Food For Thought: Poultry-archy

And on the seventh day, God saw all that He had created and said that it was good! And thus, he slaughtered the fatted calf and gave Adam charcoal to make his famous ribs.

Carnivority has outlasted creation into modern day, remaining a staple in the representation of the ‘masculine’ identity. While meat can be a part of a healthy diet, a recent study from the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey found that men eat 57 percent more meat than women, far exceeding the recommended daily serving. So, why is meat so manly?

Media and marketing campaigns do an expert job of exploiting preconceived notions about gender to make a buck, often mobilizing sexuality as the biggest moneymaker. When it comes to food, advertisement is no different. Meat sexualization, a bizarre and yet widely used marketing approach, draws a distinct line between masculinity and meat consumption. In one example, LG Electronics’ advertisement of a microwave displays a chicken with bikini tan lines, positioned in a very suggestive manner. A Burger King advertisement shows a woman eating a burger with the caption “It will blow your mind away.”

There are millions of similar images that liken women to meat, each one clearly suited to appetize a masculine audience. Some of these advertisements are hilariously ridiculous, but in scrolling through the pages and pages of images that equate women to meat and objectified both, they begin to lose their humor.

Scantily-clad chickens and unfortunate puns on the word ‘rack’ offer us more than just uncomfortable laughter – they offer a darker view into meat marketing, in which animals and women become property. With today’s dehumanizing marketing campaigns, it is increasingly easy to see a live animal and call it ‘dinner.’ It is even easier to ignore horrible conditions that an animal endures on its lifelong journey to our plates. But animals, we know, are more than just what they literally bring to the table; they have feelings, personalities, attitudes, humor and relationships. Likewise, women are not just sexual props to make sultry facial expressions and furnish advertisements. Reducing both animals and women to the ways that they can serve masculine appetites is dehumanizing and unfair and can make consumers forget that they deserve respect.

Though most people might not look to sexualized poultry to answer the ‘big’ questions, we challenge you to see more than just a roasted toothsome duck shaped like an underwear model. In doing so, you might find that in objectifying animals based on their taste, we lose empathy for the living beings that make up our meals. So often we find ourselves intimidated and horrified by the lack of compassion we see in our lives or in the news; there are an infinite number of problems that simply cannot be solved by going vegetarian or writing a note to Burger King. However, compassion and empathy are always worthwhile ventures — ones that encourage us all to think critically and see past the shiny barbecue sauce for the sake of the greater good.