Tuesday, 1 January 2013

I like olives and jalapenos, myself

I wrote this a while back but didn't get around to posting it.  Seems like a good way to start the year.  Happy new year everyone, and may your pizzas be exactly the way you like them in 2013 :-)

The Oxford Dictionary defines "analogy" as "a comparison between one thing and another, typically for the purpose of explanation or clarification."

This post at sex education website extraordinaire Scarleteen got me thinking about analogies around sex:
Baseball is the common language with which so many of us are taught to think about sex. People talk about getting to different bases, “hitting a home run” or “scoring.” An insertive partner is called a “pitcher,” and a receptive partner is the “catcher.” A gay or lesbian person “plays for the other team.” Bisexuals are “switch-hitters.” To “strike out” is to be rejected. The list goes on. And on.
Even if baseball isn't the same kind of fit in Aotearoa, some of this sporting lingo is relevant.  We all know that getting to "home base" is the ultimate goal.  "Sex as sport" also allows a sense that those taking part play for different teams, competing with each other to "win" the battle - neatly normalising heterosexuality and rigid gender roles.

Now, if we used Billy Bragg I might be more slightly more satisfied with "sex as sport," for another gender encounters at least:
"Now I feel like I've won the cup, every time that we make love
Forty-five minutes each way, at half time I heard the brass band play"

Scarleteen go on to suggest an alternative model:
The point of getting a pizza is how delicious it tastes. The activity itself is the goal. There isn't even a predetermined finishing point. The end comes when all participants feel personally satisfied. Pizza-eating has no main event equivalent to reaching home. The last bite isn’t necessarily better than the first.
This will not always work, because sex and food both have very strong cultural values, and for some there will be conflict in thinking about the two things in analogy.  But for others there may be food for thought here.

Pizza can be eaten alone with joy, or it can be fun to share.  There are many different kinds of delicious pizza, and taste can vary from sitting to sitting.  I might like eating pizza every day, or I might be someone who's only a pizza fan every few months.

The bit where this analogy works best in my opinion is in helping us think about negotiating consent and pleasure.  With sport, there is no negotiation, just competition.  With eating pizza, if I don't tell you I don't eat ham but want olives every time, the pizza we get will not work for me.  If I don't ask you if you like cheese and you're dairy-intolerant, you're not going to be wanting to eat pizza with me again anytime soon.  There is no assumption with pizza that we all want the same thing, or even that we want the same thing from one pizza to the next.  We need to check all of these things out to get them right, and the talking is part of the build-up to maximum pizza enjoyment.

Finally, if I don't feel like pizza, for whatever reason, that's fine.  And if we make the most delicious pizza either of us has ever eaten, that's fine too - we might even make a habit of it.


K said...

Baseball metaphors originate from a US society distinctly uncomfortable with it's sexuality especially at the time these terms came into use (1950's-60s?).

Contraceptive pill offered in the 1960's exacerbated this in older generations and kids and teenagers would pick up on this, perhaps changing their language to adapt.

Does anyone know of rugby terms being used in this way? Somehow it would seem to taint the game (and I'm not a fan).

It annoys me to see sex reduced to such base elements, with no spiritual aspect involved. Sex is not a competition to win at all costs, to train for relentlessly with single minded objective, and ultimately seek some form of external reward such as an olympic medal.

Confused n things said...

When you compare sport with pizza you start each activity at different points, I think.

There is negotiation in both, but it happens before the main event starts - the main event being the game, or the pizza consumption.

Negotiation in sport is long drawn out and involves many (too many?) interested parties, unlike ordering a pizza or indeed sex.

Sport isn't war, despite how the TV sport channels like to depict it in the promotion of their coverage.

Amanda Lyons said...

I love this :D