted quickly. Your body gets used to those quick calories being associated with pleasure. It's also a thing for recovering heroin addicts.
posted by krinklyfig at 7:48 PM on June 7 [2 favorites]


Whiskey sweetness exists on a spectrum, which is important to keep in mind. Taste is definitely relative. Compared to its peers, Maker's probably is sweeter. Woodford Reserve is less sweet to me, for example. However, put Woodford next to an Islay scotch like Ardbeg (probably my favorite of any variety of brown spirit) and it's as sweet as a cupcake by comparison. On the subject of cheap whiskey, you could spend a lot more and do a lot worse than Jim Beam Rye.
posted by feloniousmonk at 9:14 PM on June 7 [1 favorite]


Hah!

You want to see Judgey McJudgerson?

Go into a micro-brew beer bar and order a Coors Light with 5-6 slices of lemon.
"But we have 142 different specialty beers!"
"Do you have pale wheat ale?"
"No" I've only ever found it once.
"Then bring me a CL with 5-6 L."
They then begin to ply me with 45 different taster glasses, which I sip and gag on.

Talk about the ol' stink eye!


I'm just not a beer drinker, but CL is better than ordering a five buck diet Coke. I hate paying for sugar tasting water.
posted by BlueHorse at 9:29 PM on June 7


CL with 5-6 lemons? Why not just get a Radler at that point?
posted by FJT at 10:00 PM on June 7 [3 favorites]


"I have a lot, lot, lot of years of observing these conversations since not liking chocolate is definitely a minority position and one to be treated with suspicion and people can never let is pass uncommented upon. Sometimes just in benign curiosity, but often with great suspicion and distrust of me as a human being."

I am convinced that hating coffee or chocolate are the two most socially awkward food dislikes ever. I have sympathy for your chocolate dislike because man, I can't stand the smell or taste of bitter, bitter coffee. (I probably wouldn't like chocolate either except that they do a lot of de-bittering on it.) To me it smells burnt, with the taste of dirty socks in the mouth combined with it. I get that people like caffeine and I wish I could drink it for that, but no matter how much damn cream and sugar and foam you put in there and if you drink it decaf it STILL tastes like bitter burned socks to me. The only remotely coffee-ish thing I can consume without disgust is kahlua. (Drunk-ass girly milkshakes, anyone?)

I imagine for the anti-chocolate folks like my previous boss, every dessert in public is a problem because everyone is expected to like chocolate and most of the time that's what is brought for surprise birthday cakes and the like. As for me, every damn morning I have to smell the reek of everyone else's coffee and everyone saying, "I Just Gotta Have MAH COFFEE!" and gloating about it and skipping out for coffee breaks and being an asshole without their coffee. Meanwhile I'm trying to down Mountain Dew in the corner* and am getting bitched out for my sleepiness, while breathing through my mouth to try to avoid coffee reek.

* the closest non-coffee, non-tea equivalent I can find because I'm not a super tea lover either, or at least I pretty much drink that to be polite more than I think it's tasty. Or has much taste unless I put half a hive of honey in it. I'm real fun when someone wants to go to Peet's.
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:11 PM on June 7


cribcage: "She has a few valid points (food as cultural signifier, etc) but mostly this is a column that doesn't realize it's actually about having the self-esteem to not constantly look over your shoulder."

Agreed. And it's frustrating that the writer can't manage to speak about the gendered associations of sweetness without doing the same sort of shaming in the other direction. Perhaps she should have worked a little longer at unpacking her defensiveness first.

Since we're all sharing our preferences, I'll say that I like my coffee black with sugar, I drink my whiskey neat (which is apparently unfeminine according to older male bartenders), find most desserts much too sweet, love a lot of "acquired" bitter and strong flavors yet dislike hoppy beers intensely, like my spicy food pretty damn spicy but am weirdly sensitive to red pepper flakes, and have always understood "girl drinks" to be not necessarily lower in alcohol but masking the taste of it with sugar and frivolity.
posted by desuetude at 10:13 PM on June 7


"I like dessert for dinner"- shorter author.
posted by TSOL at 11:35 PM on June 7


As for the coffee thing, I dated a girl from Spain who would order the most ridiculous extra-whip double butterscotch frappuccino drinks, and she used to just say that the coffee here was shit, so it didn't matter what she ordered — they weren't even the same thing.
posted by klangklangston at 12:25 AM on June 8


Um, I don't think this has been brought up, but doesn't anyone use the bitter taste of coffee to enhance the sweetness of a dessert or a donut or muffin? I usually do that (it's the only time I take coffee black, otherwise one or two creams), and notice I also like combination tastes like salted caramel or those Japanese hard candies that are coated in sour powder.
posted by FJT at 12:47 AM on June 8 [4 favorites]


jenfullmoon, you really need mate-based softdrinks in your life. Mate as in yerba mate.

