Food and Culture

That is, both mother and child are being watched, judged, and constructed by society since making a good obento may please her child and also affirm that she is a good mother, and child consuming their entire meal in a appropriate manner is considered well-taught. This social phenomenon represents that culture is constructed with power which exerts a force which operates in ways that are subtle, disguised, and accepted as everyday social practice.

Another essay Carole Counihan’s “Mexicanas’ Food Voice and Differential Consciousness in the San Luis Valley of Colorado” uses the case of Ryubal to suggest how women can display differential consciousness through their practices and beliefs surrounding food. In society where traditional division of labor in cooking is still prevalent, a Mexican women Helen Ryubal challenged the traditional views of women and cooking by rejecting cooking, making husbands respect women who cooked, and involving husband in cooking.

Her strategy not only minimized the subordinating dimensions of reproductive labor but also valued and benefited from the help of her mother, sister, and husband. Her attempt has been based on her ideologies which was developed from differential consciousness which is “a key strategy used by dominated peoples to survive demeaning and disempowering structures and ideologies” (175). Both essays are focusing on the relationship between food and gender through each case.

Allison considered obentos as a container of cultural meanings, and social expectations from women and their performance and effort in obentos. Counihan’s ethnographic research of Ryubal also provided evolved relationship between women and food which could be possible due to her differential consciousness. Two authors both used a certain level of methodology to associate with their claim such as Ideological State Apparatus and differential consciousness.

This utilization strongly supports their claim and strengthens the relationship between gender and food in culture. Moreover, both authors imply the relationship food is not a mere subject but rather deeply involved with society and its ideology. As the readings focus on the relationship between gender and food, it is evident that this relationship is deeply rooted in cultural representation. To be more specific, culture constructs what is considered as normal, custom, reasonable, acceptable under ideology.

The hegemonic view from this culture forms women’s custodial relationship with food. As an asian woman, I also have countless experience relating to food. Similar to most of asian culture, the society’s expectation from woman is still traditional- cooking is women’s role and they are suppose to serve their men and rest of the family. Like Ryubal’s challenge, the counter-hegemonic view toward woman’s relationship to food and reasonable, modern alternatives are necessary.