By Raisa Desypri
Gynophagia: The metaphorical consumption of the female, from eating pussy to eating junk-food and back.
I wanna know what you taste like.
Let’s talk about food or, even better, let’s talk about sex. These are, probably, the world’s two favourite topics of conversation. Their connection is such that when talking about food we metaphorically invoke sex and vice versa.
Many phrases exist in the English language that relate sex/love and eating: ‘looking good enough to eat’, ‘the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach’. Attractive people can be described as ‘sweet’, ‘juicy’, ‘appetizing’ or ‘tasty’.
Why? If you ask Freud, of course, the connection is established in infancy. The mouth is the first orifice we consciously use and the first place we put things in our budding curiosity. So it’s not unreasonable to assume that it’s from the mouth that we start to develop the complex mélange of associations that will eventually become sexuality. The trend from mother’s nipple to thumb to food to someone else’s sexual organs is obvious. Sex and food are deeply entwined.
And why not? In the time we live in, more than in any other time in the history of western civilization we have unbounded means to satisfy both of these appetites. But maybe things are not as cool as they seem.
Flesh confuses the limits of what we are and what we eat, what or who we want; flesh encapsulates the quandary of whether the body in question is edible, shaggable, or both1.
1 Elspeth Probyn, Carnal Appetites (London: Routledge Taylor & Francis Group, 2000), p.70-71
In that sense we could say that for people there is already a connection between the
consumption of food and the consumption of one another. Humans are positioned as food. They replace the meat on our plates. Would you taste that booty? Let’s be a bit more specific: women and food, food and women. How often do these two
follow one another? In contemporary western societies, we are so used to the consumption of the female body from metaphorical to literal ways that the idea doesn’t shock us in the slightest. Freud’s theory about the cannnibalisation of the human body but our appetites crave something more specific: we crave women.
Gynophagia is a sexual fetish that involves fantasies of cooking and consumption of human females (gynophagia literally means “woman eating”) and it belongs to the spectrum of Cannibalism behind which there are many motives but a common one is the sexual. When thinking of human cannibalism our discomfort goes beyond the taking of a human life; the feelings we get from the idea of tasting human flesh are uncanny and opaque2.
Any sexual fetish related to consuming the female body would be considered macabre and twisted.
What we don’t recognize is that we all live in a society that worships gynophagia as it portrays women as edible objects. How many songs do we hear every day, from
widely known artists, which present women as edible objects?
2 Dr. Anil Aggrawal: Forensic and Medico-legal Aspects of Sexual Crimes and Unusual Sexual Practices
Take Sweet Cherry Pie by The Warrents, for example, “She’s my cherry pie/Cool drink of water such a sweet surprise/tastes so good makes a grown man cry/Sweet Cherry Pie.” And look at advertising. Generally, advertisers try to prey on emotions, to connect these emotions with the product they are trying to sell: buy this, you will feel happy. And the easiest way to do this is with sex. Sex sells. Sex sells food better than food sells food. Our culture is full of cases where food is used as a substitute when we want to talk about sex and at the line of that parallelism are, in most cases, women. We tend to think of them as something consumable, edible. We could argue that the reason behind the comparison between people and food is that the mouth is an active sexual organ and especially the lips- and it is the organ with which people first make sexual contact with each other. This is not a satisfying explanation, though – if we consider the society’s notions of seeing food, i.e. the animal, as inferior – to why the male is positioned at the place of the eater and the female at
the place of the food.
The cannibalistic fetish of the male dominant in our contemporary society, positions the woman at the place of the edible subject. Thus animalising her. She is no longer a subject, a rational human, but because of the perception of her as edible, she loses control over herself; she has no word in her own consumption, she becomes the animal. If she were still considered a human the male wouldn’t be able to eat her because that would constitute murder and a cannibalistic act, which is punished by society. The murder becomes killing -it is not unethical to kill animals for food- when the woman becomes animal; and an animal with no rationality and control is inferior of human, it is an object. By introducing the notion of ‘body-subject’, Merleau-Ponty demonstrated that the body is not merely a possession of the subject (having a body); rather it reveals the primordial intertwining of our subjectivity and corporeality (being a body), which is purposefully orientated towards the world it inhabits. Consequently we both have and are bodies (Turner, 1996).
From a Merleau Pontyian perspective, objects (materiality) are constructed (designed) as the enfleshment of consumer culture, which are then embodied by the consuming subjects who, in so doing, consecutively shape the process of materialcivilization. By taking control of a woman’s body, the male takes control of the woman herself, because her body doesn’t belong to her anymore. Bodyless as she is, she is classified as an object, thus an animal with no control over its life. The metaphorical consumption of women is more literal than we think. We cannot dispute that it is in human nature: the need to ‘eat’ each other. What is troubling though is who is the object to be eaten and why. What is positioned for change is a notion so deeply engraved within us that we don’t question it. The one that says that the male is the hunter and the female the prey. 3 Ai-Ling Lai, Janine Dermody, “Cannibal or Commodity Fetish: Body as Material Interaction”, Advances in Consumer Research, No 36, (University of Gloucestershire, UK, 2009), p.340
Image credits: Johnny Smith, James Ostrer Food Monsters, toastied by Eugenia Loli, Linda Sterling Theweirdshow