Of Meat and Manhood
36 Pages Posted: 14 Mar 2011 Last revised: 15 Mar 2012
Date Written: March 11, 2011
Sex discrimination law is at a crossroads. While Title VII of the Civil Rights Act has done much to combat formal sex discrimination in employment, the gender-stereotyping theory of sex discrimination – perhaps the most transformative theory of sex discrimination – has been eroded in the courts by a problematic way of thinking about discrimination – the bootstrapping logic. The bootstrapping logic reasons that an employee cannot raise an actionable theory of sex discrimination to “bootstrap” protection for an unprotected trait. This Article uses the cultural relationship between meat-eating and stereotypical notions of masculinity to critique the bootstrapping logic. The centerpiece of this critique is a case-study of an ongoing lawsuit in which an employee has brought a discrimination claim against his former employer, alleging that the employer discriminated against him because he is vegetarian. By focusing on the male vegetarian case study – which involves allegations of vegetarian, sexual orientation, and gender-stereotyping discrimination – the Article argues that sex discrimination often manifests as other forms of bias. In the case of the male vegetarian, what may look like vegetarian or sexual orientation discrimination is really sex discrimination in the form of gender stereotyping.
Keywords: Discrimination, Sexual Orientation, Vegetarianism, Gender
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation