Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Is the Meat Industry Homophobic?

You don't have to look far to see how the meat/dairy industry perpetrate sexist and misogynist attitudes throughout their marketing campaigns as illustrated by the brilliant author of the Sexual Politics of Meat Carol J. Adams. Click here to see the slideshow she created of sexist and outright offensive ads against women.

It got me thinking that if the meat industry is sexist are they possibly homophobic as well? There have definitely been subtle hints throughout society that meat is somehow associated with masculinity, and to abstain from meat means you become a "vegetable". Vegetables are healthy, how did the pro-meat advocates turn that around on us into something negative? Recently Hummer came out with a commercial showing a man buying some tofu products, the man next to him gives him a strange look, piles up tons of meat on the counter. The man buying the tofu feels odd and has to "restore the balance" according to Hummer and reclaim his masculinity by purchasing a Hummer. What is this clip really trying to show? To me the commercial is implying the man buying the tofu is a sissy and that real men eat meat and buy Hummers (a man's car). The video clip is below.

Burger King recently launched their "Eat Like a Man" campaign. Below is a video of one of their commercials. Where this man gets sick of eating "chick food" ie: vegetarian. In a show of masculinity he bursts out of the restaurant into a parade of men who are reclaiming their masculinity by eating meat. This implies men who choose not to eat meat or eat less meat are somehow sissies or less of a man.

I find this topic really interesting and there are many more examples of it, if you are all interested in the connection between gay & animal liberation, please read my earlier post here entitled Intersection Between Animal Liberation & Queer Liberation.

So what do you think, is the meat industry the culprit of these homophobic and gender stereotyping ads from Hummer, Burger King and others?


Anonymous said...

These don't appear to be ads from the meat industry. A Hummer is an automobile, not meat. And Burger King is a restaurant chain, not the meat industry.

Perhaps we're talking about food-related gender roles and stereotypes in society and how they reflect on our sexuality, not about homophobia in the meat industry.

Queers United said...

chasing thanks for pointing that out, I should clarify by saying that I think the meat industry has ingrained in us this notion that meat is masculine and society goes along with it as seen by above examples.

Anonymous said...

Is that image really coming for the meat industry? When I think of meat/dairy industry ads I think of things like, "Happy cows come from California" and "Pork: The Other White Meat."

Do you have examples of the meat industry perpetuating the stereotype or does this come from other sources?

Anonymous said...

No, I don't think the meat industry, as (not) represented by these ads, is homophobic. For one thing, neither of these commercials actually come from the meat industry. One is from Burger King - the fast food industry - and the other is from the Hummer people - the car industry. Neither one of these is from the *meat* industry.

I would say that the Hummer people and Burger King are reinforcing gender stereotypes, though.

shrink on the couch said...

Both. To some degree, anyway. But underlying the enforcement of gender stereotypes, of gender compliance, is the fear insecure men have of getting a boner at the sight of a feminine male. Am I right? Or a tad over simplifying the matter?

Queers United said...

Chasing - I am not saying these ads are directly from the industry, I am saying that I think the industry is certainly promoting the notion behind it, society does as well, so it makes for a conversation which is why I phrased it as a question.

Una - I think Hummer and BK are getting the idea from someplace and I think the industry has done an amazing job at drawing this so called connection between meat and masculinity.

Phd - It does play into men's insecurities. Certainly studies show that the most homophobic men tend to have some degree of homoerotic fantasy that they are ashamed of and trying to either consciously or sub-consciously cover up through outright homophobia.

Anonymous said...

Queer Unity - Could you please give an example of the meat/dairy industry promoting this idea (and not of other industries using meat to suggest manliness)? You clearly feel strongly, but I can't think of how the meat industry itself does this (other parts of culture, yes).

Queers United said...

chasing - The Meat Industry is directly tied to corporations like Burger King who make up their boards.

"The council is heavily dominated by Burger King officials with little or no experience in livestock and poultry production, and sources said many of the guidelines ‘miss science’ and/or speak to practices that are no longer used by the industry or are being phased out."

This was a quote from Satya magazine, the rest of the quote is irrelevant to what we are discussing here but my point is the actions of corporations like Burger King and McDonald's can be pointed at the Meat Industry as well, it is the same people who are perpetrating these stereotypes just in a different name.

