Things I’d Like Desexualized: Eating.

So, I’ve been thinking lately about the people, places, and things that are sexualized in our culture, which I really wish were not.  I’m not advocating for a return to “modesty,” such that a flash of ankle is once again scandalous, — if only because censorship is largely not my style and I believe that sexuality has as much right to a social presence as asexuality.  That said, I do wish that certain things, which I question the inherent sexuality of, — (on a sidenote, is anything inherently sexual?)  — were not infused with sexuality by the media and other forces.  (To be honest, I’ve also been thinking that it might not be a bad idea for me to have some shorter*, series-type posts of a variety I might still be able to add when the school year starts up again, and my blogging-time diminishes significantly.  Perhaps “Things I Would Like De-Sexualized” could serve as one such series.)

First installment, then: Eating.  I would seriously like to see eating desexualized.  I understand that tongues and lips and mouths in general are pretty intriguing, but the constant barrage of girl-sucking-lollipop, girl licking-ice-cream, or girl-eating-popsicle is frankly starting to get to me.  The obvious implication is that the girl — (is it just me or are sexual images of men eating significantly more rare?) — is interested in licking and sucking other things, and so something as fundamental to sustaining life as keeping oneself nourished becomes an innuendo.  I’m a fan of a good juice pop, but I can’t say I’m a fan of the juice pop as a phallic symbol, and I can’t say I’m particularly comfortable with the fact that lapping up an ice cream on a city street seems to present “valid” reason for a catcall.  Can’t it just be about my sweet tooth, or the fact that it’s boiling outside?  Can’t we avoid confusing the appetite for hunger with the appetite for sex?

I know this one bothers me personally largely because I’ve struggled a great deal with food (for entirely different reasons) in the past, and I like to think of it as something I can more or less comfortably associate with now, but – in its sexualized sense – eating still feels at least somewhat counterintuitive to me.  It’s another message about food and the social significance of eating (along with all the messages about what to eat, what’s healthy to eat, what’s acceptably non-fattening to eat, and what constitutes “cheating”) that strikes me as at best unnecessary and at worst damaging.  As I write this, I begin to wonder, too, about the extent to which the sexualization of eating is a gendered issue; is this yet another thing that only women have to worry about?  Not only has everything from bananas to candy to meat (red meat after all, is the ultimate symbol of manhood) been imbued with sexual undertones, society willingly encourages women to pose with the same foods we’re discouraged to actually eat.  I doubt anyone really believes that Paris Hilton regularly grabs a meal at Carl’s Jr., but the ads linking her to that establishment weren’t really looking for a celebrity endorsement along the lines of “X Celebrity Likes Our Product, So You Should, Too.”  Instead, they were linking three different kinds of meat: the flesh of the burger, the flesh of the sexualized Paris and the flesh of the heterosexual men she was expected to arouse in the hope that this would successfully stir up scandal/ business.  I understand that “sex sells” has become as central a mantra for the advertising industry as “location, location, location” has been for real estate, and yet I wonder– why is a restaurant, which has the *actual means* to satisfy an appetite for food (presuming one can stomach Carl’s Jr.) bothering to arouse an entirely different appetite?  If I ever decide to embrace full-fledged omnivorism again, do I really have to suffer the onslaught of ads reminding me of what even dictionary.com recognizes, — that “meat” is slang for penis and that advertising will happily use my appetite for one to imply my “hunger” for the other?

I think, the next time an asexual is irked by the comment that sex is like food and not having it is the equivalent of starvation, (s)he might consider the bizarre education our sexual peers are receiving around the correlation of the two.  Then maybe we can summon sympathy enough to quell our outrage, and instead do something constructive.  Say, ask these sexual friends to consider the following images and decide for themselves whether eating is (inherently!) sexy or just plain sexualized, and whether we’re ready to desexualize it.

(Source: istockphoto.com)

(Source: canada.com

Monkeys = asexy.  (And so, for the record, does Ralph Wiggum.)

 

*Didn’t really manage that “short” part, did I?

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7 Responses to “Things I’d Like Desexualized: Eating.”