I don't know where you are, but in central Europe new brands are poppng up every hour and spreading like wildfire. Here's a nice article about one of the bigger brands: Club Mate.
posted by Too-Ticky at 1:22 AM on June 8 [1 favorite]


This was passed around my friends and co-workers as the worst auto accident imaginable: "More than 100 cases of Club Mate fell from a truck on the highway"
posted by frimble at 1:57 AM on June 8 [1 favorite]


I like dark chocolate, and I like white chocolate (as a different thing), but I actively do not like milk chocolate (except in peanut butter cups) so I would absolutely take Hershey's dark over Valrhona milk.
posted by jeather at 4:59 AM on June 8 [1 favorite]


This is like the "ketchup on a hotdog" debate. Some people cry foul and just can't accept that some would put ketchup on their hotdog--mustard only! Me, I like ketchup on my hotdog. And mustard. And onions. And sauerkraut and relish and dried onions and jalapenos and cheese and chili. Sometimes I choose just one of those things. Sometimes I load up with two, three, or more of those things!

Coffee is the same way. I like it black, I like it with sugar, I like it with cream. Sometimes just one of the latter, sometimes both. Most of the time I drink it black because I like bitter foods and also because I'm just lazy.

I just can't fathom having one kind of coffee or one kind of hotdog. Sexist attitudes don't even come into play for me.
posted by zardoz at 5:14 AM on June 8 [2 favorites]


And part of why I give the evil eye to people who don't like chocolate is that I really like to bake, and I particularly like to bake with chocolate, and if you don't like chocolate then how can I share it with you? Fresh fruit based desserts just don't work all year long.

Also probably you aren't human.
posted by jeather at 5:32 AM on June 8


Fresh fruit based desserts just don't work all year long.

This is why the good lord invented canning, cobbler, and pudding cake.
posted by FelliniBlank at 5:41 AM on June 8 [3 favorites]


jenfullmoon: "I am convinced that hating coffee or chocolate are the two most socially awkward food dislikes ever."

Ha! I don't like coffee either! Or dark stout beers. It's not the bitterness; I think it's the same "dark" flavor in all three (chocolate, coffee, and stout). Coffee isn't too awkward because I can always have tea or Diet Coke, but chocolate is often quite awkward because people consider it the "universal" treat and then they feel bad that you don't want any, like:

jeather: "And part of why I give the evil eye to people who don't like chocolate is that I really like to bake, and I particularly like to bake with chocolate, and if you don't like chocolate then how can I share it with you?"

Yep, this is exactly why it's awkward. When everyone else is having dessert and it's chocolate, I try to have some other kind of "decadent treat" so they don't feel like I'm missing out (a different dessert, or another glass of wine, or a plate of bacon). If someone's made the dinner and made a special chocolate dessert, I always tell my hostess something like, "I'm not much of a chocolate person, but that bread you made is DELICIOUS and bread is my great weakness, do you mind if I have another slice for MY dessert? SO good." Or something like that. But with alarming frequency someone gets ME a chocolate cake to be nice on my birthday, viewing chocolate as the universal cake, and there's really no choice in that case but to smilingly choke down a couple bites while everyone's watching and then try to ditch your plate so nobody knows you didn't eat it.

But yeah, leaving aside the folks who are weirdly judgmental about other people's food preferences, and I don't have too many of those in my life because we tend not to have much fun together, the worst part is that other people feel terrible for not knowing you have a weird food dislike and they feel like bad hosts, and I feel terrible because I truly -- truly! -- don't mind (I've been refusing chocolate since I was a toddler, and I don't have much of a sweet tooth anyway -- it's a salt tooth for sure -- so I don't mind missing dessert when it's chocolate, it's been happening for 30+ years), but I don't want them to feel bad that they didn't know about my weird thing!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 5:43 AM on June 8 [1 favorite]


"Then bring me a CL with 5-6 L."

