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Gendered representations of food in the media

Hey everyone,

I am in the preliminary stages of a little discourse analysis project I would like to do regarding how foods are gendered and represented in the media. So, for example, the yogurt commercials- yogurt is often represented as a inherently "female" food simply by the vast majority of people in the commercials.
So, chowhounds, can you think of any commercials/ print ads/ TV episodes/ movie scenes where:
-a food is presented as being directed at either a man or a woman (i.e Special K is another one that comes to mind)
- women or men making specific food choices perhaps related to their gender and the social expectations that come along with it (i.e. women ordering a salad, men ordering steak etc)
-women engaged in gendered food roles (ie. women allowing men to eat first, giving men the bigger piece of meat etc) and ditto with men with their respective "roles" (ie. males expecting dinner on table when they come home, men eating before women etc.)

I would also be interested in examples where these stereotypes/expectations are resisted.

Thank you so much for your help! This should be a very interesting project.


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  1. I hope you're familiar with the meme "women smiling while eating salad". Seems to fit perfectly!

    1. Well in general food for women are always have like guilt attached with it. Like why yogurt is always associated with women because it's not fattening and they don't have to feel guilty about liking it. Or if it's more indulgent food (like chocolate) then it's always seen as a treat, something really special. Dove chocolate ads are a good example of what I'm talking about.

      Food marketed to men (well the only thing I can think of that is male targeted is beer at the moment) is more complimentary to the men like "yea you go drink this beer because you're AWESOME!".

      3 Replies
      1. re: AngelSanctuary

        Is the Dos XX 'most interesting man' commercial aimed just at men? The central character is a man, but who's attention is caught? men who identify with him, or women who are attracted to such a man? There's a thread discussing that commercial.

        1. re: paulj

          Was that thread deleted? I can't locate it. Women were clearly responding the most.

      2. My guess is that the yogurt - women connection arose years ago from the idea that yogurt is a healthy diet food, and the women have more interest in dieting. So marketing is aimed at women. A vaguely recall that years ago yogurt was being touted as some that very old but healthy men and women in the Caucuses were eating.

        Again, Spacial K is being presented as a diet food.

        Commercials have a specific market in mind, and choose actors that fit with the message. Koolaid is (or at least was) marketed with kids themes, Metamusil with seniors.

        My guess is the movies, if they present food in gender specific ways, they are reflecting, not driving, the practice in commercials (except for paid product placements). The only movie food association that comes to mind is Resese pieces in ET (an age specific placement).

        8 Replies
        1. re: paulj

          Well now yogurt is not only a healthy diet food, it helps you POOP! Yay!
          Obviously men don't have a problem pooping. They are pooping champs. (like the dog food commercial)

          1. re: pdxgastro

            A real man can go under any circumstances.

            1. re: pdxgastro

              Does it supposedly have a laxative effect (must say I never noticed that), or is it that it is being promoted for healthy gut bacteria/conditions? I think there is a difference.

              1. re: babette feasts

                Yogurt isnt a laxative, it just promotes healthy gut bacteria which can promote regular (not excessive like as in diarrhea) bowel movements.

                1. re: hungryabbey

                  Yes, that is what I thought, but I have seen at least one other post on chowhound recently suggesting it was a laxative, and was wondering where that idea came from. Perhaps just poor wording by the posters.

                  1. re: babette feasts

                    have you all actually seen any of those yogurt commercials featuring jamie lee curtis? many of them are really hilarious, with women talking about regularity and how the yogurt helps "things move through" their systems, making tai-chi like arm motions which are presumed to represent the flow through their lower intestines and bowels. many of them also talk about "that bloated feeling" etc. i do get the impression it's supposed to appeal to the dieting/laxative abusing female population? sort of dubiously promising weight-loss type effects without actually explicitly (fraudulently) making weight-loss claims. the first several times i saw the commercials they went over my head, it was *very* unclear what the company was actually selling. i think the ones currently running are pretty toned down in comparison to the earlier ones.

                    there is also no way they are marketing to men... or lower/working class women, etc.

                    1. re: soupkitten

                      I believe that they had to tone down the commericials because the FDA investigated them, I don't think it was by choice.

                      1. re: NE_Elaine

                        that would make sense to me, the ads were off-the-hook. nevertheless, apparently the product is wildly popular, though almost exclusively in the demographic it aims the ads at.

          2. This is a great topic! I hate that women are always portrayed as needing to lose weight, or desiring to ...
            BBQ seems to be mostly a male thing..the grill is supposedly the male domain.

            7 Replies
            1. re: cheeseisheaven

              Would a commercial featuring a dieting man work? with what audience? What's the weight of women in diet food commercials? Most trim, right? The after successful weight loss, not the before? LIkewise beer commercials are more likely to show trim muscular men, not ones with a beer belly (unless its a humorous one).

              The actors involved in commercials are idealized in more ways than just gender - age, weight, profession, etc.

              1. re: paulj

                Commercials with men dieting that come to mind almost all have women coaxing, coercing, or tricking them into food choices. Fiber bars disguised as candy bars, for instance, or yogurt that tastes like key lime pie. If men diet in commercials on purpose they want good tasting food that will lower their cholesterol and not offend their testosterone levels.

                I was going to suggest Jack Links Beef Jerky (the Messin' With Sasquatch series in particular) as male-centric but there actually are one or two episodes where women get something to eat. Almost almost entirely guys though.

                1. re: paulj

                  Maybe getting away from food a bit, but there are definitely commercials for diet "supplements" that are aimed at men. And one of those diet meal plans has a diet for men. These are not ads that are shown at prime time on major networks, but if you watch the sports networks or other male-focused channels on cable you will see these ads.

                  1. re: paulj

                    One example in commercials of a man losing wieght was Jared Fogle and the Subway ads


                  2. re: cheeseisheaven

                    Yes. When Summertime starts to roll around you start to see commercials where men are wearing aprons...in the backyard. Brats, sausages, BBQ sauces, hot dogs, are marketed as "manly" things to cook. In our household, the grill is mine and I am its *master*. My husband practically has to ask permission to use it.

