I love sandwiches as much as the next person. But when I hear someone tell another to “go make me a sandwich” I have to just shake my head. For crying out loud, people need to earn the privilege of someone making them a sandwich!
If case you don’t already know, I am a middle-class, conservative, “white” male -so go ahead and fill this space _________ (which is not nearly big enough I know) with the appropriate stereotype. And yes, I understand that because a lot of folks that share these common attributes with me have abused their power over the years (and continue to) I necessarily, yet unwantedly, must continue to be part of the bane of the earth’s existence. I get it I really do. If only I could find a way to be a little poorer, more liberal, or to wear slightly less amounts of khaki then I might be able to find my way out of this conundrum of a social system that I find myself in.
Of course truth be told, and all jest and sarcasm aside, there is no doubt that I have, in some ways even if unintentionally, contributed to these systemic problems that we face. I admit that fact daily and do my best to consciously repent of such behavior. As though, the tone of the last paragraph suggests, it doesn’t seem helpful to me when we try and categorize persons into particular sectors of society and then label the heck out of them to boot.
Take for example the “Go make me a Sandwich” phenomenon. This a blatantly sexist phrase used mostly by teenage boys (or men still acting like teenagers) who want to shut up young girls/women by invoking the sentiment that they somehow, circa pre -1960, belong in the kitchen doing “women’s work.”
Now maybe this is the point where we might want to insert a paragraph about the nature of what makes something funny as opposed to demeaning but most folks recognize that one can deteriorate into the other rather quickly. And while it is one thing for people to identify each other’s gifts and to know them so well that you can be playful about their personality and joke around with them about it, it is something completely different to force and subdue someone, even verbally, into a place of submission.
My wife and I would serve as a good example of the former situation as we have lots of inside jokes, phraseology and familial language that we share, through which we playfully joke and tease one another. We love one another and we have mutually agreed such play to be permissible behavior.
As is so happens, in our house my wife does almost all of the cooking. It is certainly not because I patriarchally force her into our kitchen and tell her that that’s her place, it’s because she’s kinda a foodie and she is way better at cooking than I am. She likes to cook and it gives her control over what we eat. I’m not a super picky eater and my best recipe is Honey Nut Cheerios so I roll with this just fine. On the flip side though, my wife can’t fold a shirt to save her life. Prior attempts looked like the towel animals from cruise ships hit by a bus. As a result, I accepted taking over all of the laundry responsibilities in the house washing, drying and folding the clothes. I’m a bit better at it than her at this – call it one of my domesticated gifts. In short, we have a division of labor that we’ve developed that suits us best: I get to eat more than cereal, she gets clean clothes; I don’t have to worry about what paprika is, she doesn’t have to worry about random balloons attached to static filled clothes; I use my National Treasure-esque adventuring skills to track down the missing socks, she gets the joy of screaming “Bam” every time she adds a new spice; She is my Iron Chef – I am her Oxi-Clean. Ahhh the circle of life.
Yet, in the midst of systems that work – we have the latter societal trends that make us judgmental of one another, questioning whether the roles that we are satisfied with (and often good at) are sufficient – often times making us want to change our action simply to rebuke our verbal assailant. So what if I’m a dude who does laundry and I don’t mind it? Get over it.
More to the point, if a person has to spew some demeaning catch phrase in order to rhetorically enforce their misperceived notions of superiority over someone else then they have in fact missed the point all together. Sandwiches made out of spite often get spit in (kidding, sorta). No actually the point is that there is no time in which a person should be abusive to another. You only earn the right to playfully tease when you have shown someone so much love that they couldn’t mistake it as anything else but an action out of love.
But some may say, like one girl in my youth group has said many times; “I like making sandwiches so I don’t see what the big deal is.” Of course, it is not a big deal if you choose to make a sandwich for someone else. Make sandwiches to your heart’s content and feed people in love if you feel so called. But when someone seeks to subdue you by some denigrating verbiage that only seeks to put you asunder, out of love and for their own good please proudly proclaim: “Go Make Your Own Darn Sandwich!”