A SYTYCB entry
I am baffled by how often researchers seem to ask women the most ridiculous question I can think of: Would you rather give up sex or your favorite food? Who the fuck thought that question up? What are you doing with your time, dude? And why do we continually ask this question of women and gawk at their responses? Oooh, she’d rather have cake! Fatty! Oooooh, she chose sex. Slut! This idea that one choice, one answer to an inanely stupid question defines you, is at the center of the way the media continues to frame women and pleasure.
It all comes down to pleasure. We are shamed by our choice not because of what the choice is, but because we seek out pleasure in it. If women eat, it’s not supposed to be for pleasure or joy. We should be eating diet food, fuel for our workouts, bird food that will keep us thin and sexy. Our bodies are to remain skinny, sexy, neutral. Think about the way we talk about our favorite foods: “sinful,” “decadent,” “bad.” When you take away pleasure and replace shame, you are in full control of not only the choices one makes, but how they feel about those choices. The media has become the puppet master for women’s feelings around food, sex, and their bodies.
If women have sex, it shouldn’t be for the ecstasy of an orgasm, for the joy of intimacy with a partner, for liberation. It should be for procreation, to please a man. I’m re-reading The Purity Myth by rockstar feminist Jessica Valenti, and she states: “Taking the joy out of sexuality is a surefire way to ensure not that young women won’t have sex, but rather that they’ll have it without pleasure.” Bingo. If women are having sex without pleasure, they’re far more likely to buy into patriarchal ideals about women’s sexuality.
In pleasure, we liberate ourselves. Pleasure is about the self, about joy, about feeling, experiencing life. Patriarchy has succeeded in framing pleasure as shameful, selfish, out-of-control. The idiotic question of whether you would give up sex or your favorite food is a reflection of the shame we’re meant to feel in enjoying food or enjoying sex. I’m not giving up on pleasure. I seek it out. It is a challenge to patriarchy to enjoy the sex I have with my partner and the caramel apple brioche french toast I had at brunch this morning.
Sorry, pollsters, but I’m not giving up my favorite food or sex. I’m not giving up pleasure. I’m not buying into shame. Now, go ask the hard-hitting questions, like “Would you rather be blind or deaf?”