                    1. re: Justpaula

                      YES, this reminds me of another good example.. the V8 commercials.. where the woman happily eats her veggies, and the man always has a big plate of meat (the same meal but with meat vs veg), and the woman has to give hima snack on the head to get him to eat the veggies.
                      I guess my question is-- aside from the products explicitly aimed at wt loss (special k), why are "healthy" foods for women, and "high fat" foods for men?
                      As a dietitian, as far as im concerned, this has huge implications for health promotion strategies.

                      1. re: hungryabbey

                        Aren't you also concerned that most diet ads are of questionable value? Should anyone, man or woman, be getting their diet advise from a company that is trying to sell them on the latest fad?

                        Ultimately companies advertise in ways that they think will increase their sales. Ads are seldom public service announcements. Can you think of a good-health-diet item that could, and should, be marketed to men? And with what theme?

                        Others have mentioned sales pitches such as women nagging men, or ads on sports channels.

                  3. I think the recent emergence of "diet like" sodas for men is interesting - Dr.Pepper 10 comes to mind. These commercials specifically state theyre "not for women"!
                    Coke zero tried this when it came out - with black cans and masculine oriented ad spots.
                    Soda companies felt that they hadn't cornered a market of men who would LIKE to drink diet sodas but "can't" because they're seen as too feminine...

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: emmekin

                      That is a really great point- that pretty much could garner a dissertation in itself. Thanks for reminding me of that.

                      1. re: hungryabbey

                        You're welcome. Even more interesting is the effect this sort of thing has on children - I happened to actually really enjoy the new Dr.Pepper 10 and have bought it on occaison ( I also happen to be a woman). During one grocery trip for a bbq I went to pick up a 2 liter of it for myself and my 10 year old daughter and 7 year old neice both commented "mommy/aunt! You can't drink that! That's for boys!"...
                        Which brings the larger question of what sort of conditioning theyre on the receiving end of in regard to food choices as a whole?
                        If dr.pepper 10 is "for boys", what food is for girls?
                        I think I may ask my daughters (8 and 10) these questions today. Id love to hear what they consider "man food" and "woman food".

                        1. re: hungryabbey

                          And thank you for bringing this topic up! I appreciate the reminder to keep a close watch on what my young impressionable female children might be hearing/learning.
                          It is definitely time for a conversation!

                          1. re: hungryabbey

                            One more thing: a few years ago alton brown's show "Good Eats" had 2 episodes titled "the man food show" and "another man food show", the first being about "food best eaten in a la-z-boy recliner (in front of the game?)" with corn dogs and burger slides making an appearance.
                            The second episode featured a clueless man who couldn't make his own breakfast so alton taught him to prepare bacon/eggs/coffee/etc.
                            Might be worthwhile to check those episodes out - they're both on youtube in entirety.

                            1. re: emmekin

                              hm good find. I will look those up.
                              Please report back on your daughters' responses. While qualitative research with children is incredibly difficult (if you have ever transcribed anything before you can only imagine how difficult this is with little ones who's sentences often don't make total sense), it is SO interesting to see what they're thinking

                          2. re: emmekin

                            I recently saw a rerun of "How I Met Your Mother" where one of the guys admittednto liking fruity drinks and was teased about ordering one. While this straight guy was visiting a gay bar with friends, he felt liberated after someone there ordered one "because I can." Interesting. I guess the guys buying black soda because it is marketed as manly arn't the ones ordering strawberry kiwi beverages.

                          3. Given that Chow.com itself is part of the media, an interesting example was Chow.com's ill-considered (and now retracted) "Lesbians Who Grill" project, which dived into the deep end of gender stereotypes. See http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/839666

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: drongo

                              really interesting post. Thanks for sharing.

                            2. Okay so it is pretty clear to me that as far as gendered food goes, it is intimately tied to the whole diet culture. Society has decided that only women want to (need to?) lose weight (which is very interesting in itself for me as a dietitian), and so they have marketed products appropriately. It seems that dieting/monitoring/controlling one's weight/appearance is a woman's problem, and therefore an act that is too "feminine" for "real men" to want to be affiliated with. I don't have a lot of academic experience in marketing, so I am drawing on some very thin knowledge (which of course I will have to expand on) but commercials aiming to sell something try to appeal to an audience by presenting the product within a desirable lifestyle/life (i.e. if you use Axe body spray, you will be wealthy, sophisticated, a woman-magnet etc.)
                              So then, of course, the only way to get the men on board with any of these diet/health products is to play up some of its non-diet attributes (i.e. its like a candy bar etc.)

                              Okay- so now is the perhaps more difficult aspect of my request, which is regarding gendered representations of food CHOICE. So I am thinking of any movies/TV episodes (maybe commercials are less ideal as you have all pointed out, that they are trying to sell something) where the woman (or man) is conciously/unconciously monitoring what she chooses to eat, or how she chooses to eat.
                              Your thoughts?

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: hungryabbey

                                There's a well known Sex and the City episode where Miranda can't stop eating chocolate cake, even after she put it in trash, so she finally pours dish soap all over it.

                                Sadly, been there, done that.

                              2. In the media, women are the dessert and chocolate eaters while men are the meat pitmasters.

                                However, in commercials, men are often portrayed as the goofs that can't get anything done while the women are the one's that save the day.

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: dave_c

                                  Commercials reflecting reality, for once :-D

                                  1. re: linguafood

                                    Sigh. Suffrage to insufferable in 92 short years...

                                    1. re: Veggo


                                      Yeah, things definitely started going downhill when women got the right to vote.

                                    2. re: linguafood

                                      lol... Goofs I guess that applies to male hipsters.

                                    1. re: Rilke

                                      ha yes i like that one.

                                      So what about movies, everyone? I'm thinking I want to move away from the obvious marketing schemes going on in commercials.. and think about how women/men are portrayed in movies with regards to eating behaviours.

                                      1. re: hungryabbey

                                        Well "The Full Monty" surprised me when it showed a guy comfort-eating (a chocolate bar, no less). Of COURSE it was the token fat guy . . . *sigh.*

                                        1. re: hungryabbey

                                          Ron Swanson (of Parks & Rec) has a very decidedly "manly" diet, mostly steaks, eggs and bacon. But there is another male character (Chris) who is a health foodie who grills portabella caps and claims his favorite food is fresh lettuce. Hmm.

