Herman Cain on What Makes a Man a Man

From a GQ puff piece about GOP frontclown and accused sexual harasser Herman Cain:

Chris Heath: What can you tell about a man by the type of pizza that he likes?

Herman Cain: [repeats the question aloud, then pauses for a long moment] The more toppings a man has on his pizza, I believe the more manly he is.

Chris Heath: Why is that?

Herman Cain: Because the more manly man is not afraid of abundance. [laughs]

Devin Gordon: Is that purely a meat question?

Herman Cain: A manly man don’t want it piled high with vegetables! He would call that a sissy pizza.

Is this the new frontier in gender-policing? Are men going to be shamed for only going for a pizza with extra cheese? Is there any area of human endeavor that’s not going to get loaded down with gendered bullshit?

Also, I notice at least two trends here:

1) Manly men like big things. Big pizzas, big cars, big guns, big muscles, big penises… manliness is all about the size. I don’t know whether this has to do with the tendency of men to be naturally slightly larger than women or not, but it’s definitely a trend viz a viz masculinity.
2) Men don’t like vegetables. Men are just not supposed to be healthy, especially if “being healthy” involves eating your carrots. A green salad with low-cal dressing is not masculine, a T-bone steak is.

This whole “vegetables are sissy” thing goes beyond the ramblings of Herman Cain: you can see it in everything from the highly skewed gender ratios of vegetarianism and veganism to cardivascular disease’s disproportionate effect on men. I think it is also related to the notorious tendency of men not to consume diet products (see also: Dr. Pepper Ten and various other attempts at rebranding diet soda as masculine).

Women are, of course, far more likely to diet; women tend to be treated as sex objects, and their sense of self-worth is quite often tied to their physical appearance. As long as women feel insecure about their bodies, they can get sold all kinds of diet and exercise shit and make corporations tons of money (especially if the stuff doesn’t work and the women end up buying more diet books six months later). This means that women tend to consume more “diet” products and stereotypically healthy foods like, yes, vegetables.

Of course, if women are all doing something, men clearly can’t do whatever-it-is. So not only is dieting considered feminine, but so is the act of eating healthy food itself (entirely different from dieting, insofar as dieting is something you do to lose weight, and eating healthy food is something you do because you want to be healthy and/or it tastes good). So when women diet, men pile their pizzas high with toppings; when women eat vegetables, men eat lots of meat, especially bacon, for some reason. Bacon is like the memetic badass of foods.

Also, Herman Cain sucks. Can we just get a collective agreement on that? He sucks like a collapsing star.

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Ozy Frantz is a student at a well-respected Hippie College in the United States. Zie bases most of zir life decisions on Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, and identifies more closely with Pinkie Pie than is probably necessary. Ozy can be contacted at ozyfrantz@gmail.com or on Twitter as @ozyfrantz. Writing is presently Ozy's primary means of support, so to tip the blogger, click here.


  1. @mysti – No sorry, Cous Cous is a wheat product. It is made from semolina which is “the coarse, purified wheat middlings of durum wheat used in making pasta”. You might be thinking of quinoa.

  2. Couscous isn’t pasta, it’s the cooked seeds of a plant, like rice is

  3. Meerschaum (Keith) says:

    @saratoday You’re right. In stereotype land, sauerkraut is a manly vegetable.

    It reminds me of a friend who used to tell me that cous-cous is bisexual. Not that it is eaten by bisexuals, but that cous-cous itself happen to be bisexual.

    And now my dreams will be filled with gendered rotund polyamorous pasta.

  4. It’s funny because I’m a trans woman who is not a fan of dieting, diet sodas (think they don’t taste good, from experience), loves meat and generally doesn’t care one bit about wether there is fat or sugar in what I eat (I’ll eat it regardless) and who never ate a salad in her life.

    I’m a bit of a picky eater and have some sort of problem where I anticipate too much how something will taste, and cannot tolerate certain tastes, or textures (like biting some hard bone-hardedness thing). Hence I don’t eat a lot of vegetables, don’t bite directly in fruits (but will drink their juice and eat them processed or cut) and cannot imagine eating a salad, lettuce, relish, mustard, mayonnaise and the likes.

    So I’ll eat less because I don’t put many toppings on my food, but I’d have extra cheese on my pizza, or extra meat (one is usually costly enough).

  5. The whole “veggies are unmanly” really drove through the homosocial perfomance of masculinity thing for me – When in male company, veggies = “unmanly.” When in female company, good cooking (thus including vegetables) = attractive.

    I’m not a vegetarian, but I eat/cook vegetarian fairly often – mainly because I’m a major foodie and love the cooking challenge interesting vegetarian dishes present. I learned to cook with meat always being the central flavour, so it was a welcome challenge to learn how to make a meal without it that wasn’t just a side dish in large portions.

  6. Wait, I’m a vegetarian that regularly consumes Dr. Pepper. Oh, crap! I think my penis just shrunk another inch.

    Obviously I need to order a deep dish meat lovers pizza (extra cheese, extra meat) and down a two litre bottle of Coke to regain my manly mantle. Wait, will Coke be enough? Should I skip the Coke and go straight for a six-pack of beer? What’s a particularly manly beer? Would Foster’s work, even though it’s imported?

  7. I really really really don’t understand the whole vegetables-aren’t-manly thing. (And I’m from near Kansas City, but my apparently non-manly father insisted we eat our peas and green beans.) How are you supposed to Protect Your Woman while suffering from cardiovascular disease? And what about sauerkraut? Now there’s a dude food inspiring passionate fans. Maybe the vinegar cancels out the femininity of the cabbage.

  8. Ugh, there is that stereotype, to be fair there seem to be more female vegetarians than male ones. I am one of the male ones btw, for 2 decades. Not bad, not bad. The veg-splaining got annoying though.

  9. You know, I just had breakfast, consisting entirely of bacon and coffee. You’d think that would be sufficiently manly, but I take cream and sugar in my coffee, which has been considered less manly than taking it black since at least the 1920s.

  10. dreamwaffles says:

    I used to always forget a very good male friend of mine is vegetarian, because he wears a fair amount of leather (why I made that connection I don’t really know), but he’s got it through my head now and when I cook for him, no meat goes anywhere near what I’m cooking. But nevertheless, I think I am friends with about five male vegetarians vs. a number I don’t even remember of female vegetarians. (and if it weren’t for my roommate, I’d probably also be vegetarian through sheer absent-mindedness as I never remember that meat is a thing I can buy at the store.)

    My dad went completely vegan for a month to win a bet/prove a point, and he always explained this to people at length when his eating needs came up. Even at restaurants to waiters who, y’know, don’t really care, just want to get you some food.

    But my point is, yeah, it does seem to be “unmanly” to not eat meat. There was a discussion a while back about “manly” drinking habits, too.

    I feel like I had a point originally, but I haven’t yet had my tea and lost it. I’ll come back.

  11. I think what he’s saying is really that real men like their sausage and their mushrooms and their meat piled high. Which is totally a message I can get behind.

  12. I find it manly and sexy when men take the fuck care of themselves and don’t die at 40 because of their militant ignorance.

  13. I find it manly and sexy when guys do the very things they most of them see as sissy.

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