Gendering Food

Carole Counihan

in The Oxford Handbook of Food History

Published in print October 2012 | ISBN: 9780199729937
Published online November 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199971268 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

 Gendering Food

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One of the central questions in feminism is whether gender matters. In the case of food activism, gender is also a controversial issue. In particular, one may ask how foodways—the beliefs and behaviors surrounding food production, distribution, and consumption—constrain and empower men and women to become political actors, or how gender power and identity are enacted in food activism. In this article, the author reviews the literature on food and gender and examines how gender can enlighten the study of food activism. She draws on her own ethnographic research on food, culture, and gender in Sardinia and Florence in Italy, and in Pennsylvania and Colorado in the United States. Using a food-centered life history methodology, the author has investigated people's depictions of the role of food in their lives. Her findings show that women use food as a medium to talk about their experiences, their cultures, and their beliefs. Thus, food allows the public to become aware of lives that would otherwise go unnoticed—the lives of ordinary women.

Keywords: food; gender; women; feminism; food activism; culture; Italy; United States; beliefs

Article.  8824 words. 

Subjects: Gender and Sexuality

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