                                          Here is an interesting article about an obnoxious trope a friend of mine first noticed on Gilmore Girls. I never watched that show, but when she brought it up, I started reading about it:
                                          Lots of other stuff around the 'net about that.

                                          1. re: Rilke

                                            Yes.. I see this as a strange and dare I say disgusting expectation put on women. I have informally surveyed a bunch of men who will plainly admit that when a woman eats "like a man" aka. orders the burger, not the salad, its hot, but in the same breath they will also tell me they want a girl to be thin and fit. Um, talk about having cake and eating it too. That is a recipe for an eating disorder in my mind.
                                            So these characters seem to be resisting the stereotypes, probably in an attempt to appeal to viewers. Men will want them, women will want to be them, because eating fatty man foods is fun, sexy, and something we all wish we could identify with.
                                            Isn't that why we watch TV sometimes? To pseudo-live vicariously through the characters or at least, in some way, connect?

                                            Can anyone think of any shows/movies where these stereotypes are played out? if my theory is correct (in my mind), perhaps it would be in situations where we (as women) are supposed to feel bad for that character, or dislike that character, rather than want to be that character, where we may see that.

                                            One possible minor example that I can recall off hand (and oy, I am slightly embarassed to even mention it) is in the Hilary Duff movie, A Cinderella Story, where they are at the diner and the "bad girl" asks for something fat free, sugar free etc. and Hilary says "water" or something like that...

                                            1. re: hungryabbey

                                              Hmmm. Does Ally McBeal count? I mean, just for the obvious lack of eating on the female cast/character side?

                                              1. re: linguafood

                                                I think that definitely counts.. I am not familiar with the show, but can you think of any episodes where she was with others who WERE eating? its just interesting to see the juxtaposition

                                                1. re: hungryabbey

                                                  No, sorry, no particular episodes... too long ago.

                                            2. re: Rilke

                                              On Parks & Rec, Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler's character) has a limitless appetite for sweets, particularly waffles smothered in whipped cream from J.J.'s Diner. She usually shocks all the male characters by how much she can eat, but she never gains weight either.

                                              Another character on the show, Tom Haverford (played by Aziz Ansari), is more of a stereotypical "metrosexual" -- he is portrayed as 100% straight and always pursuing women, but he's short and thin, into fashion, loves shopping, has a meticulously-decorated apartment, and prefers more "feminine" food like sushi. He's very much a "big city" kind of guy, but trapped in a small town and contrasted against manly, carnivorous Ron and girly, sugar-loving Leslie.

                                              1. re: Big Bad Voodoo Lou

                                                I actually don't think Leslie is as bad an example as the women in the slideshow, because 1. she is not rail thin, 2. she moves a lot (yes, she has a desk, but it's made very clear just how much she isn't in it), and 3. she is also shown on multiple occasions eating salads. She expresses a dislike for them, but she eats them.

                                                1. re: Rilke

                                                  You're not wrong about any of that, but the waffle thing is a pretty funny running gag. Actually, I think Leslie is a fantastically-written three-dimensional female character, probably one of the best on any show (and far better than the neurotic, binge-eating, self-deprecating yet rail-thin Liz Lemon on 30 Rock).

                                                  1. re: Big Bad Voodoo Lou

                                                    We are in agreement. The waffle thing adds to Leslie, rather than being annoying, because she is so complex and believable. And I cannot stand Liz Lemon either.

                                                2. re: Big Bad Voodoo Lou

                                                  I was struck by your description of sushi as feminine. I don't disagree. But it made me wonder: have I ever seen a female sushi chef? I never have. (And I eat sushi regularly.)

                                                  1. re: drongo

                                                    I never thought of sushi as "feminine". I wonder what the Japanese would think about that.

                                                    1. re: huiray

                                                      I had many Japanese students tell me that eating ice cream is considered feminine in Japan. Men rarely eat ice cream, and when they do, it's usually because they were persuaded to do so by their teen-aged daughters or girlfriends. I found that fascinating.

                                                      1. re: woodleyparkhound


                                                        As for sushi, it is still true that sushi-ya places in Japan are *definitely* thought of as male preserves, and the "intrusion" of women as sushi itamae there is transgressive in the culture.

                                                    2. re: drongo

                                                      "Women can't be sushi chefs because their hands are too warm"<-something I heard. Topic for another thread, perhaps?

                                                      1. re: drongo

                                                        I didn't mean anything by it. I love sushi, but most of the time, I see groups of women in their 20s and 30s going out for sushi (probably to be followed by frozen yogurt or ice cream, heh heh). I have cool guy friends who were always willing to go out for sushi, but many of them were pescatarians, so it was one of our best options. (We're all in the U.S., if that wsn't obvious enough.)

                                                        My point is that you'll never see a beer commercial or a movie about "dude bros" where the dude bros go out for sushi -- not when there's a steakhouse or a sports bar available. And the Tom Haverford character on Parks & Rec is a fussy, metrosexual guy who wishes he was in New York or LA, but he'll eat sushi in his Midwestern small town since it's the best he can get.

                                                        1. re: Big Bad Voodoo Lou

                                                          As far as manly sushi goes, there's always the punks in Repo Man.

                                                          In the real world I see guys go for the sushi table at the Chinese buffet frequently enough, even here in Arkansas. But like wine, there is a perception that sushi is upwardly mobile food, and actually going to a sushi joint would be putting on airs.

                                                          1. re: ennuisans

                                                            Let's get sushi and not pay! And...now I'm off to try and find my old Black Flag cassettes. They're definitely around here somewhere.

                                                      2. re: Big Bad Voodoo Lou

                                                        Did anyone mention Ron Swanson's love of steak? He drives miles for his favorite steak houses and has a poster of Charles Mulligan's Steak House in his office. And Ron is a very butch/stereotypical manly man. The Ron/Steak theme is ongoing in the series, too. Here's one example: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1636242/

                                                        1. re: Big Bad Voodoo Lou

                                                          I like sushi.

                                                          Real men eat anything they want.

                                                      3. re: hungryabbey

                                                        Seen Henry Jaglom's "Eating"?


                                                        You oughta. Worth it for the passing-the-cake scene alone, a portion of which is at 2:11 in the trailer.

