PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi came under fire a couple of days ago for saying that Doritos (Pepsi’s tortilla chips brand) was launching a special version of the chips for women. Because apparently, women don’t like to make loud crunching noises when they eat and don’t lick their fingers.
So, these for-women chips would not only be less crunchy, but would also not deposit as much masala on their fingers, AND would fit into their handbags!
Sounds like a win-win deal… not. People were not pleased of course, because women love their chips as normal and crunchy as the next. But amidst all the jokes and jibes about the ‘women’s crisps’ came some eye-opening accounts from women about the ‘food sexism’ they had faced.
A number of women, Indian, and from across the world, opened up about how they had faced sexism in various forms, since childhood in many cases, when it came to food.
One thread which went viral after the Indra Nooyi interview was by Rituparna Chatterjee, a Huffpost journalist. The thread pointed out why it was problematic to assume, and encourage women and girls to not crunch their chips, eat loudly, lick their fingers and so on.
Women ate after everyone else at any meal because a woman's claim to proper portions of good food came after everyone else's. Women are advised from a pre-pubescent age to eat less eggs lest their hipbones get calcified and hard, making childbirth difficult.— Rituparna Chatterjee (@MasalaBai) February 4, 2018
People turn to women to serve them at tables even in many educated households, hiding the misogyny as flattery: "women are efficient at this sort of thing, men are not." Women in many households aren't allowed a third helping. They are expected to be polite and discreet in public— Rituparna Chatterjee (@MasalaBai) February 4, 2018
Women don't pass gas, women don't belch. Women aren't expected to talk about passing gas or belching until they reach a certain age. Women fill the water glasses before a meal, wipe down after. Women are expected to remain passive participants in male discussions around tables.— Rituparna Chatterjee (@MasalaBai) February 4, 2018
So, to all girls growing up into women: to hell with them. Crunch your chips, lick the sauce off your fingers, chomp your food, take delight in what you eat. They made up the rules for you as they went anyway, you can do the same.— Rituparna Chatterjee (@MasalaBai) February 4, 2018
A number of women responded with their own experiences.
And those angry stares given to little girls when they laugh out aloud & the water that is added to curd after men are done eating because women don't even deserve a plate of good curd rice for all the labour they put in...— Vasudha Venugopal (@vasudha_ET) February 4, 2018
remembering things. always women gave up food. widows don’t eat fish, meat, not even masoor dal. the array of veg food, minus onion & garlic that the widows of bengal created. ekadoshi, ombubachi. a way to spend less on women? why feed her when she can’t give anything in return?— indrani (@indiscribe) February 5, 2018
It was the hottest summer at my relative's place. WOMEN were served lunch OUTSIDE under the blazing Sun, while men & boys ate in the house with fans. They didn't let me eat inside bcoz I'm a GIRL! I was in class 5, btw. #foodsexism— Kavya Krishna A (@krishkavz) February 6, 2018
I have seen this happen in my family during every festival or get-together. It took hyperacidity for my mum to realise how she was putting herself at risk by not eating on time.— Aparna (@FuschiaScribe) February 5, 2018
I've seen this when we visit our relatives/extended family. The girls were unanimously expected to serve food and wait until after the men ate.— Agratha (@Agratha) February 5, 2018
Thankfully, my parents enforced no such thing, but relatives and family always thought it was a way to 'instil responsibility' in girls.
Whatay thread ! I can relate with most of d things( having brought up in Rajasthan with four elder sisters ). Now I hope my daughter won’t ever face such discrimination.— Jai Singh (@JaiHe) February 7, 2018
was pondering over this thread when I stumbled upon something familiar in my 5-year-old's so-called harmless storybook..... pic.twitter.com/9bByTqHqG1— Pooja S Bhagat (@Poojabhagat1203) February 6, 2018
I remember once I asked my brother to make maggi for me and my mami ji said that instead I should make maggi for him for HE IS A BOY, HE SHOULDN'T COOK. (Just a small example).— S H E E N (@SuchAMisfit) February 5, 2018
Both the genders should learn how to cook and both should cook.
