Genetics may explain part of why women like desserts more than men do — but it's pretty sweet when a man bucks this trend.
Salon's Riddhi Shah writes that women may be "genetically predisposed" to crave sweet tastes and dislike bitter ones, while men's genetic makeup makes them more okay with bitterness. However, she cautions, many of our stereotypes about food and gender — men are from steak, women are from chocolate — are culturally determined. Studies have found that while American women report more chocolate cravings than men, Spaniards of both genders crave the treat equally. And, asks Shah, "Can you imagine a French woman saying she stays away from red meat or a French man saying that chocolate is chick food?"
Maybe I need to hang out with more French guys, because as a female dessert-lover, I frequently have to deal with the subtle implication that chocolate — or any kind of sweet except maybe pie — is chick food. Cracks about PMS and chocolate have thankfully become passe, but there's still the suggestion that wanting to order dessert or stop for a cupcake is slightly pathological. Guys can eat pizza because they like pizza, but when a woman buys a red velvet she's had a bad day, or she's rewarding herself, or she's satisfying an addiction. In fact, even liking sweet things at all is sort of figured in addictive language — can't I enjoy dessert without having a "sweet tooth?" We'd never say some guy had a "Doritos tooth," no matter how many bags he ate.
Since ladies are irrational creatures, though, everything they eat has to be some crazy drug they can't live without. Writes cupcake-backlasher John Durant, "What happens if people don't get their fix? Beware the man who gets in between a Manhattan woman and her gourmet cupcake." I don't live in Manhattan, but if a guy got between me and a cupcake (how does this even happen, physically?) I'd probably just ask him to move. Because I'm not a psycho, or an addict, I just like dessert.
To be fair, a lot of this cupcake-as-crack messaging comes from advertisers, not average dudes. It's restaurants and food companies who market desserts as sinful indulgences that women must crave for emotional reasons, rather than simple gustatory ones. But I will say that I've hung out with guys who get all holier-than-thou where dessert is concerned, saying "I just don't have a sweet tooth" like it was some kind of marker of personal strength. And yet, pounding back six beers or slices of pizza is also strong and manly. Women kind of can't win — unless we hang out with dudes who actually like sweets. These guys are secure enough in themselves to order foodstuffs featured on Sex and the City, desserts with "decadence" in the title. They do not flinch at fondant, or blanch at buttercream. They will not make jokes about your PMS cravings — in fact, they are less likely to make period jokes in general. You don't have to like dessert to be a good guy, but dudes who eat cupcakes are a little more likely to disregard society's gender taboos, at least where food is concerned. And for this, I salute them.