I found this little article pretty interesting in light of what I’ve been reading in The Sexual Politics of Meat: a Feminist-Vegetarian Critical Theory, by Carol Adams . . . regarding the history of meat as a symbol of patriarchy and vegetables as a metaphor for ‘feminine passivity’.
(AP) John Edwards has to be a mighty hungry man before he’ll touch that mushroom on his plate. Mitt Romney says he’s never met an eggplant he’d eat.
Presidential candidates do not seem to be fussy eaters for the most part. Yet they have distinct dislikes, mostly from the veggie kingdom.
Read more here.
I don’t think I need to point out that for men to eschew eating meat is still considered emasculating (remember that commercial about the wimpy tofu-eating boy?). Mostly, as Adams points out, this is tied to economics and distribution of animal-food resources: when that distribution is controlled by men there is more relative dominance on the part of men. Vegetables/plant foods, on the other hand, are often classified as ‘women’s food’ and Adams provides a lot of examples of this – from 1950s era American cookbooks to certain tribal societies to the 1988 Presidential Campain where practically all the (male) candidates were compared to vegetables- arguing that “Colloquilly [vegetable] is a synonym for a person severly brain-damaged or in a coma” and is used to express distain, criticism, and weakeness and passivity. Meat, on the other hand, equals action, strength, dominance and macho-ness – and “men who choose not to eat meat repudiate one of their masculine privileges.”
So it’s not really a surprise that Mitt Romney or Barack Obama wouldn’t wan’t to seem like a sissy. Interestingly, they didn’t ask Kucinich, who is a vegan, but we all knew he’s about as weak on principle as a fresh zuchinni … and what about H. Clinton’s response? “I don’t like the things that are still alive.” How vague is that ? and as is typical, Clinton has to appear middle of the road, non-threatening and not too masculine or feminine.
The candidates answers are perfectly crafted in response to the public perception and institutionalized ideas about what our food represents -patriarchy.