While I try to motivate myself to keep writing longer reviews and essays, I’ve decided to post a short addition to the feminism + Fumi Yoshinaga series I had going for a while. This time, it’s a page from Not love but delicious foods make me so happy! that one could easily glide right over. In her usual style, Y-naga pokes fun at the fact that we hold men and women to different standards, this time when it comes to food.
Not Love but Delicious Foods Make Me So Happy is Yoshinaga’s ode to food and friendship. (I posted briefly about it HERE.) In it, “Y-naga” visits her favorite (real) Tokyo restaurants with her friends and assistants, and provides detailed descriptions of the food and conversation. Each vignette provides an in-depth look at the delicacies enjoyed by the foodies (and non-foodies) as well as some insight into their personalities and relationships.
In this chapter, Y-naga and her friend have just eaten a large meal, and are embarrassed when the wait-staff come out to thank them personally for their patronage. (Pardon the less-than-perfect scan …)
Y-naga and her friend feel like they should be chagrined for eating a hearty meal and being enthusiastic about it. Women are expected to become excited about eating “cute” foods like cakes, according to Y-naga, not meat. Food has become gendered, so that men and women are expected to consume it differently. We’ve all seen ads and TV sitcoms making fun of men who become vegetarians or order “girly” cocktails instead of beer. In the same way, women aren’t the ones expected to order steak on a date, lest they give the impression that they aren’t lady-like. (Then again, you aren’t supposed to just order salad either, because you don’t want to give the impression that you’re high maintenance – there are far too many rules for these things! Going sans garlic is definitely good advice, though.)
What I love about this, and most of Yoshinaga’s subtle jabs at cultural double standards, is that it’s so simple and yet shows us a lot about the two characters and the world they live in. These are not women who are afraid to eat what they want, but they are aware of the pressure on them to feel bad about it. It’s a simple panel, just one out of many, but it says a lot about the complicated ways women deal with food.