Food, Gender and Social Justice

The food industry is a prime example of how gender hierarchy is influencing our society today.  We recognize these issues as we analyze three aspects including distribution, consumption and production. It is evident that we live in a world where limitations are imposed on females due to their gender. These restrictions reflect the socially structured patriarchal society that we live in. I will construct a position that exemplifies the powerful effects of patriarchy and how this system works to oppress women by giving them unequal opportunities and resources in regards to food distribution, consumption and production. I will do so by bringing to light the roles women have in their homes, how media has transformed our perception of the female body and the unequal opportunities women have in the participation of food production and the lack of influence women have in the distribution of food.

The food system in our world is a place where institutionalized sexism is practiced frequently. Male authority is forced through numerous social, political and familial areas within society. With that being said, women often face challenges which include the construction of stereotypical identities in regards to food and the preparation of it. Women roles within the kitchen are a good example of the imposed domesticity of women in our society. The gender role within the kitchen perpetuates power in a privatized manner.  A women’s performance within a kitchen is often what defines her as a person. Women are measured by their ability to maintain a clean as well as preparing “abundant home cooked meals” (Avakian, Haber 9). Women’s ties to the kitchen gives them a sense of “power in in the family or rein scribes their subordinate gender roles” (Allen, Sachs 3). They use their forced upon gender jobs to connect with their family on an intimate level but still remain less than, compared to the man of the house.


(image 1)

On another note, women struggle with their relationship to food and in the North America in particular women eat specific foods in order to achieve the perfect body. It is not coincidental that women who come from strong socio-economic backgrounds are often the ones dieting and allowing themselves to experience hunger. The mass media within societies manipulates the views we have in regards to the appearance of women. These images of photo shopped supermodels demonstrate to viewers the body types women should obtain. By imposing unrealistic Trying to reconstruct body type to appeal to the male eye. Social media portrays what is seen as attractive and unattractive. These stigmas are then embedded into women and the pressure is so great that some suffer from eater disorders. These corporeal properties such as “anorexia, bulimia and other disorders among women” (Avakian, Haber 2) are examples of how impactful media has been to women.


(image 2)

The Food system portrays characteristics of patriarchal values and scholars Allen and Sachs clarify this. It is clear that women claim ownership of private power within the household and exercise this by deciding what and when the family eats, however outside of the kitchen they face a constant battle for recognition. Allen and Sachs state that “women perform the majority of food related work but they control few resources and hold little decision making power in the food industry and food policy” (Allen, Sachs 1). It is ironic that women are expected are to prepare magnificent meals for their family but are silenced in decision making.  Furthermore, it is also not uncommon for women to be neglected in the agriculture sector of food production by refuses to provide them equal tools as men. Gender discrimination is portrayed as we look at field work and notice how women are deprived of essential tools that would help them with the collection of goods. This system is a mirror of patriarchy and how society values masculinity and devalues femininity.

It is important to acknowledge that this system of patriarchy is a continuous issue within society and it is reconstructed and practiced every day. It is evident that our patriarchal society has shaped gender specific roles in regards to the kitchen and food preparation, as well as limiting women and their participation with agriculture and denying them equal political contribution when speaking of food matters. Furthermore, our society has also perpetuated images of the “perfect” body from a males perspective and have made women view themselves as less than if they don’t meet these unrealistic standards. Because of patriarchy women struggle for equity within the market, socio-cultural related topics and corporeal relations.




Works Cited

Avakian, Arlene Voski, and Babara Haber. “Feminist Food Studies: A Brief History.” Scholar Works. N.p., n.d. Web. <;.

Allen, Patricia, and Carolyn Sachs. “Women and Food Chains and Gendered Politics of Food.” Ijsaf (n.d.): n. pag.Http:// Web.

Emslie Parker, Storefront at TimHortons Follow. “Women & Media Affects on Body Image.” Women & Media Affects on Body Image. N.p., 05 Apr. 2015. Web. 26 Sept. 2016. <;. (image 2)

Macdonald, Charlotte. “Te Ara Encyclopedia of New Zealand.” New Zealand Ministry for Culture and Heritage Te Manatu Taonga. Ministry for Culture and Heritage Te Manatu Taonga, n.d. Web. 26 Sept. 2016. <;. (image 1)


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