I’m going to out myself right now. I mean, truly, lay it all out on the line. Do you understand how uncomfortable I feel doing this? This is a terrible burden that I’ve held inside for most of my adult life. But there is no more for it. I’ve got to tell you…
I have a sweet tooth. I like sweet food. And, worse, I like sweet drinks.
Let me explain. I was in the middle of a long ten-hour drive. My female companion and I decided to stop at Dutch Bros. I needed some coffee, badly. But I’m not a huge fan of regular coffee- it tastes bitter to me. So I decided on their seasonal Pumpkin Pie Latte. It was festive and seemed like a very tasty treat. My co-pilot asked for a small coffee. As we slid into the drive-thru, I had no idea that I would soon be making a cardinal mistake – apparently, sweet drinks are not for males. And so ensued the following conversation:
Me: “Can we get a small coffee and a regular pumpkin pie latte?”
Pretty Barista (leaning down to look into our vehicle and across to my companion): “Would you like whipped cream and sprinkles on that latte, ma’am?”
Awkward pause ensues
Companion: “Oh, oh no. It’s not for me. I’m the coffee – he wants the latte.”
After some laughter and mea culpas, I denied the whipped cream and sprinkles. Then she responded, “It’s ok, I know some tough men who like it, too.”
I was struck by the gendered implications of this event, particularly the assumption that sweet drinks are for girls. Are men truly not allowed to enjoy a drink that is sweet to the palette? For a moment, I was slightly embarrassed to have been exposed. But why should I be? I could hear Catherine MacKinnon chattering in my ear – another power imbalance defined by the male perspective. Societal stereotypes say sweet drinks limit my masculinity, that a real man’s drink is strong. But fruity, sugary flavors do not cut into my manhood, revoke my “mancard,” or make me a “bitch,” as Hamilton Nolan or some comments on Jim Romenesko's blog suggest. Nor do they reveal a super-confidence or toughness that deserves admiration as an evolved-male. I simply like sweets and I will continue to order them.
On further reflection, I probably never would have recognized this gendered assumption and others like it had it not been for Feminist Legal Theory. Having had no prior experience with feminism, I joined this class to learn more about it and it is interesting to see how much I have learned in this semester.