Utne Blogs > Mind and Body

Sex, Food, and Moral Imperatives

 by Bennett Gordon


Tags: Spirituality, sex, food, morality, societal rules, Hoover Institute,

Image of Sexy Pumpernickle FoodHistorically, sex has been subject to strict personal and religious rules. Just 50 years ago, a person’s sex life was thought of as a direct reflection of moral standing and character. Food, on the other hand, was a matter of personal choice. People ate what they were going to eat, and it wasn’t a matter of public concern.

Today, however, the societal rules surrounding food and sex have switched, Mary Eberstadt writes for the Hoover Institution Policy Review. Proper food consumption has become a moral imperative, with vegetarians, vegans, and locavores playing  the roles of ethical evangelists. Sex has become a matter of personal choice, one that is best left to the people involved. This dynamic, according to Eberstadt, has resulted in a the popularization of “mindful eating, and mindless sex.”

The problem, Eberstadt writes, is that both food and sex, “if pursued without regard to consequence, can prove ruinous not only to oneself, but also to other people, and even to society itself.”

Image by Jutta, licensed under Creative Commons.

Source: Hoover Institution 

carrie_3
2/16/2009 12:52:28 PM

p.s. I really like the image you used, it really ties together food with desire and even a little nation-state politics (Treaty of Westphalia anyone?)


carrie_3
2/16/2009 12:46:24 PM

This is such an intriguing thesis, just as we shop to our political leanings, the food we consume is deliberate and closely tied to our understanding of self. Who hasn't gone through life in the US hearing at least once "you are what you eat"? (which is apparently a vegetarian slogan) Can you tie religous extremists to militant vegans? Probably through Eberstadt's logic. Our seemingly endless food choices allow us to heavily critique those who make the wrong ones. I could see us saying the same about carbon-releasing modes of transportation (a universal dilemma) as more and more of us see how we, personally, are contributing to global warming. The choice to drive or not to drive? what type of vehicle? commute distance? carpool? etc.