May I introduce you to the Shandy?

Also count me in among the "don't like purely sweet desserts" people. I mean yes, a dessert should be sweet enough to be a dessert, but I always like to have herbal/spicy/bitter/salty notes in there so it's not a mountain of sugar.

Protip: good (real, 10+years old, actually from Modena) balsamic vinegar over vanilla ice cream is a fantastic thing.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 5:58 AM on June 8


I understand entirely, Eyebrows - I quite like the things you don't, but I have the same problem with doughnuts, especially Krispy Kreme. People keep presenting them as a treat, and my honest feeling is, why would I want to put something that tastes and feels like wet sugar with chemicals in my mouth? But how can you say, this thing you have given me in good faith as a token of esteem and friendship, it disgusts me?
posted by Segundus at 6:30 AM on June 8


Oh God I remember the first time I had a KK. In Cheektowaga if memory serves.

Euuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuurrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrgggggggggggggggggh. Maybe if I were hugely stoned, but like seriously, I can get the same effect by pouring a pound of sugar into my mouth.

But how can you say, this thing you have given me in good faith as a token of esteem and friendship, it disgusts me?

Ay, there's the rub.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 6:32 AM on June 8


fffm, if you're in a part of the world where it's available, Fiorello's caramel balsamic gelato is pretty amazing.
posted by jaguar at 8:58 AM on June 8


I don't care what kind of coffee anyone likes as long as they don't breathe their nasty stale coffee breath on me afterwards.
posted by elizardbits at 9:42 AM on June 8 [2 favorites]


There's a gelato place dangerously near my apartment, jaguar. I should ask them to do a balsamic one. I'd buy their whole stock.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:13 AM on June 8


Kripy Kreme is really only worth eating if purchased from the store when the "Hot Donuts Now" sign is on. Still sweet as anything but they go down easy as they melt in your mouth.
posted by oakroom at 10:37 AM on June 8 [3 favorites]


Working the doughnut fryer in a bakery from 3-9AM for one summer cured me of ever wanting a doughnut again for life.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 11:16 AM on June 8


Go into a micro-brew beer bar and order a Coors Light with 5-6 slices of lemon.

Just order a shandy made with hefeweizen.
posted by Sara C. at 10:17 PM on June 8


And I've always preferred a good honest cider donut to Krispy Kream any day of the week.
posted by Sara C. at 10:19 PM on June 8


I am convinced that hating coffee or chocolate are the two most socially awkward food dislikes ever.

I don't like chocolate, and i don't generally eat sweet things. Candy makes me feel ill, as does more than a small amount of most soda.

Personally, it doesn't bother me or ruin my life or anything. It's not something i think about very often, since i just don't buy or order those things when i'm out and around.

But holy shit is it something that people can not stop talking about. I have some weird little interlude discussion about it at the very least if i'm lucky once a week. Sometimes it comes up 2 or 3 times in one weekend. A lot of peoples reactions feel similar to if i said "i don't believe jesus ever existed" in a church youth group.

People are just not freaking capable of going "Oh, ok". They always have to go "but why?" and try to second guess my preferences as if they know my own preferences and tastes better than i do or something.

It's actually one of the only times i ever get to experience that sort of exchange as a man. And i always walk away from it thinking(other than "christ, what an asshole") "Jesus fuck it must suck to get second guessed like this, and have your clearly stated preferences constantly questioned". Because it isn't just are you sure?, it's more like "no you'll like this even though you said you wont, even though you've tried it a bunch of times and know you don't like it". It sometimes even gets bizarre and rules lawyery into "but i saw you eat something like that this one time at this one place ages ago!". Jesus fucking christ man, that's almost creepy.

It weirds me out how specific to chocolate this is too. No one ever questions me not smoking cigarettes, declining the weed they're passing me, or any number of other things. But chocolate, candy in general, soda, whatever? The reaction goes beyond "but how!".

