Is “Green Eggs and Ham” a story about harassment?

A few nights ago when I asked my daughter to pick a book she chose Green Eggs and Ham. We snuggled up in her bed, and she started to read. To be honest, I sometimes zone out a bit when she reads, particularly when it’s a book that I’ve read so many times before, so I was a bit lost in my thoughts when she stopped and said, “He [Sam] is being bad. He should stop. He [the other guy] already said no.”

Suddenly, I found myself paying much closer attention. For all the times I had read Green Eggs and Ham this had never occurred to me. It’s supposed to be a story about trying new things, right? Sam encourages his friend (?) who insists he doesn’t like green eggs and ham to at least try them. Ultimately (Spoiler alert!), the guy tries them and likes them, but at what cost? Is Green Eggs and Ham a story about harassment?

By the end of the book Sam has pestered the other guy (who is not even given the dignity of a name) until he is completely worn down. He clearly only tries the green eggs and ham to get Sam to shut up and leave him alone. I was beginning to see strong similarities to why women sometimes have sex they don’t want. Is Sam the Aziz Ansari of the Dr. Seuss universe?

All this stuff was running through my head as my daughter continued to read. She later noted that the other guy (Why doesn’t he have a name?) was also wrong for not being willing to try new food, so she did glean the traditional meaning from the story.

But seriously, Sam, if someone wants to try green eggs and ham they should be able to do so on their own terms. And just because someone has tried green eggs and ham and liked them doesn’t mean you can expect them eat green eggs and ham every time you want them to. Sometimes they may not be in the mood for green eggs and ham, and you need to respect that! And it definitely doesn’t mean they want to have green eggs and ham with all your friends!

Green Eggs and Ham image: Could you, would you with a goat?

Fine. I know that Sam is from a different era. Back then parents left their children home alone, oblivious to the threat of Cats in Hats sneaking in and forcing children to play with their “things.” When fish were blatantly judged by their colors. When tweedle beetles were forced to battle for the amusement of hosed foxes.

We now know it is wrong to force green eggs and ham on people. After all, a lot of people don’t eat ham for religious reasons, and others avoid all animal products. They don’t need to explain their reasons to you. A simple no should be enough. And what makes the eggs and ham green anyway? It isn’t gluten, is it? And you didn’t use peanut oil, did you? We do not like it, Sam-I-Am.

So, Sam, if you are still alive, I hope you will apologize for your past wrongs and in the future will understand that no means no.

RELATED POST: “Mom, why can’t girls show their nipples?”

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