What began as one woman’s small gesture of affection — making a turkey and Swiss cheese sandwich for her boyfriend — led to a marriage proposition ("honey, you’re 300 sandwiches away from an engagement ring!") that’s sparking online debate over whether fulfilling such a promise is sweet or misogynistic.
That’s because the girlfriend-in-question, Stephanie Smith (she recently revealed her identity as a reporter for The New York Post’s gossip site, Page Six), actually took on this culinary dare. Undeterred by friends who were concerned she would morph into a Stepford Wife from the ‘50s, she decided to document her progress on a blog titled 300sandwiches.com.
Photo Credit: 300sandwiches.com
On it, she writes that, "Some say I’m desperate to get engaged. Hardly. I don’t have to be. E [her boyfriend, Eric Schulte] didn’t say ‘cook me 300 sandwiches or I’m leaving you!’ He gave me a challenge…and the type-A, Tracy Flick side of me can’t stand being challenged."
Smith’s made and blogged about 176 sandwiches so far, ranging from classic favorites (club sammies) to exotic varieties (bánh mìs) to dessert. Her work has even attracted attention from chefs like Emeril Lagasse and Michael White. But the mental picture of the author "stumbling into the kitchen to make Eric a sandwich" in her high heels and party dress after a work-related late-night event, all to fulfill an online bet, has left a bad aftertaste with critics who fear she’s setting back feminism. Blog backlash led to a hashtag on Twitter dubbed #300feministsandwiches:
On a Today Show appearance, the blogger gave mixed messages. She defended the project as a joke and underscored that her boyfriend (soon-to-be fiancé?) is an amazing cook in his own right, so it's not as if he's dependent on her to make meals for him; yet, doing the experiment has taught her "the impact of doing one small thing for someone else…it really does make a relationship." But it still begs the question – aren’t relationships about reciprocity? Since when do women have to "earn" the right to get engaged?
As for what will happen when she reaches the magic number, Schulte said he’d make good on his promise and "would have married her without one sandwich."
BG brides, we’ll let you be the judge: What do you think of this project?
— Stefania Sainato