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November 16, 2006


Jennifer Gaspar

You're a feminist guy?
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I am pretty much a chronic dieter, for health reasons, but I honestly don't have shame around my appearance or eating habits. It bothers me that all of the other women I know talk about "being good" or "being bad" with reference to eating.

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This is probably changing now, especially in the more cosmopolitan capitals. But I wonder if this does not question the assumption that the phenomenon you describe has a simple link to patriarchy. I would have thought that it is a mixture of a consumerist and perfectionist culture with patriarchal attitudes that creates this effect. I wonder also how much of this is about trying to fulfill a classist ideal. Being trim and perfectly packaged is, after all, a costly pursuit: you generally have to be able to afford healthy food and opportunities to exercise (as well as a myriad of cosmetic products, good haircuts etc). And this would also support my Eastern European example, where, until recently, class divisions just were not the same.

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I'm amazed that you could write a whole post (good post, by the way) about pleasure regarding food and sex and not note that it's likely that a lot of the sexual shame can be traced directly to the needs of various churches to control women's (and to a lesser degree, men's) bodies. One big reason fewer people masturbate in general is because they are browbeaten with the idea that some voyueristic god doesn't want them to...just as a for-instance.

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I think food might inspire stronger emotions (positive and negative) than any other pleasure, including sex. I also think that for many, food is their main source of comfort. I have known quite a few women who regularly starved themselves..

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I look forward to seeing your excellent articles more because they are so true, easy to understand. I hope you continue doing what you do best.


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People should be able to appreciate moderation - with respect to food, drink, sex, or anything else - without guilt. Pleasure often does come with penalties, particularly when taken to excess, and I think that needs to be understood; it's just that one shouldn't feel a sense of shame with every indulgence one partakes in.

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