Penn State Professor Argues that Eating Meat Perpetuates Patriarchy

meat tax
AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

A sociology professor at Pennsylvania State University recently argued in an academic journal that eating meat perpetuates “patriarchy.”

According to Campus Reform, Penn State Professor Anne DeLessio-Parson believes that “hegemonic masculinity implies an imperative to eat meat.” She argued just that in a recent academic article in the Journal of Feminist Geography.

DeLessio-Parson came to this conclusion after interviewing 23 vegetarians in Argentina. She asked them how they cope with the country’s “meat-centric” culture and if they view vegetarianism itself as a political act.

“The decision to become vegetarian does not itself destabilize gender, but the subsequent social interactions between vegetarian and meat-eater demand gender enactment — or resistance,” she explains in her article. “Refusing meat therefore presents opportunities, in each social interaction, for the binary to be called into question.” She suggests that such a decision to forego meat consumption in a social setting may be a political act of resistance against the gender binary.

In an interview with Campus Reform, DeLessio-Parson argued that vegetarianism is a mode of resistance for women against the patriarchy. “Women, one of the ways they push back against patriarchy, they say, ‘This is my body. You don’t get to tell me what comes in and out,’” she argued.

She echoed this sentiment in her article, writing that women can assert authority over their diets as a mean of claiming autonomy over their bodies. “Women, for example, assert authority over their diets; men embody rejection of the meat-masculinity nexus by adopting a worldview that also rejects sexism and racism,” she wrote. “I contend that in such a context, we cannot separate the ways people ‘do vegetarianism’ from how they ‘do gender.’ Doing vegetarianism in interactions drives social change, contributing to the de-linking of meat from gender hegemony and revealing the resisting and reworking of gender in food spaces.”

DeLessio-Parson praised male vegetarians and argued that they seemed more open to acknowledging issues of sexism. Male vegetarians “seem more egalitarian and respectful,” she claimed.


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