Friday, August 9, 2013

Is food writing sexist?

The Ultimate Chocolate Cake
Here's something to mull over on the weekend: Is food writing sexist? Frankly, we had never thought about this question, but  L.V. Anderson over at Slate has a decisivie article called Hey Food Writers, Stop Comparing Food to Women in which she maintains that it is indeed sexist and has to stop.

Anderson started on this track by noticing an Alan Richman article in GQ in which he describes the decor of a restaurant as "The room is as ornate, startling, joyous, and ridiculous as a blonde popping out of a birthday cake."

From there she started to plow through archives and discovered: "Comparing food to women is, rather, an extremely popular rhetorical device among food writers and restaurant critics-and not just in GQ, a men's magazine not known for its sensitive and nuanced portrayals of women and female sexuality. Scroll through the recent archives of the New York Times dining section and Bon Appétit - two of the best respected, most widely read mainstream food publications in the country - and you'll find a trove of analogies between edible substances and female humans."
She argues that "The main reason food writers resort to comparing food to women, I'm convinced, is that food writing is boring..." So writers turn to sex - not that comparing food to sex is necessarily bad, but Anderson objects that sex is usually introduced by using woman metaphers: "Why metaphors about women? It's a short hop from a more forgivable food-writing tic: comparing eating to sex." 
It is a thoughtful argument and makes for good reading. We did stop to think - if this is true, why hadn't we noticed it before? Maybe using women as sexual metaphors is so omnipresent culturally it doesn't register on a radar screen (boating leaps to mind as an example), maybe we've never considered it to be unflattering so it hasn't come to the forefront, or maybe as a percentage of food writing it's not that prominent.   But definitely food for thought here, and we'd love to hear any other opinions.

No comments:

Post a Comment