Alex Blaze

No more eye candy for me, I'm full!

Filed By Alex Blaze | February 27, 2008 10:35 AM | comments

Filed in: Living, Media
Tags: boy pics, sex

I don't think I've talked much about my bizarre relationship with food here, but I think that I'm not alone on this one.

yummy.jpgLanguage is itself a system of symbols used to signify concrete objects and actions, but in the process of language creation, representations often get directed else where from their signified objects. As a result, for me, there are a lot of trigger phrases that elicit an emotional reaction that goes beyond the reaction associated with those signified objects.

And a lot of them have to do with food. Actually, a lot more to do with food than with sex, which is strange, I suppose, for someone who was brought up in America's sexophobic culture. Bil's post last week and the ensuing comment discussion where everyone was repeating the phrase "eye candy" got me to thinking about my disproportionate reactions to food/sex linguistic connections.

microwavable.jpgMy relationship with food is complicated and not something that I'm willing to fully discuss on this site. But the short story is that I've dealt with poor body image all my life, ever since I was much younger and my mom put me on my first diet at age 8. My weight's gone up and down and up and down, I've eaten myself silly some days and then gone for months eating one meal a day and then running eight miles. (I'm in a much better position now, thank you.)

So then I think about the connections people make between food and sex, saying that someone who's hot is "delicious," or Perez Hilton marking boy pics as "yummy," or us calling such photos "eye candy," and how I just think the whole thing is disgusting. Sex isn't an act of consumption!, I think, it's an interaction! It's a connection!

hollandaise.jpgJust this past month, for example, I had a big ol' reaction to Patricia's post about the risks we take with food and those we take with sex, comparing them and seeing what comes from such a comparison. It was well-written, an interesting set of observations, and it spoke to a whole lot of people. But my response to the food/sex connections was knee-jerk rejection. It was a visceral distaste.

I think buried somewhere in all that is a distaste for mixing my thoughts and reactions to food with anything else. Don't get me wrong, I love good food and I'm great in the kitchen, but it's the consumptive aspect, the bigger picture, the ways what I eat now will affect me in the future, that's complicated.

I know that I'm not going to stop people from using the phrase "eye candy"; it's out there and it's not going die without me. But, looking at the bigger picture, what I am looking to examine are the ways that we connect various seemingly unrelated subjects. Why are food and sex so often conflated in the ways we discuss them? Is it that both are seen as consumptive? Is it that both are bodily desires? Is it that they're basically all that animals see as the ends in their lives, and that we're really not above thinking like animals?

protein not fat.jpgAnd why is it that we can say that a hot guy or gal is "yummy," but the pics I've captioned and littered this post with feel inappropriate? Is it that actually thinking about physically and literally eating other humans is beyond the pale, but doing it abstractly is OK?

I think that, no matter how complicated my relationship to food is, that there is something distasteful (yuk yuk yuk) about looking at other human beings in the same way that we look at food. The fact that we generally use such language, or at least where I hear it the most often, is when we're talking about pictures of attractive people instead of about the people themselves says that such language is stemming from a reduction of sex and not sex itself, that it's coming from sexual desire divorced from a connective end, in the same way that consumerism separates all aspects of our lives from connection with others.

And that's something that we should examine and criticize, making sex and sexual desire about something that doesn't involve other people, concretely or abstractly. But we can enjoy the pics in the process.

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Michael Bedwell | February 27, 2008 4:30 PM

Hmmm. Sounds like there are some inescapable connections between your reactions to sex-as-food imaging and your food issues. In refreshing my memory for a recent post about Oliver Sipple, the gay man who saved Pres. Ford's life, I discovered that because he had experienced a bombing while a Marine in Vietam he was so classically shell-shocked that he asked to be admitted to the quiet insulation of the veteran's hospital every Fourth of July because even the sound of firecrackers so freaked him out.

Except for those who make a literal connection, like the legendary urophiliac, coprophagist, necrophagist, sadomaschochist Albert Fish [““it took me nine days to eat her entire body” see] and the more recent Jeffrey Dahmer, or the fad the last few years, e.g., of serving food ON naked human “tables,” I think sex-food images are natural in the most positive way. They shouldn’t be avoided—they should be encouraged. Just TRY resisting the joys of the food scene in Albert Finney’s “Tom Jones.”

“Why are food and sex so often conflated in the ways we discuss them?”

—because experiencing sex or food is both ultimately a SENSORY experience. Whether it’s some kind of holdover from our lower origins such as herdism I don’t know, but I have long observed the need of most humans to “integrate” their environments. From making certain their combinations of pieces of clothing “match” to the way they decorate their dwellings to those they interact with by choice.

Having long lived elsewhere, when people ask me what Indiana is/was like, along with naming the positives, I answer that my biggest problem with it was its natives’ need to “homogenize”—if you weren’t “white milk”—read: not-Caucasian, not straight, not gender expectation-conforming male or female—then you were likely to always be made to feel, however subtly, that you were “alien.” I trust it’s somewhat better now.

Humans integrate their thought processes and verbal expression about sex and food both as a way to integrate each within their whole and to communicate more descriptively about them. And the cross-pollination [no pun intended] of semantics is spontaneous in all parts of our lives. A warm blanket on a cold night feels “good” and a musical performance can be “hot” and having someone ____ your _____ can also be described as good and hot, but we’d never imagine we’re degrading linens or gifted musicians by using similar words to describe them as sex.

