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. ♥