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Food hierarchy

(111 Posts)
Ava6 Thu 23-Nov-17 01:17:07

Just when I thought I had learnt it all about the true nature of our males, here comes something that truly makes me lose it:

I had always assumed that the sky high mortality of mothers& babies in times past was due to lack of medicine, sanitation + too many kids for mums to look after them properly. Turns out that an even bigger factor was malnutrition due 2 men & boys hogging the food for themselves, leaving pregnant & breastfeeding women + growing girls 2 feed on their leftovers. Fetuses became too weak on such low nutrition, which would explain the staggering no. of stillbirths. This was probably the reason girls started growing so rapidly after WW II in the developed world: for the 1st time in history there was enough food to feed the females of the family sufficiently after the males took their fill.

For some reason this gutpunches me even more than all the other misogynistic evil men have perpetrated. I mean - can you really socialise someone to be this psychopathically selfish through conditioning alone??? (in terms of the male nature vs nature debate)

Chrys2017 Thu 23-Nov-17 01:22:36


TitaniasCloset Thu 23-Nov-17 02:45:26

This is interesting. Are you sure about this?

ICanTuckMyBoobsInMyPockets Thu 23-Nov-17 03:38:14

This sounds interesting, and makes sense, but I’d need to see your data.

IndianaMoleWoman Thu 23-Nov-17 03:52:59

If this is true it’s very interesting, and would maybe explain some of the underlining psychology that persists today around society deeming thinner women to be more attractive (thin woman = won’t scoff too much of man’s food = plenty of food for man = more attractive).

Do you have links to any sources/articles?

TerfyWerfy Thu 23-Nov-17 04:53:22

I read something similar in Edward Shorter's A History of Women's Bodies. It's a pop history book and not a scholarly article but he references everything (albeit research from pre-1980, so I have no idea if it's still relevant?)

I do think it's possible the majority of these men were purely this psychopathic as you put it through socialisation alone. Although women worked outside the home men were the main and most reliable source of income so they felt justified in hogging all the food. Also look at the value placed on women as a whole - in places were dowries were widespread, if a man lost his wife it could only be a good thing as he could remarry and receive another dowry. If he lost his cow it would be a disaster as he would lose his source of income and have to pay out for a new one. (Another little tidbit from Shorter. Seriously I love this book, it's what turned me on to feminism 10 years ago. It might not be wholly relevant now but it shows in an accessible and neutral way how and why the female sex has been oppressed because of our biology since the dawn of civilisation.)

TitaniasCloset Thu 23-Nov-17 05:10:02

I know penis portions were a thing for my mum growing up. The men were always given more because they did hard outdoor work.

Ava6 Thu 23-Nov-17 05:42:08

I sincerely wonder what propelled working class women to marry at all save for social expectation. If they ended up half- starved anyway and many still had to do work outside the home on top of domestic work - what was the point?

I have no hard historical evidence (just various anecdotal + secondary). The modern facts r easily found through any international development or charity organisation: the majority of malnourished children in the world today r girls. They die at twice the rate of boys in India under 5 because food and healthcare r preferentially allocated to boys.

makeourfuture Thu 23-Nov-17 06:21:27

I read a book about the wider social and economic effects of Waterloo. These armies would come through and strip everything in their paths. Every scrap of food and anything wooden for fuel: roofs, doors, furniture.

There was a lag after these battles, of disease and starvation. Women and children. For quite a long time sometimes.

Wars, disasters and famine - along with this general calorie deficit mentioned above - are very much feminist issues

LassWiTheDelicateAir Thu 23-Nov-17 08:58:43

So no source for this?

deydododatdodontdeydo Thu 23-Nov-17 09:03:54

Would be interested to see if child mortality rates for girls was higher than boys.
The hogging of food certainly would be believable.
I'm not sure such statistics exist though.

DJBaggySmalls Thu 23-Nov-17 09:32:03

This matches what my older female relatives told me. My Mum was considered the rebel of the family, she was one of 10 children, all older brothers. She was taken in and raised by an aunt.
When she married into my Dads family, the women were slaves to the men. They would eat first, then the kids would be fed, then the women would get whatever scraps were left over.
When they cooked a family meal, she'd use portion control to hold an entire chicken back for the women.

In the past in Austria, women weren't even allowed their own plate; they had to eat from their husbands. Obviously a good wife wouldn't let their man go hungry so they pretended to eat like birds. (thats always been a complement for the way women eat.)

Because of my mothers example I always assumed that was a polite fiction, and women would actually eat behind the scenes in private. But I was in an antique shop recently and there was a rack of Victorian womens button boots; they were around a size 3.

FizzyWaterAndElderflower Thu 23-Nov-17 09:43:12

Still a thing in India

makeourfuture Thu 23-Nov-17 09:48:54

Still a thing in India

Crap my thought process is westernised....

deydododatdodontdeydo Thu 23-Nov-17 10:00:28

Eating like a bird is a compliment? I don't think so. Usually it's the opposite - with the implication the woman should eat more.

MsGameandWatching Thu 23-Nov-17 10:07:29

I can well believe it. My Mum is one of five and often talked of how the majority of food money would be spent on her Father. A man expected meat daily and the kids got what was left; usually not meat. She says they used to hover near him hoping he’d give them some and the kids dreaded school holidays because at least at school they got FSM so were sure of one good meal a day. This was in the midlands back in the 1950s.

I’d be really interested to read more if anyone can point me in the right direction.

lottiegarbanzo Thu 23-Nov-17 10:24:25

A very detailed source on family income, food, all other expenditure and outcomes in terms of child mortality, in working class families in Lambeth in the Edwardian era is 'Round About a Pound a Week' by Maud Pember Reeves.

