Another category of images relates to the proper ‘place’ for a women: in the kitchen, performing a service function through cleaning and cooking. The errant female who ‘forgets how to woman’ may claim to be comedic, but it still reiterates a persistent message relating to what women’s nature, and role, should be.
These expectations are even mapped onto women who are otherwise exhibiting skills and experience outside of the domestic arena, such as the hockey players photoshopped to be vacuuming. A woman wearing a Google Glass headset, currently a marker of being within a quite limited range of users who have been able to test the device, is robbed of her elite status by being presented as using the headset to locate her true domain, the kitchen. This suggests that women’s position in society is so fixed that even the potentially liberating properties of new technologies must be directed towards this limited goal.
The dominant meme relating to a woman’s ‘place’ uses the demand to ‘make me a sandwich’ as a shorthand for woman performing the required role. Making a sandwich is joking associated with a woman’s strength, and even appears in an adjusted version of the popular image of Rosie the Riveter. This re-appropriation of a feminist icon demonstrates the confidence of the speaker – not only can they make demands, but they also have the ability to re-imagine what constitutes a strong or liberated woman. Such a move serves to put the imagined feminist viewer in her place, having been corrected and made submissive. This is a double coup for the male voice, as it not only attains its objective, but also demonstrates its superiority over others.
The ‘make me a sandwich’ meme suggests an aggressive form of nostalgia, for a system – perceived to be lost or threatened, and in need of re-asserting – where the position and role of men and women were clearly defined. But beyond the flimsy comic element of ‘forgetting how to woman’ lies a threat, that if women do not comply with demands made of them, there will be consequences. “Make me a sandwich” becomes shorthand for “do as I say”, backed up by images of those who dared to disobey.
A couple of examples below demonstrate the overlap between the ‘sandwich’ demand, and the threat of violence. The victim is positioned as problematic – she didn’t do as she was asked – and therefore worthy of attack. Images of women who have been hit or abused are used with alarming regularity in order to promote a ‘comic’ message. In a future post I will look at how women’s use of the ‘duckface’ expression provides a further justification for threats and proscription, demonstrating how regulation is enacted not just in relation to a woman’s behaviour, but also onto her body.