Hubby Hubby: Why Ben & Jerry’s was wrong to take a stand on gay marriage
Friday, as I was wrapping up my work week, I got an innocuous looking e-blast from Ben & Jerry’s.
I love Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, so I’m on their opt-in mailing list, Chunkmail.
It was entitled simply, “Introducing… Hubby Hubby.”
For some reason, the title did not make me pause.
I guess I was too busy thinking of pints of Ben & Jerry’s dancing in my head.
Intrigued, I scrolled down to read the message in the newsletter.
I read the brief paragraph that the message contained, and then I looked to my right.
I finally understood what “Hubby Hubby” meant: An ice cream confection celebrating the legalization of gay marriage in Vermont.
According to a press release, Ben & Jerry’s is renaming its well-known ice cream flavor Chubby Hubby to Hubby Hubby to raise awareness of the importance of marriage equality.
“Ben & Jerry’s has a long history of commitment to social justice, including gay rights. Its partnership with Freedom to Marry, a national leader in the movement for marriage equality, aims to raise awareness of the importance of marriage equality and to encourage other states to follow the blazing trails of Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, and Maine. Freedom to Marry promotes the national conversation about why marriage equality matters and brings together partner organizations into a larger whole – a shared civil rights campaign.”
The company will also serve Hubby Hubby sundaes in its Vermont ice cream shops throughout September.
To be honest, I was taken aback by it all. I really couldn’t believe that Ben & Jerry’s decided to take up the cause in this way.
I’m not sure why “Chubby Hubby” was chosen to be re-christened Hubby Hubby, but I’ll never be able to think of it in the same way.
Chubby Hubby contains fudge-covered, peanut butter-filled pretzel nuggets in a sea of fudge and peanut butter swirled vanilla ice cream.
For peanut butter and chocolate fans, this is a win-win flavor.
However, when paired with gay marriage, Chubby Hubby can seem unapetizing to some due to the sexual imagery the contents of the pints can elicit.
One blogger at Friction and Harmony wrote, “Silly activist advertising folks — you may as well call it what it is. In this new context, even the flavor description elicits a visual that’s so fittingly disturbing I won’t be able to pass the B&J section without throwing up a little…So I have to ask, what about the lesbians? Don’t they get a flavor too? Maybe call it something like “Strawberry Red Wings“?”
I know Ben & Jerry’s was just trying to be clever about things, but in all honesty, whether hetero or homosexual, I don’t think people necessarily want to think about sex when eating ice cream.
While I don’t agree with the way the blogger at Friction and Harmony made his point, I do understand what he’s getting at.
If he is correct, then the imagery and description associated with the ice cream is actually offensive to homosexuals–many of whom who are trying to move people away from the idea that their sexuality is somehow aberrant.
Then there’s the issue of actually commemorating a socially-charged cause like this.
How could a company even try to distill the struggle of a group of people into an ice cream flavor? A potentially offensive one at that?
As an African –American, my first thought was, “What’s next? Chocolate ice cream with black jelly beans to celebrate the Voting Rights Act of 1965 or to protest slavery in Darfur?”
Furthermore, and I hate to say it but, this may go down in history as a blunder for Ben & Jerry’s, because the company really just told a large segment of its customers, that it doesn’t share their values.
Through countless referendums and, more importantly, their votes, people from all walks of life in the United States have shown that they are not for gay marriage. Some may be for civil unions, but they aren’t ready for a radical redefinition of marriage.
To many in the United States, marriage is supposed to be between a man and a woman. It’s as simple as that.
The problem with Ben & Jerry’s supporting this issue on the grounds of social injustice is that most people in the United States don’t believe that homosexual marriage is an issue of social justice.
While it seems as if homosexuals are being denied a fundamental right by not being allowed to marry someone of the same sex, most people don’t believe they are.
Depending on the side of the law that you are on, all laws are discriminatory in that they prevent someone from doing something.
One commenter on Issue Clash, a PBS discussion on gay marriage raised an interesting point with regards to this.
He said, “Personally, I don’t see how you can “change” the definition of marriage for homosexuals without changing it for any alternative group that wants to be married. In Islam, a man can “marry” four wives… and when three men want to “marry” nine women, what grounds will the state have to regulate them once the precedent has been set? Homosexuals call this a civil rights issue because marriage laws are (in their view) discriminatory.”
I understand companies having causes, but many people enjoy Ben & Jerry’s ice cream.
This campaign is offensive to homosexuals and heterosexuals. By choosing this highly controversial cause, stand by it Ben & Jerry’s may, the company is alienating part of its customer base to placate another segment. It’s just not right… even if it is only for a month.