food for thought

And Now, a Gender-Defying Photo of a Man and His Cupcake

And Now, a Gender-Defying Photo of a Man and His Cupcake

Photo-illustration: iStockphoto

Today’s skirmish in the battle of the sexes: Hannah Smith-Drelich wonders why female food celebrities are so often photographed “caught in a moment of oral pleasure,” while their male counterparts are never photographed eating. We have to agree that the Food Network dames are often inadvertent performers in corn porn, but come on — our photo of Anthony Bourdain wasn’t suggestive enough? Meanwhile, the Guardian contemplates why, exactly, women so often gravitate toward cupcakes and chocolate (“a study showed a third of women dream about chocolate during the day, compared with only 11% of men”), and men so often crave steak and meat pies (the Guardian is British, mind you).

Some say it’s mostly nature (certain researchers believe chocolate releases dopamine into the female brain and maybe even affects the part of the brain that causes arousal), but others, such as David Bell, author of Consuming Geographies: We Are Where We Eat, say we’re kidding ourselves when we say these habits aren’t nurtured.

"We can explain different gendered eating habits and tastes via an evolutionary story about what men and women 'naturally' do and 'naturally' like," he says, where every choice we make leads back to the need to propagate the species, as Yale's David Katz proposed. Man is the hunter, therefore the breadwinner, the meat eater, the firemaker, the king of barbecues. Woman is the gatherer of vegetables, the salad eater, the nurturer, the homemaker, the cupcake-maker. "And clearly we rely on a set of gendered understandings here, but when we grasp around for reasons, this evolutionary story is all we grab on to. Gender, like nature itself, isn't 'natural', it's something we 'do'. And we do it all the time, which means we do it when we eat. We learn our tastes, and part of that learning is gendered."

So why are women disproportionately crazy for cupcakes? Apparently the little things spark “fragrant visions of a pre-feminist 1950s housewife, baking for pleasure” and as such they’re a "real symbol of femininity, and a camp symbol of a bygone era.” Put differently, they’re a “baked and ironic response, cupcake lovers say, to post-feminist culture.” So it’s safe to assume there’ll be a lot of post-feminists at the Street Sweets truck when it gives away free Scharffen Berger chocolate cupcakes in midtown Manhattan on October 20 and 21 (follow Street Sweets on Twitter for exact locations); but what about the whole manly cupcakes thing? What does that represent? Maybe another instance of dudes pushing women out of the food sphere?

We’ve never been fans of the cupcake craze, but we don’t like gender stereotyping, either; so in the interest of deprogramming you, here’s a dude caught in a moment of oral pleasure with a cupcake.

This Bites: Why Are Women Depicted Differently from Men in Food Photography? [Serious Eats]
The truth about men, women and food [Guardian UK ]

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