Women and yogurt: what's the connection?

31.08.2013 23:31

When war is seemingly looming,
the environment is heading for
disaster, we're growing brains in
jars and everyone is spying on
everyone else , it's vital that we
don't lose track of the more
important things in life. Like
yogurt. And, perhaps more
crucially, why is it supposedly only
women who eat it?
Yogurt is a fairly innocuous
substance, occupying the midpoint
between milk and cheese on the
dairy spectrum, without being
considered as much a staple as the
former or as much of an
indulgence as the latter. It seems to
hide in something of a blind-spot in
the minds of most people. The UK
buys more yogurt than ever, but
10% of all yogurt bought is thrown
out uneaten. There are numerous
possible reasons for this, but
they're probably boring. Yogurt is
boring, let's face it. However, there
is one fascinating thing about
yogurt; it is apparently exclusively
eaten by women.
This sounds far-fetched, but many
people have noticed this . At some
point, someone in western society
decided that men don't eat yogurt.
To date, the only known example
of a man liking yogurt is comedian
Richard Herring, who dedicated a
whole show to the matter (you
should buy it, it's good). But one
example from one half of the
population isn't statistically
So why this blatant gender
imbalance? Is it just sexism, or
something more profound? As
always, the world of science may
offer some answers.
Cultural influence
Yogurt is actually a very old
foodstuff, going back an estimated
8,000 years . Yogurt was also a
staple food of Genghis Khan and his
army , and the words "feminine"
and "Genghis Khan and his army"
rarely go together. However, yogurt
is also associated with India . Much
Indian cuisine incorporates yogurt.
In Punjabi, yogurt is a female
noun , and if western culture
learned about yogurt from India,
this could this be a demonstration
of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis,
which argues that the language
people use influences how they
think and perceive the world.
Also, yogurt is often used to temper
the effect of spicy food. Eating
needlessly hot spicy food is a
typical way to demonstrate your
machismo, so eating yogurt could
be seen as a threat to your
masculinity, if you're a man who
cares about such things. And all
men do!
Biological necessity
The biological usefulness of yogurt
is generally well accepted . It can
even be consumed by those with
lactose intolerance. However, most
yogurt advertising emphasises its
supposed improvement of the
digestive process . Women have
less-efficient digestion than men,
evidenced by the fact that they
apparently never break wind.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that
many women never even defecate.
Obviously this has negative
biological consequences. You can
observe these directly; simply spend
a few minutes explaining to a
woman why she's biologically
compromised and you will observe
her eyes rolling, random sighing or
even her face turning red, all
likely consequences of internal gas
buildup. As a result, it may be
essential that they eat more yogurt,
in order to maintain a healthy
level of digestion.
Yogurt consumption is also believed
by many to help you live longer ,
but as men die younger in general,
yogurt may be wasted on them.
Also, regular yogurt eating helps
prevent vaginal infections, but men
are totally immune to these for
some reason.
One of the main things known
about yogurt is that it contains
cultures, or bacteria. "Good"
bacteria, that is (although
separating all bacteria into either
good or bad categories is probably
worryingly oversimplifying
things). However, bacteria are
normally associated with poor
hygiene and illness. As has been
discussed before, men aren't
allowed to get ill. Perhaps the
association between germs and
yogurt is off-putting to the male
members of the population?
It could be that the gender bias in
yogurt appreciation has
evolutionary origins. There are
several "alternative" theories of
how men and women developed.
One theory argues that females are
made of "sugar and spice and all
things nice" whereas males are
made of "slugs and snails and
puppy dogs' tails". If females are
composed of clumps of inert
compounds that are considered
pleasant to most humans, then
perhaps they would be more
tolerant of yogurt than the colony
organism that is the typical male.
There is also another theory,
seemingly derived from the notion
of panspermia, that men are from
Mars and women are from Venus.
Venus is the hottest planet in the
solar system , so any endotherm
originating from there would have
a correspondingly high internal
temperature, and may appreciate
the cooling effects of yogurt. Mars,
on the other hand, is a lot cooler.
Anything from there may shy away
from cooling substances, and
appreciate things like spicy food
(see above).
Western society is unquestionably
still dominated by heterosexual
males, and, at the risk of being
incredibly crude, perhaps the sight
of other men happily consuming
viscous white fluid makes them a
bit uncomfortable? It's fine if
women do it, of course. That's not
an issue.
One of the more outlandish theories
behind this gender bias is that
yogurt is traditionally marketed as
a sweet thing, and in the world of
advertising, which logically has to
cater to as many people as possible
at once, males and females are
regularly reduced to a collection of
rather patronising and simplistic
stereotypes . Women like dieting,
desserts and looking nice, whereas
men like beer, sport and meat.
Stuff like that. Ergo, yogurt would
primarily be marketed at the
former group.
Of course, this is all just
speculation. But still, we shouldn't
shy away from tackling the big
issues like this.