A French green raises the swan song to the barbecue – and is roasted itself
Gentlemen, it is time,” says Sandrine Rousseau, in reference to Rilke’s well-known poem. Summer has been long and mighty, but now it’s time to put away the barbecue equipment. And not just for the cold season.
Rousseau, the best-known and most controversial Green politician in France, has launched a violent polemic by branding charcoal grilling as a climate-hostile macho custom. “We have to change mentalities so that grilled entrecôte is no longer a symbol of masculinity,” Rousseau said at a party meeting in Grenoble. With the addition that barbecuing is a gender issue, the eco-feminist fueled the cliché of men as simple beings who, in shorts and billowing smoke, enjoys the cooking of bloody steaks on the grill while the chop juice hisses in the glowing charcoal.
In the wake of her comment, Rousseau was sent hundreds of photos of garden parties complete with grilled goodies, accompanied by comments that the attack on the male guild was “grotesque,” even feminist “madness.” Even an ally of the Greens, Communist leader Fabien Roussel, was annoyed: “Don’t tell me the sex of the schnitzel. Whoever eats meat depends on what they have in their wallet, not what they have in their underwear.”
But Rousseau, unimpressed, followed suit: Men eat almost twice as much red meat as women, namely 61.2 grams compared to 34.1 grams. “And that’s solely because of the symbolic and cultural value of masculinity,” she lectured, referring to the French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu, who wrote as early as 1979: “Meat, the epitome of nourishing and fortifying food, full of strength, blood and health, is par excellence the dish of man.”
Sandrine Rousseau also calculated that men produce 41 percent more CO2 than women with their diet. Even the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recorded this. Green leader Julien Bayou rushed to her aid and explained that a meat menu has a stronger effect on the climate than a plant-based diet and that the gender gap is undeniable, since men consume significantly more meat and even more sausage products than women.
Sandrine Rousseau no longer speaks of the “barbec”, as the barbecue is called in France. She has noticed that she has hit a very sensitive, if not downright atavistic, spot with die-hard barbecue fans. On the other hand: In winter, the discussion rests, most of the grates are covered. And freely adapted from Rilke, Sandrine Rousseau can now hope: if you don’t have a grill yet, you probably won’t buy one anymore.
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