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Navigating College Meal Plans, a Feminist Interest?

February 11, 2018

Gone are the days when you are assured that you will received at least three meals a day when you are away at college. The luxury of the Freshmen 15 is now unaffordable.  To help people budget the expense of dorm rooms and meal plans there are various options.  UCLA offer these choices.  If a student does not keep up with the number of times she/he went to the cafeteria (swipes), he/she can easily run out of meals for that week.  When a student runs out of meals, they have either to pay with cash or wait until the start of the next week.  Having to wait for next week’s meal allocation is better than blowing through all of the meals and being left with no meals by midterm.

My daughter (female) and her friends (females) told me a story the other day, relayed to her by a gay (male) friend who has class with a girl (female) who gave this account.   This female UCLA student was out of meals and was hungry.  So, she responded to a man (male) on Tinder who wanted to “hook up” (a ghastly concept, I don’t care if you call me a prude or not, —simply vulgar.  Nevertheless, I keep those thoughts to myself, and only sometimes share them with you).  She tells this guy that she would like him to bring her some food, Chinese food.  Her choices are messaged to him and from what Chinese restaurant.  He messages her when he is at the campus with the grub.  She meets him outside of a building.  At this point in the story, I asked, “In front of her dorm?”  No, was the answer, it was in front of some other building.  She takes the food and tells him she will be right back, and never comes back.  A little while later he messages her and says, “I thought we were going to eat the food and hang out [have sex].”  The girl blocks his number.  The gay male retold this story because he tried the same thing on Grindr.  But he wasn’t able to procure a meal.  Instead, he ended up having sex with a ginger, old enough to be his father, in a dark corner of the Humanities hall.  You would think UCLA had CCTV everywhere. If they do in fact have CCTV everywhere, there are stories to be told.

I’m appalled.

The group of girls telling me this story asked me why I’m unhappy with the story.  Didn’t he get what he deserved since he expected sex for $30 worth of Chinese food?

Well, there is that.  However, and this is a big however because I must go into my experiences from my youth, the lessons that I’ve learned, and how I now view the world differently than before I truly comprehended how dangerous the world is.  I didn’t have one big ah-ha moment, but a lifetime of the ante being upped and upped and upped each time I believed I’ve seen the worst.

I would be afraid to do this to a man.  I would think that he would, if bitter enough, try to find me coming and going from my classes.  So what if it wasn’t my dorm where we met, it would be obvious that I went to UCLA.  To take that risk is either incredibly naïve or extremely arrogant.

Okay, let’s say he drops any type of revenge after she blocked his number.  Do you think he isn’t going to take it out on the next woman?

Here’s the tricky part.  The world says it’s not women’s (heterosexual) responsibility to civilize a man (heterosexual). I agree, it’s not.  A man can choose not to be an asshole and choose not to take out his disappointments in life on women as well as women are expected not to drag past experiences into future interactions with men. But, everyone is human.    So, I’m not comfortable asserting that this woman should’ve thought about future women when she did this to this man.  She was out to satisfy herself, and to hell with anything other than that.  Besides, if he decides to take it out on the next woman, he was probably predisposed to finding rationalization to do so anyway.  In addition, there is still that thing about him thinking $30 worth of Chinese food was going to get him sex.  Not only sex, but sex from a woman that he pre-selected (most likely based on physical appearances).

Call me slow, and I have been called clueless many times before, but if I was actually conscious of knowing that men expected sex for the price of dinner, then I wouldn’t asked for or agreed to the dinner unless I wanted to have sex.    I tell you now that I used to be clueless because when I was younger (late teens and early 20s) I had no clue, none, that a man expected anything from me when we went out on a date and he paid.  Not a clue!  I had the audacity to think it was all about getting to know me and me getting to know him (after all, he made more money than me).  Then I started hearing jokes about, “Don’t order the lobster……..”  When I was told the meaning of that, I was shocked.  SHOCKED!  I thought it surely only applied to a small segment of men.  Certainly not men in general.   When a man, a very rich man asked me out after work one day for dinner, I told him that I couldn’t, that I needed to get to my daughter’s (R.I.P) daycare before it closed. I was hungry and was preoccupied all day wondering how my daughter and I were going to have dinner that night.  It was too far before payday to float a check (something you absolutely cannot do now), and I had zero dollars and zero cents.  So when he told me that I could bring her along, I was elated.  Free meals for both of us.  And I will never forget that evening either, because neither my daughter nor I had ever had beef and cheese nachos from a restaurant.  There was so much of it, and it was so hot and tasty. After he took us home, we said, “Good night,” and that was that.  Or so I thought.  A week or two later when I ran into him again at work he made some nasty comment about how he had wasted his money. It wasn’t until I pressed him to get to the point did I got his meaning.  I remember thinking, W.T.F!

Being forewarned is to be forearmed.  Memo received.

So as a woman, a feminist woman, why am I not happy that this female college student got over on this thirsty ass man?

Because I am scared, and because when food and sex are being exchanged (or set up to be exchanged) something socially is amiss.

A few thoughts….

The government: Should not only universities be free to every American citizen, should dorms and meals plans be free as well, or at the very least affordable?

The university:  Can swipes (meals) be shared?  Maybe a community board where people are offering their left over swipes for students who run out of swipes should be started.  Of course, there will be abuse and more than likely whoever appears to be overweight will be fat-shamed (regardless of how many meals she eats in a week). Some of the laziest gluts I know are very skinny. Is the university charging fairly or are they making money off these meal plans? From one of the plans: “Meals not eaten during the week cannot be accumulated or saved and do not carry over from week to week.” That sounds like a money-maker.

Are there any safeguards for hungry students who no longer have any swipes?

The family: When selecting which meal plan to purchase, I’m sure there is plenty of rationalization and justification to choose the least expensive plan. Is it feasible to assume the student can come home very weekend, yet in reality she/he cannot, thus making the choice of a 5-day plan a problem?  The gay young man in the beginning of this post has a 5-day plan instead of a 7-day plan.  His parents tell him not to come home on the weekends because it will cost too much fuel/gas. How do you expect your child to eat 7 days’ worth of meals with only 5-days’ worth of swipes?

The student:  Is the student making the right choices?  Is she/he choosing food that will fill them up and give them the energy needed to last from one meal to the next?  Are they keeping up with how many meals (swipes) they have consumed each day?  Are their expectations of how much they should be eating (based on what is paid for) in alignment with the reality of what their parents paid for?  Do they understand that for many people doing without is not a choice?

Actually, now that I’ve written this, I’m bored.  You got into UCLA and you can’t think of a way to get a meal other than the pretense of exchanging sex for food?  Maybe, I am dumb, or seeing the bigger picture all the time has worn out its welcome.


4 Comments leave one →
  1. spiritplumber permalink
    February 11, 2018 6:12 pm

    I don’t know why I hang out here. I’m a man and I like being an asshole, I guess. Maybe some of you stupid women will stroke my robot ego.


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