It’s funny around Christmas time to see how gendered the gift market is. I was in a store selling cookbooks, and I decided to check out the “man” books. Literally every single book was about cooking meat. There was Esquire’s EAT Like a MAN, with a huge steak pictured on the cover, there was a book full of ham recipes, a book of goat recipes, and then there was GQ Eats: The Cookbook for Men of Seriously Good Taste. The rest of the books were aimed at women. Most of them were about making sweets. There was a book devoted to different types of puddings, another to cupcakes, and of course many filled entirely with chocolate recipes. Never did a I stumble upon, A Women’s Guide to Cooking Meat or A Man’s Guide to Baking Cupcakes. I’m wondering where this whole gendered eating thing came from. Does the idea that meat is manly go back to the days when men did the hunting while women looked after the children? Does the man-meat link have something to do with the male desire to consume lots of protein and bulk up? Personally, I would like to write The Man’s Guide to Cupcakes. I think there’s a market out there for it. Or maybe I should take a leaf out of Judith Butler’s book and call it The Human’s Guide to Cupcakes. All people should be allowed to like cupcakes without feeling that their identity is being threatened!
When men aren’t being told to eat meat, they’re being told to drink beer. At a store selling drinking glasses, the beer glasses were painted with potbellied men. The wine glasses, on the other hand, were aimed at women. They were painted with brightly colored flowers and glitter. If a man does want to drink wine, he must overcompensate so that his gender identity isn’t threatened by buying one of the “Real Men Drink Chardonnay” wine stoppers that were for sale. That way, everyone can be sure that he is still a real man, and they can instead start worrying that they’re not really men. Poor guys. With all these mixed signals, how are they supposed to know what constitutes a “real man”, especially if they don’t like beer or meat? Christmas shopping really does tell you a lot about our societal definitions of male and female. Has anyone else seen some funny gendered gifts while they’ve been shopping?