Chicken, like beef, conjures powerful images. Unfortunately for chickens, the representation is not a positive one. Most humans endeavor to avoid any association between themselves and the character of a chicken. Indeed, the mere mention of chickens brings to mind a frantic, frightened, unintelligent animal running in circles screaming at the top of its pitiful lungs. Personally, I hope that I would have a bit more dignity in expressing chagrin over the matter of the sky falling. Unlike Chicken Little, I would look up at the descending dome of the heavens and pronounce in a heavy Austrian accent, "Zee sky ist valling." Then I would shake my fist defiantly while running for cover, and shout, "I'll be BACK."
One generally thinks of chickens as females. This is because most of the chickens that manage to live productive lives are females. Females are, after all, the only birds capable of egg production. It just so happens that in modern society, the males aren't good for much more than insemination and being eaten by us humans. This was not always the case. Roosters, at one time, had a much more prominent place in Chickendom. At that time, they earned for themselves an exemption from the timorous stereotype that is due to the activity of their sisters. They would fight at the drop of a hat, standing up to creatures many times their own size. Our language reflects this bravado; when a person is referred to as cocky, he is thought of as gutsy, if vain and arrogant. I suspect that if it were not for the interference of modern economies of scale that male dominance would be maintained in at least one of the animal species.
Somehow we humans have let the natural order erode for both chickens and mankind. Like hens, women have gotten the upper hand in their relationships with their opposite gender. On his own I don't think a Rooster would allow a hen to drag him out shopping on a Sunday afternoon during football season; he would not let her steal the comic section while he read the paper at the breakfast table; and hens would never wrangle from him the right to vote.
I sometimes wonder if we should revert to nature, let the roosters rule the roost, and put the world right. Then again, it is also within the natural order that male emperor penguins sit on their eggs in the freezing arctic while their mates hunt for food; and black widow spiders devour the male spider after sex. Perhaps there is something to be said for man rising above his animal roots after all.
Be this as it may, chicken is one of the more popular meats in the world today. There is no culture, other than those that ascribe quite strictly to vegetarianism, that does not eat them regularly and with gusto. Perhaps this is because chickens are easy to raise and can be used to good effect in so many dishes.