                                                          1. re: hungryabbey

                                                            You're welcome. And thanks for reminding me of that movie - I haven't seen it since I was an angry young film student (still angry, no longer young).

                                                            1. re: small h

                                                              lol I am going to try to find it at one of our indie video stores, I am really looking forward to it.

                                                    3. I was always thought it strange that on the Andy Griffith show, Andy was supremely capable at most everything except cooking. I thought it asinine that they would script the show to make him incapable of pouring a bowl of cereal or making toast.

                                                      1. Interesting article on this topic in the Observer (the Grauniad's Sunday edition): http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyl...

                                                        Btw, it mentions the book "Real Men Don't Eat Quiche" (but not the essential follow-on, "Real Dogs Don't Eat Leftovers", lol).

                                                        1. It seems to me this is not that different from what you asked last time: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/754957 and is just an extension of that "talk" you said you were to give? After all, it could be said that the gender representations in the media reflect the gender "expectations" of the society at large...

                                                          Did you ever actually give that talk/presentation?

                                                          There're also these related threads:

                                                          and that infamous tangentially related thread:
                                                          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/802570 :-)

                                                          ETA: Related to drongo's citation of the Observer article - have you read these below?

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: huiray

                                                            ha, I forgot that I asked that back then. And yes, I did give that talk- it was very well received!
                                                            I guess I am now revisiting a lot of the media representations of gendered food, but what I am realizing is the difference here, is that I would like to move away from the way food is marketed to men vs women, and more about how we see food choices portrayed for women vs men. I like that example above of the movie "Eating"- all these women passing up the cake. Very interesting.
                                                            What I would love to see is something like the what TorontoJo mentioned at the beginning of the thread- that is, women ordering salad, men ordering beef/steak etc. OR the man and woman resisting these stereotypes..

                                                            Thank you for those links, I will spend some time going through them tomorrow.

                                                          2. I follow Bon Apetit on Pinterest and this blog entry just appeared on my feed. Scroll down to see the photo and description for the Man-Style Beef Stroganoff, 1968. From the BA Blog - this dish was to be prepped by a "smart girl" looking to "help along a budding romance." http://www.bonappetit.com/blogsandfor...

                                                            Manwich – there was a controversial ad that was pulled just a couple of years ago http://www.adweek.com/adfreak/manwich...

                                                            Weight Watchers recent campaign, “lose weight like a man” with Charles Barkley.

                                                            The Skinny Girl cocktail brand.

                                                            Warm Delights always show women indulging http://www.bettycrocker.com/products/...

                                                            Miller 64 ads with men running and working out who then reward themselves with Miller 64 – diet beer.

                                                            The Youtube Hungry Channel’s Casserole Queens – they dress in kitschy 50’s housewife dress and make casseroles – UGH!

                                                            2 Replies
                                                            1. re: EM23

                                                              OT, but holy crap! The nutrition labels / ingredient lists for those Betty Crocker Warm Delights are like a roll call for everything you shouldn't eat.

                                                              1. re: EM23

                                                                lol those are all good ones.. what would happen if g-d forbid a man drank one of those skinny girl cocktails?
                                                                i saw a good example today- it was a McDonalds commercial for the $1 drink days.. the final shot of a family showed the "father" eating a burger and fries, and the "mother" eating a salad. Any more like t his?

                                                              2. Have a beer.I'll get back to you later

                                                                1. Regarding gender food roles, guess who eats first in the Romney house http://pinterest.com/pin/695243879686...

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: EM23

                                                                    ha amazing!!! I have this bookmarked

                                                                  2. It's easy to find food stereotypes in the media, but maybe a little more difficult is what is the basis of those stereotypes?

                                                                    Are they based upon the "olden days" where men worked hard and was the primary bread winner in the family? As a result, men would consume more calories and will burn those calories off digging ditches, working the fields or out in the manufacturing work force?

                                                                    13 Replies
                                                                    1. re: dave_c

                                                                      I think it may reflect that hundreds of years ago only the wealthy could afford to eat meat on a regular basis, and men controlled all the wealth. So the man of the manor and maybe the eldest son feasted on beef while the women of the household got some field greens.

                                                                      1. re: dave_c

                                                                        I think what's more interesting is that they are reinforced, despite changes to our economy and work gender roles. I mean, I probably "burn more calories" than my male partner (he just sits in meetings, in the car, or in his office all day, I am walking, moving, cooking etc.), and I know our situation is not unique.
                                                                        I could spend all day thinking about the gender of foods. I really do think it has more to do with expectation of women's bodies than their actual nutritional needs. While yes, men do generally need more calories (based on body weight and muscle mass), they don't need ONLY certain good groups and not others. That is, they need BOTH meat/protein (Male) and vegetables (female) to be healthy. Surprise, surprise, but same with women. So I do think the association of women with salads or other low calorie foods (yogurt, diet bars etc) is based on the social pressure for women to be thin. Men don't really have that pressure. If anything, men's pressure is to be muscular and big (which the media seems to suggest happens from eating meat).

                                                                        1. re: hungryabbey

                                                                          I've been re-watching "The Sopranos" on DVD recently and it's amazing how many references there are to eating steaks, they are pretty macho guys, lol.

                                                                          1. re: hungryabbey

                                                                            Conventionally, men are not under pressure to diet because that would be seen as a feminine behavior. It would actually be good if more men dieted. Maybe they do, they just hide it. It seems that in US culture, when women start doing something--as women seem to have more leeway in standard acceptable behavior patterns, men stop doing/wearing/making/having it--it appears that the mere presence of women doing/wearing something makes men doubt their masculinity (it seems to be a fragile construct). Think of all the clothing that is now seen as feminine (short shorts, tunics, even skirt-like garments, leggings) that once were mens' clothing, but no more. I predict that at some point men will just wear big shapeless burlap sacks--well, maybe not that far. :)
                                                                            As for food, when did they start presenting chocolate as a "women's food"? Men still eat it, but it seems to be marketed toward women in general. Funny, I know a bunch of women who hate chocolate (my mother and granmother among them).

                                                                            1. re: Wawsanham

                                                                              Chocolate and cheesecake, if a bunch of men are dining together nobody is going to order cheesecake (or dessert at all probably).