It's even weirder than the reactions i get when i decline milk. Which is also vaguely in the "ugh" zone at times, due to the "oh are you lactose intolerant?" "No, i just really don't like milk"(and depending on how i feel the snark will be received, "i'm not a baby cow") "WUT?"
posted by emptythought at 3:56 AM on June 9 [1 favorite]


emptythought: Not precisely the same situation, but if I tell people "Oh, I've tried a ton but I just can't snap my fingers, I think my hands just won't do it" they lose their shit and try to teach me how, even though they are the 50000th person to do so and it has never worked and I don't care anyway.
posted by showbiz_liz at 4:59 AM on June 9 [1 favorite]


I want someone to teach me to snap my fingers, but everyone who knows how to just gives me pitying looks.

Also, wolf whistling. Also, burping the alphabet.

I admit I've been one of those "WHAT do you mean, you don't like chocolate!" I don't have an excuse for it, it just never occurred to me that I'm not the first person to say that and how it must be incredibly anoying. You guys are right, universal chocolate love is such a paradigm.

Anyway, sorry for being stupid and making people's lives more annoying!

FWIW once I understood that my husband's aunt really and truly didn't like chocolates, I gave her a jar of her favourite pickles for her birthday. She thought it was funny.
posted by Omnomnom at 5:21 AM on June 9


bookish: It's kind of weird how many people here feel the need to criticize the author for how she's drinking her coffee or assert the superiority of their coffee choices.
If by "weird how many people here" you mean "nearly zero", then, yes.

[41 favorites +]

What I find weird is that, although almost no one on Metafilter suggested what you claimed (with a couple exceptions - but very few), 41 people enthusiastically decided you are accurately describing this discussion.
posted by IAmBroom at 8:46 AM on June 9 [1 favorite]


It weirds me out how specific to chocolate this is too.

Nah, I have a friend who claims to dislike pizza. I just... fucking boggles the mind. I respect her feelings about it while in her presence, but I won't claim to understand in any way how a human being could possibly dislike pizza.
posted by Sara C. at 9:01 AM on June 9 [1 favorite]


Four sugars in your coffee? That hardly takes the edge off. I've been known to put at least six into a latte. And even then I can't say I actually enjoyed it.

I think the article is onto something, and I also think it's more complicated than a simple sugar = feminine association. But coffee is its own special category. Not liking coffee is not just socially awkward; it's downright baffling to most people. One friend of mine looked at me in disbelief when I made the announcement.

"But then what do you drink in the morning?" she asked, clearly genuinely confused. (The answer, of course, for those who might be similarly confused, is milk, juice, or sometimes hot chocolate. Rarely, tea. With lots of sugar and milk.)

Not liking coffee is to get a constant slap in the face. How many waiting rooms are stocked with free coffee for customers but nothing else? How many conferences have I been to where there has been free coffee, both regular and decaf (to the joyous acclaim of nearly everyone else present) but, again, nothing else provided because it never occurred to the organizers that some might not like coffee? The employee lounge has free coffee but nothing else. (Well, in most cases there's a drinking fountain nearby, but somehow lukewarm water that tastes like metal just doesn't seem like a fair equivalent to free stuff for the people who like the one option provided). I was on a plane once that refused to take off until the coffee maker was repaired, because God forbid anyone have to go three hours without a cup o' Joe (in defense of coffee lovers here, even they were yelling that they'd rather just get going, already, mind you). Yet I've also been on planes that were out of orange juice or some other beverage and they took off on time.

Not liking coffee is regarded as some kind of violation of the social contract. What is wrong with you, that you don't like coffee? What are you hiding? The coffee hater is a suspect character, one who must be watched closely and probably can't really be trusted.
posted by CoureurDubois at 10:31 AM on June 9


Not liking coffee is regarded as some kind of violation of the social contract.

Try being someone who won't drink soft drinks (or anything carbonated). Especially with the rise of the SodaStream, people don't even have cold water (or ice to make their tap water cold).

I know a bunch of people who don't like coffee, though -- I don't think it's that uncommon, or maybe I just know an unrepresentative sample of people.
posted by jeather at 10:35 AM on June 9


Women who feel like they need to learn how to drink beer because otherwise they won’t be taken seriously when they go out with coworkers or go to networking events.