Anonymous said...

Which council? When? And really, fast food industry is a separate industry from meat/dairy.

And forgive me if I take Satya with a grain of salt.

Unknown said...

OK people...who produces meat? Ever seen Brokeback Mountain? It is the 'good-ol-American-cowboy'. Meat - or better yet - the cattle industry is a primarily southern-state endeavor. Eating meat has been considered a 'manly' thing for generations that stems from the old-west ideal of cowboys, cattle and gun. I agree that this idea of meat-eating being manly started with the meat industry generations ago because the meat industry started as a bunch of cowboys driving cattle.

wendolen said...

Nick, where do you get the idea that cowboys ate a lot of beef? I think it was mainly beans and coffee, for them -- after all, the cattle don't get slaughtered until you get the herd back to the city.

As for the idea that meat = manly, I imagine that goes back to hunter-gatherer days. It's quite a bit older than any industry.

Zoe Brain said...

It's not the X, Y or Z industries - it's the Advertisers who they employ to push their product.

The competent Advertisers (and they're not all competent) take psych data about the target demographic, and plays on the bigotries and prejudices revealed therein. The clients themselves have little editorial control other than a veto.

Anonymous said...

This is a stupid question and pointless debate. Thank you for wasting my time.

Unknown said...

And he further wastes his time by adding a comment...that was random.

Anonymous said...

I am perplexed by this. As a straight woman I myself have played into the manliness of meat eating. Chris Rock comes to mind as well with his Big Piece of Chicken routine. I agree with Wendolen that this concept of eating meat goes back to the hunter/gathers rather than more recently. I don't consider any of this misogynistic. Sexist maybe but it seems to me there is a bigger issue here and the meat industry is taking the blame, at least in this article.

Renee said...

I don't find these ads to be homophobic as much as they are about supporting the gender hierarchy. They construct the feminine as a pejorative and therefor refiy the social construction of masculinity.
Even you are a "feminized" man you are considered less than. There are plenty of men that identify as straight that society considers feminine.

Miwome said...

The identification of meat with masculinity goes back a long, long way, and plugs into ideas of th emasculine/feminine binary that go back even further.

The classic binary is that masculine=active, penetrative, energetic, forward-moving, while feminine=passive, eternal, slow, maintaining. IF one accepts these identifications, then it's easy enough to tie men to animal life and women to vegetable life. It's easy to portray women as in harmony with the eternal earth(/mother/womb), harvesting (insert birth metaphor here) what is necessary while destroying nothing--because to destroy would be to create a new world, and women don't do that. It's similarly easy to portray men as locked in a constant struggle to hunt the savage beast, to conquer the moving parts of nature and bring it home to eat.

Of course all of this is somewhere between EvPsych and Freud in its oversimplicity and ridiculousness, but the concepts go back a very long way.

Now consider that in 19th-century England, meat was considered to contain some kind of special, intense energy, which was passed onto the person who ate it. It was considered required for men to eat it to make it in the northern climate (in fact, even later, when Ghandhi visted England, they warned him that he would die if he continued to refuse meat), and it was not given to women for fear that the energy would overwhelm them and send them into a hysteria.

So, yes, I agree that the meat=man concept exists in our society, but I'm not sure that the meat industry is its creator.

Anonymous said...

Interesting topic. I found this thread by doing a search for exactly what you're talking about here.
I recently moved from southern California to a small Oregon town and had the opportunity to watch both men and women waiting in line at a popular local butcher shop. The men tended to swagger to the counter when it was their turn with hands in their hip pockets. They choose large hunks of meat. Women consulted lists and purchased smaller quantities and a greater variety.

The BBQs I attended here over the past few months echoed the trend. If a man was cooking the featured dish was invariably beef and served in huge quantities - 32oz rib eyes on each plate at one event. If a woman was cooking the portions were more realistic.

Conversation at one table at the rib eye event turned so homophobic and sexist that I had to move to another part of the patio. Each participant in that conversation was obese and in need of a haircut.

The meat=man concept is alive and well and seems to be a source of identity for many insecure, homophobic men.

Anonymous said...

What a weird, weird fantasy world you liberals create for yourselves.

Post a Comment