                                                                              There is a meme that women eat chocolate and cheesecake in response to emotional stress.

                                                                              1. re: redfish62

                                                                                Okay, wait. I have to interject here. I live in a very small college town. I once took myself out for dinner after my last class of the semester, and spotted a group of male students (some of which were mine) at the bar. They ordered burgers, beers.... and cheesecake.

                                                                                I actually asked one of my students about it later - he said that his fraternity buddies save up their money so that they can go there, for burgers and cheesecake. :D

                                                                                It is, for the record, REALLY GOOD CHEESECAKE.

                                                                              2. re: Wawsanham

                                                                                Yes.. I know, I think its so silly to assume that women become coo-coo for chocolate. I don't like chocolate at all (it messes with my palate, and I actually find it too bitter for me, I'd rather have caramel or fruit), where my SO is a choc-o-holic. Now, we in general defy the gender eating rules (I order meat, he orders a salad etc.) but I know we are not abnormal.
                                                                                I am gonna put something out there..
                                                                                many men tell me how much they LOVE it when women let their hair down and devour that burger or poutine or porterhouse. So in that sense, it makes women more attractive to defy some expectations of femininity (well, as long as those acts doesnt make them "fat").
                                                                                In the same vein, would men ordering quiche, or yogurt parfait, or spa salad make them more attractive to women?

                                                                                1. re: hungryabbey

                                                                                  In younger days, I did whatever it took. Always. Anything.

                                                                                  1. re: hungryabbey

                                                                                    Quiche should be considered man food because a quiche has about 82 eggs in it, eat too much of it and you will weigh 300 pounds.

                                                                                    If it makes you fat and gives you a heart attack then it is man food.

                                                                              3. re: dave_c

                                                                                I think that in the "olden days" if the men were working in the fields or digging ditches the women were also doing plenty of physical work as well. No labor-saving appliances or convenience foods back then. I think pretty much everyone ate what they had available and were happy if they got enough.

                                                                                The gender stereotypes are more recent and reflect a greater affluence and choice of foods. Also, media images that idealize women who are unnaturally thin.

                                                                                1. re: pamf

                                                                                  Reminder that men are 37% larger than women, and eat proportionally more.

                                                                                  1. re: Veggo

                                                                                    Yes, I agree this is true. But I'm not necessarily interested in men having MORE on their plate or eating MORE of their meal when they go out to eat with a woman. I am interested in the specific types of foods one gender chooses over the other. And yes, while I am using the word "choice", I don't know that it is 100% free choice (if we factor in the social pressure etc.)

                                                                                    1. re: hungryabbey

                                                                                      If portion sizes are fixed, men will gravitate toward higher calorie dishes.

                                                                              4. I remember when "Real Men Don't Eat Quiche" came out around 1982 or so I was seriously annoyed because I like quiche. Suddenly all the guys in college made a big show out of hating quiche with a passion that knew no bounds.

                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                1. re: redfish62

                                                                                  So does my husband! I call it "Bacon Pie," he smiles, and we both dig in.

                                                                                2. Anyone here old enough to remember the book, Real Men Don't Eat Quiche (1982)? My husband didn't eat quiche for more than a decade after it came out, even though quiche was something I made occasionally and which he always liked. Dumb. He didn't actually read the book (naturally), just heard the late night talk show hosts make jokes about it. It was something of a cultural phenomenon at the time.
                                                                                  I don't know if it's linked to any media stereotype particularly, but, as a woman and "role model" to two "graceful" adult daughters (and a son), I do not eat monster burritos or burgers with more than one patty (even if I'm alone).
                                                                                  Not much of a beer drinker, either, but I don't judge... Ours is a family that watches football and other sports, and I couldn't begin to estimate how many beer commercials I have seen in my life. Finish this jingle: "From the land of sky blue waters..."

                                                                                  5 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: jilkat25

                                                                                    Hamm's Beer, my uncle was a sales rep for them back in the day, in Chicago.

                                                                                    1. re: jilkat25

                                                                                      My rejoinder, and I'm showing my age, is that

                                                                                      Real men eat anything they want!

                                                                                      1. Some things I've observed... In American food media, anyway! It's been different in every country I've lived in, really... But since I've recently repatriated to the USA, here goes.

                                                                                        Food ads that target women frequently tout a product's nutritional/health properties (good source of calcium/vitamins/etc, low calorie, probiotic, high fiber, whole grain, all natural, no preservatives, etc), or based on its convenience/ease of preparation (without compromising health/nutrition). Food ads targeted at men tend to promote a product based on its taste/enjoyment factor. There are a few ads out there that try to sell things to women based on taste/enjoyment, but almost all of them do so in a way that sells the product as a "permissible 'cheat'" (Magnum Mini ice cream bars, say).

                                                                                        Food ads aimed at women frequently sell the product as something she'd be feeding to someone else - a child, a partner, whatever. Food ads selling food to men tend to market the product directly to the viewer to eat himself.

                                                                                        More fast-food commercials seem aimed at men, especially young men, than seem aimed at women. I'm thinking lately of Wendy's (especially the Baconator) and Taco Bell (promoting their late hours).

                                                                                        In my observation, desserts/sweets seem to be marketed almost exclusively to women.
                                                                                        Here's a list of some products/businesses I can think of off the top of my head:

                                                                                        AIMED AT MEN:
                                                                                        fast food
                                                                                        protein supplements
                                                                                        energy drinks

                                                                                        AIMED AT WOMEN
                                                                                        yogurt (ubiquitous these days, thanks chobani)
                                                                                        fruit/vegetable products
                                                                                        laughing cow cheese
                                                                                        smirnoff flavored vodkas (lately, marshmallow and whipped cream flavors - wtf?! lol)
                                                                                        instant breakfast
                                                                                        (whole grain) cereal (lately, chex gluten free, etc... just think, kix! kid tested, mother approved!)
                                                                                        jif peanut butter (choosy moms choose jif)
                                                                                        kids' foods (mott's for tots applesauce, pudding snack cups, etc)
                                                                                        organic/all-natural products (ie, oscar meyer's natural deli meats line)
                                                                                        blue bunny sweet freedom ice cream
                                                                                        meal replacement bars/drinks (ie, carnation instant breakfast)
                                                                                        jimmy dean delights breakfast sandwiches

                                                                                        this is just the first few things that came to mind. fascinating topic. i may be back later :)

                                                                                        9 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: chartreauxx

                                                                                          this is a great post, charteauxx!
                                                                                          What would be your thoughts outside the advertisement world (well not the explicit ad world, I mean).
                                                                                          Any thoughts about how movies/shows portray womens food choices vs mens food choices (specifically the juxtaposition between these)? Any examples come to mind?

