A Woman, Thinking

Primal Pleasures: Food and Sex, and how they relate

Because GRRLS Rock!Poppy Lochridge2 Comments

I came across this in my morning trawl through feeds. This is all theory I've read before, but somehow, this made me think (briefly, in that half hour I get to myself before I have to lever myself towards the shower and onwards to work).

Her[Susan Bordo] essay “Hunger as Ideology” was included in the composition reader I used, and I assigned it to my students. Bordo, a feminist philosopher, analyzes numerous food advertisements in close detail (reproducing the print ads in the essay) to show the cultural messages that underpin the selling of food. Given that ads rely on pre-existing cultural tropes to get their messages across, they can tell us about the ideological underpinnings of our culture. Some of Bordo’s findings:

-Voracious hunger is considered a sign of manliness.

-Hunger for food and desire for sexuality are constructed as analogous, but this is a gendered analogy. When women are targeted, “their hunger for food is employed solely as a metaphor for their sexual appetite.” When men are targeted, the metaphor goes in reverse: eating delicious food is depicted as a sexual conquest. (The examples for this include hilariously awful ads of men whispering sweet nothings to their Betty Crocker desserts.)

-Female hunger is represented in terms of misogynistic fear: sex is imagined as a form of eating in which the woman consumes and destroys a male object of desire.

-The only acceptable female desire in ads is the desire to provide food for others.

-Women are depicted eating in private, secretly, and this act is explicitly represented as a “substitute for human love.”

from Kate Harding's Shaply Prose

As a woman of some size myself who grapples with several weight-related body issues - health, cholesterol, attractiveness, even finding clothing that fits properly - reading this today made me think: is there any relation between sex and food in the years when I gained most of this weight? If I were to chart out, year by year, the process of going from 110 at 18 to 220 at 30, would I find any surprising correlations?

What do you think? Do you think you'd find any connection in your past between your relationship with sex and your relationship with food?