Friday, September 27, 2013

Maintenance, high and low

-What must a man over 30 own? There's now this list... I guess the main thing about it is, it doesn't account for subcultures (or, as they said on this BBC sociology podcast I now listen to, "masculinities" - emphasis on the plural). In some pockets of society, masculinity continues to be performed through ostentatious disregard for shopping, even the kind of shopping that markets itself as investing in quality. The more holes in a garment, the longest stretch since the last haircut, the better. But the list does kind of nod towards that version of masculine self-expression, including as it does certain items (an umbrella, more than one towel) that it's just assumed a woman would have sorted out long before 30.

-Barilla, as you've seen many times via Facebook already no doubt, has recently been outed as the homophobic dry pasta. Which does summon the obvious question: Is DeCecco similarly problematic? Maybe someone needs to look into this, because that's whose sales will now skyrocket.

-Make-me-a-sandwich-gate. The thing where a woman has a blog whose premise is that if she makes her boyfriend 300 sandwiches, he'll upgrade her status to fiancée. So what of it? Is she merely another entry into the tradition of women being entrepreneurial under the cover of domesticity (ahem, Martha Stewart), digging as she so transparently is for a book deal? Is there maybe some element of role-reversal in the proposal - she's kinda-sorta proposing to him in an elaborate way, with these sandwiches. Maybe? Except not at all - it's gross both because of the make-me-a-sandwich trope and because it's this exaggeration of the idea that a woman must prove herself worthy of a commitment, whereas a man just kind of has to exist to be presumed husband material.

-Ugh, to the skeptics, yes, calling some random Jewish woman a "JAP" is a slur. (Referring to a "JAP" subculture/aesthetic, that might not be, given that some women do seem to identify as such.) No, being Jewish (and male) yourself doesn't make you an authority on this, because it's an intersectional slur - against Jewish women, not all Jews, not all women. (Unclear how central "American" is to this, as I think variants exist elsewhere.) And it's a slur precisely because of the way it's used, which is to say, against American Jewish women generally, regardless of whether they've exhibited any high-maintenance behaviors. If you haven't had it hurled at you apropos of basically nothing; if you haven't spent your life under the preemptive accusation of excessive primping (if only!); if you haven't, as a woman, found that everything frilly you do go in for serves to confirm an ethnic stereotype (woman paints nails, woman; Jewish woman paints nails, fussy princess)...


Paul Gowder said...

Also, french presses are drastically inferior to the aeropress; black suits are totally unnecessary in a world in which there are blue suits as well as many shades of grey, unless, perhaps, one is an undertaker; and you will like this:

Nicholas said...

I chuckle to myself at the idea of a grown man whose kitchen consists of: a chef's knife, a cast-iron skillet (for which he needs to know only one recipe!) and a french press. Also lots of accoutrements for drinking, since Lord knows we 30-somethings do that all the time.

I am guessing this list was composed by a man under the age of 30, since it also involves literally zero items that might be of use to a woman/partner/spouse or child/children.

Doctor Cleveland said...

As long as the Buitoni people don't say anything offensive, my menu-planning can continue.

Phoebe said...


How did I forget to mention my delight at seeing #38 - the Honda Civic sedan from a few years ago is something to be proud of! I saw this and was like, wow, what a flattering picture of my car! It looks so luxurious!


I don't know this aeropress, but agree that the French press is vastly overrated (except for foaming milk, which it can do brilliantly). I'm quite pleased with the 1980s (?) electric drip machine that's part of my husband's postdoc house-furnishings. It's the best at-home-brew I've had yet, apart from cold-brew, which I also make a lot of, and which doesn't require equipment beyond a pitcher or two and a Melitta. (Coffee time, just thinking about this!)

No thoughts at all on men's suits, other than that the time I saw Keanu Reeves in a coffee shop, he was wearing one, and it looked not bad at all. No recollection of what color suit this was. Most of the men I know are scientists and don't wear anything like that. Ask me about men's fleeces.

And that philosophy post is indeed of interest! Plus it's by one of my favorite college instructors. Thanks for pointing me to it!


I suppose some of the stuff on the list is consistent with family life (the multiple-towels bit, and the Civic), but it seemed to me to be written for a modern-day bachelor - a likely-straight man trying for a macho version of domestication, without the help of a woman thankyouverymuch. Certain clues make me think this, such as, "Throwing your crap in a plastic bag or backpack when heading to Las Vegas won’t cut it anymore." And the bit about how one needs to own (but maybe not use?) a football or similar. This is very much about how to appeal to a casual fling.

Doctor Cleveland,

Good point-Barilla has several competitors. There's always the 365 brand from Whole Foods, and last I checked, that just supports a libertarian with odd views about health.

Petey said...

"agree that the French press is vastly overrated"

Who wants to steep their coffee like tea? Where on earth did French press hysteria begin? It's like a cancer on polite society.

And, yes, electric drip and Melita make perfectly acceptable coffee. But why has everyone forgotten about simple stovetop bialetti café au lait? It's got satisfying elegance, yumminess, and je ne sais quoi, no?

Britta said...

According to my Italian boyfriend, DeCecco is ok, at least for now.

Phoebe said...

Thanks Britta. With the amount of this I buy, it may matter!

caryatis said...

No one really needs matching dishes.

Britta said...

I mainly hate the French press because I really don't want to have to work that hard for my coffee, or sit around waiting random irritatingly long periods of time. I would prefer to press a button, and come back and have coffee.

Phoebe said...


The moka approach looks elegant but tastes... certainly no better than what the 1980s machine here can produce.


True, and there's probably even a shabby-chic argument against having matching dishes.


That's probably the appeal of the French press for some - that there's this whole ritual attached. At the coffee shop I worked for, they would do French press coffee as this special thing at night, maybe for people on dates? Who knows. But it was even more annoying to prepare properly than just at home, all this exact timing to consider that machines can perfectly well get better.

Petey said...

"The moka approach looks elegant but tastes... certainly no better than what the 1980s machine here can produce."

I've got no argument with built-in infrastructure. (Especially when one has the unlimited counter-space of the exurbs.) But even in the city, built-in infrastructure is a good thing.

However, I will confidently aver that, for a given dollar dose of coffee, one can produce a marginally superior café con leche with a moka pot and microwaved milk than with a electric drip or Melita.

Plus, the journey is as important as the destination, y'know...