                                                                                          1. re: hungryabbey

                                                                                            ah! even more fun! i'll start with films, i guess? i'll just go with ones i've seen recently, and i'll try to stay to non-food-oriented films to start - i'll also stick to american-made films, as i think switching cultures complicates the issue. what have i watched lately?

                                                                                            - scott pilgrim vs the world
                                                                                            1) the scene in her apartment; she offers him tea, she has a bunch of kinds of tea, he's never heard of these things and asks if she's making them up (woman: has and drinks lots of tea. man: tea is not something men drink.)
                                                                                            2) date night at his apartment: the gay man can cook, the straight man is incapable of making anything beyond garlic bread. the gay man has cooked bacon, which the straight man wants.
                                                                                            3) veganism/vegan police: one of the evil exes is a vegan male. his veganism gives him special powers and makes him superior, but in the end it turns out he's just a big faker. the male vegan angle is played for comedy effect.
                                                                                            4) coke zero: scott pilgrim is made fun of the entire film for having once been seen drinking a coke zero - specifically, in lieu of alcohol (men don't drink diet soda, men drink alcohol)

                                                                                            -miss congeniality
                                                                                            1) the dieting aspect of beauty queens is played for humor
                                                                                            2) sandra bullock's character is the ultimate tomboy; this is amplified by making her a voracious eater (particularly a carnivore), smuggling junk food, etc. other women in the film, beauty queens or not, are depicted as eating either quite daintily or simply not shown eating. men appear in the movie eating more often than women do. women and food in this movie are either involved in a dieting/deprivation relationship, a comedic way to amplify masculinity (bullock), or the issue is circumnavigated entirely.

                                                                                            -how i met your mother
                                                                                            1) part of lily's and robin's comedic value is lies in their appetites for both food and drink. ie, they drink beer just like the guys; lily and the hot dog eating contest story line, etc.

                                                                                            general observations: as a rule, single women in media either are complete junk food hounds who eat anything (shown as funny, usually), or dieting (either shown as funny or more often, simply business as usual)

                                                                                            -when harry met sally
                                                                                            i don't think i need to go into TOO much detail about how OBSESSIVE meg ryan's character is about her ordering habits, and how lax billy crystal's is about eating, well, whatever he fells like at the moment.

                                                                                            i'm sure there's more i'm just kind of blanking on WHAT!

                                                                                            oh. hunger games. whole kettle o' fish there...

                                                                                            1. re: chartreauxx

                                                                                              im curious about your thoughts on the hunger games..

                                                                                              1. re: hungryabbey

                                                                                                **HUNGER GAMES SPOILERS** (in case you somehow haven't read/seen them...)

                                                                                                the hunger games is especially interesting because in some ways, it plays with the gender norms, but doesn't really escape them. katniss, the strong female lead, is a hunter. we hear time and again how she supports her family by bringing in meat. but, a significant watershed event in her life is her first memory of peeta - where he saves her, by giving her bread.

                                                                                                katniss, the solitary, strong, wild woman is a hunter and provides meat. in short, she is a very masculine lead character. prim, her girly sister, also helps provide for the family - in a much gentler, more conventionally feminine way. prim tends a nanny goat, who gives the family milk and cheese. gale, a conventionally masculine male figure, is also a woodsman and a hunter. but peeta, katniss' "true" match, is (if you will), her "feminine" side - he also provides food, but in a less masculine way.

                                                                                                katniss also exposes a more feminine side in the scene where she feeds soup to peeta when he is ill. similarly, when she gives her share of the roast bird to hungry rue. she is filling a mothering role here, as she does in her own family (by bringing in food).

                                                                                                part of the relationship dynamic around her and peeta, i think, can be symbolized in their exchange of nourishment.

                                                                                                there's more i could say, but i'm starting to feel this is excessively long.

                                                                                                peeta saves katniss by giving her bread. so does rue's district (district 11) by sending a gift of bread in katniss' and peeta's darkest hour.

                                                                                                food is a central theme in the dynamic between the various districts and the capitol- much fuss is made of how plentiful and gourmet the food in the capitol is and how scarce it is in the districts. the kinds of food eaten in different districts - including 13 - is described in extensive detail. this is interesting if you consider the relationship between the capitol and the districts as a paternal one.

                                                                                                1. re: chartreauxx

                                                                                                  Very interesting analysis. You have made me want to read the books for sure.

                                                                                            2. re: hungryabbey

                                                                                              the famous scene from when harry met sally came to mind immediately when i saw the very title of the thread. of course the ridiculous order was supposed to be over the top and hilarious, but i think women are coached by the media to be a bit neurotic, fussy, high-maintainance etc. about how *they.are.served.* food, while men are supposed to be plain old regular order, or "everything on it" types. indeed, women who are inclined to order a menu item with no substitutions, a street food w-everything, or god forbid a salad or main dish with dressing/sauce served *on the food* (rather than served in a portion cup on a separate plate to draw more attention to what/how they consume food items)...these women are considered unusual and a little threatening or subversive, and are often double-checked irl... heh. i could go on but i won't.

                                                                                              and men, if they get a little bit "fussy," are apt to be ribbed a bit by their hetero-normative "buddies," right?

                                                                                              1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                In the third Jason Bourne movie the CIA bad guy orders an "egg white omelet," that's how you know he's not a regular guy.

                                                                                              2. re: hungryabbey

                                                                                                One thing I wonder about media's influence on people... Is the "media" a reflection and exaggeration of what they (the ad execs, producers, writers) see happening around them with the average Joe and Joanne? or the other way around?