  1. pretzelboy Says:

    If advertisers thought that sexualized images of men would bring in as much money as sexualized images of women, I’m sure we’d see a lot more of them. I do not know if this is because more (heterosexual) men are inclined to buy things because of sexual images of women than (heterosexual) women would be inclined to buy things because of sexual images of men, or if more men would be disinclined to buying a product because of sexualized images of men (as they are not used to such) than women would be turned off of buying a product because of sexualized images of women (because there are used to them), or because more women would be inclined to buy a product because of sexualized images of women (because of internalization of messages that they need to be sexy and become sexualized in their appearance to attract men, which is, many companies would like you to think, the ultimate source of fulfillment for women) than men would be inclined to buy a product because of sexualized images of men would make men want to buy such a product.

    p.s. I have a feeling that more people would buy the ice cream because of the one image than the other, though I personally prefer the monkey because whenever I see ads with women trying to look erotic, I want to say to them, “Knock that stupid look off your face and try to look like a normal human being!”

  2. Let the Soft Animal of Your Body Love What it Loves. « The Venus of Willendork: Exploring Asexuality and Sexuality. Says:

    […] The Venus of Willendork: Exploring Asexuality and Sexuality. « Things I’d Like Desexualized: Eating. […]

  3. Ily Says:

    It’s funny, I was going to write a post about how similarly our culture views food and sex. I remember in that interview, Carol or David saying something like, “our culture is sex-negative and sex obsessed”. And with food we’re EXACTLY the same! I can’t count how many times someone’s said to me, “I was bad, I ate ____”. I don’t think sex should necessarily carry moral connotations, although I understand why it does. But I don’t understand how food has become so morally charged. Maybe it’s a function of the weight-loss industry getting into our heads. Maybe it’s because thin=beautiful, and beauty is all-important.

    I remember reading an essay for school by a man who had to give up meat for health reasons, and all the trouble this gave him in terms of his perceived masculinity. Although I’ve been vegetarian long enough to no longer consider meat to be viable food ;-), it’s just so bizarre that what we eat creates our identity that much. It’s a fascinating topic, one I could talk way too much about, and I’m glad you brought it up. This would be a good series, I think.

    Although I have to admit: Pink hair will get me every time.

  4. willendork Says:

    pretzelboy: Your explanation speaks rather well, I think, to why there’s a gender imbalance to those images in advertising, but I think there’s still something strange to the fact that there so common in other places — pr0n, film, etc. And of course, there’s the difference between “it makes sense” and “it’s acceptable.”

    Ily: We should talk way too much about this some time because I think it’s fascinating, too. I thought this might be a less-popular installment of this “series” and perhaps not the best to start with, but it’s one that really annoys me, so I decided to jump to it. And I think you’re right about how similarly we view them; I was thinking as I wrote this post that we even use the same *language*… “cheating” / “naughty” etc regardless of whether we’re talking about sexual relationships or EATING. This is totally insane, but I’d also love to explore more why it’s damaging, perhaps even how it’s damaging to our notion of SEX, since how it’s problematic to our notion of food seems (to me) more obvious.

    …Also, yes. I feel you on the hair. I miss my crazy-rainbow hair so much sometimes, and it leaves me even more at the mercy of other peoples’. 🙂

  5. Fantastic Beasts and How to Asexualize Them. « The Venus of Willendork: Exploring Asexuality and Sexuality. Says:

    […] 5a) Sexual: Have you seen a music video recently?  Although music probably lands on my list of things I’d like to see desexualized (or at least see sexual in a less misogynistic fashion), the media clearly reflects […]

  6. Things I’d Like Sexuality to Value: Aging. « The Venus of Willendork: Exploring A/Sexuality and Gender. Says:

    […] I wrote that entry kicking off the (potential) series of “things I’d like to see desexualized,” I […]

  7. greg fonfeluch Says:

    hi, let me invite You to aventube, a group of asexuals on youtube

    it is here: http://www.youtube.com/group/aventube,

    you can find there videos about asexuality from different users, alltogether including
    famous videos, those listed on other asexual sites, tv programmes about asexuality and
    channels with asexual content.

    Will You join us?:)

    take care and have a nice day:),
    gregory fonfeluch,
    fonfeluch@gmail.com,

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