“Moms with Radiation Brain”: Gendered Food Policing in the Name of Science
2016. "“Moms with Radiation Brain”: Gendered Food Policing in the Name of Science", Radiation Brain Moms and Citizen Scientists: The Gender Politics of Food Contamination after Fukushima, Aya Hirata Kimura
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This chapter analyzes food policing through the discourse of fūhyōhigai and its gendered mechanisms. Originally a concept to help food producers gain compensation for reduced sales due to the fear of contamination, the concept had a wider influence, often equating consumer worries with irrational fearmongering. As evident in the post-Fukushima neologism “radiation brain mom,” the implicit target of fūhyōhigai policing was women, understood as having an irrational “radiation brain,” being antiscience, and overreacting. With its strong shaming effects, such food policing made many women’s struggles with contamination a private problem that had to be dealt with in a highly secretive manner. Ironically, helping hands came from disaster capitalism, which offered products and services catering to the unmet needs of concerned consumers, but those who were not able to afford them were left out of this world of commodified safety. The neoliberal privatization of struggles with contamination under food policing raises the issue of class stratification.