Friday, August 10, 2007

Meat as strategy and medium

While the basic dating ritual is not that complex, it’s the extensive variety of mediums used in the dance and their capacity to convey a variety of meaning that makes it a challenging realm of human nature to understand.

Take eating steak. A piece in today’s NYT Be Yourselves Girls Order The Rib-Eye suggests that eating meat is a deliberate strategy for certain women on a date: they’ll do it either because of what they feel it will say about them or simply to impress men.

For some, eating meat is a declarative statement, one of confident self-acceptance (I am woman, hear me chew). One woman believed it signaled she was unpretentious, down-to-earth and unneurotic, of not being obsessed with weight and of not having any food issues.

For others eating meat conveys character substance. “I don’t want to be considered vapid and uninteresting” Eating a salad “seems wimpy, insipid, childish” intoned one woman.

The allure of steak can also come from a desire to project an image that fits what men want. “Everyone wants to be the girl who drinks beer and eats steak and looks like Kate Hudson” intoned one. A vegetarian admitted she considered ordering shorts of Jagermeister – famous for its frat boy associations – to prove she’s a “guy’s girl”

There are other dimensions to meat as a medium of expression. Having knowledge about the different caliber of steaks suggests worldliness. Hamburgers suggest a woman is down-to-earth, low maintenance and a cheap date – in a good way.

Meat it seems is a potent medium to manage perceptions in a ritual in which impressions are shaped more by what is not said and by what is observed than by what is spoken.

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