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Have you ever really looked at a Waffle House menu?
Okay, let me back up. For those of you not familiar with Waffle House, it’s a chain of 24-hour restaurants that litter the American South. They are everywhere, and they occupy an unusual niche that makes them the favorites of small children and drunkards. You can always get breakfast at a Waffle House, waffles and eggs any time of day or night. They also serve sandwiches and lunch fare – hell, they even have a steak, though I’ve never met anyone who’s eaten it.
But it’s not the waffles that make Waffle House famous. It’s the hashbrowns.
There’s an entire language of Waffle House hashbrowns. How do you like yours? Everyone in the South knows the answer to that question. First, they scatter the hashbrowns over the grill, then you can get them smothered in sautéed onions, covered in melted cheese, chunked with ham, diced with tomatoes, peppered with jalapenos, capped with mushrooms, topped with chili, and recently “country” with sausage gravy. The permutations are endless. I’m a simple man. I like mine scattered and covered, extra crispy please.
Wait, wasn’t this supposed to be about vagina? It is. Bear with me.
The Waffle House menu is like one you’d find at an authentic Chinese restaurant that also caters to white people, which is to say that it is laminated and there are pictures on the menu of the important dishes. And here’s the crazy thing: when your order arrives, it looks exactly like the picture on the menu. If there are three slices of tomato in the picture, there are three slices on your plate, arranged in exactly the same way. That disturbingly semi-spherical scoop of butter pictured on the menu? It’s located in exactly the same spot on your waffle. Even the bacon has been tortured into unnatural flatness so it will perfectly resemble the menu.
Why? Why do they do this? There is a reason, I think, and this is where vagina comes in. Buckle your seatbelts, kids.
Why we can’t have nice thingsI’ve learned a lot since I got into kink, and much of it has been disturbing. I’m not talking about the kinky stuff we like to do to each other, or that we like done to us. I like most of those things too, and what I don’t like I generally understand as part of the vast variety that makes us all human. No, the disturbing stuff is what I’ve learned about how we treat each other. Specifically, how men treat women.
If there’s anything that makes this community different from what we casually refer to as the “vanilla” world, it’s that we talk about things. Stuff your average vanilla person refuses to discuss on pain of death, we regard as appropriate dinner conversation. Most of us won’t play with someone without talking through subjects that would make vanilla folks run for the hills.
As a result, I’ve discovered that a lot of men treat women with a degree of contempt and hostility that I sometimes find hard to believe even though I was raised by three women who thought of themselves as feminists and a father who was shockingly progressive for someone who thought the proper medical treatment for any disease was to “walk it off.” If you listen to women talk about their experiences with men, you will hear these same stories, you will notice these same patterns.
Men seem very keen on criticizing women’s bodies, even (or especially) women with whom they’re having intimate relations. I have listened to countless women talk about their experiences having their bodies critiqued in moments of incredibly intimacy and vulnerability. More than one woman has told me that her first experience – her first moment – of being naked in front of a boyfriend involved him telling her what was wrong with her body. She takes her clothes off, he looks at her, and before he says anything else he says something like “your nipples are too big” or “wow, you’re fatter than you look with your clothes on.” Seriously. This is a thing that happens to many, many women.
This casual cruelty, this radically inconsiderate attitude men have regarding women and their bodies, has taken a disturbing turn in recent years. It seems that so many men have criticized women’s genitals that there is a growing demand for cosmetic surgery to alter their appearance. In essence, women have been told by men that their genitals – specifically, in most instances, their labia – are dramatically out of the norm so often that many women are now seeking medical assistance to alter their bodies. And for every woman who seeks out labiaplasty, there are dozens of others who live in the silent conviction that something is monstrously wrong with their intimate appearance.
The thing is that very, very few men know anything at all about women’s bodies and what counts as normal for women. And many women are denied access to realistic images of female genitals by poor sex education, censorship, and Internet porn’s obsession with a unitary image of women’s genitals that most closely resembles that of certain prepubescent girls.
Remember those waffles?Why? Why is this happening? There’s a lot to be said about that question, including a pretty serious discussion of patriarchy and how we raise boys. But I think a lot of it has to do with our love of “normal,” our desire to be comforted by the familiar and the expected.
And that’s why Waffle House is so keen for its food to resemble the pictures on the menu.
Waffle House, like so many other restaurant chains in the United States, has figured out that people like predictability. They like going into a restaurant, no matter where it is in the country or the world, and finding the same items on the menu. They are comforted by being able to eat a hamburger at a McDonalds in Atlanta and having it taste exactly the same as a hamburger they ate at a McDonalds in Portland or Phoenix or Hong Kong. Their tensions are eased when their Waffle House bacon arrives in the same preternaturally flattened condition as that bacon they saw on the menu when they ordered breakfast.
We have a strong desire to regularize our lives, to control the chaos of living by making everything feel predictable, and thus safe. And so we delude ourselves into believing that the state of nature – or the “proper” state of the world, however we think of that – involves smoothness and similarity and lack of variation.
But the world is not the Waffle House menu. Women’s bodies, like the bodies of all humans, are infinitely variant. That is, to my way of thinking part of their great beauty. There is no “normal” size of labia, no secret moral hierarchy of female genital appearance to which everyone should aspire. Porn is not some kind of documentary, with women carefully chosen as a representative sample of human anatomy.
And if that bothers you, if you’re the sort of person who really fucking loves that flat bacon, just remember one thing. People love the hashbrowns more than anything else at the Waffle House, yet they are the one thing that never, ever looks like the picture on the menu. The hashbrowns in the Waffle House menu pictures are these neat, ordered, flat little hockey pucks of comforting regularity, but what you actually get on your plate is a chaotic mess of shredded potato and whatever unholy combination of ingredients you like. Seriously, sausage gravy? On hashbrowns? You people are sick.
I don’t begrudge anyone their preferences. I’m in love with variety, but even I can understand genuinely liking or disliking a particular form of anatomy. But have some perspective. Men need to learn consideration and politeness and a bunch of other things. Women should not be made to feel monstrous. Enjoy the flat bacon, if that’s what floats your boat. But embrace the chaos of the hashbrowns, whether it is about yourself or someone you’re with.
(Source: Fetlife User ElijahSnow4 / article link)