January 5 2017
Violence against women is spiking around the world. According to the BBC, last week, Taliban militants in the northwestern Badghis province of Afghanistan shot and killed a twenty-five-year-old woman who divorced her husband and then remarried. That same week, according to multiple news reports, a thirty-year-old woman was beheaded in a remote village in the Sar-e Pol Province in northern Afghanistan for shopping at a market without her husband present.
There’s more: According to the Washington Post, during New Year’s Eve celebrations in Bangalore, India, several women reported being groped and molested by what was described by another publication as “unruly men” and “hooligans in the garb of revelers.” Bolivia has also seen a spike in domestic abuse. In 2016, ninety-three women were murdered by their partners or spouses—thirty-two more than last year. Violence against women has also increased in Pakistan, which, according to news reports, “has led to a decrease in women’s participation in the labor market and involvement in the public sphere.”
And here in America, feminists are encouraging women to “throw off the sexist shackles of salad.” That’s right; according to Olivia Goldhill at Quartz, “salads are an unappetizing scam” and “bowls of leaves are really just the side helping to the constant diet of guilt our culture feeds women about their bodies.”
While many share Ms. Goldhill’s aversion to salads, considering the grim situation for women around the world, salads are not something Western feminists (or columnists) should spend much time thinking about. If this were a purely comedic column, one might give Ms. Goldhill a pass, but her passion for the subject, coupled with quotes from salad experts, betrays how serious a problem she believes this to be.
Let’s put this in perspective: Yes, I bore myself silly through the week because I eat essentially the same exact thing for breakfast and lunch every day: Eggs for breakfast and a salad for lunch. I put some protein on top of my salad but basically, my sad little bowl of leaves contains the same five ingredients that I always buy at the grocery store: lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, and radishes. I top it with lemon and olive oil, and sometimes I add in some protein or a few croutons. I eat my salad without thinking (I’m usually reading) or really tasting it. I don’t really enjoy it but it’s fuel, and it’s fiber, and I just want to get something in my belly quickly so that I can move on with other things—like writing articles about Western feminists’ inability to focus on things that matter and their fixation on first world problems, like salad.
I should give Ms. Goldhill some credit for making some valid points. She rightly points out that our culture puts way too much scrutiny on women’s bodies and eating habits, adding:
“The sad absurdity of stock photos featuring women laughing alone with salads has been a favorite meme for years now. But still, women keep eating those limp leaves. Look around any restaurant and you’ll see the vast majority of salads are sitting before women, too many of whom spend every meal worrying about how the food they eat will make them look.”
If Ms. Goldhill really wanted to attack the cultural obsession with women’s bodies though, she would focus not on the sexism of salads, but on some of those promoting body obsession—like reality star Kim Kardashian and the rest of her derriere-obsessed family, who fuel the myth that you can have a big butt and a small waist. Or maybe she could write about serial flasher Emily Ratajkowskior or any one of the many other young Hollywood stars that show too much skin while also complaining about being seen as sexual objects. Maybe she could take a swipe at those Hollywood mommies who appear to take off the baby weight in three days (and claim they don’t diet!).
On the food front, Ms. Goldhill misunderstands why women order salads. Many women simply don’t actually care to put much thought into lunch. This means that instead of being obsessed with food and fitness and the way food makes them look, many women have the quite healthy attitude that not every meal has to be an epic culinary experience. Food just sometimes means filling up so you can get through your day. Making healthy yet boring decisions is often the fastest way to accomplish that goal.
Ms. Goldhilll states that her New Year’s resolution is to “eat fewer salads and more carbs,” arguing, “truly eating well means we should enjoy food—not avoid it.” Good for her. And good luck to her. My New Year’s resolution is to stop making food so important—sort of what I think Ms. Goldhill’s meant to say in her convoluted article. I also plan to focus on real offenses to women around the world and expose where the sexist shackles are still firmly in place. Hint: it ain’t at the salad bar.