Products

Does Food Have a Gender?

A new study asks consumers to rate foods by masculinity and femininity
Photograph: Shutterstock

In a world in which gender identity is in the spotlight, it seems even food products take on gender identities. For the romance languages, such as Spanish or French, this is perfectly normal because all nouns are assigned as either masculine or feminine. But in a language such as English, that concept is foreign, although our minds still work that way.

In a survey conducted by Washington, D.C.-based Morning Consult, 2,200 American adults were asked to rate 130 products and activities on a scale of 1 (very masculine) to 10 (very feminine). Much of item gendering in the United States simply has to do with observations of use, marketing and gender, the study noted, or which gender uses what thing or engages in what activity more.

“In general, if men perceive a product to be feminine, they perceive that as a threat to their gender identity if they were to use that product,” says Aaron Brough, associate professor of marketing at Utah State University.

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