Kristen Kish's Explanation For Burger King's Sexist IWD Tweet

On March 16, the episode of That's What She Said with Sarah Spain featuring an interview with Top Chef winner Kristen Kish aired on ESPN Radio. The topics ranged from Kristen Kish's new program Fast Foodies to coming out as a lesbian to the pervasive sexism of the food industry which. As this was recorded in the wake of International Women's Day, it also touched on the disastrous Burger King UK tweet.

For those who up to now have been blissfully unaware, Burger King decided to announce on International Women's Day that they were launching a scholarship for their female employees to enter culinary school. Putting aside questions of why they couldn't raise their wages, the idea was well-timed. However, they decided to open the thread with a simple declaration: "Women Belong in the Kitchen," an attempt to subvert the sexist cliche. Of course, people cared not for the context and railed against the chain's poor judgment.

Spain and Kish laughed over it, but Kish also pushed back against singling out Burger King as many news publications do the exact same thing. The New York Times, she noted, published a piece about her and her former mentor with the headline, "A Woman's Place Is Running the Kitchen" in 2014. (The newspaper also had a video series titled, "Women Who Belong in the Kitchen.") That said, Burger King had blatantly stated, "Women Belong in the Kitchen" on social media, where, as Spain pointed out, no one reads beyond the first line for additional information.

The attempted subversion has become a cliche through needed repetition

"Equality is something I advocate for in all aspects of my life, and the kitchen is no exception," Kristen Kish is quoted saying in a press release for a 2020 Kitchenaid documentary about the inequalities women face in the kitchen called A Woman's Place. But one could argue that really, the attempts to subvert the cliche have in themselves reverted to the status of cliche.

Of course, it might be said so often because the nature of the culinary industry has settled for decades into a congealed environment that dampens the professional growth of women. Talking to NBC, Kish revealed that even after winning Top Chef, a male chef spread a rumor that she had slept with him to advance her career.

Burger King UK, which upon receiving such pushback for their PR gambit, attempted to save face by deleting the offending tweet and emphasizing the intended point. The point, as Delish reported, was that only 20 percent of professional chefs in the UK were women. While the trope has definitely been overplayed and in Burger King's case played extraordinarily badly, the truth behind the impulse to use the trope remains. The representation of women in the industry is low and the working conditions for them hostile. Perhaps seeing the intention despite the delivery was the reason Kish refrained from drawing blood in the interview. As Kish said, "They didn't see it all the way through" (via ESPN Radio).