EAT YOUR MEAT YOU PUSSY!

Posted on November 11, 2011

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Less than a year ago I was in San Diego hanging out with some friends from High School. We got breakfast burritos from a local spot. It was the “best spot in San Diego,” he said. The burritos were gigantic and delicious. We chatted a bit, ate, and looked out towards the San Diegan sky and shoreline.

We were all finishing up and getting ready to go. I think I made a simple comment like, “Damn, I don’t know if I’ll be able to finish this entire thing.” My girlfriend jokingly said something like: “Come on you pussy,” or “you bitch”, or “you girl…” (something I always found ironic by the way, as women often use their own sex as an insult.)

I knew she was joking, but it got me thinking. In order to be a viewed as man I needed to stuff my stomach to excess. “What in the world does eating have to do with masculinity?” I asked.

IS IT BECAUSE REAL MEN EAT XXL MEATLOAF?


Not surprisingly, I’m not the only person with this question in mind. Soc Images recently tackled this very idea in an article focusing on masculinity and food marketing. And, similar to the image above, the marketing itself is anything but subtle.

Soc Images analyzed New Zealand’s Mammoth Supply Co., whose ad campaign and products aim to make socially deemed “feminized” foods safe for manly consumption. While TV commercials tend to blast us with images of women spooning low-calorie count yogurts down their throats, Mammoth Supply Co.’s yogurt is promised to be “thick and chunky and built to tame a man’s hunger.”

WATCH:

Via Copyranter.

*Does anyone else find that advertisement absurd and hilarious? Or is it actually effective?

In my case, the food I was eating was already “gender-neutral”…so there’s something else going on here. It’s almost like masculinity and suffering go hand in hand, a phenomenon I’ve also observed with alcohol consumption. I remember during my freshman year the boys who drank Smirnoff Ice were considered huge pussies, despite the fact that Smirnoff Ice had the same alcohol content as a Bud Light or Natural Ice. Everyone drank the same amount of alcohol, but it felt more manly to stomach the disgusting, watered-down corn beer or take shots of Whiskey straight with no chaser.

And the idea of gendered food transcends quantity, marketing, foul tastes and chunk, too. While researching articles for this piece I found multiple topics pertaining specifically to meat consumption and masculinity, many of which use “scientific data” to back up their claims. These articles essentially posit that men love meat because they needed protein in their more “primitive, hunter days.” An interesting argument, but does it still apply today? From a cultural standpoint, absolutely. I texted my vegetarian friend for some insight:

“Dude nothing sucks as much as being a veggie in a group of regular dudes. End up coming out with a veggie sandwich at a cheese steak joint. I still really feel uncomfortable in those situations…there is a pretty interesting link between food and masculinity…it’s pretty interesting how it works. I remember for my cousin’s bachelor party they sent out an email saying: ‘We’re heading to a steakhouse on night 2 because what man doesn’t like a good steak?”

“Vegetables are for girls… If your instincts tell you a vegetarian diet isn’t manly, you’re right.” (Men’s Health, 2000)

The cultural cues are everywhere. Aren’t all men supposed to love the idea of standing behind a grill, BBQ’ing hamburgers, hot dogs, juicy steaks, while watching the game and sipping on a beer?  Why is that and where does this idea come from? Movies, TV? More, is this the result of an on-going sexual power struggle, as Craig Stanford suggests in The Hunting Apes: Meat Eating and the Origins of Human Behavior:

“When the two sexes are involved in the power struggle, the physically dominant sex often controls a resource and therefore controls female reproduction as well.”

Is it all a facade? Is it simply a false image that holds no scientific truth, but gives men the feeling of doing something manly? Perhaps.  Brent Kim at Livable Future Blog  discusses new evidence found by researchers that question whether the effects of meat consumption even coincide with our ideas of Western masculinity today:

Monkeys and marketing aside, researchers have begun to elucidate the measurable effects of meat consumption on the qualities typically associated with maleness. One recent study suggests consumption of meat products and high-fat dairy products may be associated with lower sperm count, reduced sperm motility and abnormal sperm. Among similar findings, increased maternal beef consumption may inhibit sexual development in young males, reducing sperm concentrations in later adulthood

Prior studies have linked increased meat consumption – particularly red meat – to obesity and diabetes,cancercardiovascular disease and increased mortality. The high saturated fat content of some meats can raise total cholesterol, increasing the risk of erectile dysfunction. Although definitions of maleness vary by culture, obesity, disease, impotence and a shorter lifespan are hardly the qualities attributed to our icons of masculinity.

If research and culture continue to head in the direction of being health-conscious, does that mean the image of the masculine carnivorous male will change as well? Or, maybe it’s already transforming and evolving as we speak. In an article in theguardian, Barbara Ellen looks at the masculinity food-craze from a comparable perspective, arguing that it actually takes a real man to say he enjoys tofu:

“In this hostile, ultra-macho, morally arid climate, to stand up and be counted as a male vegetarian must require cojones of immense size, much bigger balls, in fact, than your average carnivorous wimp, who just goes along with the crowd. So pity him no longer, for it could be that the male vegetarian is suddenly looking kind of sexy again.”

My vegetarian friend might be happy to hear that.

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