Why I hate Steak and BJ Day

On March 14, I learned of a new holiday known as Steak and BJ Day. Known as a humorous response to Valentine’s Day, the idea behind Steak and BJ Day is that women get all the attention on Valentine’s Day (men spend about twice as much as women) and there should be day for men to get what they enjoy, which is, obvious to the creators and celebrants of this day, steaks and blow jobs. It’s just a joke. It’s all in fun. If you don’t like it, don’t participate.

Many women seem to feel this is a fair way to compensate men for being so generous on Valentine’s Day, apparently having no qualms describing their romantic relationships as blatant prostitution. (“After all the trouble he went to for Valentine’s Day, I owe him something. Teehee.”) If people want to live their lives exchanging gifts for sexual favors and cooking services, I have no problem with it, so long as everyone knows what is going on and feels comfortable commodifying relationships. I have a different problem with this holiday.

Steak and BJ Day is based on a crude masculine stereotype that is inoffensive to men who live for their next steak and treat of oral sexual gratification. All men are supposed to want this. Any man who doesn’t love and know how to prepare steak, in fact, should turn in his man card, according to this web site.  Again, it is just a joke. If you don’t love steak, you are just a girl. Hilarious. I mean, who would want to be a girl? It isn’t meant to offend anyone. Any man who objects to this stereotype is himself at risk of being told he is too sensitive or not a “real man” or a “typical man.” People who are less kind will tell him he is a sissy, wimp, girl, or any number of nastier anti-gay slurs.

So, men who don’t want these things should turn in their man cards (see this site for an uproariously funny rendition of this ). “Turn in your man card” is the functional equivalent of “you throw like a girl.” As much as people insist this is all just a joke, the consequences of masculine stereotypes are severe. Children who fail to express their gender in expected ways are more likely to be bullied and abused and suffer from depression and PTSD (see a study on the risk here). You may have heard what happened to a boy who liked My Little Pony. Further, anti-gay attacks are typically in reaction not to sexual activity but to perceived non-conformity to gender stereotypes (a 1982 study by Joseph Harry found that “effeminate” men are twice as likely to be victims of gay bashing than gender conforming men), which means gay-bashing victims include many heterosexuals or children with no obvious sexual orientation or identity at all.

This bias against unmanly men is nothing new. Through an essay by Elizabeth V. Spelman, I found a passage in Plato‘s Republic describing what kinds of men would be inappropriate for a decent society:

We will not then allow our charges, whom we expect to prove good men, being men, to play the parts of women and imitate a woman young or old wrangling with her husband, defying heaven, loudly boasting, fortunate in her own conceit, or involved in misfortune and possessed by grief and lamentation—still less a woman that is sick, in love, or in labor.

People sometimes want to credit Plato with an early form of feminism, because he felt women should be trained in the mode of men. Like many today, he felt it was quite admirable for women to strive to “achieve” masculine traits. Men being the highest form of human perfection, Plato thought it made sense for women to strive for the masculine ideal. The man who would follow the lead of women, however, would be lowering himself below his station and be pathetic at best. His view persists as we encourage girls in sports, mathematics, and leadership, but forbid boys from nurturing, crying, creativity, and careers related to care and empathy. It seems odd to me that eating meat is considered particularly masculine, but vegetarian men are portrayed as being the least manly of all. The hatred and devaluation of “feminine” men is an extension of the oppression of women. Feminist philosopher Jean Grimshaw points out that the conception of a feminine ideal depends on “the sort of polarization between ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’ which has itself been so closely related to the subordination of women.”

The hatred of “effeminate” men is an extension of the devaluing of the feminine, but it leads to violence and oppression of both men and women. In order to be free, we must assign equal value to all human activities and emotional dispositions. Leadership and assertiveness have their value, but we will not last long in a society devoid of nurturing, care, and concern. Another feminist philosopher, Genevieve Lloyd, puts it this way:

If the full range of human activities–both the nurturing tasks traditionally associated with the private domain and the activities which have hitherto occupied public space–were freely available to all, the exploration of sexual difference would be less fraught with the dangers of perpetuating norms and stereotypes that mutilated men and women alike.

