Thursday, 2 October 2008

Quotidian sexism

Cross post

Just some ordinary old, ever present, pervasive sexism.

Idiot Savant links to a fascinating article in the Guardian which is ostensibly about Jamie Oliver's new TV series, Ministry of Food, but is really a fascinating, and worrying, and sad discussion about the clear link between poverty and bad food. You should read it. The conclusion: the socio-economic group you are born into is one of the most significant determinants of how healthy you will be. This is a world-wide phenomenom - just living on the eastern side of South Road in Adelaide gives you about 10 years more life.

But in the midst of the cogent and distressing analysis of the effect of poverty on diet and health, there's still time for a spot of mother-blaming.

Middle-class people in the series eat junk, too. Time, or lack of it, is their problem. Women getting home from work can't find even half an hour to cook from scratch for the family, which Oliver can't understand.

And what are the daddies doing, forsooth? Just maybe, if daddies were held responsible for cooking too, then daddies and mummies could take turns, so tired mummies coming home from work wouldn't feel that they were always the ones who had to keep on going and going and going. Then they might just have the emotional and physical energy to cook a good meal. But that's too complicated a thought, evidently. It's easier to just blame the mothers.

And from the Adelaide Advertiser, a piece on a scanner that Adelaide Airport is planning to use, which:

allows screeners to detect non-metallic devices, objects and weapons concealed on a person's body, but also to see a person's organs and genitals.

Lovely. There's no particular analysis of the invasion of privacy, nor any consideration of those of us who don't want underpaid, bored security officers gawking at our bodies.

And what's used to illustrate it? A woman's body, of course. And a "perfect" one at that. I suspect the company making it thought that sex would sell.



Idiot/Savant said...

And what are the daddies doing, forsooth?

In a modern, two-income family model, they probably don't have any time either. But they get to escape being blamed for it.

(I think this is a case of Oliver - a guy who cooks - being a bit of a dick. But he's not as much of a dick as Gordon Ramsey, who a couple of years ago went on a crusade to "get women back into the kitchen" (note: women, not people in general)).

Anyway, to return to the point: the move to a double-income model over the past 25 years has robbed us of a lot of time - time we could have spent on ourselves (and on cooking) rather than our employers. And given that real household incomes are pretty much the same as they were under the old one-income model, "robbed" is the right word. It would have been better to have kept that leisure time, and shared work more equitably, rather than getting the worst of both worlds.

Kai said...

I read this article too, after watching the programme and I think that Felicity Lawrence does a good job of summing up my feelings of sadness about the family. I mean, how do you get to be an adult and not know what "boiling" means?

I think that having lived in London for the last 2 1/2 years (on the wrong end of the Jubilee Line) I would say that traditional family positions are much more fixed than they are in NZ. You read far more frequently in the NZ press about stay at home dads than you do over here. The class divide is so much more obvious here too. Not that any of this excuses the comment of course, raising a healthy family is the responsibility of both parents.

To give Gordon some credit, he also ran a competition to find a new female professional chef as he felt that the profession was too male dominated.

Anonymous said...

Horribly ironic that at the same time I'm reading this post talking about food, TV3 "news" in the background has an item about the "Sugar Liberation Army" protest over Cadbury no longer making 3 types of candy...

Lucy said...

Re: Gordon Ramsay's "get women back in the kitchen" thing, it was actually a very good idea insomuch as he found women who'd just never learned to cook and helped them get some confidence that they could. But the faux-shocking title and the focus on women rather than men in the same boat made it all a bit silly. Lack of cooking skills *is* an issue among the younger generation in Britain, but it's not confined to the men.

Anecdotally, I've heard a lot about the more rigid gender roles there, too - I know a Kiwi woman married to an Englishman. They're both professionals, and whenever they're in New Zealand he shares the housework without complaint. When they go to see his family in England, he and the other men sit around and expect the women of the family to do all the work. It's obviously pretty ingrained in the culture.

Violet said...

Wouldn't that airport scanner you described be illegal? It's a (very) gross invasion of privacy which I'm sure only the exhibitionist traveller would approve of.

barvasfiend said...

Quite frankly I am astounded that it has taken so long for the so-called 'post code' theory of poor health to come to public attention. I remember studying it years ago as part of a health economics paper at university. Basically, the results of longitudinal studies suggested that the specific causes of poor health could not be isolated, other than at the statistical level of post code.

I seem to recall the debate resting on "either there's some other specific geographically bounded effect at work that we haven't isolated yet or it's the cumulative effect of poverty"

Since then there has been talk of lifestyle/behavioural factors, such as incidental activity/exercise etc, which varies with post code. The research seems to be now heading in the right direction, but it's somewhat saddening to me that it takes bloody Jamie Oliver to point this out to people.

The message is clear; don't be poor.

Well, Duh.

Now I have to go find those papers....