Men's foods, womens's foods - why are foods gendered?

(251 Posts)
ObfusKate Mon 04-Aug-14 17:40:43

Prompted by this thread, but not just a TAAT, I promise.

It doesn't seem to be getting any better. I know we talk about the yoghurt-is-for-women thing, but how does it happen in the first place?

I saw an episode of a TV show called Pioneer Woman, which is an American show featuring a family who live on a ranch in the States, and their terrifying aspirational lifestyle. The episode I saw, they were having a party, and the men had beer and steaks cooked on the grill while the women ate chicken salad with wine. Separately.

I've been thinking and almost every food I can think of is gendered in some way.


Meat (except chicken)
Normal crisps
Boiled sweets
Heavy puddings
Really really good wine
Chewing gum
Energy drinks


Yoghurt (obviously)
Delicate desserts
Hot chocolate
Breakfast cereal
Weird low fat crisps
Fruity or sweet drinks
Wine, especially white

A lot of it is obviously down to marketing based on selling women indulgence or weightloss (or both) but it seems to go deeper than that. Why aren't vegetables manly?

The only foods I'm struggling to gender are extremely basic things in our culture like bread, milk, cheese, and eggs.

EatShitDerek Mon 04-Aug-14 17:43:09

No idea but I think I'm a man after reading that grin

EatShitDerek Mon 04-Aug-14 17:44:18

Sorry! Thought it was in normal chat blush

ObfusKate Mon 04-Aug-14 17:46:39

Don't be sorry - I have to admit, the men's list is looking pretty good… grin

ObfusKate Mon 04-Aug-14 17:47:28

BTW if you want to eat off the men's list you can have chicken, but only if it's deepfried first.

Squidstirfry Mon 04-Aug-14 17:50:19

Haa get out with your normal chat Derek.

It's entirely down to marketing executives. Yoghurt is not a lady food in India, or Greece. Go to Brazil and it's meat meat meat all day, both sexes.

Spaghetti is not gendered.

In the UK everything is gendered. Tissue paper fgs.

I avoid large supermarkets, one reason is all the unbearable 'branding' it puts me right off. You won't find hardly anything gendered when you get away from marketing strategy corporate BS.

ObfusKate Mon 04-Aug-14 17:52:22

I don't get how cutting out half your market helps anyone at all. Why is no-one trying to sell yoghurt to men and steak to women?

mummybare Mon 04-Aug-14 17:53:00

Because women diet and/or eat healthily in order to conform to a certain body image?

It's more complex than that, obviously, but it's surely a factor.

ObfusKate Mon 04-Aug-14 17:53:56

There's not a lot of iron on my women's list, is there?

PetulaGordino Mon 04-Aug-14 17:58:19

women have to keep themselves attractive through denial (yes, i know none of the foods on the women's list are horrible, but they aren't high-energy, full-flavoured food like the men's list), and please their men by indulging their appetites (sexual and foodwise)

PetulaGordino Mon 04-Aug-14 18:00:09

see "steak and BJ day" for example

msrisotto Mon 04-Aug-14 18:01:32

Iron sounds quite manly though Kate. Eww gross.

CaptChaos Mon 04-Aug-14 18:01:48

There's not a lot of iron on my women's list, is there?

Nope, and that's why there are whole rafts of vitamins and supplements geared up for women. Menstruating women, pregnant women, young women, old women. There are supplements aimed at men, but they tend to be of the 'build lean muscle' type. Women's ones are far more geared to the 'you poor delicate thing, have some extra vitamins' type.

pootlebug Mon 04-Aug-14 18:02:04

I think foods where the marketing is aimed at women tend to be either:
- Focussed on weight loss
- Focussed on indulgence.....with that 'because I'm worth it' message

Many combine the two (delicious indulgent yoghurt/chocolate/whatever with only xx calories)

Cereal marketing is fascinatingly stupid. Kellogg's Corn Flakes, Special K and Rice Krispies all have pretty much the same calories per 100g, and are all pretty nutritionally rubbish with little to differentiate between them, but Corn Flakes are a 'manly' cereal, Special K a women's weight-loss cereal and Rice Krispies a fun children's cereal.

eitherwaythatway Mon 04-Aug-14 18:04:16

Lots of the women's foods are delicate cos we're delicate flowers grin

Are boiled sweets associated with men? I think of old ladies!

Scarletohello Mon 04-Aug-14 18:04:52

I love steak and hate yoghurt!

Well if you do a low carb diet, you can eat lots of things on the 'men's' list.

It's just stoopid!

Weirdly, I was musing this morning how even some animals seem to be gendered now. No top in the "boys" section ever seems to have a bunny or a pony or a cat on it, unless for a boy under two.

Similarly, no spiders/sharks/lions for girls. Though apparently leopards are de rigeur...

Scarletohello Mon 04-Aug-14 18:07:14

Funny how 'fish' comes up twice on the female list.. smile

eitherwaythatway Mon 04-Aug-14 18:07:54

LOL at Scarlet

Bunbaker Mon 04-Aug-14 18:07:56

I am a bit of a foodie and don't separate food by gender. I wasn't aware that it was separated anyway.

OH and I like the same things so the list you posted is completely irrelevant in the bunbaker household.

I think it is a load of nonsense.

PetulaGordino Mon 04-Aug-14 18:08:49

i tend to eat a low carb diet too, with full-fat foods, and i get lots of comments and looks from women as i tuck into veg covered in butter, full fat mayonnaise etc

i find the concept (often marketed to women) of maximum food volume for minimum calories extremely troubling

PetulaGordino Mon 04-Aug-14 18:09:40

bunbaker do you mean it's nonsense that food is divided up that way, or nonsense that the OP has suggested that this is the case?

Has anyone read 'the sexual politics of meat'? It has a bit of a cross-cultural analysis and some things do seem to be broadly true for most of the world.

ObfusKate Mon 04-Aug-14 18:12:11

I was obviously preoccupied with fish blush

I should clarify that I don't think anyone actually eats like this. If I left a kilo bucket of yoghurt and a spoon in front of (male) DP, I couldn't vouch for there being any left if I came back after thirty minutes.

ObfusKate Mon 04-Aug-14 18:16:49

That book sounds interesting Popping.

I wondered, as I watched the programme I mentioned earlier, whether the steaks should be going to the menstruating, child-producing, lactating people, and the lean chicken breasts and salad to the others.

(BTW I am aware this subject has probably been done to death by proper feminists but I'm not as well-versed in it all as most people here seem to be grin and I still find it baffling.)

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