Salon has an interesting piece today: “Men eat meat, women eat chocolate: How food gets gendered.” I encourage you to read it, then bring your love back here and talk about it with me. We already know what the headline points out: Certain foods are considered masculine (mmmmm, animal carcass), while others are feminine (gimme that candy bar, I’m PMSing). Of course, the heavy hand of marketing is everywhere we look, but what really captured my interest was this little factoid: In other countries, food is rarely gendered this way.
Call me a silly American, but I hadn’t ever really thought about that. The author, Riddhi Shah, points out that in Spain, men and women love chocolate equally, while in Egypt, no one really cares about chocolate at all, preferring salty snacks. (Egypt: Feel free to send me your chocolate.) In the UK, boys go for the sweet stuff, while girls are more partial to fruits and veggies. Come to think of it, our house is pretty much the same way. Red has a sweet tooth like none other, while I am pretty blasé about ice cream and candy. Geez, we are such iconoclasts, with our non-gendered, non-American food preferences!
What is really interesting is the ways in which this reflects US veganism. As Shah says, “[W]hile it seems possible that some food preferences could be put down to gender, it’s obvious that American culture has a way of exacerbating them.” US vegans are often written off as a bunch of educated white chicks, and many of us are. The movement has a homogeneity problem, and I am so grateful for those who are actively challenging this. (Sistah Vegan and Vegans of Color immediately spring to mind, as does The Discerning Brute.) It can’t be simply that men like meat, while women like tofu. (Because really? No one likes tofu in its natural state.) I wonder what the vegan demographics look like in other countries. We’re working against culture, not merely genetics, and that makes a huge difference.
Thoughts on gendered food on this Friday before a long weekend filled with gluttony and pyrotechnics in the name of US independence?*
*I once heard it referred to (by a Brit) as “Good Riddance to Ungrateful Colonists Day.” I enjoyed that.