On Women and Enjoyment

Published September 19, 2010 by Fat Heffalump

It was a small comment on this great post by meowser on Fat Fu that set a lightbulb off in my mind.  While talking about food shaming, this really jumped out at me:

Seriously. I will never be able to understand how the same women who (rightly) opine that women should have the right to drink like men frequently balk at the idea that women should be allowed to eat like men. Sure, you can inhale a thousand calories’ worth of Cosmopolitans or Coronas and fall off your barstool and that’s badass righteous, but gods forbid you should indulge in a cheeseburger. On a bun made with white flour. With fries. And a full-sugar soft drink. (You food slut, you.)

The emphasis is mine.

That’s what this is all about isn’t it?  That’s what the objection to fat women really boils down to.  The perception that women who are fat, must eat a lot, so therefore they are food sluts.  Because if a woman enjoys ANYTHING, be it food, sex,  shopping, alcohol, working, you name it, then she must be enjoying it to excess, be gluttonous, addicted, enslaved by her enjoyment, and by extension, a slut.

Of course, feminism steps up for most of these things, and says that women should be able to enjoy things as much as men, but as Meowser rightly says, often not when it comes to food.  The slut shaming is still there, only it’s not sex or drinking and so on, it’s food.  Because so many people believe, and some of those people are feminists, that fat is still the most disgusting vice that one can have.

The idea that women enjoying anything, regardless of how much they are enjoying it, is somehow un-ladylike is antiquated and offensive.  Surely we’ve moved past the age where women were expected to be “dainty” about everything in their lives?  We’re not allowed to please ourselves in any way, instead women are expected to be pleasing to others.  And it’s not just men.  A lot of the most hateful vitriol that women suffer comes from other women.  The piece that Meowser is responding to in her blog post is by a woman who calls herself a feminist, published on Feministe.  It was really disheartening to read this from a feminist, when it’s hard enough fighting the narrow minded expectations of misogynists, without having to deal with it from within our own sphere.

Until we can shift the thinking that women enjoying themselves in any way is somehow un-ladylike and unfeminine, we’re still going to be oppressed as a gender.  It doesn’t matter if it’s sex, or food, or anything else – slut shaming is still slut shaming.

While women are forced to feel guilt for what they eat (or what they are perceived to be eating by their body shape/size), they’re not free to be equal human beings, and disordered behaviours and damaged body image will run rife.

17 comments on “On Women and Enjoyment

  • Great post! I’d never thought of the connection between enjoyment of sex and enjoyment of food as being treated as “slutty” when it comes to women, but you’re right, that attitude definitely exists.

    It would be fun/interesting to find some old Victorian literature outlining how a lady should behave with regard to sex and relationships and replace the relevant words with “food” and “eating” instead….coz many women seem to get that slut-shaming when it comes to enjoying sex is BS, yet can’t extend the same to eating.

  • THis totally just blew my mind…I agree! But nooooo, women are only supposed to enjoy cleaning the house and child-rearing.


    Seriously though, I HATE slut-shaming. Whether someone likes to fuck or fucks to be liked, that’s their own business. I hate the double standard and can’t believe how far we’ve supposedly come yet people still live by it…..we need change! Women have the right to indiscriminate casual sex just as much as men do, and to go nuts at the smorgasboard without being fucking shamed for it. I feel proud and lucky I do both of those things without caring what others around me think. 🙂

  • Great post. I think that a lot of us always known instinctively that women suffer sizism in more ways and at lower weights than men, and it’s really cool to see the mechanisms behind that being recognized and discussed.

  • I think the main point is how women are taught to sabotage each other from a young age. And we are taught to harshly judge ourselves. We could create such a wonderful world if we stopped judging and started trusting other women!

  • Thanks for posting this. I’m new to the world of FA, and posts like this help enormously in understanding that there are behaviours so ingrained and normalised that I don’t even realise that I’m doing them – that I was calling MYSELF a food slut for enjoying food. (It’s a bit like when I first studied post-modernism and discovered that it’s all about questioning the norms…)

  • I’ve thought about that for some time now. I love to cook and eat, I love red wine and I love sex…I guess I’m just your all round fat slut! I won’t be shamed!
    I was eating something nice at a dinner party not long ago and mentioned how nice it was. This man did the whole lascivious “Oooh I betcha do, I betcha you LURRRVE to just eat and eat and you probably like to do other things lots and lots…yeah, am I right, yeah?” Up to this point I liked the man. My husband looked on with wide eyes and was about to say something but I got in first. Alas, it wasn’t witty ;-(…Something along the lines of “Shut the fuck up, don’t ever speak to me again…” How I wished I had a clever retort….ah well. He ruined my meal though, god damn him!

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