by Jon Sanders
Director of the Center for Food, Power, and Life, Research Editor | John Locke Foundation
(I suppose I should include a “trigger warning” for the highly suggestible types.)
There has to be some explanation why supposedly intelligent people are discovering atrocious racism, sexism, and so forth in the blandest, most harmless things imaginable. Right?
My theory is basically this: social-justice scholars have worked for decades, in a publish-or-perish environment, “discovering” things in society that supposedly reek of racism, sexism, etc.
This is a problem for new scholars because all the “good” bad stuff is taken. Earlier academics have already laid claims on the obvious bad -ist things. A scholar looking to publish needs to find a new racist, sexist, ad nauseam thing.
By now, however, the only things left undenounced are benign things. Such as canoes, pumpkins, and now, Greek yogurt. Here’s the abstract; there’s not one sentence in there that isn’t larded-up, jargony nonsense:
Using a transnational and comparative cultural studies approach, this essay investigates how yogurt, perceived as a strange and foreign food in the early to mid-twentieth-century United States, became localized through intersectional processes of feminization and de-exoticization. In the transition from the 1970s to the 1980s, the dairy industry adopted a postfeminist ethos, which co-opted the hippie and feminist self-care movements that had made yogurt a staple health food outside the purview of the medical-industrial complex and on the margins of the market economy. Increasingly, yogurt was marketed to the prototypical (white middle class) dieting female, expected to discipline her body by consuming pre-proportioned approximations of dessert. The rising popularity of “Greek yogurt” in the early twenty-first century has modified this cultural neutralization by foregrounding a nonthreatening “white” ethnicity—while furthering the feminization of yogurt consumption and obscuring connections to the food cultures of the Middle East.
Someone needs to alert the editors of Washington Post about this, though. Right now they think not eating Greek yogurt is xenophobia that somehow gets back to Donald Trump. (In their defense, it is hard to keep upright with the shifting sands of relativistic “truth.”)
A note to an aspiring young social-justice scholar seeking publication: I think there is still time to denounce the horrific racism of promoting niceness to others, as your nonacademic peers in Raleigh have demonstrated.