Term Paper - Gender & Food (1)
Now we are really in the final period of our seminarcourse with the topic of (Introducing) Gender Studies.
About three weeks ago we had to hand in our term paper which is an essay about a special topic in regard to the genders. Personally, I had chosen the topic "Gender & Food" with the main regards on the eating habits and dieting.
So here I want you present you a few extracts out of my essay which I concern the most important.
By the way, we had also to hold a presentation about the gender related knowledge we gained in our essays.
In my term paper I wanted to find out if there are significantly differences respectively similarities between the genders in relation to food or if there are just stereotypes existing. I chose the topic fod because I think it guaranties a great variability of themes and subtopics. Besides, it is something we have to do with every single day and so it is very interesting to know more about it and to analyze exemplarily the eating behaviour of your personal environment.
First of all, I want to make clear the general and special meaning of food.Food is essential not only for us human beings. We need food to gain energy to keep our body temperature constant, to keep ourselves” functional” and in general to allow us to live.
So everybody needs food and is forced to get enough energy as well as vitamins and essential nutrients like proteins, carbohydrates and fats to guarantee healthiness. In former times and also in some very poor regions nowadays the main task in the life of the people there is the supply of food for themselves and their family. In contrast to our western society today food became something self-evident. We eat because we just like the taste of a special victual or because we have to wait for the bus etc. We actually don’t need to be hungry to eat something; it suffices a sense of belonging e.g. as a kind of family custom or the like, in form of eating a cake because someone made it for you. It becomes obvious that parts in the world are over-nourished while other regions have to fight with malnutrition.
Besides this issue there exist also other, albeit not that grave, problems concerning food like for example the divers illnesses, allergies and the overweight of many people because of false nutrition. These factors mostly develop out of the unhealthy lifestyle which is becoming normal or is already usual for many people today.
Here we yet have a basic approach about a very important characteristic of food because it is able to tell more than supposed about a person: Where he or she lives, what a social status relatively money the person has, what lifestyle is preferred, how the eating habits are defined individually, in what culture the person lives and much more. So the eating habits and -behavior can also be very meaningful aspects of the individual identity of every human being.
So as an example, phrases like “You are what you’re eating” (“Du bist, was du isst" ) express that the individual bill of fare is part of the personal identity. Some people even believe in the credo: “Show me what you eat and I’ll show you what you earn” (“Zeig mir, was du isst, und ich zeige dir, was du verdienst" ), concerning the quality and quantity of the consumed food or maybe the place (restaurant, snack bar, ...) where the person ate.
Additionally, food consumption can also signify gender and sexuality. So in some cultures food expresses male and female identities trough a certain meaning of the food relatively the rule of consumption. So in Papua New Guinea food is classified in male and female: typically male products are characterized as dry, hot, hard, infertile and slow growing. In opposition, female victuals are wet, cold, soft and fertile as well as fast growing.
The rules of consumption are another important fact concerning the gender roles. In the end of the twentieth century, there was still the opinion that meat stimulates sexuality and men should eat a lot of it but women don’t. They should eat lighter foods and in this way reduce themselves by disowning their desires or at least their appetites (Brumberg, 1988).
In conclusion, food is also able to represent the gender (-roles), power and ultimately the identity of people.