The politics of “dude food”


In the later aughts, as the economy crashed and the Great Recession took hold, an effective brand-new types of American male emerged: the guy.
While they have actually existed in some kind for at least the last century, the modern guy is ubiquitous and aggravating. It is because he is male, often white, buoyed by deep homosocial relationships but practically certainly straight, that the man has the luxury of deciding out. The dude does not stoop to aiming; rather, he consumes chicken wings.
With her brand-new book, Diners, Dudes, and Diets, food scholar Emily Contois is less interested in the details of dudeness than she remains in what the dude means. If the guy is a cultural construct, then what does he say about the fixations and stress and anxieties of the culture that built him? What is the dudes significance, and what is his purpose? For responses, we require only take a look at how the man consumes.
For all his endearing imperfections as an individual, the dude, as a trope, is socially helpful. “Post-2000 America proved a troubled location for the ongoing negotiation of gender,” writes Contois, arguing that the dude provided a kind of option.
” By and large, dude foods ingredients and flavors line up with standard concepts of masculine foods and food characteristics, but with a guy twist,” composes Contois. “Dude food,” heavy on spice, grease, and meat, is not simply a food, however a lifestyle. “Devoured within moments of relaxation, informality, and leisure, guy food goes beyond ingredients and flavors,” she discusses, “as it indexes the guys anti-professionalism and slacker-friendly ease.” With the right attitude, any food can be dude food; dude food, like a dude, has space to move.
I talked to Contois about dudes: What do they eat? How do dudes fit in with other subcategories of males who consume food?
You argue that one of the locations we can see moving ideas of masculinity remains in the discussions occurring around eating. What makes food such a good lens?
I had an interest in this worry of gender contamination, which is a marketing principle [basically, consumer resistance to buying products focused on another gender], and seeing how that played out culturally. Since we consume it, and thats so much more profound with food. It comes into our bodies, which intimacy becomes part of what ups the stakes and makes it this distressed terrain where we see these sort of discussions occur.
At one point, when youre defining “dude food,” you explain it as “home cooking, however with an edge of competitive damage.” That felt really right to me– when I think about ultimate “guy food,” I believe about huge quantities of tasty things that will leave me feeling vaguely ill. Whats going on there?
Home cooking– a cheeseburger or grilled cheese or nachos– are foods that a few of us do consume. When weve had a bad day at work or things arent going our way, theyre foods we rely on. Man food is simply sort of turning the dial right approximately 11.
Its a test to your manhood: Can you eat this, even if its actually big or truly spicy? They talk about this process of waste coming out of the body, which isnt often discussed. Dude food presses back.
Why is the dude so helpful to advertisers– particularly when theyre trying to get males to buy apparently un-manly stuff? You discuss the man selling Coke Zero. The dude selling yogurt.
The argument Im making is that since the guy does not care– because hes paradoxical and winking and casual and everything kind of at a range– the man can engage with food, he can engage with cooking, he can view food TELEVISION, and it does not impinge on his masculinity. The risk is lower since hes not fully invested.
One thing that strikes me about “dude food” is that possibly it needs stamina, but it doesnt need competence. The guy is different from the sous vide brother.
Yeah, there is an anti-intellectualism to the personality of the dude. That plays out in guy food being much more uncomplicated.
Men, as a classification, are simple to find but difficult to define.
And the guy– I think?– is also various than the CrossFit paleo periodic fasting man, though I feel like perhaps theres some overlap? In terms of protein.
Paleo isnt dude culture. I do see it as an action to that exact same context, that same confluence of huge cultural modifications taking place. In between 2000 to 2009, we see these modifications in gender norms– 20 percent of married women end up being the No. 1 earner in their families, youve got womens educational achievement surpassing mens.
That becomes much more made complex with the election of Barack Obama, right? There was, at that moment, this wish for a post-racial future. The United States had actually chosen a Black president, and whatever was going to be much better. And then it ended up being quite the opposite. So those are all big things that are occurring, and one method to react to it was to resist and slack. The other is to prepare the body for war? To make it even stronger.
In paleo, I really see an actually strong complement, traditionally, to that physical cultural movement of the late 19th century, early 20th century, which is also this big moment of gender crisis. You have industrialization, the increase of industrial commercialism, immigration, urbanization, modifications in work and social living, all of that clashing, and its in that moment that bodybuilding rises. The physical culture motion was all about forcefully developing the white masculine body with huge muscles and tough movement as a response to this worry of feminization from the culture itself.
