Lean Cuisine

Please see our “About,” “Why Radfem?” and “The Gears” pages for additional information about this project.

Common themes represented here:

Fetishize female vulnerability.  Making comparisons between “women’s fashion” and “women’s food” is very apt, as both are specifically designed to harm women and make them more vulnerable by depleting women of our hard-earned income, enticing us to spend on “trends” and specialty items that are overpriced, non-functional, woman-hating, and even inherently dangerous (as in the case of high-heeled shoes, which are known to be crippling in both the long and short-term).  Just as high-heeled shoes are not functional for walking, running, climbing, or for anything except being looked at, (and hobbling) low- or non-caloric “food” does not function as “food” which is meant to supply energy and fortification via calories and nutrition, and actually functions as something else entirely.  See also PIV-centric narrativeGoal is to “land a man”.  Fuckability mandates; competing or vying for male attention; male-pleasing generally.  See also Reversal.  “Food” that is low- or non-caloric is a mind-fuck and a reversal in terms.

Normalize abuse/neglect.  Denying women calories and nutrition is both abusive and neglectful, and this is known to occur cross-culturally and across time, as girls and women are forced to eat the “leftovers” or nothing at all, while the quality nutrition is given to the boys and men.  In the case of the diet industry, it is cleverly offered up as a voluntary exercise in Western women’s self-deprivation, and the effect is to normalize the deprivation of girls and women of nutrition, including calories — completely ignoring its location within the global political (patriarchal) context of deliberate starvation of females as a sexual class, and the clear benefits of this practice to males.

This (political, patriarchal) context, and the ways that obviously-sexed (not “gendered”) eating patterns reflect and reinforce women’s subordinate status is described in detail here, in the abstract for an article entitled “The cultural conception and structural perpetuation of female subordination: an examination of gender relations among the populations of the Chalt-Chaprote community in the Nager Valley of Northern Pakistan”:

Women’s role and status in Pakistan is discussed with reference to fieldwork conducted in the Chalt-Chaprote community in the Nagar Valley in 1989-90. Attention was directed to how women are placed in subordinate positions within socioeconomic activities, and the effect of changing economic conditions on their role and status. Women’s social position of authority, decision making, or leadership is subordinate to men’s at the household, the village, or community level. Even though women belong to women’s organizations, men still keep accounts and maintain contact with men of the “outside world.” Unchaperoned mobility and access to formal education are restricted for women. Women and girls are active in production in the fields and pastures, and their role exceeds that of males in intensity and length of work. Several tables indicate the involvement in a variety of production tasks. Production work takes about 8.05 hours/day throughout the year; this equals 2378.8 hours every year compared with men’s 2047.27 hours. Household work is in addition to production work. Girls contribute to the household at the age of 8-9 years in child care, and at the age of 13-14 years in cooking cleaning, and washing. Women comprise 49.3% of the population, but are not entitled to claim property if there are brothers or the family is very poor. Birth ceremonies are different for girls, and only boys are welcomed at birth. Eating patterns also reflect the subordinate status of women. Women eat after men and eat the leftovers. In a food crisis situation, it is women who are expected to limit their consumption. Maternal mortality is high due to malnutrition and lack of prompt access to medical care. Women have very little leisure time and almost no recreational activity, in contrast to men. Women do not practice sports or dance as men are allowed to do. This community was incorporated into the Federally Administered Areas in 1972, and piped water was introduced. This reduced the time and labor in fetching water, but did not change women’s status. Wheat threshers were introduced, which reduced men’s and women’s labor; maize is still threshed manually by women only. Weeding sprays are available, but women’s labor is cheaper. New products have expanded women’s work, and access to labor-saving inputs is still restricted. Recommendations, for instance, are to increase education and training, health care, and women’s networks.

Bolds mine.  See also Femicide.

PIV-centric narrativeNormalize simulated/exaggerated female pleasure.  Tiny portions of highly processed food that tastes like crap are not satisfying at all, and the whole thing including the individualized ritual/process and the larger political context is an exercise in deprivation and woman-hatred.  Yet the women are shown to enjoy it all immensely.  Where have we seen that before?  Not to mention of course, that all these women are actors, and are literally faking it.  We do not need to see any more images of women faking pleasure (or do we?) and yet we are constantly exposed to these images — they are literally everywhere in all patriarchal media, including (obviously) pornography.  Women “faking it” with regard to pleasure (and faking or tamping down other things, like containing revulsion or suppressing a “fight or flight” response or intuitive or conscious “inhibitions”, including self-medicating with drugs and alcohol to accomplish that) is also a requirement in both porn and prostitution.  See also Normalize porn/prostitution.

Woman as “useful object”.  These commercials literally present women as objects or products to be consumed.  Stunning.  A similar tack is taken in this Special-K commercial, where women are conflated with food items — in this case, with candy.  This commercial was discussed earlier here:

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2 responses to “Lean Cuisine”

  1. ethicalequinox says :

    Women: inconveniencing the world by being alive since the dawn of freaking time!

    How selfish of us, to think we should be allowed to sustain ourselves through adequate nutrition! Just sustain yourself through masochism and all your problems will be solved!

  2. Mia XX says :

    I still can’t get over this analysis – that I first read in the Special K comments- about women being products, and essentially advertising aimed at women is selling us tools to market ourselves. Wow. ‘You don’t want candy- you want to be candy.’ I notice this object-rather-than-subject thing ALL the time now, and I wonder if that’s partly why women have funny relationships to food- guilty relationships. Like, chocolate or ice cream- women ‘comfort’ eat this stuff excessively at times and feel guilty about it. Eating pleasurable food IS relating to the world as a subject rather than an object, and women crave and binge on these experiences- at the same time they feel guilt. They ‘shouldn’t’ be doing this because they are damaging the product (themselves)- by ruining their figure. So women talk about foods they’ve eaten in terms of ‘I’ve been good’ or ‘I’ve been naughty’. Eating for pleasure is a rebellious thing to do if you have absorbed this understanding of yourself as product. This is such a mindfuck. Sorry if this didn’t entirely make sense (it did in my head) but the concept itself is so convoluted and weird.