They should learn to drink beer because when they are at networking events you know they'll have them. And there's plenty of good beers about, particularly these days. Personally I think you should just order whatever damned thing you want, but if you want to compromise on that for the sake of networking then the ubiquity of beer is certainly an argument in its favor.
posted by phearlez at 10:38 AM on June 9


How many waiting rooms are stocked with free coffee for customers but nothing else?

Rest assured that this coffee is shit, and only the truly desperate drink it.

Also, you know that coffee is provided in all these venues as a caffeination source, and not just a tasty beverage, right? For things like a conference, a break room, etc. tea is usually also an option. But it's not a free beverage zone, it's a courtesy for people who need caffeine to get going. If you don't, it's not for you because you don't want/need the service it's providing.

It's kind of strange that it's customary for complimentary caffeinated beverages to be provided (and there are deep cultural reasons for it), but honestly it's not really about people enjoying the taste of coffee or not.
posted by Sara C. at 10:41 AM on June 9 [1 favorite]


You know what's a sin? For a grown-ass adult who's supposedly a professional writer to use a toddler word like "yummy." Man, that grates on my nerves. Grow the fuck up.
posted by The Underpants Monster


You just described my feelings about the word (and reader here I shudder even to type it) veggies. Ugh.
posted by Carillon at 10:59 AM on June 9 [2 favorites]


You know what's a sin? For a grown-ass adult who's supposedly a professional writer to use a toddler word like "yummy."

When I was in Australia (for a few weeks' vacation last year) I felt like this was a normal thing there for adults to say, not a word only for kids as it seems to be in my experience in the US. I remarked on it to some friends there who were from or who had lived in America. I found it sort of startling, like I was in a gelato shop and this woman tried a flavor and was like, "this is yummy!" I dunno, in the US it seems like the only adults who say it are intentionally trying to be twee for some reason, but in Australia it seemed like it was a normal substitute for "delicious."

Yes, I hate "veggies" too but I think we're stuck with it.

Re: coffee


But it's not a free beverage zone, it's a courtesy for people who need caffeine to get going. If you don't, it's not for you because you don't want/need the service it's providing.


Yeah, I can't function without some sort of caffeine delivery in the morning, and it's usually coffee so in a pinch I'm grateful for the waiting room type swill. I once bought some hypersugary espresso thing on my way to my therapist's office and drank it super fast because otherwise I wouldn't have been able to put my thoughts together.

(Despite username, I don't like sugary drinks and drink black coffee).
posted by sweetkid at 11:20 AM on June 9 [1 favorite]


People think it's weird that I don't like carbonated beverages, but I actually don't think there's the same weird judgment that there is with the whole sweet drinks/ non-sweet drinks thing. It's just taken as an eccentricity, not as some sort of loaded statement on my level of sophistication or coolness.

Carbonation seriously hurts my mouth. It's actually a little baffling to me that people find that sensation pleasant.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 11:25 AM on June 9


Somebody else mentioned working at a doughnut shop and getting burnt out on doughnuts; a big part of why I don't drink much pop at all is because I worked at a restaurant where I got free pop all night long (and free milkshakes), and — especially since it was hard to keep it from getting over-syruped — I just hit a break point where I couldn't deal with any pop at all for a couple years. And even after that, my ability to enjoy any sweets of any kind was greatly reduced.

As for cocktails, sweet cocktails to me taste too much like hangovers.
posted by klangklangston at 11:52 AM on June 9


My one caffeine related complaint is that I wish I could order hot tea at a restaurant in the US and get a cup of tea instead of a tea making kit and lukewarm water. Even in nice cafes!
posted by Drinky Die at 11:56 AM on June 9 [2 favorites]


My guess is that the water is lukewarm because of the time it takes to stage the tea and get it to your table. Especially if you're out with a group and everyone is ordering various drinks.

The thing to do would be to start the tea steeping immediately, so that it's ready to drink by the time it gets to your table. I'm not sure why they don't do that, since it's not like there's a huge culture of people who only like to steep their tea for a few seconds.

Pretty much all hot water in restaurants comes out of an urn and is extremely hot.
posted by Sara C. at 12:06 PM on June 9


>My one caffeine related complaint is that I wish I could order hot tea at a restaurant in the US and get a cup of tea instead of a tea making kit and lukewarm water. Even in nice cafes!

