Amanda McCall's Feminist Ben And Jerry Flavors Include Ruth Bader Ginger, And They Are Officially The Best
I love Ben and Jerry's as much as the next person (whimsically-named ice cream flavors? Yes please!) — but loving something doesn't mean you can't still criticize it. Writer and producer Amanda McCall knows this better than anybody, which is why she wasn't willing to let a particular problem with the beloved brand lie: As a reaction to the fact that the ice cream company's offerings feature a hugely disproportionate number of flavors named for white men and almost none for women, she created a whole bunch of proposed feminist Ben and Jerry's flavors. And you guys? They are spectacular. Because, really: Who wouldn't want to eat something called Sonya SotomayOreo Mint Cookie?
Last week, McCall drew attention to the ice cream flavor gender disparity (we may as well give it a technical term, right?) in a BuzzFeed community post titled “10 Delicious Solutions to Ben and Jerry's Women Problem.” According to McCall, Ben and Jerry's has created more than 20 flavors named after famous personages over the past 30 years — but only two of them have been inspired by women: Liz Lemon's Greek Frozen Yogurt, concocted in celebration of Tina Fey's 30 Rock character in 2013; and Hannah Teter's Maple Blondie, honoring Olympic snowboarder Hannah Teter in the winter of 2009/2010. And you know what? That's weird. Really weird. What gives?
So McCall got to work creating a solution: She dreamed up 10 magnificently-named feminist Ben and Jerry flavors that don't exist yet, but definitely should. And they sound as tasty as they do socially conscious, which is even better. Would you go and sink your teeth into, say, Cherryl Sandberg ice cream?
Or how about Chocolate PepperMinty Kaling Crunch?
I know I sure would.
I'm sure there are some out there who look at this whole issue and think, “But… it's just ice cream. Why does it matter?” And in some respects, they're right. It is just ice cream. But that, as Tania Lombrozo wrote over at NPR, is exactly the point: “Calling attention to gender disparities of this kind is valuable precisely because such disparities so easily go unnoticed. A string of female flavors would seen anomalous (Ruth Bader Ginger, Coco-nut Chanel, Angelina Jolie Rancher, Jane Austen Cream Pie…), yet in many domains, it takes a stunt like McCall's for most of us to notice a trend of female absence.” Yes. This. So much this.
McCall herself noted, “No, featuring women on pints of ice cream will not close the gender pay gap or elect more women into office, but since every famous white dude on the planet — from Elton John, Barenaked Ladies, and Queen to Steven Colbert, Will Ferrell, and Monty Python — already has a Ben and Jerry's tribute flavor, would it hurt to add a few more women to the list of honorees?” To answer that rhetorical question: No. No, it would not hurt; indeed, it would actually probably help the general atmosphere. Sometimes it's the little things that can make the biggest difference — so if we see gender equality represented in such everyday items as ice cream, it'll probably help normalize it. If we achieve normalization, then not seeing gender equality — and all other types of equality — will become weirder than seeing it. And that? That's something to strive for.
Not only that, but McCall's creations represent an impressively diverse range of women: They are from many different backgrounds, they work in many different fields, and they are of many different orientations. They include athletes:
Ruth Bader Ginger, by the way, was a later addition to the series. Lombrozo's NPR piece, which bears the glorious title “Why We Need Ruth Bader Ginger Ice Cream,” inspired one reader to start a Change.org petition asking Ben and Jerry's to make the flavor a reality; McCall subsequently cooked up the accompanying image of what the carton might look like, because, well… Ruth Bader Ginger. Of all the amazing Ruth Bader Ginsburg jokes and puns out there, this one is by far my favorite. Yes, even more than Ruth Baby Ginsburg.
Art projects like these might seem kind of silly — but they are far from inconsequential. They help us see problems from different angles, and that change in perspective is often key when it comes to working out solutions. Not too bad for something that's "just ice cream," no?
Check out the full series of feminist Ben and Jerry's flavors over at BuzzFeed, and connect with Amanda McCall on Twitter @Amanimalz and at her website, AmandaMcCallWorldWideWeb.com. Oh, and if you want to sign the Ruth Bader Ginger petition, head on over to Change.org. Let's make this happen, people!
Images: Courtesy Amanda McCall