“Recently, I stopped at a coffee shop on the way home to get a drink and a muffin. At the counter, I noticed that the range of muffins on display had been labelled according to their ‘gender,’ with the larger ones tagged as ‘male’ and the smaller ones, ‘female’. Normally, I would have chosen a small muffin as I wasn’t very hungry. But I paused. I suddenly felt a but ‘girly’ buying a small muffin, and, as a gay man, I didn’t want to feel as if I was conforming to a stereotype of gay men as being like women or effeminate. So buying the large ‘man’-sized muffin felt more appropriate. But I didn’t really want a large muffin, and I didn’t want to feel as if I was conforming to the expectation that men should eat larger muffins, or that I was somehow ‘denying’ my sexuality. Whatever choice I made, it seemed that I would be confirming someone else’s expectations, that my behaviour could be predicted and explained - ‘he bought the small muffin because he’s trying to show he doesn’t agree with stereotypes even though he confirms the ‘gay’ stereotype’ or ‘he bought the large muffin because he’s a conformist with internalised homophobia’.
To assign food sizes on the basis of whether you are male or female makes at least three assumptions: all men are roughly the same as other men; all women are roughly the same as other women; men and women are largely different from each other.
By only offering two sizes of muffins and linking size to sex, the range of different sizes of people is reduced to two categories: large-male and small-female. People who differ from the average could find their masculinity or femininity brought into question. Additionally, such a system requires people to make a choice. They either purchase the ‘correct’ muffin intended for their gender, and validate a system that has been imposed on them - conforming to the stereotype and perhaps feeling more of a man or woman for doing so. Or they purchase the ‘incorrect’ muffin - and then are required toe explain why, at least to themselves (and in my cause, the muffin labels raised a number of issues to do with negative stereotyping of gay people and internalised homophobia).”
Paul Baker, Introduction to Sexed Texts: Language, Gender and Sexuality