HI EVERYONE. My name is Keith Austin and I am a misogynist. I blame the zucchini, though my gateway drug was the artichoke.
Obviously, I need help.
Last year, I decided to pull back from discussing politics on social media, Facebook especially, because of the enmity and overly fractious nature of the discussions that ensued. I blame Brexit, and Boris. But obviously some other people don’t blame Brexit, and they love Boris. Friendship, I decided, was more important than politics and I pulled my head in.
Instead, I decided to post a few things that might get a laugh. To wit, I dug up an idea I had a few years ago called The Carnivore’s A-Z of Vegetables – a spoof examination of legumes from a horribly prejudiced meat-eater.
First in the firing line? The humble artichoke. To wit: “The globe artichoke, by the way, is not even really a vegetable, it’s a thistle. And a tasteless one at that. This is why people stuff them or boil them before dipping the leaves in mayonnaise or garlic butter or, I dunno, dirt.
“Pliny the Elder called them “monstrosities of the earth” and moaned about the high prices they fetched at Roman markets, while Henry VIII was fond of them because they are, supposedly, an aphrodisiac. Yeah sure; only if you beat her senseless with it first.”
I also revealed that one Norma Jean Baker was crowned Miss California Artichoke Queen at the Artichoke Festival in Castroville, California, in 1947.
The reactions were good. Some people laughed, some posted recipes and fought back in support of this obviously much-maligned vegetable.
Eventually I got to the zucchini. And this is where the copybook was blotted: “This is one of those vegetables that would always be picked last for the football team … it is marvellous if you (a) like eating slugs, (b) have no teeth, and (c) are playing Scrabble (24, if you must know).
“And just as the artichoke is a thistle and the aubergine is a berry, the zucchini isn’t really a vegetable either, it’s an immature fruit. Not only that but it is in reality – brace yourself – the swollen ovary of the zucchini flower. That would explain the mushy texture, I suppose.
“Seriously, take this test: enter ‘swollen ovary’ into Google, hit ‘search’, and 0.62 seconds later you will have more than 21m results to deal with – and not one of them will be a recipe.”
And there it was. My inherent misogyny laid bare for all to see, as one friend pointed out with no punches pulled: “Fried courgettes - to nearly burnt - are delicious, the sugars
caramelise. And whoever wrote this book is a misogynist. I thought so from the first entry, this ovary disgust confirms it."
There had, it seemed, been some sort of confusion. My friend thought I was posting excerpts from an actual book, written by someone else. And whoever HE was, he had, according to the dictionary definition, a “dislike of, contempt for, or ingrained prejudice against women”.
I thought it best to confess that the misogynist was me. My friend was suitably mortified, and we have moved on. I, for one, appreciated the honest opinion that accidental anonymity had afforded.
But I do wonder. Am I a misogynist, deep down? I don’t think so. I hope not. But I wondered. At the time the accusation cut me to the quick and I immediately took ALL my vegetable posts down and deleted the comments.
And I wonder still; can you tell that a man is a woman hater from a few words about vegetables? Is that all the proof it takes in our brave new woke world?
According to psychologytoday.com misogynists are everywhere but “they are notoriously hard to spot”. Unless they unwittingly reveal themselves in the vegetable aisle, as it were.
I was going to come down hard on the eggplant, too, but given that the aubergine emoji seems to be a substitute for the penis I thought it best to quit while I was behind.