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I found the phrase ‘I felt like a piece of meat’ (at a meeting),’ in the article of Washington Post (September 20) titled ‘In early Obama White House, female staffers felt frozen out.’ The article quotes the following episodes contained in the newly released book written by journalist, Ron Suskin:

"Christina Romer (former chairwoman of the Council of Economic Advisers) is quoted by Suskind saying, after being excluded by Summers at a meeting, “I felt like a piece of meat.”

On Friday, Romer offered a softer denial than Dunn, saying, “I can’t imagine that I ever said this.” “I was told before I went to Washington that there has always been a lot of testosterone in the West Wing,” Romer said Friday

I understand “a piece of meat” implies here “almost nonexistent, like petty object.” But as I searched for the exact definition of “a piece of meat” in Google, I came across the different meaning of usage in AspireNow Blog;

“This is not to be confused with being treated like a piece of property, not to be confused with being treated with ... Consistent committed positive action is a definition of love. ... Again, that makes her feel like a sex object or piece of meat -What do women want?”

I’m curious to know how popular the phrase, “I feel like a piece of meat” is. Isn’t it liable to be misunderstood, particularly when a woman uses, or even politically incorrect to use before a woman?

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1 Answer 1

Oishi-san: This is a fairly standard expression used to indicate that someone feels useful only for physical characteristics: what the body can supply to other people. Hence the "meat".

Women are more likely to use this expression than men, I believe. At least I more often hear it from women, who complain that society leads them to being treated like a piece of meat. Men who say it are usually pulling "the old switcheroo," playing against gender stereotype, and therefore it is often said sarcastically for humorous effect by men.

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+1 I would add that they would use this expression when they have been embarrassed already, and not normally in a public forum. –  JeffSahol Sep 21 '11 at 1:10
@Robusto-san. Ohisashiburi-desu! Thank you for your input. We don’t have “a piece of meat” allusion for almost insignificant presence / existence in Japanese. Ours is inorganic. Pahaps you may know that we call a lowkey or unimportant person “石ころ- ishikro” a stone on the roadside as “I was treated like ‘an ishikoro’ by my boss.” –  Yoichi Oishi Sep 24 '11 at 0:05

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