TERMS TO KNOW

In case you run into any confusion while filling out one of our surveys, here’s some terminology to help you out with terms you may not already be familiar with!

GENDER IDENTITY: one’s sense of self as being male, female, agender, bigender, or genderqueer (to name ONLY A FEW of many possible gender identities.) This is completely separate from the biological characteristics a physical body shows. To understand this better, imagine someone came into your room in the middle of the night, shook you awake, and hollered, “WAKE UP! What is your gender!?” You wouldn’t have to check in your pants – you just know, somewhere inside of you!

GENDER: refers to the attitudes, feelings, and behaviours that we culturally associate with being male or female . We know, however, that gender exists along a spectrum, and is not a binary with only two options. The norms that we associate with what it means to be male or female are completely socially constructed. Gender is a performative act that each individual shapes for themselves.

SEXUALIZATION: when we ask if food advertisements or staff seem to be sexualized, we are asking if it seems that something or someone that is not actually sexual or provocative, is made to be seen that way. For example, check out this (disgusting) ad from Burger King:

Burgers are not sexual objects. Neither are women’s faces or mouths, or the general presence of a female. However, this ad has been constructed to use the heteronormative* construction of female sexuality to sell you food. If you look in the bottom right-hand corner, the ad calls you to “fill your desire for something long and juicy.” Burger King, in this ad, has sexualized food, and the model, in order to sell their “Super Seven Incher” burger (surely we do not need to explain this reference.) We think this is pretty gross. If your burger requires you to sexualize and demean this model, maybe it isn’t good enough to sell itself.

*By heteronormative, we mean that this ad is also reinforcing the dominating cultural idea that heterosexuality is the most normal and standard way to exist by presenting a situation of a female and food being represented as male genitalia. This is problematic because we see it everywhere – and it is incredibly exclusionary of relationships that fall outside this standard of what is “normal” or most accepted.

ONE MORE THING…

We’ve heard, a few times now, the complaint that “no one forces people into working a serving job.”

This is victim blaming, and it walks right around the real issue. So let’s take ten steps back: it does not acknowledge the circumstances that can force an individual’s hand in making the best choices for themselves. It does not acknowledge that sometimes, people desperately need to keep jobs that suck to make ends meet. Regardless of whether or not someone can leave a bad work environment – does that make the abuses that they face okay? Justified? Permissible? We are not here to blame people for staying in harmful situations, because the conversation doesn’t even need to get that far. Workplace abuse – harassment, degradation, discrimination, sexism, etc… are NOT OKAY.


When dining out, please take into consideration whether or not the establishment you are at is respectful of different identities – whether that be different gender identities, cultural identities, or sexual orientations. This is responsible consumerism. By supporting establishments that are disrespectful of the wide range of diverse people that exist in our world, you are also supporting the values and actions that they contribute to excluding different peoples. Be part of the solution. Make small choices and changes in your life to better the experiences of the people around you. ♥

10 thoughts on “TERMS TO KNOW

  1. While I definitely do not want to be thinking about a 7 inch penis while eating my sandwich, (or anything else for that matter) did this ad not serve its purpose in getting your attention, negative or not? I think that it is probably safe to say that there are many women working in advertising that promote this type of behaviour as well, men shouldnt feel like they have to go on the defensive every time a feminist speaks. Women and men market sex equally, because it sells.

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    • “I think that it is probably safe to say that there are many women working in advertising that promote this type of behaviour as well, men shouldnt feel like they have to go on the defensive every time a feminist speaks. Women and men market sex equally, because it sells.”

      So many things wrong here – brain hurts…

      Anyway, feminism IS NOT women vs men – feminism is EQUALITY BETWEEN GENDERS. Just because “some” women and men approve of and perpetuate this type of sexualizing people, animate and inanimate objects doesn’t make it right or appropriate. “Some” men and women approve of and perpetuate racism, homophobia, ageism, etc. but it doesn’t make those things right either. The only people that get defensive when a “feminist” speaks are people who condone the behaviour that person is speaking out against. If someone is telling you they want women to be above men, they ain’t a feminist!

      Anorexic/bulimic models sell clothes, but people are finally starting to understand that it’s damaging psychologically, emotionally and physically to both the model and to the people who look up to the models (both male and female – male models are just as prone to eating disorders as female models).

      The “norm” of this type of advertising affects all genders. Not only are people seeing scantily clad women and girls, but we’re seeing overly muscled men and boys – which all affects how young girls and boys see and feel about their bodies and other peoples bodies.

      TL;DR – overt sexuality in advertising for either gender has adverse affects on young girls AND boys, physically, mentally, emotionally and psychologically. And FEMINISM IS EQUALITY BETWEEN GENDERS NOT MEN VS WOMEN. And “sex sells” is the stupidest cop out answer I’ve ever heard (not just from you, it’s a very common response but it’s still stupid), once upon a time racism sold too (“Hey, come live out in the suburbs where there aren’t any black people” was very common before the Civil Rights Movement – they didn’t literally say that, but it was most certainly implied).

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    • maybe you should find some real stats about women working in advertising. I bet it’s less than 50%, they make less than their male counterparts and that they are often silenced if they object to such material

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  2. Yes. Agree that most people have to take and keep jobs that suck. Problem has many layers. All women (or men for that matter) do not have equal opportunity to obtain these jobs, suck as they may. Have been a golf course Greenskeeper for many years and notice that if you are flat chested then you better be drop dead gorgeous or forget about working in our lounge or driving the refreshment cart. Sigh. I have a daughter and bravo for what you are doing!!

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  3. I think your new blog is great. Seems like the service industry is still as sexist as it was 25 years ago when I worked in the service industry. I’ll be checking this blog regularly.
    Cheers,
    Peggy

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  4. While I do support eliminating legitimate issues of harassment in the workplace, the argument that the lack of symmetry in dress codes for male and female employees is flawed. Discrimination is not made out for mere lack of symmetry. Ironically this is an argument advanced by feminists in combating gender discrimination suits brought by men! “Heteronormativity” is legitimate in advertising and marketing. The majority of people are cisgendered and heterosexual. It is not incumbent on individual businesses and marketing agencies to be “inclusive.” Put another way, some men use lipstick, but that does not require manufacturers to market to a tiny minority. The fact is men in tank-tops (outside the gay bar scene) is not good marketing. If symmetry is now a requirement of feminists, can we perhaps re-visit the cases which upheld a panoply of women-only spaces, services and programs, even in the absence of identical such for men?

    Also there is a sliding scale on what meets the threshold of “harassment” or “gender discrimination”, varying widely on the work setting. For example, a female employee at an accounting firm would have a case against the company if she was asked to come to work topless; the same would not apply to a woman employed a strip club. Likewise, while the employer has a duty to ensure a safe and dignified work environment, what would be acceptable at Hooters would likely not fly in a office setting at IBM.

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    • Should getting her ass grabbed without permission “fly” at Hooters, even if it would get you smacked on the curb outside? Harassment is harassment, whether they work at Hooters or an office job.

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  5. Thank you for setting this database up! I was thrilled to hear about your work on The Current this week. I have often felt uncomfortable with the way certain establishments sexualize their wait staff, but was shocked to hear about some of the demeaning practices they subject their staff to. I will have FEDUP bookmarked from now on.

    As for the haters … there are so many strawmen (strawpeople?) in their arguments that I wouldn’t know where to start. Y’all are doing awesome work … but I guess you already know that!

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