Part 23: Steak

I’ve been sitting here for over twenty minutes, picking the nail varnish off my tootsies with my teeth and pondering words with which to describe the deliciousness of steak. I can think of lots (succulent, tender, juicy, soft, supple, velvety, firm). But they are all a bit M&S sexy-voice-over lady obvious. I hope my readers expect more from me than that. And yet I find it hard to express the sensual satisfaction I derive from what is – literally – a hunk of dead moo-cow seasoned to taste and fried in butter, without resorting to clichéd sexual metaphor. I’m sorry. I don’t know what my problem is.

Steak is very much on my mind right now as I ate a lump of it for dinner a few minutes ago and enjoyed it very much. In fact, since giving up vegetarianism earlier this year I have thought about steak more often than I have thought about all the other things that occupy my brain-foam: sex, my Ph.D. thesis, this blog, my family, Tony Soprano, lipstick, class politics, reasons why I’M ALL ALONE, Paula Yates, novels.

Everything important to me has been sidelined by visions of beef cooked to varying degrees of, erm, doneness, pronged on the end of a fork waiting to be devoured (see, I told you, you can’t do it without being a bit sexual). I’m reaching disturbing levels of obsessiveness: on the walk home from work this evening I ate a packet of steak flavoured crinkly crisps even though I knew I had a rib-eye in the fridge ready to be fried up for my din-dins. When will the madness end?

Since I’ve given it such concentrated and studious attention, I have obviously had some very profound steak-related thoughts and the one I’d like to discuss with you today is this: being a feminist and allowing a man to eat steak in your presence are totally incompatible.

OMG! I reckon this might be why, post-70s, as the price of meat dropped due to factory farming and the sirloin became a realistic option for the weekly family shop the number of women willing to identify themselves as feminists saw a correlative reduction! Alright, so I’ve just made all the facts in the previous sentence up using half remembered history from populist books and television documentaries, but still! Someone needs to do some funded research into this immediately (and no, I don’t mean me, I’m already failing to write one thesis due to the time I spend writing words here for you. There’s no need to thank me, your readership is enough).

The relationship men have with steak feeds directly into the kind of inane sexism proliferated by the ‘lads mags’ that spawned a generation of Jordan-Nicola T-Chantelle type WAG and glamour model wannabes (unfortunately, it was my generation). This sexism is epitomised by ‘steak and blow job day’, a concept made up by a faceless chauvinistic arsehole with a computer and a half functioning brain and absorbed into moron subculture via social networking media such as Twitter and Facebook (where I read about it on someone’s status). ‘Steak and blow job day’ is, according to the official website, held on March 14th and provides a chance for women to ‘repay’ the debt of flowers and chocolates they incurred exactly a month before, by simply sucking their man’s genitals and grilling a slab of beef for him to eat.

Nice. Can’t wait till next year.

Obviously, even the most subjugated of women would laugh heartily in the face of any man daft enough to suggest she marked this fictional festival with anything other than a suppressed snort, a cup of tea and an episode of Eastenders. Even so, it does demonstrate something about the disturbing relationship men have with meat – stemming, if you’re evolutionist, from the years when they would be rewarded as heroes for returning to the cave with a freshly slaughtered antelope and wood for a fire.

Allowing them to eat steak in your presence, or worse, cooking it for them, is really just reinforcing all those deeply ingrained hunter/gatherer, masculine/feminine binaries that have caused all the inequality in the first place. I’ve seen men eat steak. I know. Trust me. I used to serve kilos of the stuff to British Gas trainees when I waitressed at the Holiday Inn. They are not capable of eating it without getting that ‘me man, me eat meat’ look in their eye and pawing at passing sexually attractive females. I swear, it was always the steak eaters who’d push their spare room key across the table and murmur ‘9 o’clock?’ in the hope that their meat sweats and the £4.10 an hour I was earning serving microwave meals at a corporate motorway motel would be sufficient to convince me to engage in free prostitution.

Since I am both a strong independent woman and a woman currently in the grip of a kind of beef-frenzy, now is probably not the time to be finding myself a man. I’m just not ready to don an apron, take someone else’s surname and play 1950s wifey. I strongly encourage all beef loving readers to follow my lead and abstain from love until you can eradicate steak from your diet.

I’m sorry, it occurs to me just how uninclusive this post has been. There must be some vegetarians reading this and they must be feeling pretty left out. Let me finish by addressing them for a moment: yes, you might be able to meet a veggie guy to touch and talk to and thus avoid the whole steak/sexism problem. The thing is, then you’ll be going out with a vegetarian. And – apparently – they’re not all that in bed.

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