Does Food Have a Gender?
Is everything you eat 100% your choice? The answer is shocking…
Men are from Mars and women are from Venus – how many times have we heard this quote? Yes, society seems to treat men and women like two different species from different planets. There are many social norms that dictate how men are supposed to be ‘manly’, and women are supposed to be feminine and dainty. It’s truly surprising that even today we continue to follow certain perceptions and ideals that should have become outdated ages ago.
One of these notions pertains to food – yes, even food seems to have a gender. Some types of food are apparently meant only for men and some only for women. A couple of examples that immediately come to mind are (yes, that’s right), chocolate and yogurt. How many advertisements can you think of where a man is shown relishing a chocolate?? Or scooping out the fruit-at-the-bottom?? (Unless it is for something like a Yorkie bar, which apparently is ‘not for girls’).
Conversely, when have you ever seen an advertisement where a woman is shown tucking heartily into a beefsteak? It seems that men are supposed to be hearty eaters, meaning that they should eat red meat until their bellies burst (or they die of cancer). According to ads, meat-eating men are apparently macho. By contrast, women should be small eaters and should survive only on salads, yogurt, quiches, fruit, and chocolate.
How many advertisements can you recall that show a man relishing a chocolate?
Perhaps this did hold true once upon a time, when men were hunters and women were gatherers and therefore ate more of fruits and vegetables. Maybe this is the reason why food like meat are seen as manly, while fruits and vegetables are seen a girly foods. But, clearly, it should no longer hold true. Men rarely hunt these days and women are as physically active as men. Besides, the myth that you need to eat flesh to grow bulky muscles has been thoroughly debunked.
And it’s not just food — the same applies to alcohol. Ever heard a guy being called a ‘pussy’ (or worse) for drinking a ‘fruity’ or sweet mixed drink? I have. Or have you witnessed a surprised reaction from men when a woman dares to order a scotch or whiskey? It’s supposed to ‘put hair on your chest’, it’s so manly. Clearly women who drink scotch are just trying to be like men, right?! :/
So why do these ideas persist? Perhaps due to centuries of social conditioning which still operate within all of us. We still see everything as masculine or feminine, manly or girly, and so we eat what we are conditioned to eat. Besides, society expects women to conform to certain media-driven “ideal” physical attributes. As a result, women are more conscious of their looks and body weight and tend to watch what they eat. Not so with men, who can get away with eating anything they want and being overweight (although that’s slowly beginning to change, as marketers learn that men will purchase diet products, too!). Just count the number of successful Hollywood actors versus actresses who are, well, not so slim, and you’ll see what I mean.
Ideally, both sexes should be eating a lot of fruits and vegetable and moderate quantities of proteins.
Some people might argue that women and men have different nutritional needs, which is true to some extent. Men need more calories and women need more calcium and iron. However, eating large quantities of red meat and dairy is equally harmful for both men and women. It is certainly not ideal for men to eat unlimited quantities of meat or for women to eat large amounts of chocolate. In other words, there are no legitimately manly or feminine foods.
Sadly, in our society, nothing is truly genderless, so even food is given a gender. This factor is exploited each day by advertisements that create and reinforce gender stereotypes. No, men are not from Mars and women are not from Venus. Both are from Earth – deal with it, people!