The Cultural Hangover of Steak & BJ Day

Every year, over the past decade, the lure of St. Patrick’s Day collides with the wake of an observance of less historic magnitude. Still, it appears that this newer celebration has aftereffects that scoff at the headaches, vomiting, and embarrassment brought on by excessive drinking. Steak & Blowjob Day, on March 14, appeared to be a sophomorically innocent enough tradition. But upon closer inspection, its existence reveals the very issue that it set out to address: gender inequality.

Is the sophistication ironic or a ruse?

Is the sophistication ironic or a ruse?

A response to the more lady-focused Valentine’s Day, Steak & BJ Day has an unclear history yet an apparent origin. At some point during this century, with the help of the internet no doubt, disgruntled men banded together to commiserate over how Valentine’s Day responsibilities were uncharacteristic of their personalities and relationships. All of a sudden, even the most easy-going girlfriends expected to be pampered with candy, gifts, and romantic dinners. But to women’s credit, who the hell wouldn’t? The gender-neutral human appetite suggests that men, too, enjoy all of these things, especially a meal designed to result in some bedroom (and/or bathroom, taxicab, etc.) comingling.

Still, the concept of a concerted effort solely on the part of men seemed incited a movement, a movement in which men would create a day for themselves instead of reforming the day already dedicated to love. And at first glance, from the thinking man’s perspective at least, a day in which the main attraction would be slab of beef to eat and the treat of fellatio doesn’t just sound good, but it also articulates an idyllic simplicity to male pleasure. Whether true, the assertion not only attempts to speak for all men, but it takes a backhanded swing at the more elaborate enterprise that Valentine’s Day seems to demand. And any man who knows women should know that “What about US?!” isn’t the most welcome attitude to have in such a male-dominant culture. One may even equate it to the more absurd “Why isn’t there a White History Month?”

He's not gay; he's just old-fashioned.

He’s not gay; he’s just old-fashioned.

Comparing race and gender dynamics here stems from the reality that both parties in many ways comply with a powerful system that favors one group over the other, no matter how long the debate of its truth continues. In the case of Steak & BJ day, this attempt at a separate but equal holiday suggests that shared appreciation of an experience should not be an expectation. Further, the notion assumes a mutual exclusivity in men and women caring for each other on a regular basis. And who would argue that pleasure in a relationship shouldn’t be as simultaneously exchanged as a drink from a fountain should be communal?

Alas, just as with American race matters, we may not be culturally mature enough to see Steak & BJ day as anything more than an aggressive reaction to a dynamic in which sex is often held hostage in exchange for good behavior. And perhaps we shouldn’t. The dichotomy between these “holidays” says a lot about the romantic discourse between genders, a lot in that its substance tends to undermine our humanity. That the bargaining dynamic in relationships finds its way into the bedroom is understandable (of course it could be difficult to be turned on when he said he’d do the dishes and he didn’t, so now there are going to be ants all over the place and I’ll have to deal with that because he doesn’t clean the kitchen, that’s my job and his is the trash but I asked him to do this ONE favor and he couldn’t even get that right. It’s not as if I cooked dinner or anything. Oh wait, YES I DID!), but it reveals disconnect that men and women seem to embrace, a 1950s divide in which men set themselves up to be treated like children in exchange for all the manly man stuff, and where women’s burden could only be lifted by lamenting their men’s shortcomings with other women who contend with the Alpha male infants in their lives.

Still kind of rape-y, but that's more like it.

Still kind of rape-y, but that’s more like it.

But the year is 2013. Women are just as present in the workforce and responsible for their destinies as men are. And although we need each other less for domestic sustainability, the effort to create a healthier, fairer exchange has not progressed on pace with that paradigm shift. Steak & BJ Day exemplifies this developmental delay between men and women. And, typically, the guys who thought it up short-changed themselves, opting for an Al Bundy-style chest thump instead of devising ways to create a Valentine’s Day that both men and women would enjoy. Whether a joke that got out of hand or an admission that taking romance seriously is too much work, Steak & BJ Day will affect no positive change if gender equality is ever to be a priority to both men and women. A “Spoil Me Today; I’m a Woman!” t-shirt is just as obnoxious as a “Kiss Me; I’m Irish” t-shirt (the sole difference being that you could probably tell if the former shirt was truthful). And although a “Love Me; I’m Human” shirt wouldn’t be any cooler, it would be express a worthwhile ideal (as hippy-dippy as it sounds).

So while you yahoos are out in the streets, drinking ever bit of green booze you can find, knowing that you’ll pay the price the next day (or the next few depending on if you can’t remember who’s sending you those texts about the other night), know that the consequences of consuming generations of a flawed gender discourse will last much longer than the drunken spins you dread.

About lemarmclean

I am a writer born and raised in New York City.

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