I added the emphasis on the word “mutilated,” because I am grateful to her for using such strong language to describe accurately what sexist stereotypes have done to us. I often hear women struggle to describe how sexism hurts men. Some say it discourages men from working hard or from caring for others, but they miss the fact that sexism destroys men from the inside out. Very few men escape childhood without having their masculinity questioned and challenged. And too many men have responded violently to a woman who has taunted them with, “If you were a real man, you’d . . . !” The constant demand that a boy or man prove his resilience, indifference to pain and fear, and lack of compassion rends men from their humanity. Those who resist are often trampled under foot and left with depression, addiction, anxiety, and self-loathing. Too often, it ends in self-destruction through addiction, isolation, or suicide.

You may be thinking I take things a little too seriously. No one would kill himself over Steak and BJ Day. I agree, but I am asking you to consider the good of masculine stereotypes, and I tell you they serve no purpose and provide no benefit. The cumulative effect of such stereotypes is to prevent men from being whole and to destroy those who are uninterested or unable to fulfill the social expectations such stereotypes are designed to enforce.

For the love of humanity, please free us all.

See also: Why I Hate Valentine’s Day

About ethicsbeyondcompliance

I hold a PhD in medical humanities with an major emphasis in ethics. I began teaching college-level ethics in 2000.
This entry was posted in dignity, ethics, Mental Health, Philosophy, Suffering and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Why I hate Steak and BJ Day

  1. Jennifer Grant says:

    Thank you for stating that so eloquently

  2. Vanessa Veltman says:

    Very thoughtfully written. Thank you for reminding how hurtful gender stereotyping is.

  3. keithnoback says:

    Can I turn in my card preemptively? It looks like all I get from it is an increased risk of heart attack an the obligation to hang out with a bunch of guys who, let’s face it, seem just a little bit slow. Mentally. Probably physically too. All that steak, you know.

  4. George Sroka says:

    Thank you for investing your time and passion in writing that. If conformity produces contentment, why are so many people discontent, fearful and anxiety-ridden? Because it doesn’t work, of course.

  5. March 14th. says:

    I find such vitriol towards March 14th nigh laughable, especially when coupled with a seeming acceptance / advocacy of Valentine’s Day… The former being an opportunity to spend time with your (male) partner (irrelevant of sexuality), the latter nigh on a capitalist creation to eek more pennies from lovers (and would be lovers) by coating an otherwise ordinary object in red paint / flower petals.

    Steak and BJ Day avoids commercialised money-spinning and instead harps back to what (I imagine) Valentine’s of old may have been – an intimate evening with your significant other. No cards. No flowers. No hotel rooms. No earrings or cufflinks… The only red in sight a medium/rare the lips of your partner.

    It’s also very tongue in cheek, with the organisers making it extremely clear that it’s not a misogynistic excuse to “get your dick sucked” or the like – as it appears your intent to imbue. You’ll find no “if you don’t celebrate you’re not a man” mantles; nor “hurry up and blow me bitch” mantras – it’s all actually rather kosher (not including the meat).

    Were you aware that those championing the site this year actually donated a percentage of profits to a testicular cancer charity..? They’re continually attempting to steer it away from the demented, demonic reputation many (yourself included) seem to spread. They’re even planning a “Chicken and Licking” Day for females too – serving to further distill such animosity whilst simultaneously making an additional attempt to undermine the commercialist construct of February 14th.

    Now, I certainly can’t speak for every male on the planet (of which there are some fiends)… To suggest that everyone who partakes in March 14th is simply trying to spend some QT with their lover would be a hyperbolic fallacy – unfortunately some do take it as an opportunity to harness their inner-alpha… However, I think it’s equally unfair to paint every guy/girl who does celebrate a nymphomaniac/wench respectively. I’m terrible at growing a moustache (I’d look like Pedro from Napoleon Dynamite), but do I seek to “turn in my man card” whenever Movember comes around…? No. Do I feel effeminate whilst all my buddies grow handlebars for charity? No.

    Let it be known that I’m not undermining your overall tac (of which there’s plenty of (misguided) excogitation). I’m instead challenging the basic entry point from which you’ve attempted to build your rhetoric. In sum, I simply feel you’ve manipulated something extremely straightforward into a vehicle through which to vent your misguided misconceptions…

    Which, ironically, would mean you treated Steak and BJ Day as the prostitute in all this. x

  6. Nyla says:

    Gah! I hate these type of “jokey events.” You should write something next about the phenomenon of ridiculous theme-parties on university campuses like “CEOS & Office Hoes” or (I kid you not) a “Cowboys & Nava-Hoes” fraternity event I was recently invited to. (sexist & crazy racist all at once)

  7. Pingback: Why I Hate Valentine’s Day | Ethics Beyond Compliance

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s