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.
A number of women responded with their own experiences.
Soon, it became clear that women of other nationalities had had similar experiences too.
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.
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.