It makes so much more sense now when my mom says her mother always gave her more food growing bc when she won’t get as much when she’s married.— Ashley (@AshleyM_twt) February 5, 2018
I recently happen to attend an occasion in another household , men were served first and we served, then it was womens turn and I asked them to do the same, one of a working independent member responded-Hell no,y, we will do it ourselves and this is 2017 @MasalaBai #foodsexism https://t.co/BlBXmS6xBs— साध्वी शिल्पी (लेनिनग्राद मठ) (@damaverickwoman) February 6, 2018
My grandmother felt that growing girls need lesser almonds with milk than growing boys! ( Not her fault , she knew no better) #foodsexism— Diksha Dutta (@dikshadutta) February 6, 2018
This #foodsexism is real! Had always seen it around me until one fine day I saw my mother say she doesnt care if others arent hungry as she sat down to eat before others.That questioned my conditioning.She still does that and each time I judge her less and less. let's unlearn! https://t.co/Jqh6QYjqOt— Lubhawani (@Lubhawani_Yadav) February 5, 2018
Accha . Aren't women suppose to eat less ? Once this uncle told me to eat less chaawal because 'baccha hone me dikkat hogi'— M (@iamkayokai) February 4, 2018
I was in class 7
Great thread. Would like to add: Bengali women, for long, were supposed to sit right there and look after what the man in the house needed while eating, often getting rebuked if the man didn't like the taste of this or that item https://t.co/GpT7VcPWV0— (@onnightduty) February 4, 2018
I actually have a classmate whose parents still follow this tradition. The mother eats ONLY after the father is done. She watched silently while we all dug into the food she took hours to prepare. https://t.co/8TQrzHrAlM— Dee (@HeyCheesecake) February 5, 2018
Soon, it became clear that women of other nationalities had had similar experiences too.
According to my mom her mother did the same thing. Serving the table of family, friends & guests from the kitchen first before she ate. #Hungarian— M Que (@Que3M) February 5, 2018
My mum grew up in 1960s Ireland and the girls had to do all the cooking and cleaning but the boys got their food first. There's a story in Women who run with the wolves about an old witch who devours a huge table of food by herself. We need sustenance to be magical!— Róisín Angela Lonergan (@RoisinLonergan) February 5, 2018
The tweet reminds me of how my mother shared her experience when she was a newlywed when her mother-in-law served the best pieces of fish to all the men in the house and the rest was left for the ladies #HuffingtonPost #indianculture #FoodSexism https://t.co/dgrLTPNJPY— Gretel Sequeira (@GretelSequeira) February 5, 2018
But ah. I say this... and yet I’ll be honest - I still find it deeply difficult to not jump to serve the tea, to eat last... the difference between what is polite hospitality culture and what is #foodsexism is something my mind is yet to fully understand.— Yassmin Abdel-Magied (@yassmin_a) February 5, 2018
How do y’all feel?
It’s not just India. Have you seen Italian, Hispanic and American mothers? My grandma never sat down to eat, at the end mainly when everyone was served. Still goes on in our family. It’s evolution and it’s in every culture. https://t.co/CFtTTr5Tf2— Afree Thinker (@AfreeThinker71) February 5, 2018
Or having community events and always prioritizing men eating over women. It seems inconsequential, but I recognized very early on (age 7) how little my community valued me by how much more they valued men. #foodsexism— Asiyah (@AsiyahSaid) February 6, 2018
Good thread. This is not unique to Indian families. Hispanics like me have similar stories. It is a male oriented culture and at the dinner table, men ruled.— M*A*G*A* Queen (@GreenLeafPub) February 5, 2018
Sounds like some Israeli Mizrachi families, Iraqi, Moroccan in particular. But also some well educated Ashkenazi families I know. Patriarchy is not discriminatory. https://t.co/eipA1UyYgJ— Hoodie Rebecca (@dorothyofisrael) February 5, 2018
Everything under this thread is also true in some African communities. Smh https://t.co/J0YMOrhR6F— CallMeClarisse (@_ImCameroonian) February 5, 2018
Some of this sound awfully familiar. I can clearly see lot of resemblance to my experience of growing up in Turkey.— Isil Arican (@isil_arican) February 5, 2018
Men is served the best portions, they start eating before others, women set the table and serve portions, and men never meddle with serving or putting food away. https://t.co/IDP0tnyyXF
Despite an overwhelming number of women opening up about food sexism they witnessed and/or faced, the experiences were lost on some people - those who said that this was merely reading too much into the situation. There were also those who argued that it is justified for men to eat more because they toil harder – feeding into the notion that homemakers do not really ‘work’. Then, of course, there were those who said that mothers fed their husband and children more food out of love and choice.
Since this has blown up, I’d like to add: 1. Because you’ve never faced this doesn’t make it non-existent 2. Women who’ve said they feed others first out of love, I hope you realise that it’s CHOICE, something not available to everyone 3. No, I’m not hoping to end the human race— Rituparna Chatterjee (@MasalaBai) February 5, 2018
Recently, Malayalam actor Rima Kallingal also addressed the issue in a TEDx talk where she recounted how an incident of not being served fish fry, unlike the men and elders on the table, laid the foundation for her becoming a feminist. In her case too, many could not understand why she was making a "fuss" for a ‘fish fry’. Read more about how she addressed food sexism here.