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Thought of the Moment

September 22, 2010

Part of the problem with the American dependence on fast food is cultural, which is enabled by (and to some degree helps to create) the structural problems that keep us from accessing the healthiest foods possible. We’re bizarrely puritan when it comes to centering pleasure in our lives — we just don’t do it. We think that Just Say No works for food and for sex — two of the most basic human pleasures and (on a species-wide, if not individual, level) necessities — but then we heavily market the most reductive and unhealthy versions of both. We’re inundated with advertising that uses women’s bodies as symbols of sex itself and with mainstream pornography that centers heterosexual male experience and dominance. Culturally, we’re not focused on holistic sexual pleasure so much as easy titillation and shock-value sex, coupled with disdain and judgment towards people who actually do have sex in whatever way is deemed outside of local values — whether that’s outside of marriage, or at too young of an age, or outside of a monogamous relationship, or with someone of the same sex, or wherever else we draw that line (and we like to draw and re-draw that line).

We do the same thing with food (and obviously I’m far from the first person to make this connection). We talk a big game about The Horrors of Obesity and the necessity of healthy eating. We blame feminism for taking women out of the kitchen and into the workplace. We look at fat people like they’re moral failures. We watch television shows like The Biggest Loser, which contribute to the cultural myth that If You Just Work Hard Enough, You’ll Be Ok. We ascribe fatness to simply eating too much.

Jill at Feministe on Food Responsibility.

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