On Tuesday, February 14th, Valentine’s Day in most parts of the world, someone on LHU campus vandalized a flyer announcing a discussion event on the topic of Women in the Media organized by the student group, Women’s Coalition. I am the coordinator of the Women’s Studies program at LHU and the flyer was on the Women’s Studies academic bulletin board outside my office door, Raub 302, when the individual vandalized it. The individual left a verbally abusive message to the members of the Women’s Coalition and to the Women’s Studies program. The individual’s comment said “In the kitchen. Make me a sandwich bitch.”
I want to let this individual know–you know who you are–that nobody on a university campus can verbally, physically or in any other way abuse a student group. The Women’s Studies bulletin board belongs to an academic program. You cannot leave abusive messages on a university bulletin board. There are consequences to abusing student groups and vandalizing university property.
I also wish to point out that this semester I teach nearly ninety students–(this is my light semester)–plus work with two students on independent studies. One independent study is on linguistic approaches to teaching literacy, and the other is on the effects of war-generated violence on women and children. It is the occupational hazard of being an English teacher, but I always see what is linguistically off in a sentence, even in abusive messages left for me or others. From a linguistic point of view, the above abusive message is not a good sentence. Let me show you how to correct it.
First of all, you must give a subject to that fragmented predicate, that lonely prepositional phrase “in the kitchen” left dangling without a subject or a verb. How about correcting it to “Groceries belong in the kitchen”? Now you have given both a subject (the noun phrase “groceries”) and a verb (“belong”) to your badly constructed sentence. Next, remember to put a comma between the two words, “sandwich” and “bitch.” If not, we can parse the sentence to mean “Make me a “sandwich bitch,”” which may be read as a particular kind of bitch, a bitch made of sandwich; nominal phrases in English can be confusing. So if you intend your sentence to be a command to human women, the imperative syntax should be correctly punctuated as “Make me a sandwich, bitch.” You can even add an exclamation point, if you like; orders are meant to be loud and threatening when you bark them out. But since we all know that the female of the dog species is highly unlikely to make you a sandwich, you might want to take out the “bitch,” and add a proper human name or title: mom, dear, my friend etc. Polite society teaches us to add the word “please” as well.
But I mention my work load this semester only to bring up the obvious fact that all of us should be capable of making our own sandwiches. A sandwich is a very simple food item; we must not depend on others to make a sandwich for ourselves. Most days I don’t get time to eat any lunch while I am on campus. I am either teaching, preparing to teach, grading, doing committee work, or meeting with students, which leaves me with very little time to eat a meal, though I love to cook. I am sure most of us have very packed schedules. In short, if you are hungry, you should not depend on anyone, woman or man, to make a sandwich for yourself. It is all part of growing up and being independent and self-reliant.
Here is the most basic sandwich recipe. If you eat meat, please visit the Deli at the local grocery store and purchase your favorite kind of meat. We need bread for a sandwich, so remember to buy a loaf of bread. Get some cheese, mayonnaise, mustard, butter or other condiments. Now, take two slices of bread, dab a bit of whatever condiment you fancy, then place the cheese, ham, roast beef, salami, chicken or turkey–pick your favorite(s)–on top of one slice, put the other bread slice on top of this one, and presto! You have your sandwich.
Your life began with the gift of food that your mother gave you, and perhaps these first sandwiches that you make might not be as good as the ones that your mother made for you, but with practice you will become very good at making your own sandwiches. Practice makes perfect. Try adding fillers such as tomato, lettuce, onion etc. Who knows, you could be hosting your own cooking show in a few years!
Dr. Gayatri Devi
Women’s Studies Coordinator