Paleo reminds me of that: Its pressing back versus sedentary office tasks and an industrial food system, all the worry about wheat and monoculture crops– some of which is rightful to be rather concerned about. The reaction is to construct the body up in CrossFit exercises, to return to this nostalgic idea of how our caveman forefathers allegedly consumed, is likewise an effort to uncover and redevelop this sense of strength and security and authority at a moment when its being objected to. Its a similar response [ to the dude], however in a various direction.
Much “dude food” is industrial, its super-processed, its nacho cheese sauce, and then you have these other men who are like, aiming to eat raw venison with their hands.
Yeah, precisely. Theyre both likewise invested in the status and authority of white masculinity. Theyre both responding to the same thing. Theyre both thinking about food and the body, but in different methods.
I wish to talk about these different, frequently masculine-coded methods to eating that frame themselves not as diets but as techniques for individual optimization. When Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey discusses not eating for days at a time, hes speaking about it as a performance hack. Thats the whole guarantee of something like Soylent– instead of unpleasant yourself with physical concerns, consume this crafted nutritional liquid. In such a way, its the reverse of guy food. Its not about slacking; its about hyper-efficiency.
One of the things that I come back to is this idea of Cartesian dualism: Theres a predisposition towards the dazzling, raised manly mind, as opposed to the gross, connected-to-the-earth, womanly body. Our bodies hold us back since theyre hungry, they have to be fed, they have actually to be looked after.
If you want a body thats just going to have the ability to code and code and code, you need food that doesnt require any of that feminized labor, of recipes and cooking and cleaning up. You see it coming out of that Silicon Valley tech bro kind of identity. Which is likewise where Soylent came from: “Were going to pull out of food life and get our scientifically determined nutrients and then just work.”
And so its extremely interesting that a lot of these food patterns that we see coming out of Silicon Valley, theyre also coming from a particular kind of masculinity. Im writing about the dude; others have composed about this geek masculinity, and how it likewise is trying to prove itself in a patriarchal system, and gain status and authority. Once again, were trying to figure out the relationship between who we are, and what and how we eat, and how we manage our bodies.
How has the evolution of “dude food” changed American conceptions of “girl food,” or feminine-coded foods– whatever it is women are supposed to eat?
What I argue is that, by taking a look at the type of ingredients and the method its plated, you can define what “dude food” is. However the problem is how, in its component and its attitude, it perpetuates a system thats naturally inequitable. When we believe about the reliance on protein and meat, in the context of environment modification, and the kinds of changes we possibly should be making in our diets for a more sustainable future for all, “dude food” has that same benefit of the dude? The dude is privileged to be able to slack off, the man is privileged to be able to state, nah, I dont wish to do that, and to be able to break the guidelines. Man food embodies that values.
I believe its possibly less in dude food itself than in the way online marketers utilize the idea of the guy to combat gender contamination. You see how these brand names are trying to build ideas about masculinity, and that shows you so much about how they really believe about femininity and ladies.
What I wish to see is a world thats more inclusive. Connecting the gender binary to food didnt work for a lot of these brands. Sometimes, it isnt excellent service, and its constantly bad for culture and bad for individuals. We cant keep having a food area thats speaking about “male food” and “lady drinks.” I desire a world that extends that flexibility that the man gets to everyone.

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” By and big, dude foods active ingredients and tastes line up with traditional ideas of manly foods and food attributes, however with a guy twist,” composes Contois. With the best attitude, any food can be dude food; guy food, like a man, has room to move.
When we believe about the dependence on protein and meat, in the context of environment modification, and the kinds of modifications we perhaps should be making in our diets for a more sustainable future for all, “dude food” has that same opportunity of the dude? The guy is fortunate to be able to slack off, the dude is fortunate to be able to state, nah, I dont want to do that, and to be able to break the rules. I think its possibly less in dude food itself than in the way marketers use the idea of the dude to combat gender contamination.


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