The Dinner Party (or why one woman is refusing to eat dinner for 60 days)

In honour of the 60th international women’s day, one woman is refusing to eat dinner for 60 days to protest the subtle ways in which gender inequality is visible all around us. Here is the beginning of her MANifesto – it’s written with style and well-worth the read.

Why am I refusing to eat dinner for 60 days? Allow me to present a small menu of reasons.

The Appetizer:

At a formal dinner at my college last month, a large male-only party sat next to my husband and me. During the course of their lighthearted discussions, this amusing little anecdote came up:

“Haha, yeah I stayed in a guest house in that town, and it was sketchy, man, just sketchy”, one gentleman said, shaking his head and laughing.

“Oh yeah?” his friend replied.

“Yeah. Like, someone got raped in the room next door. That’s how bad it was.”, he continued, still smiling.

“Oh man!” his friend groaned with laughter.

“Yeah and I didn’t hear anything, because I had my earplugs in and was asleep, and she called the police and everything-I woke up when the police came into my room!”

This little gem of an anecdote was met with boisterous laughter from everyone within earshot. The young man added, as an afterthought: “Yeah, that’s actually pretty serious. It’s pretty bad”.

Conveniently for the dude, this woman’s horrendous experience served as both a cute story, demonstrating his comic abilities, and also a moment of serious reflection, proving what a ‘nice guy’ he is! My, how safe I feel in a world where gentlemen like my colleague admit that sexual assault, which is inflicted upon an estimated 1/3rd of women worldwide, is ‘pretty bad’ in addition to being a great punchline!

For the main course, the dessert and the rest of the dinner party click here.

So, what does it come down too?


As a feminist, I am frequently compelled to call such individuals out on their behaviour. There is a phrase for the kind of awkwardness one feels when confronting people about their hateful words and actions: ruining the dinner party.

[…]

I suggest, however, that it is not I who ruins dinner by advocating for peace. In fact you are ruining my dinner. I cannot attend a social event without having to choose between choking in silence, or speaking out, often alone, and facing the inevitable pile-on of antifeminist opposition. If I stay silent I hate myself; if I speak up, you hate me.

[…]

I’m not swallowing it anymore. My strike began on International Women’s Day; March 8th 2009. I refuse to eat any solid food between 5pm and midnight. This strike will last for 60 days, signifying the 60 years since the International Declaration of Human Rights was proclaimed. When will women be considered unquestionably worthy of these rights? Probably not by the time I’m done fasting. Will this strike make any difference? That’s up to you. Click the FAQs & Snacks section to learn how you can do your part. Both men and women are welcome. And you can start by forwarding this website to your friends and family.

Want to help out? Check out her website and spread the word.

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4 Responses to “The Dinner Party (or why one woman is refusing to eat dinner for 60 days)”

  1. Aylon

    Her silent protest seems perpetuate the very patriarchy she is trying to combat. Consider the housewife who listens to her husband tell her children how terrible women are. Instead of speaking out, the housewife stays silent. Finally fed up, she decides to ‘protest’ this by staying in her room the whole day. Instead of making the choice to speak out at these dinner parties, the author merely silences herself moreso by refusing to engage in them. Isn’t this the end goal of patriarchy? “If you don’t like the rape stories, then don’t come to the party.” It should in fact be quite the oposite, if you don’t like the rape stories, come to more parties and speak out.

    The real feminist shouldn’t silence herself. The real feminist doesn’t stay locked in her room all day.

  2. Alia Dharssi

    Hmm. Perhaps the excerpts I selected for my post weren’t totally clear … did you read her whole manifesto? I wouldn’t describe her protest as silent, she is speaking out through the website. She’s not eating dinner as a symbolic action – a sort of hunger strike – and she’s discussing it on her site as tool to make people think about how gender inequalities are constantly expressed around us. Also just because she’s not eating dinner, doesn’t mean she can’t attend a dinner party and speak out. The Dinner Party is a sort of metaphor (which will be more clear if you take a look at her website) and she invites visitors of her website to participate by commenting as part of a “pot luck”. She describes herself as exactly that feminist who people accuse of “ruining the party” and makes no qualms about it. In fact I would argue that if she went to a party and didn’t eat dinner, people would notice and ask why – which would generate discussion.

  3. Alia Dharssi

    So, in sum, she’s not locking herself in her room. She’s simply not eating dinner for 60 days as a symbolic act to combat the way sexism is expressed all around us.

  4. Alia Dharssi

    I’ve added some more quotes to the post – so hopefully things will be clearer now, but if you still disagree, I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

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