Posts Tagged ‘the sexual politics of meat’

Perhaps even more than fireworks, the barbeque is the “tradition” most associated with the Fourth of July.  And grilling, apparently, is a man’s job.  The curious calculus that transforms a stereotypically feminine endeavor, cooking, into an uber-masculine pursuit is a topic for another post, but today what I’m thinking about is what we tend to put onto our grills.  If we’re men, we are supposed to cook animal flesh.  This idea is reinforced in hundreds of articles like this one.

What strikes me about the “real men eat meat” meme is the way in which it reinforces itself not only by exaggerating traditionally masculine traits like aggression but also by encouraging the objectification of women.  Our “manly” author, Joe Reagan, describes a wrestling match precipitated by a vegan’s audacious request for a Garden Burger at the author’s barbeque party.  In response to this “insult,” Joe’s friend Ted tried to “force feed” steak to the unnamed vegan, later saying, “he wanted to screw my day with his views, I thought I’d return the favor and shove some meat down his throat.”

The aggression here is obvious, but what’s more subtle is the implicit assumption that only men belong in the category of humanity.  Reagan uses the word “man” and “mankind” throughout the article; the “real” men (i.e. meat eaters) are given names while the vegan is nameless; and feminists (whom we must assume are women) are grouped with Nazis and religious zealots.  To be anything other than a meat-eating man is to be a target of violence and derision.


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