Recently, I’ve been reading this book which is a collection of essay excerpts which discuss sexuality under a variety of different themes. I’m only in the second section of the book (“The Discovery of ‘Sexuality’ at the Turn of the Century”) but read 2 passages in a row that related food and sex.
I’ve seen this comparison used before by people in the poly community when they explain why monogamy is not for them and after reading those 2 passages (“Biological Foundations” by Havelock Ellis and “Pathology and Norm” by Arnold I. Davidson) I gave some thought to this popular relation and tried to come to some conclusions surrounding it.
While I can’t feel I pinpointed exactly why food (including eating habits, types of food, etc) and sex (including sexuality, partners, etc) are so often paired together, another interesting realization struck me:
In general, both our eating habits and our sexual habits are things we’re taught are more personal in our society. We’re supposed to both eat and have sex in moderation but what this “moderate” amount is is never made explicit. Those who do “too much” eating or those who are involved in “too much” sexual activity are looked down upon in our society (“too much” being a subjective term).
However, I feel that our society is more forgiving of people who don’t temper themselves in one of these respects if they appear to exercise control in the other.
For example, those people who are slimmer (who “eat less” or “eat right”) are allowed to be sexual and sexualized in our culture. But people who, stereotypically and at a surface level, seem to exercise less control of their eating habits, are condemned if they are portrayed (or try to portray themselves) in a sexual way.
A great example of this is Lena Dunham, creator/writer/director/actor/allaroundamazingness in Girls. Though she doesn’t fit society’s idea of a body that we sexualize, she frequently shows herself topless on Girls and has faced ridicule from numerous people for this decision (a quick Google search can tell you as much).
I think more role models like this are essential. People who show that eating and sexual activity are both natural human things and should be talked about instead of limiting people to having either one or the other. We should be recognized as human and as such we embody both the urge to eat and to be sexual.