Gender stereotypes are things we label gender with certain images. For example, women have to do house chores, or men who cry are weak, or gay people are funny and not to be taken seriously. Often times, those stereotypes of images led to labeling words or insults that are being commonly used in society. This work focuses on gender labeling problems in Thailand, which is known to be opened about gender orientation. However, the labeling problems towards all gender still underlies in Thailand’s society. In this project, I chose to use food as a metaphor for gender labeling to state the obvious of labeling absurdity as food preference is always an individual preference which was never being judged. The main part of this project is a comic book that tells the stories of 4 people who are being labeled from society because their food preferences are different from the others. The metaphors are based on gender insulting words that are commonly used in Thai society. “Food Label” Is an installation consisting of a comic book as the main part, handwritten experiences, and animations. The story of 4 people created in this project which based on Thai gender insults and slangs are :
A Curry Puff Girl: A story that represents a woman who enjoys sexual intercourse. “Ka-ree” is a slang in Thai which refers to a woman who is a sex worker.
A Durian Digger Boy: A story that represents homosexual males, which the term came from the insult of “a gold digger.” This insult came from the image of a homosexual male having sexual intercourse through the anus, which gives this image of feces.
A Crab Loving Girl: A story that represents the situation in Thai Society where men think they have the power to change a Tom-boy lesbian to a straight woman. This term is very commonly called “From Tom to Bomb”.
Can’t-handle-spicy Boy: A story that symbolized a term of “boys don’t cry” when men, where taught and raise that crying is a sign of vulnerability. As a result, many men are expected to suppress their feeling of sadness.
I chose to express my work using a risograph technique with pink and blue color to stand for 2 genders of man and woman, but each person and gender have different shades and mixes, which risograph can express those shades and mixes very well.
The installation also displays a set of handwritten stories of each individual’s gender labeling experiences on papers. Along with animations of 4 characters from the comic book showing them eating their food of preference, using a rotoscoping technique. All four characters were shot from real persons who each represent a similar gender labeling experience they’ve had in real life.