                                                                                              3. re: chartreauxx

                                                                                                Imo "anti-oxidants" is something they made up in order to market foods to women

                                                                                              4. I know you said you want to get away from just looking at advertising, but I'd still recommend checking out Jean Kilbourne's series of Killing Us Softly videos for background. They're about how women are presented/represented in advertising in general, but there are definitely some food ads covered in the various editions.

                                                                                                Here's her site, and you can find lots of info on the series (and probably even watch some of it) online: http://www.jeankilbourne.com/

                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                1. I think your title is misleading as foods are not represented as being inherently male or female in English. It's impossible as there is no grammatical gender for food words in English (as in many other languages--of course, this is grammatical, not real-life gender). What I think you mean is "food implied as being more suitable for one gender or the other to consume."

                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                  1. re: Wawsanham

                                                                                                    thats a good point. Thanks for the clarification. As the thread has evolved i think it has become more clear what I want.

                                                                                                  2. I'm completely blanking on attitudes on food in tv and movies (although now that I think of it I've read that Drag Me to Hell was full of dieting imagery) a commercial that's caught my attention is Gogurt's "Dads Who Get It" campaign, where smart hip with-it dads make sure their kids have yogurt tubes packed in their lunches even though the entire family is certain they'll forget. Kind of a multilayered play on expectations for that one.


                                                                                                    1. Let me give you a "reality" TV example. Carole Radziwill (on Real Housewives NYC) invites the rest of the "ladies" over for lunch. Her plan is to order pizza. The rest of the "ladies" are appalled and request salads. Carole does, however, procure personalized M&M's with the other "ladies'" slogans embossed on them.

                                                                                                      Food can be very political among a group of women. It seems less so among men.

                                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: Wahooty

                                                                                                        And this is because society likes to play women's fears and emotions about weight/control against each other. Sad...

                                                                                                        1. re: Wahooty

                                                                                                          great example! Im sure there are a lot more examples within the housewives world of TV.

                                                                                                        2. You might want to check out iCarly, athough it is about teenagers not adults of course. One of two female leads is a character Sam who is supposed to be, while not a tomboy exactly, definitely outside the mold to the point of being somewhat antisocial. She loves bacon, etc. Our favourite episode involves a trip across to border to procure Canadian Fat Cakes, because they are known to be better than the American ones - which seemed like a nice parody of chowhound-types!

                                                                                                          My young daughter watches the show and identifies with Sam at times. I have mixed feelings!

                                                                                                          5 Replies
                                                                                                              1. re: drongo

                                                                                                                ohh yum. when i was a kid I loved sno cakes

                                                                                                                1. re: drongo

                                                                                                                  But I think they are a fake thing, based on sno cakes.

                                                                                                              2. re: julesrules

                                                                                                                If memory serves, iCarly also invented the spaghetti taco. Off topic but still.

                                                                                                              3. Eva Longoria opens a "lady" steakhouse. http://www.thebraiser.com/eva-longori...
                                                                                                                From the article, "She, as part of its mission to draw the ladies, will focus on small plates cuisine and feature a catwalk, 3D projection mapping, cryogenic fog, and rain curtains."

                                                                                                                10 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: EM23

                                                                                                                  oy vey- because all us "ladies" like fog going off whilst we eat. classy.

                                                                                                                  1. re: hungryabbey

                                                                                                                    Yes! Plus the fog will mask the size of the boutique steak:)

                                                                                                                    1. re: hungryabbey

                                                                                                                      I was just reading another piece about this restaurant that states that it will also have tiered seating and a dance floor, and it occurred to me that they are probably targeting a very spendy, niche market - the many bachelorette parties, birthday and other female tour groups that frequent Vegas. A dance floor, catwalk and female-oriented entertainment can get the party started for women on a ladies night out in Vegas. And they won’t be stuffed from eating a big dinner and can head off to the clubs and casinos doggie bag-free. Kind of smart, actually. I take back my earlier snark.

                                                                                                                    2. re: EM23

                                                                                                                      I was about to post this as it is coming to My Town. The question is, is it a step forward in "resisting stereotypes," or a step back? Or just plain target marketing of a male food to a newly "empowered" womankind? Like wearing pantsuits to work in the 1960's or men's ties in Woody Allen movies in the 1980's or Peggy Lee bringing home the bacon AND frying it up in a pan (what were you thinking, Peggy, did ya clean up too?). Criminy, it's so old fashioned in its tone, it's almost insulting. Note how all those things I mentioned were decades ago? In reality, most women don't crave a monster steak when it's time to dine out, or at least I don't think they do. Time will tell if the women of Houston will burn their bras and rush for a seat at She Steakhouse.

                                                                                                                      Edit: I totally misread a local article about this Las Vegas restaurant and thought one was opening in Houston because Eva Longoria's partner in this is the local ruffian Tilman Fertitta. But not so. I need not worry whether I am obligated to make a statement, whether by abstaining or being the first to make a reservation!

                                                                                                                      1. re: Lambowner

                                                                                                                        lol. It's an interesting debate- forward or back. I think the fact that anyone needs to make an explicit effort to find a place where "women will feel comfortable eating that steak" is a little crazy to me. Do we need to have a restaurant that serves only salads, yogurt, fruit and smoothies for MEN only so that they can all go there to feel comfortable eating those things?
                                                                                                                        Why is this even a consideration? that is my question. My fascination is the reality that it is.

                                                                                                                        1. re: hungryabbey

                                                                                                                          The very fact that this conversation regarding this steak place is even going on reflects the practical reality that the gender of "steak" is still mostly "masculine". :-)

                                                                                                                          Of course there are women who love big honkin' bloody steaks. But keep in mind that if anything is true 51% of the time one can say that it is "largely true". (Theoretically, anything over 50%)

                                                                                                                          1. re: hungryabbey

                                                                                                                            Don't forget Toronto's own Pink Burger - I can't find their homepage (are they still open?) but you may remember the thread about it from a while back.

                                                                                                                        2. re: EM23

                                                                                                                          This restaurant opening announcement was the first thing I thought of when I saw this post. I could be wrong, snicker, but I can't imagine too many women flocking to a restaurant to eat little, teeny, tiny steaks in the fog whilst watching models prance down a runway.

