Food, gender, chocolate, bacon

By Martin Zibauer »Martin Zibauer

April 1st, 2010

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An article in the Boston Globe on “hegans,” or male vegans, and another in the New York Times on “femivores,” or female urban homesteaders, brought a response on the group blog Eat Me Daily. Paula Forbes notes that food is already “bizarrely gendered” and finds the articles irritating:

they are artificially gendering aspects of food culture that don’t naturally align themselves according to traditional views of what is male and female.

Another acerbic reaction to hegans on I agree both concepts are silly, and will throw in two others that confuse me: The idea (which seems to have started sometime in the ’80s) that women are powerless in the presence of chocolate, and the apparently newer idea that men swoon over bacon.

Two scenarios from recent TV commercials:

1. Woman gets down on one knee, proposes to boyfriend, offering a resealable package of bacon instead of a ring. BF is overjoyed, tears up, accepts proposal, then accidentally professes love of bacon instead of girlfriend.

2. Male office workers surround a colleague who has received, from an unnamed woman, a vase of bacon as an apology for a fender bender. One worker, jealous, wishes the woman had hit his car.

These storylines are from “The Republic of Bacon,” a campaign for Maple Leaf Foods. I admit they made me laugh the first time I saw them, but they’re also very odd. There’s the obvious gender-switch—the scenes are lifted straight from every bad romantic comedy, except the men are playing the female roles. But the attitudes the men are adopting aren’t admirable or even vaguely realistic: The women I know would never consider flowers a fair pay-off for a car accident; they’d all be phoning their insurance brokers and lawyers.

So, in the Republic, bacon has the power to make men act like bad clichés of women, speak without thinking, and respond to bad behaviour like doormats. And this is supposed to make me want to eat more bacon? At least the beer=cottage=party ads promise me something positive.

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Martin Zibauer