Can food be sexist?

On my way out the door this morning I noticed an opened bag of Doritos on the coffee table. Last


On my way out the door this morning I noticed an opened bag of Doritos on the coffee table. Last night my partner came home after a soccer game and got hungry. When I made a snide remark about his late-night snack, he quickly pointed out the chocolate I had just shoved into my purse. How cliché is that??

At first I didn’t really clue in to our stereotypical food choices (I was too embarrassed to notice, really), but a study referenced at and an article in yesterday’s Globe and Mail pointed out how gender-specific food can be.

The study, published in the journal Appetite, asked university students about the types of food ideal for dates. It’s more than avoiding dishes that cause bad breath or get stuck between teeth, as women were more likely to make choices like salads and vegetables. The researchers wrote: ‘Eating healthy foods, like salad and vegetables, creates a more attractive, feminine appearance, so women may choose to eat such foods to portray themselves as more attractive for their dating partners.’

Back in my ‘dating years,’ I remember always ordering pasta and the guy going for steak. Times have changed, I guess. The researchers, who found that men didn’t always go for a hearty, meaty option and that their food choices were much more complicated, wrote: ‘Rather than using food as a personal impression management tool, perhaps men use food choices as an interpersonal impression management tool. They may choose to eat foods similar to what their dating partners eat in an attempt to forge a bond based on supposedly similar eating preferences.’

(So maybe my partner would have grabbed a piece of chocolate if I were awake when he came home?)

However, the personal story ‘Real men eat healthy’ in the Globe looks at gender-based food marketing. Writer David Short discusses what food and diet mean to men. ‘Against the daily barrage of advertising that implores me to eat like a man by way of triple burgers and all things deep-fried, I have gradually come around to the realization that real men eat healthy for themselves and their families’ sake,’ he writes. After losing 85 pounds, he’s able to look back at his transformation with a lesson for health professionals: ‘Overweight men do not respond the same as women. Women respond to nurturing and encouragement; men respond to blows on the head with blunt objects. For proof, think The Three Stooges.’

Here are some other articles on Mars-versus-Venus-type issues:

6 reasons men say no to sex

How to get men to visit the doctor

The things men do for love

5 ways to deal with a restless bed partner

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