anorexia, obesity and sex – a discussion

there are some interesting comments on the anorexia and sex article (part of a series, the thread of which can be found at the end of this post).

one commenter is “dude with a mission”. normally i’m a bit hesitant to engage in conversations with people who don’t leave a valid email address, but dude has some points that are worthy of consideration, so i’ll dedicate this post to continuing this conversation.

is “hideous obesity” the norm?
dude had said that “hideously obese is now the norm” and gave this example

about two-thirds of u.s. adults are overweight or obese.[6]

all adults: 133.6 million (66 percent)
women: 65 million (61.6 percent)
men: 68.3 million (70.5 percent)”

i don’t know what is meant by hideously obese – i can only infer that what is meant is morbidly obese, which is typically defined as more than 100 pounds overweight. this is not contained in the statistics above, and it is not the norm. (of course, we’d need to come to an agreement as to what “the norm” is, but most likely it’s one or a combination of the statistical averages of mean, median or mode.)

having said that, yes, morbid obesity, along with overweight and obesity has risen dramatically – it would be silly to disagree with that.

fighting obesity
dude says

people do have a choice when it comes to being fat or thin. i lost about 60 lbs. eight years ago and have kept it off. it is not beyond our control. it simply takes getting fed up with our situation and a significant lifestyle change.”

my sincere congratulations. i know how hard that is (have done it myself). so of course it is possible to lose weight and keep it off. however, for some people, overeating is truly an addiction, and addictions are very hard to overcome, as we know.

we also might consider forcing our politicians to act and institute zoning requirements so we are not being tempted by fast food with no alternative every block.

i agree with dude 100%.

what exactly is meant by “anorexic”?

people are now so used to seeing fat people that they have begun to call the chubby people thin and the thin/healthy people epithets e.g. “anorexic.” it seems pretty clear that porn marketers have picked up on this and labelled their content thusly.

whether “people” do that is a matter of discussion but let me tell you that i personally don’t automatically think of thin people as anorexic. anorexia is a mental illness, not necessarily a state of weight. however, when i go back to those posts, i see that i talk about “very slim” and “very thin”. i did that because i wanted to speak a language that makes sense to everyone, including people who feel ambiguous about the term “anorexic”.

this brings to the fore a problem with language and labels, and particularly with words that have a strong emotional connotation on the one hand and have a specific professional label on the other. the word “anorexia” can broadly refer to a condition that has the hallmarks of unhealthy thinness, brought about by intentional and obsesessive 1) lack of caloric intake and/or 2) purging and/or 3) overexercising

(sidebar you can also look up the DSMIV definition here; this definition is quite circumscribed and talks about anorexia per se as well as some anorexia-like phenomena that are then gathered under EDNOS. in that sense, btw, it’s unclear that calista flockhart was truly anorexic ; not eating enough for a period of time because of stress is not the same as anorexia).

so there are slightly different uses of the word “anorexic” and i think that’s where the original disgreement between dude and myself stems from. would it have been better if i had only used the word “anorexic” and clearly defined it? i honestly don’t know.

the science of it all
in my first response to dude, i said “i’m not suggesting that people who like anorexic people are perverts”. dude replies

but you state above: “…things and ideas that mainstream community sees as – what would the word be? unwholesome? unhealthy?”

it is presumptuous at best (junk science at worst) for you to make your statements based on a conclusion that people searching those terms are in fact looking for actual anorexics.

there’s that question of that word “anorexic” again. while i agree that we’re dealing with something very ambiguous here, i think the best thing we have going for us is that people used the word “anorexic” – so let’s just assume they meant it!

dude then explains how this little investigation could have been done better. good ideas. but it looks like he didn’t read my disclaimers all over the place that i didn’t say this was a scientific study : )

… begin with a hypothesis stating simply that “anorexic porn” searchers intend to receive results displaying images of actual anorexics engaged in sex acts … let’s assume that you prove the hypotheses. your next step should be to identify whether the searchers of actual anorexics engaged in sexual activities are searching for said images to gratify sexual desires or if it the searches are based on curiosity about a topic they saw/read/heard …

you seem to have taken it as red that the first two hypotheses have been proved. this is irresponsible.

i don’t think i said that anywhere. and it’s important to point out that i didn’t go into this with a hypothesis. i went into it with a number of questions. i didn’t know what was going on. of course i had my little ideas and judgments (just like dude has judgments about “hideously obese” people) but i sincerely hope that that didn’t distract too much from the investigation. then i did the investigation and now i think we have a little bit more information about this. by the way, that’s how all science goes. “amazing scientific breakthroughs” are often overturned later on. and that’s good. we just keep on learning.

bad, bad pornography
earlier on, dude felt that i had said that people are bad for looking at pornography. as an example, he points to what i said here: “one thing that was almost absent was an understanding that the interest in these images is a type of objectification. it is, after all, a form of pornography. only one reader addressed that as an aside.” dude argues

now unless you plan to tell me that you intended to use “objectification” in a neutral or positive sense, you are implying that there is something objectively distasteful about the viewing of pornographic materials.

dude, thanks for bringing this up. my wording there was poor. “the interest in these images is a type of objectification” is wrong. part of the interest may have a connection with objectification but i don’t know that. also, there is no question that large parts of pornography are about objectification but one should not conclude from the part to the whole. so what i should have said is that what was absent was an understanding of the connection between pornography and objectification.

dude then goes on to say

while there is certainly a large group of pornography subjects who do not wish to be involved in the industry, there are also healthy, self-confident individuals who are proud of the way they look and unashamed of their sexuality. the enormous volume of home-made amateur pornography testifies to that. if i am an exhibitionist and want to have others watch me engage in intimate acts — neither i, nor my gender, race, etc. is being “objectified” in any negative sense of the word.

to a large degree i agree with dude – the only doubts i have about some of the home-made pornography because not all of it may be truly consensual and not all of it truly home-made.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *