"He said, 'No, women don't eat that'"
February 4, 2020 12:12 PM   Subscribe

 
I was about 80-20 between "wow that is infuriating" and "hey that anonymity is really powerful." And then I got to the part about how many more negative comments the women receive, so now I'm about 95-5.
posted by fedward at 12:28 PM on February 4 [14 favorites]


Eat the patriarchy.
posted by Fizz at 12:37 PM on February 4 [36 favorites]


As a woman who dines alone in restaurants I am now never going to read another review for a restaurant written by a male critic. I am suddenly certain I have been getting that first wine list my entire life while the reviewers are all getting the second list. It explains A LOT.
posted by winna at 1:15 PM on February 4 [38 favorites]


Can we pause to observe shoddy standards at salon.com?
- Very few concrete examples of sexism; plenty of hand waving about a different 'feeling'
- No details from the working mom on her experience as a critic with children in tow
- Similarly, no details from women critics who experienced racism or racialized responses from restaurants (this would have been really interesting to me as a racialized person who patronizes restaurants that end up being reviewed)
- Zero perspective from the other side; nothing from servers, restaurant owners, or cooks, male or female

I have nothing but sympathy for women who face sexism on the job, but really, Salon, you can do better.
posted by sid at 1:27 PM on February 4 [3 favorites]


Eat the patriarchy.

Do I have to? I mean it's not organically raised, and is probably pretty fatty.
posted by bonehead at 1:43 PM on February 4 [20 favorites]


Eat the patriarchy.

“The other white meat.”
posted by chavenet at 1:46 PM on February 4 [35 favorites]


Similarly, no details from women critics who experienced racism or racialized responses from restaurants (this would have been really interesting to me as a racialized person who patronizes restaurants that end up being reviewed)

From the article: “ Ho's experiences in restaurants are also inextricably tied to each part of her identity, not just her gender. "I think it's a conflux of things. I'm also a racialized person, also a queer person, also young, so a lot of these things intersect to really inform the way other people perceive me," ”
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 1:48 PM on February 4 [22 favorites]


Salon is not a place I go for a deeply-reported story, really. I mean, there isn't even an attempt to figure out how many restaurant critics at major outlets are female, for instance.

That said, I totally believe that female restaurant critics get a lot of shit.

I mean, if I can't get the bartender's attention because I'm a woman over 50, how much worse is it for someone whose job it is to go out five nights a week?
posted by suelac at 1:58 PM on February 4 [13 favorites]


Very few concrete examples of sexism

Huh? The whole article is loaded with concrete stories, from the critic who received a sexual comment from a server, to the one who got different treatment from a male colleague by a sommelier, to the "women's menu", to the pork chop that "women don't eat", to a specific quote from a real email someone received. No, it's not a peer-reviewed randomized controlled study, but that shouldn't be what it takes for us to believe the phenomenon described is very real.
posted by capricorn at 2:01 PM on February 4 [72 favorites]


I believe it is real, and also that the stories are barely vignettes and the reporting was very shallow. I would like to read a better version of this
posted by jeather at 2:10 PM on February 4 [4 favorites]


> - Similarly, no details from women critics who experienced racism or racialized responses from restaurants (this would have been really interesting to me as a racialized person who patronizes restaurants that end up being reviewed)
Ho has noticed from the mail she receives that some do assume she's the one with a bias — against white men. "I know that there are chefs out there in the Bay Area who think that I will spell the end to the white male chef there—really smart, otherwise very educated chefs," she said. "I was like 'Wow, that's silly.'"
posted by rather be jorting at 2:10 PM on February 4 [3 favorites]


Perhaps this comes down to a preference in styles of journalism. I counted 5 specific examples in this 3k word story: separate menu (x2), pork chop incident, sexual innuendo by Maitre'd, insulting email. No specific examples about working mom experience.

Examining my own negative feelings about this article, I would like more. I know things are bad out there for the othered, but what specifically are they/we seeing? Is it getting better? Is it getting worse? What can we do about it?

I think this is probably why I don't read salon as a matter of course any more, unless prompted by this fine web site I'm commenting on.
posted by sid at 2:13 PM on February 4


I mean the working mom stated that eating with her kids made everyone assume she wasn't a critic. The overarching theme of the article is that when you're a woman, it's assumed that you're not a food critic. Are those not concrete enough examples of sexism?
posted by primalux at 2:19 PM on February 4 [22 favorites]


idk man, as a racialized woman myself, I personally dislike rehashing the blow-by-blow details of terrible personal experiences because it both puts me in an awful headspace and generally is a major downer for the other person who's listening, so I would guess that eliding specifics in favor of summarizing helps avoid making the audience read something heavy that might also bring up past trauma, in addition to sparing the interviewees the labor of meticulously recalling their unpleasant experiences for other people's consumption and judgment
posted by rather be jorting at 2:21 PM on February 4 [28 favorites]


So what's the point of two wine lists, anyway? Even setting aside the sexism, making two lists and keeping them updated takes actual work. So what was the business theory behind having two lists?
posted by ryanrs at 3:50 PM on February 4 [7 favorites]


Oh man, I've had the most frustrating experiences with nice places that have curated beer menus. Whenever I (a woman) ask for a recommendation (if I'm in a new place and don't know any local breweries), I'm almost always recommended a super light beer. There's almost never a follow up question about what styles I'm interested in. It's happened often enough that I'm pretty sure the assumption is almost always women don't know/like beer.

And then I ask about IBUs and hops and yeast strains, and they look at me like I've grown third and fourth heads. I'm also surprised at the number of servers who are not only unable to answer these types of questions, but also won't find someone who does. Maybe that's just another example of sexism??

The note about women being better tasters has also held true for me anecdotally. My manager at a taproom (also a woman) and I could usually detect off flavors developing in beer a day or two before the guys could, brewer included.
posted by astapasta24 at 3:54 PM on February 4 [23 favorites]


I got to the part about how many more negative comments the women receive, so now I'm about 95-5.


I don't know if male critics are ever going to admit that gender bias benefits the establishment/perpetuation of their authority in a way their female colleagues do not get and work to redress that inequality, or if this is one of those things where they'll profess shock and then keep on enjoying the status quo.
posted by sobell at 4:31 PM on February 4 [15 favorites]


Previously on MeFi, how restaurants try to detect critics and give them good service while giving everybody else bad service.

As I pointed out last time, the real solution is to treat everybody well, or at least make that your goal. You will get good reviews and actually deserve them.
posted by w0mbat at 5:20 PM on February 4 [9 favorites]


I wonder how much crap Toni Tipton Martin (previously from just a couple days ago) had to deal with when she became food editor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer in 1991. I'm guessing the answer is not "none."
posted by fedward at 5:47 PM on February 4 [1 favorite]


So what's the point of two wine lists, anyway

Just speculating here. One list could consist of boring, but more broadly appealing choices, while the other has options that would appeal to a connoisseur, but tend to bomb with AverageDinerTM.
posted by bardophile at 7:23 PM on February 4


Just on the unpriced menu front, I remembered it raising its head in this wonderfully titled post on the blue about Le Cinq in Paris.
posted by MattWPBS at 5:55 AM on February 5 [1 favorite]


Oh man, I've had the most frustrating experiences with nice places that have curated beer menus. Whenever I (a woman) ask for a recommendation (if I'm in a new place and don't know any local breweries), I'm almost always recommended a super light beer. There's almost never a follow up question about what styles I'm interested in. It's happened often enough that I'm pretty sure the assumption is almost always women don't know/like beer.

I spent most of my life thinking I did not like beer. It turns out that what I don't like is the super light excuse for beer that gets automatically handed to a woman.
posted by Karmakaze at 8:08 AM on February 5 [8 favorites]


I spent most of my life thinking I did not like beer. It turns out that what I don't like is the super light excuse for beer that gets automatically handed to a woman.

I work at a taproom now that gets a fair bit of traffic from newly turned 21 undergrads. One of the absolute joys of working there is teaching these young'uns what good beer can taste like and what styles/flavor profiles they like so that they don't have to go through life thinking that there's no beer out there for them to like. I let them know the set of words to say in order to get a beer of similar taste at the next brewery or bottle shop they go to.

I was fortunate enough to have had friends who were older teach me the ropes of good booze (beer/wine/whiskey/scotch), so being able to pay it forward means a lot to me.
posted by astapasta24 at 9:38 AM on February 5 [4 favorites]


Even today servers will typically not give the check back to a woman, even if she asks for it. My wife and I have entirely gendered names and conventional gender presentation; there is no reason to give the folio to "Bob" when "Mary" asked for the check and provided a credit card with her name on it. And yet...

Probably just sexism, but two wine lists is fairly normal in restaurants that have a large selection (hundreds) of bottles. The first list, given to everyone, has the by the glass and a small selection of featured bottles and is two facing pages, maybe four at the most. Then the full selection is in the second list, which is book-length. Most people just aren't interested in paging through the book, but as with the check, it's certainly possible that the servers stereotype certain people as being the ones who aren't interested.
posted by wnissen at 11:32 AM on February 5


ryanrs: So what's the point of two wine lists, anyway? Even setting aside the sexism, making two lists and keeping them updated takes actual work. So what was the business theory behind having two lists?

Those silly ladies who don't know smart, manly things about wine will buy cheap wine at heavy markups, of course! She said her male colleague got a menu with lower-priced options.
posted by capricorn at 7:47 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]


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