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Gender, Food and the Body. Reeves-Sanday reading “pulling train” in college fraternities “pulling train” in college fraternities  Reinforces cultural.

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Presentation on theme: "Gender, Food and the Body. Reeves-Sanday reading “pulling train” in college fraternities “pulling train” in college fraternities  Reinforces cultural."— Presentation transcript:

1 Gender, Food and the Body

2 Reeves-Sanday reading “pulling train” in college fraternities “pulling train” in college fraternities  Reinforces cultural values of patriarchy  Creates solidarity between fraternity members  Rite of passage into manhood – communitas  A behavior that is not acceptable by society.

3 Disordered Eating  Reinforces the thin body ideal, in Western cultures, especially for women.  Perceived as primarily a female problem, related to female identity.  A form of solidarity between women.  1993 Canadian study of adolescent women  Is a resistance to the role of social reproduction through the control of consumption of food.  Refusing food breaks down social relationships, especially the family  It reflects the control of food as power.

4 Role of Food and Eating Are of interest to anthropologists regarding the role they play in systems of subsistence, exchange, ritual and the negotiation of social relationships. Are of interest to anthropologists regarding the role they play in systems of subsistence, exchange, ritual and the negotiation of social relationships. Important means through which human beings construct reality. Important means through which human beings construct reality. Reflect social concerns. Reflect social concerns. Instrumental in the construction of gender identity. Instrumental in the construction of gender identity.

5 The Power of Food A primary resource for human biological survival A primary resource for human biological survival Integral part of forming social relations Integral part of forming social relations  Kinship  Gender  Alliances between individuals, families, states  Creates inequalities  Enables humans to adapt to their environment  A tool to transmit culture

6 The Canada Food Guide

7 Food and Gender Division of Labor Division of Labor  Historically, women have been assigned the role of social reproduction, which includes both the production of social relations and biological reproduction.  Procreation and nurturance of future generation.  Food preparation, family nutrition.  Subordinate status – private or domestic realm.  Historically, men have been assigned the role of provider and protector.  A position of power.  Dominant status - public realm.

8 Stereotypical Gendered Roles

9 Gender and Food Women and men are associated with different types of foods and portion sizes: Women and men are associated with different types of foods and portion sizes: Men – heavy foods like meat and potatoes; large portions Men – heavy foods like meat and potatoes; large portions “man-sized” meals “man-sized” meals Foods that ‘stick to your ribs’ Foods that ‘stick to your ribs’ Women – light foods like chicken and salads; small portions; sweets Women – light foods like chicken and salads; small portions; sweets Dainty Dainty Creative and intricate preparation and presentation Creative and intricate preparation and presentation

10 Food Across Cultures Is coded as feminine Is coded as feminine Women associated with the preparation and serving of food. Women associated with the preparation and serving of food. Men associated with the eating of food that others have prepared Men associated with the eating of food that others have prepared Creates a gender hierarchy Creates a gender hierarchy Socialization of gender roles associated with food Socialization of gender roles associated with food American example (Roos, 1995) American example (Roos, 1995) Gurage example (Shack, 1997) Gurage example (Shack, 1997)

11 Socialization of Gender Roles

12 3 rd World “Market Women”

13 Life Cycle Rituals Enforce and reinforce gender status Enforce and reinforce gender status Rites of passage Rites of passage Involves exchange of food Involves exchange of food Production and reproduction of culture Production and reproduction of culture Not static, varies across families, societies, and cultures. Not static, varies across families, societies, and cultures.

14 The Body, Food and Gender Food and eating habits as the embodiment of social issues. Food and eating habits as the embodiment of social issues.  Disordered eating  Anorexia  Bulimia  Obesity  Type 2 diabetes  Heart disease  Hypertension

15 The Body as Historical The body is a symbol – social meanings are inscribed on the body. The body is a symbol – social meanings are inscribed on the body. Social roles and statuses attached to maleness and femaleness. Social roles and statuses attached to maleness and femaleness. Changes in size and shape over time, especially for women. Changes in size and shape over time, especially for women.

16 Victorian Women

17 Modern women and pop icons: Mid-1900s Betty Grable, and Marilyn Monroe

18 Late 1900s: Twiggy and Cindy Crawford

19 Early 2000: Britney Spears and Gwen Stefani

20 Body Shape Across Cultures The thin body ideal does not hold across cultures The thin body ideal does not hold across cultures Samoa, Fiji, Rural Jamaica Samoa, Fiji, Rural Jamaica Sociocentric Sociocentric Egocentric Egocentric

21 Recap Western cultures are patriarchal with capitalist economies based on production, consumption, and profit. Western cultures are patriarchal with capitalist economies based on production, consumption, and profit. Food is a pawn in the political and economic strategies of states and households. Food is a pawn in the political and economic strategies of states and households. Food creates solidarity but also inequalities and subject positions. Food creates solidarity but also inequalities and subject positions.  In industrial societies, there is a problematic link between food and body image. Issues such as “fraternity gang rape” and “disordered eating” are embedded in gender identity and thus socially constructed. Issues such as “fraternity gang rape” and “disordered eating” are embedded in gender identity and thus socially constructed. Gender and food are sources of inequality and power Gender and food are sources of inequality and power


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