                                                                                                                        3. Sit back, relax and watch some Target: Women.

                                                                                                                          Carl's Jr: http://current.com/shows/infomania/89...
                                                                                                                          Chocolate: http://current.com/shows/infomania/89...
                                                                                                                          Diets: http://current.com/shows/infomania/89...
                                                                                                                          Feeding Your (Cough) Family: http://current.com/shows/infomania/89...
                                                                                                                          Yogurt: http://current.com/shows/infomania/88...

                                                                                                                          "Why am I holding all this yogurt? Because I'm a woman. And yogurt is the official food of women."

                                                                                                                          4 Replies
                                                                                                                            1. re: Jetgirly

                                                                                                                              I had no idea before now that Sarah Haskins existed. She is great. Thanks for posting.

                                                                                                                                1. Has anyone else noticed that while there are plenty of female hostesses/chefs for the "cooking" TV shows, the ones that revolve around EATING ([i]Man vs. Food, Bizarre Foods, No Reservations[/i], etc.) are all hosted by men?

                                                                                                                                  And, as mentioned above, if anyone's interested in Jean Kilbourne's work both [i]Killing Us Softly 3[/i] and [i]4[/i] can be (legally) viewed online through the Media Education Foundation.


                                                                                                                                  Just click the "Play" button to get started.

                                                                                                                                  4 Replies
                                                                                                                                  1. re: Chowbird

                                                                                                                                    I have not watched the Food Network for about 8 years, but back then, I believe Rachel Ray had a show about traveling on $30 a day, that was about eating, not cooking. I think Ruth Reichl has also done a show about eating, but I haven't seen it.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: MelMM

                                                                                                                                      Wasn't that "...for $40 a day" ?

                                                                                                                                      1. re: huiray

                                                                                                                                        I don't know, you are probably right. I didn't pay much attention back then - it was not a show I watched, just something I was aware that existed. $30, $40, $50... whatever. Something about eating within a budget while traveling.

                                                                                                                                    2. re: Chowbird

                                                                                                                                      Thank you for this. My gender prof just mentioned these to me today.

                                                                                                                                    3. I recall vividly the first Dannon yogurt commercials depicted men and women well into their senior years eating yogurt to live longer....

                                                                                                                                      The # of god-awful products aimed at children has been studied for decades. Would you like a toy with that?

                                                                                                                                      Men and beer commercials-if we believe what's depicted-men are toads.

                                                                                                                                      Woman and light food commericals-if we believe what's depicted-woman worry 100% of the time about their body image when eating even healthy food.

                                                                                                                                      Ceral boxes and commercials that advertising them are about as disingenuous as it gets considering the # of rewrites (with little chane to the ingredients list) a typically cereal brand makes to highlight low fat, whole grain, gluten-free, heart healthy, etc. Sold to athletes, and people of all ages.

                                                                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                                                                      1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                                        And to combine children's marketing with gender marketing:


                                                                                                                                        1. re: Jetgirly

                                                                                                                                          ah yes. if only that sign were to say "out of boys food sorry for the inconvenience" my paper would already be written lol

                                                                                                                                      2. I remember an issue of Glow magazine (the Shopper's Drug Market women's magazine you can get with Optimum points) that had a great article about why women shouldn't feel guilty after eating something. What's the point?
                                                                                                                                        In the same issue, they had recipes for light, fruit-based desserts. The cover tag line? "Guilt-free desserts!" It's funny, because that kind of marketing actually turns *me* OFF recipes & products. I'm fine with lighter, fruit-based desserts, but turned off by "guilt-free" ones.

                                                                                                                                        1. Don't know if booze advertising counts, but definitely google "man's drink" or "whiskey man's drink" (there was a specific ad I was trying to find where a series of old men in a bar ridicule someone for drinking pansy drinks instead of a real man drink).

                                                                                                                                          Other things that come to mind...

                                                                                                                                          ManWich!!! remember that sloppy joe thing? "Don't gimme no boloney...I need a manwich meal!"

                                                                                                                                          As a kid in the 80s, I remember seeing weird yogurt commercials with a lady with french-y sounding accent for yoplait...there was romantic music playing while a solitary woman lovingly spooned globs of pink yogurt into her mouth, and the voice sang "falling in love again". Weird, eh?

                                                                                                                                          And the wrestler (who just died) yelling "Snap into a Slim Jim!" That seemed to play up the whole manly snack thing. Probably all beef jerky advertising.

                                                                                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                                                                                          1. re: chowaholic

                                                                                                                                            The wrestler was Randy "The Macho Man" Savage.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: dave_c

                                                                                                                                              I mostly remember Randy "Macho Man" as the one who gyrated his hips while holding his hands behind his head and had bad hair.

                                                                                                                                            2. re: chowaholic

                                                                                                                                              In my experience, whiskey, whisky and bourbon are male drinks. I never see women order them in a bar. Not even at noted "whiskey bars," at least in my area. And "pansy drinks" also certainly exist, and my friends get ridiculed for ordering them.

                                                                                                                                            3. With Full tongue in Cheek.................the ultimate is in Candy Bars (in the US)

                                                                                                                                              Men are from Mars Bars

                                                                                                                                              Women are from Snickers

                                                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                                                              1. i thought of this thread when i saw that sugar in the raw/stevia in the raw commercial, where the guy slaps his wife's ass, last night. heh heh. i would love to see a gender studies film class get their teeth into this one. the man takes sugar in the raw in his coffee, and gets such a burst of raw, male energy that he starts making 3-stooges-skit woop-woops. apparently since it's *raw* sugar, it also has viagra-like effects as well...

                                                                                                                                                meanwhile the woman demurely put a packet of stevia in the raw in her own coffee, which apparently has the effect of making her sexually attractive, submissive, and smug.

                                                                                                                                                sugar for boys, stevia for girls! ;-P

                                                                                                                                                there is also an interesting/ridiculous healthy choice commercial with a male actor in the role usually given to a female actor. he states that he was on a restrictive juice diet, but now, thanks to healthy choice, he is once again eating "real food." it ends with him sitting on his apartment/brownstone front steps, triumphantly shouting to the world, "i'm eating pasta!"
                                                                                                                                                -- this seems to be what the op was looking for?