As a tea-drinking former SO once complained, "When you ask for more tea, they pour more water over the same tea bag. When you ask for another cup of coffee, they don't just run more water over the same grounds!"

Re: coffee: I can't drink much of it anymore for various medical reasons, but my 78-year-old mother and 77-year-old father are still consuming their fair share. And yes, sweet = not masculine is A Thing. At least, I gathered as much when Dad said, "I've gotten soft," after I remarked a couple of years ago that he'd started putting sugar in his formerly all-black cup.
posted by virago at 1:41 PM on June 9 [1 favorite]


Not precisely the same situation, but if I tell people "Oh, I've tried a ton but I just can't snap my fingers, I think my hands just won't do it" they lose their shit and try to teach me how, even though they are the 50000th person to do so and it has never worked and I don't care anyway

Oh god I used to be this person too! One of my exes actually sat me down and was like "ok, we're doing this until you get it, don't worry". It wasn't forced, I was totally on board because I was so frustrated by the other 5000 half-assed 30 second attempted teaching sessions I had endured.

It worked though, I can snap my fingers now. On both hands even! And since I have giant hands, it's like the finger snapping equivalent of that giants bow and arrow in last nights GoT episode. If I can get both to sync up, it's a very startling sound. Reminds me of catholic elementary school a lot, actually, because of snapping teachers.

The "NUH uh! I gotta show you right now!" Was totally a thing though. And I still meet people who can't, and we've discussed this phenomenon a bunch. It's definitely widespread.
posted by emptythought at 1:54 PM on June 9


showbiz_liz: "Oh, yeah- I've run into increasing numbers of people who insist that only dark chocolate is good and milk chocolate is always inherently inferior. If confronted with a Hershey's Dark and a Valrhona milk they'd still pick the dark one for some twisted reason.

Meanwhile, the second I mention I actually like white chocolate, people lose their damn fool minds. "It's not REALLY chocolate!!!" Ok, fine. So what? Geez. Relax.
"

Hmm. I'm pretty sure my dislike of milk chocolate is because so much of it that you get here in the States is really crap. But I have definitely had some delicious milk chocolate.

That said, dark chocolate *is* different than milk chocolate and some people are going to prefer bad versions of the former to good versions of the latter. Like, I like my burgers to be crazy rare, and I'm probably going to prefer a rare burger made of cheap chuck to a medium-well burger made of filet mignon or wagyu.

I generally don't like white chocolate and can't put my finger on why, especially since I enjoy many of the flavors I taste in white chocolate.
posted by Deathalicious at 7:47 PM on June 9


because so much of it that you get here in the States is really crap.

I've heard that a lot of US chocolate (like Hershey's) has wax in it. I'm not sure if this includes national premium brands like Ghiradelli or See's though.
posted by FJT at 12:36 AM on June 10


Like, I like my burgers to be crazy rare, and I'm probably going to prefer a rare burger made of cheap chuck

*professional chef hat on*

I really, really, really, really advise against doing this unless you are grinding the meat yourself or the restaurant in question is grinding the meat themselves, onsite, to order. E. coli is no joke.

*hat off*

I like my burgers really rare too but there's seriously two places in Toronto where I'll do it. My home (if I had a meat grinder) and one of McEwan's restaurants (where they grind by hand onsite to order).
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 6:10 AM on June 10


I've heard that a lot of US chocolate (like Hershey's) has wax in it. I'm not sure if this includes national premium brands like Ghiradelli or See's though.


Actually you'll get better cheap chocolate in the us than some other countries where they can use vegetable oil rather than cocoa solids. Google up "standards of identity" and look for chocolate. Your tax dollars at work.
posted by phearlez at 6:48 PM on June 10 [2 favorites]


In behalf of vegetarians everywhere, I'd like to welcome all you sweet-toothers to the Table of Food Judgment. The sugar bowl's right next to the cottage cheese.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 7:55 AM on June 11 [1 favorite]


Yeah, not eating meat is often linked to femininity too. I've probably encountered that attitude more than the sweetness one. It's funny being the big and tall dude who mostly eats vegan. People can't seem to believe it's possible not to be rail thin, pale, and unhealthy when you don't eat meat.
posted by Drinky Die at 8:17 AM on June 11 [4 favorites]


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