Thursday, July 10, 2008

Eat your gender: commercial critique part 2

By LindaBeth

I like the multiple entendre to this post title...but unfortunately this post isn't about one of the awesome interpretations. It's about gendered eating in recent advertising.

I'm a bit late on some of these commercials, but they go better together in one post anyways.

Unapologetically Female and Feminocracy both have great assessments of Adam Corrolla's (yeah, of the Man Show, known for it's sexism, which clearly makes him the ideal spokesperson for what men like) ad for Taco Bell and his insistence to "eat like a man."

"You deserve a meal made for men." Let's break this down.

What makes this meal "made for men"? It's a lot of food. Plus as Feminocracy suggests, there's bacon (ya know, the fattiest meat there is). And men "naturally have" (dubious) and more importantly are socially allowed to have big appetites (hell, can have appetites. Period.) Women should surpress their appetite, not only to conform to impossible body standards that require women to be thin yet curvy, but also to be in complete obsessive control of the main thing that matters to female value: our bodies. (See Caroline Knapp's excellent book Appetites on how women are compelled to surpress their appetites across the board: not just food, but sex, and other areas.)

Not only can men have big appetites but they are socially permitted to satisfy them, which is where the "you deserve" comes in. Hell, more than that, they're encouraged to satisfy them. Because real men eat based on taste and without worrying about calorie content. And it's of the utmost importance to be a "real men," the opposite of which is, well, being "a girl" or "a fag," both of which are the ultimate insults for a male. As Unapologically Female says:

Real men can pack away large amounts of crappy fast food! And you want to be a real man, don't you? (Not one who's girly.)

Further, the all-deserving privilege:

Go ahead, men. Satisfy your hunger. Indulge without fear of judgment. And don't bother thinking about how only you, and not women, are afforded this luxury.

And why does Taco Bell insist on make female consumers invisible and irrelevant?

Enter Quiznos.

Where we find out that "real women" need what's not "lacking any meat."

Which means Real Women aren't lesbians. Or vegetarians. And that real women, perhaps, don't actually want food but really just want (penis-based) sex.

And what was it about suppressing women's appetite and pleasure in eating?

The "younger" (or younger-seeming, I guess) is jealous of the other woman's pleasure in eating. So far so good. She thinks it should be her eating. (Hmmm, wait a sec-why her? Because she's somehow better? Don't know about this part.) My guess is that we supposed to think she craves the food, but can't indulge in food in order to maintain her "better" appearance but the plain, homely woman doesn't have such problems (or maybe she can't afford it after extensive cosmetic surgery?!) After which she says to the homely woman, "I hate you." Technically it should be that "she hates her" because she has tasty food, but we all know the cultural subtext. This commercial "works" because it's not just about wanting the tasty food. She hates her because she is able to eat, where women aren't supposed to indulge in food. Even more so, she "hates" her because clearly she doesn't care that much about her femininity like the "hot" woman does (signified by her homeliness and "unattractiveness," or at least her less attractiveness), that she can therefore actually eat. As in, "gee, I wish I didn't care so much about my appearance that I could eat like you do and hate you for it."

Then the homely woman says: "Really? Wow." She's pleased and shocked that OMG this "hot" woman hates her! Because we should all crave other women's hatred and jealousy of our pleasure especially if they're hotter than us. Uggh. And the sandwiches being "big taste in a smaller size"? You know, perfect for women. Double uggh.

I just saw that Melissa at Shakesville posted yesterday on the Taco Bell commercial as well.

(Cross-posted to Smart Like Me.)

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