Lots of things in life are gendered. Clothes. Children’s toys. Razors. Something that’s not talked about often, however, is the gendered nature of food.
But when you think about it, so much food is gendered. Salad? Female. Steaks? Male. Chocolate? Female. Peanuts? Male. Wine? Female. Beer? Male.
Like most things in society, the gendered nature of food is totally unnecessary. Of course women can eat steak and men can eat chocolate. Of course there are women who will happily drink 3 pints and men who love a good caesar salad.
It is, however, not surprising that food is gendered. Or at least, it’s not surprising that food is gendered the way it is.
See, there’s a stereotype that women prefer healthy food. So while they’re flocking to Sainsbury’s to buy leaves and low-calorie dressing, the men are greedily chomping on cheeseburgers and washing them down with cans of lager. And do you know what? The stereotype is largely true. Not because women magically prefer salads to steaks. Not because men are born with a natural aversion to anything green. But because society has told women that they’re only allowed to eat food that has been deemed ‘healthy’.
Of course women buy more salad. Of course advertisers target women with healthy food. Because salad equals weight loss, weight loss equals thin, and thin equals socially acceptable. Besides, women who only eat salad are less likely to have the strength to kick men in the balls.
Salad is a tool of the patriarchy, I’m convinced of it.
Men, on the other hand, haven’t been socially conditioned to believe that their value as a human being is determined by the amount they weight. At least, not to the same extent that women have. So men can eat pizza, because nobody really cares if a man doesn’t look like a model. Men can be redeemed by their personality, their wit, their career. Women can’t.
What’s more, food that is associated with strength is more likely to be associated with men. Because we all know men are the strong hunters, and women are the weak, delicate little wall flowers. Steak, therefore, becomes manly, not only because of its association with hunting, but also because it’s a source of protein which helps build and maintain muscle. Grr. Manly.
Like most misogynistic bullshit, the gendered nature of food is so ingrained into society that most people don’t even notice it. But when you stop to think about it, it’s fucking nuts. So next time you’re in the supermarket, take a look at all the packaging, and see which food is marketed towards men, and which food is marketed towards women.
And then take that food off the shelf and throw it at an unsuspecting bystander to symbolise you dismantling the patriarchy. Okay. Maybe don’t do that. You might get kicked out of Sainsburys.