Here’s the Smart Reason Why Anthony Bourdain Hates the Idea of ‘Manly’ Foods

Lots of Americans associate some foods or drinks with men, and others with women. You might think that men usually drink whiskey or scotch. And you could assume that women order rosé and sugary cocktails. Similarly, you’d probably say that men like wings and steak. But women, you might expect, would likely order salads or pasta. Stop! According to celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain, you need to drop that outdated — and, quite frankly, sexist — line of thinking.

Read on to learn exactly why Bourdain hates the idea of “manly” foods. And get the scoop on why Bourdain thinks we should all stop talking about food that way.

Anthony Bourdain says the idea offends him

The (RED) Supper hosted by Mario Batali with Anthony Bourdain

Despite his bad boy persona, he’s against gender stereotypes. | Mike Coppola/Getty Images

Have you ever thought the stereotypes about your favorite foods and drinks were outdated and a little offensive? You’re not alone. In an interview with Mic, Anthony Bourdain explained, “I frankly don’t like the idea of assigning gender to food.” He added, “It really offends me.”

Mic notes that Bourdain himself may play the part of a rugged “guy’s guy” on his show Parts Unknown. But he says that he doesn’t intend his on-screen persona to fuel gender stereotypes. “If I’m in any way responsible or seen as supportive of ‘bro cuisine’ I mean, it makes me just want to hang myself in the shower thinking about it,” he told the publication.

Stereotypes persist — and affect our health

Woman eating a salad

No one has ever eaten a salad like this. | Urilux/iStock/Getty Images

Even if you, like Bourdain, find the idea of these stereotypes a little ridiculous, they still may influence your choices. The Washington Post notes that gendered beliefs affect both men’s and women’s health habits. That includes their decisions about the kinds of food they eat. “We’re constantly bombarded with advertising and social messaging telling us that eating like a bird and dining on salad is feminine, while eating large portions and plenty of red meat is manly,” the Post explains.

The paper adds, “These oversimplified representations of female and male eating habits may seem outdated, but research shows they persist for many of us.” Unfortunately, these persistent habits can have dangerous consequences. If you think that men are supposed to eat a lot of red meat, for instance, you may ignore your doctor’s advice to lay off the burgers. (We probably don’t have to remind you that red meat can seriously hurt your health.) You may even avoid seeing your doctor in the first place, which can get you into major trouble.

Companies use these stereotypes to get you to spend money

powerful yogurt

It’s pretty sad that to make men think it’s okay to eat yogurt you have to put a bull on it. | Powerful Yogurt via Facebook

So we’ve seen that the gendered stereotypes  Anthony Bourdain hates really do affect your health. But they also may determine how you spend your money. Need an example? Take yogurt. Yogurt started off as a pretty neutral food. Then advertising executives decided to brand yogurt as a product enjoyed only by women. The latest development? Companies have begun to market yogurt toward men. They even created products like “Powerful Yogurt” with a totally not-subtle-at-all bull logo.

Mic notes that they also rebranded frozen yogurt. Nestle even introduced “Skinny Cow for Him.” As the publication adds, “it’s the items’ presentation that depicts who should be consuming it — there’s nothing listed in the ingredients that make them better for men.” But that doesn’t matter to the companies doing the advertising.  After all, they just want to convince you to spend your money on their product. 

Stereotypes just give people an excuse to be pretentious (and to overcharge you)

whiskey and natural ice

If you like your whiskey with ice, that doesn’t make you less “manly.” | igorr1/iStock/Getty Images

Anthony Bourdain has repeatedly objected to all of society’s rules about drinking whiskey. (He has no problem putting some ice in his drink, even if it causes a bartender to cringe. And he considers drinking a social activity, one to which people attach too much pretension.) Bourdain also pushes back against the idea that whiskey or scotch should be enjoyed primarily by men. Especially men who want to talk on and on about the liquor in question.

“The idea of a bunch of high-fiving white guys with ties and their jackets off talking about scotch — that’s not the way to enjoy a fine whiskey to me,” Bourdain explains to Mic. The publication reports, “this all plays into what Bourdain calls the ‘douche economy,’ a concept where we buy into things we consider to be high-class or elevated, but are usually just gussied-up with a fancy name to earn a higher mark-up.” In other words, stereotypes that attach exclusivity to a food or drink just give people the chance to be pretentious about it. It also gives them license to overcharge you for it. 

People repeatedly complain that women ‘ruin’ the foods they love

Many glasses of rose wine at wine tasting

So rosé is basic because there were some women who liked it? | Ekaterina Molchanova/iStock/Getty Images

Gendered stereotypes about food don’t just have the potential to hurt your health or your wallet. They also give rise to another unfortunate phenomenon. As Taste puts it, Americans repeatedly get annoyed by foods and drinks that we associate with women. “When men enjoy something, they elevate it,” the publication explains. “But when women enjoy something, they ruin it.”

The whole thing sounds ridiculous, in theory. But just look at what happened with rosé. As Taste summarizes it, “What was once just one of many wines to enjoy on a summer day is now a ubiquitous brand you have to either love or hate.” The pink wine got so popular that the backlash seemed inevitable. But the kicker? “Instead of being angry at the free market, the ire toward #rosé is directed at the population widely believed to be responsible for its downfall: women.” We punish women for “ruining” a food. Or we imply that the women who get on board with a trend have no taste. Does that sound fair?

The stereotypes don’t make much sense in the first place

Men get cheeseburgers and women get salads. | Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Another reason that we join Anthony Bourdain in disavowing these gendered stereotypes? The stereotypes just sound ridiculous. Taste notes that foods generally associated with women have a few predictable characteristics. They might taste sweet, like cupcakes, macarons, or wine coolers. Or, they could have a reputation as healthy foods, such as yogurt, frozen yogurt, diet soda, smoothie bowls, or salad. They could seem “fussy,” like unicorn lattes or pumpkin spice foods and beverages. Or, they may just come in pink.

Foods associated with men, on the other hand, have a very different set of characteristics. They may taste bitter, like hops, coffee, or whiskey. They could taste spicy, such as hot sauce, tacos, or Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. Or they may just be hearty, like meat. Think about that for a second. Do you know anybody whose eating habits accurately reflect those stereotypes? Do any of your friends or family eat that way? We thought not.  

These ideas even affect our children and grandchildren

Cupcake shirt girls

There’s more to it than what it seems. | Macy’s

Here’s where many parents and grandparents will draw the line. Gendered stereotypes about food also affect kids. As Refinery29 reported, lots of pieces of children’s clothing come decorated with images of food. But the prints for boys’ clothing look very different from the prints for girls’ clothes. Boys get tees with graphics of pizza or macaroni and cheese. Girls get clothes with motifs of cherries, strawberries, lollipops, popsicles, cupcakes, and ice cream cones.

As Refinery29 reports, this sends the message that “Apparently, girls shouldn’t eat pizza — and they shouldn’t wear it, either.” And the disparity may not be as innocuous as it seems. “Is it overkill to raise eyebrows at a saccharine, smiling watermelon on a toddler’s romper? Not when you consider, for example, the way desserts have been used as sexual euphemisms in pop culture for at least a century.” We think Anthony Bourdain would find the whole ruse pretty repulsive.

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