Manly Women and Girly Men

I was watching the TV series “The Restaurant” where celebrities are invited to head up a kitchen and cook for diners and food critics. The identity of the celebrity for each episode is not revealed to everyone until the very end of the show. During the course of the dinner, you can hear different people in the restaurant guessing, for a start, the gender of the celebrity and some go on to hazard a guess at the real identity of him/her.

What’s especially interesting to me is that the diners seem to make assumption about the gender of the celebrity chef based on the menu. Apparently, for this episode, most of the diners think that the chef is a man because of these dishes:

  • starters: poached egg on asparagus served with hollandaise sauce & pâté served with sour dough bread and chutney
  • mains: venison & lobster linguine
  • desserts: chocolate brandy & custard tart

I don’t get how the majority of the Irish diners associate the above menu with a man. Or in the first place, the association of certain food to a person’s gender. Isn’t that some stereotypical thinking at work?

Which also made me think of masculinity and femininity which are represented by Mars and Venus respectively. And also to some extent, the Sun and Moon respectively. The idea that both concepts are social constructs has been presented to me recently. I have never really thought about that before. But the more I think about it, the more I realise the validity to the notion.

For example, “a man doesn’t wear a skirt”. Except the Scots with their kilts. Except the Asian men with their sarongs. I wonder how did the unspoken rule came about? Who makes the rules as to whether it’s acceptable for a men to wear a skirt? The answer: society. In other words, masculinity i.e. the notion of what a man is is primarily determined by society. This shouldn’t be a surprise to us. But for those who have problems with not fitting into society’s definition of what a man or woman should be, why not be comfortable with your own version of masculinity, femininity or for some of you, gender fluidity?

Oh yes, the celebrity for tonight’s episode is state pathologist of Ireland, Marie Cassidy, a woman.


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