In that case, men were certainly given the 'treats', termed 'relish' like a bit of bacon with their breakfast, or some fish with dinner. They were given more food and feeding them enough was a priority, because the family income depended upon their ability to work, mostly not in heavy manual jobs but they worked long hours and many walked miles to and from work, so were at home only to eat and sleep.

Children and women did next best and there was a lot of very basic food e.g. bread and marg, bread and dripping. (There's a whole section on how the do-gooding researchers tried to persuade them to make porridge, as a more nutritious, cheap breakfast - which explains in detail why it's not actually cheap or easy if you've no milk, only one pan and limited fuel and water).

The charts plotting various results are fascinating. What stands out is that the factor correlating to high infant and childhood mortality is quality of housing. Cramped, windowless rooms allowed infectious disease to take hold more easily. Families who prioritised better housing over funeral insurance, clothes and even better food, had better survival rates (that's a very crude summary).

The other really interesting and resonant thing about the book is that it was an investigation into the truth behind the governing class's ideas about how the 'only just managing' WC spent their money. The stand-out result was that the men were a lot less selfish than people assumed.

There was an assumption that WC men spent lots of money on drink and could easily afford more comfortable lives for their families if they just managed their money better - in part based on comfortable MC people doing 'living off minimum wage for a week' style experiments but failing to account for their pre-existing capital, like nice housing, clothes etc. In fact, the men barely drank at all, at most once a week, as they handed over the bulk of their wages to their wives, who then budgeted extremely carefully.

So in that case - and it was a very carefully selected group; no-one in desperate poverty, or with a higher than 'scraping by' wage - there was an accepted level of selfishness amongst men (e.g. if they gained tips through their work they'd keep them for treats and drink, even if they amounted to 5-10% of household income and could have made a difference to the family budget, shoes for a child, pay off short-term debt etc). But, what really comes across is that everyone worked relentlessly hard and did so for the whole family.

So, while I don't doubt the sense of the OP and would be interested to see other examples from other times, places and social segments, the lived reality hasn't always been at he worst end of the selfishness scale by any means.

Mustang27 Thu 23-Nov-17 10:40:31

Ava iv seen this kind of thing , first hand.

Mustang27 Thu 23-Nov-17 10:47:16

Sorry I should say been seen more what @TitaniasCloset we lived and worked on a dairy farm and I easily on weekends and school holidays did as much if not more than my male counterparts and the men still had first dibs and then again at leftovers. There was many times I went hungry due to the “men need more attitude” obviously realistically they do need a higher amount of calories but that’s not what this was just about. It was definitely a pecking order thing.

PricklyBall Thu 23-Nov-17 13:10:07

Adding to the family oral histories, my mother was a girl/teenager during WWII and the post-war rationing that followed. The entire family of five's cheese ration used to go into her father's sandwiches to take to work.

(Though in this case, the plural of anecdote isn't data because he was an abusive bully in all sorts of ways, so this needn't be indicative of a systematic thing. Left my mother with terribly disordered eating patterns, because the food she didn't get and the parental love she didn't get all got tangled up in her mind, so that for her whole adult life food became associated with emotional comfort.)

PricklyBall Thu 23-Nov-17 13:11:57

NB, that probably sounds like a small deal, "so, she didn't get any cheese, so what?", but remember that rations were pretty close to subsistence, and the cheese in the allowance was part of your protein for the week - so she was permanently down on protein week in, week out. I don't know how the portion sizes in general worked out.

DJBaggySmalls Thu 23-Nov-17 13:37:59

PricklyBall If it wasnt endemic then wouldnt it have been told to you as something he insisted on that was really out of the ordinary and outrageous?

Men used to get the first cup of tea out of the pot. That doesnt sound much, but women used to have to dry and reuse tealeaves. They also mixed them with other kinds of hedgerow leaves like blackberry to make them go further.

PricklyBall Thu 23-Nov-17 14:12:54

I see what you're saying, DJ, but actually it's hard to disentangle in the case of my family history. One of my cousins and I have spent time trying to disentangle what went on in the context of "normal for society" versus "normal for that dysfunctional family" (my mum got the emotional abuse, her dad got the physical abuse, our other uncle got both). My mum and her siblings were deep in what I believe the folks on the stately homes threads call FOG - fear, obligation, guilt. And being abused was their normal as children. So it's far from clear that it would have been reported as something really out of the ordinary, even if it was out of the ordinary (think of the threads on the relationships boards where people post "my parents did xyz to me back in the 70s and I wouldn't dream of doing it to my children - is it just a generational thing, or were they bastards even by the standards of the time?"). All of that generation are now dead, so we can't find out for sure.

My hunch is that it was fairly normal, but varied in severity - see Lottie's point on "Round about a pound a week." My granddad consuming all the cheese ration for what must have been the best part of a decade (I think rationing ended in 1951 or thereabouts) was probably at the extreme end of things, but it would have been fairly normal for the man of the house doing the heavy lifting to get larger portions/better cuts/first go at the tea before it was watered down.

Supermansmartersister Thu 23-Nov-17 14:15:07

My DM grew up in a large family just after WW2. The food was dished out to the boys in the family first (although my grandfather apparently didn't take much). They would then either eat first or if my grandmother wanted everyone to eat at the same time (christmas dinner etc) the girls would sit on boxes/suitcases pulled out from elsewhere in the house.

TheSmallClangerWhistlesAgain Thu 23-Nov-17 14:18:24

Auberon Waugh, journalist son of Evelyn Waugh, wrote something quite moving about this, and the end of rationing. Each child was allowed a banana from the first shipment, where he lived at least. His father took the bananas from Auberon and his sister and ate both of them with cream.

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