Glimpses into the culture’s skewed views on gender and consumption habits.
“Yes, i realize that WHAT we eat is a personal decision, but WHO we eat is not”. – Kim Flaherty
Humanity is tribal at its core. From an anthropological perspective, we have always sought out a certain level of homogeneity between those with whom we associate, and we seek security, comfort, and affirmation within our own tribal circles. This sociological phenomenon is deeply felt in regards to how we define, categorize, and consume certain foods with respect to particular gender norms.
I stumbled upon an ad today when I was browsing the daily news, and while it wasn’t entirely surprising in theme and tone, it did catch me off guard a bit. It was an advertisement for a Dr. Pepper brand of soda, and while I don’t know the exact name of the soda itself, it involved being only 10 calories and being “for men”. Now, perhaps I’m a bit behind the times in terms of how we divide soda consumption (the destructive health issues surrounding their consumption, I’m well aware of), but I has under the impression that sodas were inherently gender-neutral. But what really raised my eyebrows was the tagline at the bottom corner of the advert: “Click if you like bacon”. This bit of advertisement, to the best of my understanding, was making an explicit connection between men, this soda, and bacon.
This form of messaging smacks of the themes that Carol Adams succinctly highlighted in her work “The Sexual Politics of Meat” , and the takeaway from this messaging is that men are to consume bacon, and presumably wash it down with a can of low-calorie (but still manly!) soda. This form of messaging also reminds me of the work of Dr. Will Tuttle, where he notes that ever since we have become a herding culture, it has been the duty of men to domesticate, dominate, and oppress non-human animals for whatever resources they can provide us with. Never mind the fact that we’ve known for decades that even moderate amounts of red meat can cause terrifyingly high levels of heart disease, which is (by far) the number one killer of men in America, with levels of mortality rising around the world as other countries adopt our dietary habits. Tuttle reminds us that it has been the norm for centuries for older men to teach the younger generation to suppress their internal compass of compassion, in order to be “dominant”.
We have created a culture that insists that it is the domain of men to consume dangerously high levels of animal proteins, which we conclusively know that these actions foster a number of physiological dangers, including but not limited to a number of diseases that derive from this behavior, as well as the highly increased mortality rate. What does it say about our culture’s definition of masculinity when we glorify making cruel, unhealthy, and selfish choices?