If you’ve spent any time on Tumblr lately, you've noticed that numerous users are going on fictional dates that take place exclusively at Olive Garden.
Welcome to the breadstick meme.
If you’re unfamiliar with the meme, it involves posting dialogue that occurs during a date at a restaurant with complimentary breadsticks. While there are numerous variations of the meme, the conversation usually follows this format:
Me on a date: So what do you think of ____?
Them: Replies with a response that the first speaker finds offensive, unfortunate or problematic.
Me, shoving breadsticks into my purse: Sorry, but I have to go home right now, immediately.
In other words, the speaker with the purse deems her date’s views on a particular subject to be a deal breaker, which brings the date to an end — but not before the date ditcher grabs some bread for the road.
Often, the deal-breaking statement involves distaste for a particular fandom, such as in the example below.
There’s no doubt the meme is amusing. It’s difficult not to crack a smile when imagining a bewildered man watch his date fill her purse with breadsticks — with no qualms whatsoever about crumbs or garlic butter — all because he doesn’t share her appreciation for "Doctor Who."
However, there’s an element of truth in these comical situations because shared interests are important in relationships, but while a mutual love of "Harry Potter" or "Game of Thrones" likely won’t break a relationship, the lack of shared values or beliefs could.
The above examples do an excellent job of illustrating how this meme, while perhaps ridiculous at first glance, is feminist at its core.
If we assume the speaker making off with the breadsticks is female, it's not difficult to read an empowering message — albeit a humorous one — between the meme's lines. (Purses are owned by people of all genders, but they’re typically considered feminine items because they’re carried predominantly by women.)
Women are often taught from a young age to always smile and be polite, but as Rowan Pelling states in The Telegraph, "there’s a strong case for saying young women are far too well versed in politeness."
“The trouble is that, for women, being ‘nice’ often translates into putting up with things we should never put up with,” writes Meghan Murphy. “Femininity has long been attached to passivity and to being docile.”
However there’s nothing passive or docile about a woman emptying a basket of breadsticks into her purse and walking away when a potential romantic interest doesn’t live up to her standards.
And with research indicating that nearly 50 percent of women feel guilty about consuming carbs, it’s refreshing to see a woman — even a woman in a meme — help herself to a basketful of carbs without an ounce of shame.
So ladies, the next time your dinner date lets you down, keep in mind there's always the option to dash and dine later. (But maybe you should ask for a to-go bag for those breadsticks.)
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