Actress Eva Longoria is set to open SHe by Morton’s, her female-oriented steakhouse “concept,” at the end of this year at The Aria Las Vegas. Yes, the h in SHe is capitalized on purpose. Yes, Microsoft Word is angrily underlining it in red. Yes, she is seriously opening a steakhouse for women.
Admittedly, the steakhouse as an institution has had a history of being an all boys club, so in theory, this isn’t the worst idea ever. However, the details that have emerged about SHe thus far prove that it might hang in the same realm of stupidity as, say, Woody Harrelson’s Oxygen Bar. Longoria claims that women “love that when you walk in it immediately feels sexy.” Alas, it seems more sexist than sexy.
If I’m going to steakhouse, I’m going there to eat steak (and some bangin’ sides), not to ogle models in fashion shows that Longoria insists on having at her restaurant. If I wanted to look at clothes, I’d go shopping. It’s just as ludicrous as a hypothetical “manly restaurant” having a full-blown car show as customers chow down.
In an interview with Zagat, Longoria goes on to explain that SHe will “have different portion sizes - He-Cuts, She-Cuts and We-Cuts.” Varying portion sizes are great, but what exactly does a She-Cut entail? As a female, this weirds me out. What if I’m really hungry and just want a big-ass piece of steak? Does it make me any less womanly to order a “He-Cut”? Does it make a not-so-hungry guy less manly for ordering the “She-Cut”? Will we be judged for these transgressions of the status quo? I don’t have any desire to pay to be self-conscious.
What if I’m really hungry and just want a big-ass piece of steak? Does it make me any less womanly to order a “He-Cut”?
As an accomplished actress that has had to deal with being a Latina and a woman—two very real hurdles in the mainstream—this move seems surprising. With an opportunity to be a female restaurant owner, she is choosing to perpetrate the stereotype that woman love dainty, fluffy shit and are so vain that we need mirrors on the back of the dessert menu, so we can reapply our lipstick. I’d like to believe that women want to be recognized for their smarts, style, and substance over stereotypes. This only happens when we’re allowed to make choices for ourselves—even when it comes to something as simple as deciding between an 8-ounce or 12-ounce cut of steak instead of the pre-determined She-Cut.
With all of this strange emphasis on gender, Longoria is telling us what we should prefer as part of certain sex. Sure, there are women who might enjoy fashion shows, but there are men who do as well. Conversely, a female might enjoy cars, big portions, and the dark and heavy furniture that Longoria equates with being manly. I know I do.
Of course, no one takes blatantly gender-specific restaurants seriously in the first place. The best example is the rise of the “breastaurant,” typified by Hooters. The orange short-shorts chain doesn’t exactly have a reputation for memorable food or a high-end atmosphere. No one goes to Hooters for the burgers. If they wanted a good burger, they’d go to the Shake Shacks/In-N-Outs of the world. If Longoria was looking for credibility as a restaurateur, especially after her previous failed ventures, she is going to have to go back to the drawing board.
There are enough stereotypes weaving their way through every aspect of society. Food, and more specifically, restaurants, should be left alone.
To be fair, Longoria isn’t alone in her gender-specific antics. There are plenty of ridiculous food products on the market catering exclusively to men or women. Cereal giant General Mills came out with Harmony cereal for women, and a company in Japan is making ramen noodles with more “delicate” flavors, such as chamomile. French Meadow Bakery has even gone so far as to release “Women’s Bread” and “Men’s Bread” to better meet the umbrella needs of each gender. And then, of course, there’s man yogurt. While the sexes do have different needs, unless they are scientifically verifiable, there’s no need to push the gender-branded label in food.
Regardless of gender identification, everyone eats. There are enough stereotypes weaving through every aspect of society already—food, and more specifically, restaurants, should be left alone.
Moral of the story, Eva: Design your steakhouse as you please, just sans the gender-specific touches. People go to restaurants to have a nice meal and a good time, not to be told what their tastes should be.