Pheromones and smells we’re more consciously aware of naturally integrate the two, also. I’ll never forget exiting my 18th & Castro apartment building one warmish night long ago [before “dick to die for” took on literal implications] and suddenly having the sensation that I could “smell” sex in the air. Now there are places in San Francisco [and elsewhere, of course] where, with enough proximity, there would be a direct, observable explanation for that. Congregate and accumulate enough sweat, semen, etc., in one spot and your olfactory lobe is going to go BINGO! But, while given the location, if surrounding building walls had disappeared I could have probably thrown a rock and hit someone copulating, there was nothing I could see that explained the perfume permeating the street.

Certainly the argument can and is made that sex is better when there is an “emotional connection,” just as dining with people you care about makes the experience more enjoyable regardless of the inherent quality of the food. But I don’t accept that the converse is true—that sex can’t [or shouldn’t be] enjoyable without such a connection, anymore than “table for one.” I “love” chocolate above all other edibles, but am I a shallow whore because I also love fried chicken and fresh fruit salad and the gelato at the little shop down the Florentine street from the Accademia where one can view Michelangelo’s “David” and “Captives”?

As for “sex as consumption,” Tennessee Williams was clearly associating the two, at least sex that is implied to involve exploitation, possibly coerced, of children with in “Suddenly Last Summer,” and the punishment for the adult gay man, Sebastian Venable, is to be literally eaten by them. But William’s residual rejection of his own and homosexuality in general makes it difficult to decide exactly what he’s condemning and for what reason. “Consumption” of others in various ways is everywhere in the play, from the obvious of the gay man as déjeuner to his garden with its Venus flytraps and similar plants to his emotionally carnivorous mother named for another plant, Violet, and the consumption of things [“We were a famous couple. People didn’t speak of Sebastian and his mother or Mrs. Venable and her son, they said ‘Sebastian & Violet’, ‘Violet & Sebastian’ are staying at the Lido, they’re at the Ritz in Madrid....everyone else: eclipsed!...It wasn’t ‘folie de grandeur’. It was grandeur!”], consumed herself with the need to both deny the truth about her son ["a world of light and shadow, but the shadow was almost as luminous as the light"] and the need to, if not exactly consume, cut it out of his cousin’s brain.

Relating sex AND LOVE to food is not inherently bad, anymore than musical expressions of emotions, or their representations in dance and art. Ultimately what’s important is that “the rules” are the same: eat responsibly and have sex responsibly.

Alex, I've also struggled with eating disorders and body image, but I'm going to disagree with part of what you said.

"Sex isn't an act of consumption!, I think, it's an interaction! It's a connection!"

Food is not comsumption. Food is also about interaction and connection. When we break bread with someone, there is nothing as intimate except for possibly sex. When I share a meal with someone that I have prepared, it is all about the love. Today at culinary school, we made pasta from scratch and an Alfredo sauce that blew my mind. I had to have a moment to myself in the kitchen because it was THAT good. I literally had an orgasm in my mouth.

Food is love and I love food. I think that when we only look at food as something we consume, we disrespect it. I don't just eat to live, I live to eat. And I think that this is healthy. I have a very intimate connection with the food I prepare and serve my customers at work. I want every dish I prepare to be served with love, even though I never meet any of my customers. I am always unseen, somewhere in the kitchen.

I agree with what you've said about people being objectified as objects of consumption. But I don't think that we need to disentangle sex and food. Because let's face it, some food is just sexy.

"Sex isn't an act of consumption!, I think, it's an interaction! It's a connection!"

Sex is what the participants make of it. If I'm in a relationship that seems to have promise, then ideally it is the "connection" you speak of. If I am just horny, and go out and hire a prostitute (male or female), or if I check in to the baths, then it is consumption --- even though the possibility of "connection" still exists with the prostitute or my bathhouse partner(s).

As for text messages on hot photos --- I do not need Perez Hilton to scrawl "Yum-yum!" on a naked photo of Shemar Moore; Perez, you idiot, I am not braindead! Every time I see him (or anyone else lately) do that, i.e., show me a picture emblazened with what I'm expected to think about it, I want to beat the shit out of whoever did it. It absolutely infuriates me!

Food and sex will forever be associated in our minds for one reason if no other: they are both pleasant, oral experiences. That is very primal, and unless you are the type who fucks without kissing or licking, there is no escaping it. It's not surprising that a man's sex organs are often called his "weiner" or "banana" or "nuts" and a woman's beasts are compared to melons or peaches or "jugs". And taking a load of cum down your throat is one example where sex and eating intersect literally --- not exactly a complete meal, but certainly a delicious dessert for one's efforts.

So I agree with Serena: when you try to untangle sex and food completely, you are attempting to separate the yolk and white of an egg --- which is possible in general, but never exactly.

So ... don't separate the egg --- either hatch it or eat it!

Perez does it to mark the photos as coming from his site more than any need to "foodmark" it. But the choice of words is interesting. I'd be more likely to say "HOT" or "SEXY" or some such...

I would never have thought of this without Alex's post though...

I'm the opposite of Serena though - and Jerame and I have talked about this often... He - like Serena - loves food and the taste and flavors and the whole nine yards. Me? Whatever. I eat to live. Half the time I forget to eat unless Jerame is reminding me - "You didn't eat breakfast and it's 4 o'clock. Will you be having a lunch soon?"

But it never made me think about food when seeing the stupid taglines people put on them...