A Pennsylvania State University sociology professor recently argued that eating meat perpetuates “hegemonic masculinity” and “gender hegemony,” so now even our food choices make us sexist.
In the most recent issue of Journal of Feminist Geography professor Anne DeLessio-Parson argues that “hegemonic masculinity implies an imperative to eat meat” and that this helps reify other power hierarchies as well.
To study the link that exists between men and meat, DeLessio-Parson interviewed 23 vegetarians who live in Argentina, an insanely small sample size to ask, to probe how they deal with their country’s “meat-centric” culture, finding that being vegetarian itself is a political act.
Vegetarians also contribute to the destabilization of the gender binary, she argued.
“The decision to become vegetarian does not itself destabilize gender, but the subsequent social interactions between vegetarian and meat-eater demand gender enactment—or resistance,” DeLessio-Parson discovered.
“Refusing meat therefore presents opportunities, in each social interaction, for the binary to be called into question,” she said, noting that women, for example, may not consider dating men who eat meat, while male vegetarians might end up spending more time in the kitchen as opposed to outside on the grill, all actions which can destabilize gender norms.
In an interview with Campus Reform, DeLessio-Parson explained that her passion for the dynamic surrounding our food and our politics came about as she was living as a vegetarian in Argentina for 5 years, where she worked with community organizations as an English teacher.
There, she realized that vegetarianism isn’t just a lifestyle choice, but a feminist act.
“Women, one of the ways they push back against patriarchy, they say, ‘This is my body. You don’t get to tell me what comes in and out,’” she told Campus Reform, explaining that vegetarianism is a way women can assert their agency and autonomy.
Pretending that the food we eat is a microcosm of the society we live in and who has power and who doesn’t is an absolute joke. I eat meat because I like it, I know men who don’t eat it, and I know women who love it.