Why do so many people feel that food is representative of gender? I am sure you are familiar with the symbolic notion of how steak and potatoes are manly foods, where as salad and vegetables are womanly foods. This stereotype deeply upsets me for many reasons. One steak and potatoes are my most favorite foods on this planet, and two many women feel the need to not eat heavy foods like red meat and carbs, because they are worried about their weight and body image. The reality is to have a good balanced healthy diet regardless of your sex.
Professor Hank Rothgerber, has published research in the journal Men and Masculinity and states that, “ ‘There is a group of manly men who swear off what they call chick food, and they seek a double whopper to declare their manhood.” Society should not label certain foods as “chick food,” but Rothgerber gives a suggestion, as to how this culturally constructed idea came to be noting that, “’Meat consumption is a symbol of patriarchy resulting from its long-held alliance with manhood, power, and virility.” This idea of how meat represents manhood and power goes back to the time of cavemen, where men were the hunters and women were the gatherers, but many would be surprised to know that women played a great role in hunting as well.
According to an article from Forbes.com, anthropologists state that women almost played an equal role in hunting expeditions, acting as beaters and blockers in order to bring down prey such as boar, bison and mammoths. But still, some men find that ordering anything off of a vegetation menu appears “wimpy.” Unfortunately, vegetables appear “wimpy” or rather “feminine” because, of culturally constructed norms. The reality is that vegetables are a healthy food for everyone. The majority of America maintains this mentality and feels that foods like quiche, tofu, chocolate and yogurt are for women only. However, some argue that there is some truth behind men liking meat and women liking sweets due to genetics.
David Katz from Yale University notes that gender-driven eating derives form evolution and that men compared to women need more protein to develop muscle mass. Another food that some deem as very feminine is chocolate, which in America is a symbol of a food that women go to when they are on their period, are pregnant, or are going through a hard time. Some argue that women may be genetically predisposed to liking sugary foods, making chocolate a preferred choice. However, studies have shown that elsewhere around the world men actually prefer sweets to women such as the United Kingdom. America needs to change the idea that food represents the sexes. Eating a steak does not make someone more of a man and eating a salad does not make someone more of woman. Just eat whatever makes you happy. I’m going to go get some steak now. But seriously I need to know that I’m not the only person who thinks gendering food is wrong? What are your thoughts?