Food as a feminist issue

9 Oct

A photo of the Browns of River View, Australia with their weekly food displayed in the kitchen Photo from What The World Eats. Part One and Part Two.

Hi all, feminist discussion group is running tomorrow at 12 in the wom*n’s room. We’ll be discussing the topic:

Food is a Feminist Issue(?)

Some possible discussion points could be:

– What are the politics of food? (such as industrialised production, corporate distribution, global accessibility, etc)
– The relationship between women (and other marginalized groups) and food
– “Good” foods vs. “bad” foods
– Food and body image
– Diet culture
– The links between food and fat acceptance/discrimination
– The interrelatedness of human, women’s, animal rights, etc and hierarchies of power
– ‘Men as professional chefs, women as family cooks’
And (especially) our own personal feelings, relationships, and thoughts towards food.

Here’s some food for thought (har har):

So what of a feminist food politic? The converse of dieting culture with its emphasis on surveillance and self-denial seems to be pleasure-seeking mayhem. But should this be how feminism responds to institutionalized dieting culture writ large? Is there something feminist about retaining some notion of health as a mobilizing goal and utilizing food consumption as a technique for getting there?
This should be approached with deep skepticism. Talking about nutrition in a feminist context seems dangerous because devaluing women’s bodies is continually perpetrated under the guise of “health.” Nutrition may be a “health science,” but it is also a trope that employs scientific neutrality to disguise body fascism—an ideology that exalts dominant beauty culture as the standard bearer for body size. So what would a feminist approach to eating look like? Perhaps, it has very little to do with Nutrition Science and much more to do with crafting practices aimed at nourishing women’s bodies.
A feminist food politic might approach eating not as an individual choice driven by concerns about body shape or personal health but rather as a political strategy for confronting corporate food interests and transforming local communities. It is this kind of eating that facilitates a world that nourishes women.

***The blog Vegans of Color argues that racism, speciesism, and other -isms that perpetuate an imbalance of power and privilege are all connected.

To be a feminist is to actively promote healthy, open conversation about women’s relationships with food as a source of individual psychological struggle that will for many women never be resolved. But this suggestion of feminist food ambivalence runs contrary to feminist empowerment rhetoric that purports women should feel liberated enough, safe enough, confident enough to take control over the food that they eat and the body that they inhabit.
Feminists must reclaim the right to bring up food, whether in celebration or with ambivalence, as a topic of conversation that does not reflect negatively on their commitment to making the world a better place for women.

The oppression and exploitation of animals and humans are interlinked. Discrimination and abuse occurs through a process of ‘othering’ by a dominant group to an ‘inferior’ group, whether on the basis of race, gender or species. Katrina Fox looks at how privilege and oppression manifest in social justice movements, and how the more aware we become of our own privilege and oppression, the more we may be able to build alliances and gain allies.


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