Thursday, 19 July 2012
In Dan Savage's sex advice column, Savage Love, a woman asks about the questionable morality surrounding bribing her husband to lose weight with sex. She writes:
“My husband and I have been together for three years and we’re not having as much sex as we used to. A big part of the problem: In the time we’ve been together, he’s put on a lot of weight. I’m not looking to blame his weight gain for my libido issues. I just need to shut up and put out more, and I’m working on that. But I’m wondering if it’s ethical to suggest incentivizing his weight loss with more sex. Sex every time he drops three pounds followed by sex once a week once he hits his target weight? I don’t think losing the beer belly will make me want to drop my pants all the time, but it couldn’t hurt, right?"
-Like Boys Slimmer
Dan's Response: "If you think your husband would respond positively to the challenge—if he’s not weepily sensitive about his weight, if he likes set goals and specific rewards—then I think you should toss this proposal on the table right next to that bag of Doritos. Of course, I couldn’t give you the same advice if the genders were reversed because… well, it looks like we’re out of room. So we’ll have to leave the gendered politics of fat for a future column."
HOLD THE iPHONE! “I just need to shut up and put out more, and I’m working on that.” EXCUSE ME?! No. No, no, no, no, NO. I’m 100% for this woman motivating her husband to drop some excess poundage. And I don’t think that her proposal is unethical, exactly — unless you consider self-degradation unethical. How about choosing an incentive that doesn’t involve violating your own body by countering its impulses and using it as currency? Why is Dan Savage condoning this? Carefully calculated, scheduled sex that you clearly DON’T want to have should NOT be on the table. NOT right next to that bag of Doritos. Not EVER. Period. Option: not viable.
I typically don’t have such black-and-white, cut-and-dry opinions, but when it comes to sex, I believe that a woman should never have it unless her body ACTUALLY craves it. I’ve done it before. I think that most women have done it at some point or another. Maybe because they were in uncomfortable situations, but didn’t want to appear ‘prude.’ Maybe because they wanted to ‘please’ or ‘keep’ their men — preserve waning, sinking, crumbling relationships that had probably run their fated courses.
Maybe because allowing it to happen simply seemed easier than saying no. Or maybe, like Like Boys Slimmer, because they wanted or expected something in exchange. Now, what Like Boys Slimmer wants is a slimmer husband and therefore, an improved sex life. I understand that. But if this woman is looking to ignite her marriage, she’s going about it in a completely backwards way. I can’t see how repeatedly having sex when she doesn't want to will EVER stoke her sacred, feminine fire. And isn't that what she's ultimately aiming for in the first place?
I speak from experience when I say that having sex when I didn’t want to brought up feelings of intense shame, alienation, self-betrayal, and disembodiment. I can’t speak on behalf of anyone other than myself. I’m sure these feelings don’t come up for every woman every time she has sex against her visceral will, but I’d bet some serious cash that on some deep, cellular level, it shakes her. On some level, it leaves her feeling at least a little empty, like a ghost of herself, like something has been taken out of her.
Aside from being personally damaging… every time a woman does this to herself, it enforces the notion that women are sexual objects, not sexual subjects — that our vaginas are numb cavities designed exclusively for two purposes: 1) Childbirth and 2) Men’s sexual pleasure. And anyone I’d *EVER* want *ANYTHING* to do with in this life knows that that’s six tons of stale, crusty horse-shit.
“I’m not looking to blame his weight gain for my libido issues.” No, of course you’re not looking to blame him. When you say things like, “my libido issues,” it’s obvious that you blame yourself. “I don’t think losing the beer belly will make me want to drop my pants all the time, but it couldn’t hurt, right?” WRONG. While losing his beer belly certainly couldn’t hurt him, I can’t see how enticing him to lose his beer belly by regarding your vagina as a vacuum won’t inevitably hurt you, ladybird.
What do you think of this woman's proposal?