January 14 2017
Jillian Kay Melchior
Many foodie Instagram accounts and blogs are actually just another way of sexually objectifying women, claims a Central Michigan University professor.
Writing in Quartz, Tisha Dejmanee describes how modern women are often, at the same time, both feminist and feminine, both professional and domestic. Many feminists would view this as a victory, a sign that women can have it all.
Not Dejmanee, who notes, in a slightly condescending tone, that “most food bloggers are women, many of whom are entrepreneurs (or ‘mompreneurs’) trying to build a digital brand.”
From that, Dejmanee conjectures: “Their chief value in society is to reproduce and feed their families while denying their own appetites. These blogs reflect the digital identities of women who have been required to embody multiple contradictions—and look delectable while doing so.”
That makes you, as a consumer, potentially problematic.
You thought you were simplifying your life by bookmarking the Minimalist Baker, which offers recipes that use one bowl and 10 ingredients, max? You thought following Nom Nom Paleo might help you keep atop your clean eating goals? You thought Bakerella was a sweet, innocent pleasure?
Wrong, wrong and wrong, says Dejmanee. “Food porn objectifies ‘women’s work’ instead of women’s bodies. …. Food is used as a substitute for the female body,” she writes.
And she takes the term “food porn” very, very literally.
“In the food blogosphere,” Dejmanee writes, “some of these sexualized conventions include the overabundance of ‘oozing’ food, including runny egg yolks that are captured dribbling over neat vegetable beds, chocolate lava cakes with molten centers that drizzle over porcelain plates, and frosted cakes depicted with glazes dripping down their tall sides. There is also something sexually tinged about many food blogs’ penchant for ‘cheeky peeks,’ a photographic motif that peers inside the hidden layers of elaborately decorated cakes.”
(Or maybe, sometimes a cake is just a cake.)
But there is a way to keep visiting foodie blogs guilt-free, Dejmanee says. Start by acknowledging “the potential for feminist subversion behind these outwardly indulgent depictions of cooking and consumption.”
Then, be more appreciative of the culinary and photographic skills of the blogger, Dejmanee says. Which, if you’re a regular follower of that blog, you’ve probably been doing all along, though without the side of sanctimony.
— Jillian Kay Melchior writes for Heat Street and is a fellow for the Steamboat Institute and the Independent Women’s Forum.