Men and Meat

I often browse men’s fitness magazines in the hope of becoming fitter through osmosis. I usually manage to ignore the volume of normative masculine signifiers in these rags, but this news item from Australian Men’s Fitness really stood out to me as being especially dishonest (via phone camera):

First, how inclined are you to believe an item called “Women Prefer Meat Eaters” based on “a study commissioned by Meat & Livestock Australia”? Second, check out the statistics from which the magazine deduces that women prefer meat eaters:

  • “nearly 50% of single women assigned negative personality traits—such as ‘finicky/fussy’ and ‘boring’—to men who show a preference for the vegetarian option on the first date”
  • “among both sexes, over a third of singles would prefer their first date to order a steak over the pasta or salad options”

WTF? Unless I’m mistaken, this suggests over 50% of women do not assign negative personality traits to such men, and two thirds of singles have no preference for dates choosing steaks. The real headline is “Women Indifferent to Meat Eaters.” This is a classic piece of Orwellian Newspeak on behalf of the masculinity conspiracy: you deserve the sausage-guzzling beauties that accompany this “news” item if you swallow it.

If you want a more nuanced report on how gender plays out in regard to meat, I’d recommend the recent article in Feminism & Psychology by Annie Potts and Jovian Parry, “Vegan Sexuality: Challenging Heteronormative Masculinity through Meat-free Sex” which makes some interesting points about how vegans naturally enough prefer sex with other vegans. More worryingly, it highlights the rage this fact seems to incite among meat-eaters:

particular aggression was evident in online comments by those positioned as heterosexual meat-eating men. In this article we examine the hostile responses to vegansexuality and veganism posted by such men on internet news and journalism sites, personal blogs and chatrooms. We argue that the rhetoric associated with this backlash constructs vegansexuals — and vegans more generally — as (sexual) losers, cowards, deviants, failures and bigots. Furthermore, we suggest that the vigorous reactions of self-identified omnivorous men demonstrate how the notion of alternative sexual practices predicated on the refusal of meat culture radically challenges the powerful links between meat-eating, masculinity and virility in western societies.

Interestingly, this also intersects with my recent men’s ministry research which shows how Australian men’s ministries reinforce normative masculinity through the use of meat-eating and butchery to appeal to men, as highlighted in this Sydney Anglicans article, “Men Meat the Challenge.”

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