Sex or Thinness?

Obviously it takes a certain kind of mind to ask 2,400 women if they would sacrifice a full year of sex to be skinny.  In this case, the mind works at  Fitness magazine.

51% of the 2,400 women said “Yes”.

Now, I’m sure that some of those women interpreted “sex” to mean “sex with a partner”, are single, and figure they aren’t getting any anyway, so why not?  However, I submit that if you’re having orgasms then some kind of sex is happening … and I don’t see a reason why orgasms require the presence of another person. (Yes, the right partner absolutely adds a lot to the experience. The wrong one —and I’ve had a few — reminds me of why I was thrilled to discover Babeland (NSFW).)

Even so, I’m sure there were some women for whom this question caused some soul-searching.   Sexual pleasure, with its attendant health and emotional benefits?  Or societal approval, making life easier in hundreds of ways (even if it doesn’t measure up to your dreams)?

But I’m wondering, really, what this question being asked and it getting 51% says about our society.

Of course, other thoughts are welcome in the comments.

20 thoughts on “Sex or Thinness?

  1. One could argue that the women thus questioned would be willing to trade the emotional/physical benefits of orgasms for a year for the emotional and perceived physical benefits of thinness.

    Or they might assume that the emotional/psychological benefits of orgasms would be equaled or exceeded by the emotional/psychological benefits of not being stigmatized, harassed, discriminated against and subjected to verbal if not physical assaults on a somewhat regular basis.

  2. And then our brave hero realizes that obviously her brain is NOT working, because duh you totally JUST said that didn’t you?

    I blame oxygen deprived sleep from falling asleep on the couch last night and my resident Drooling Fur Monster spread herself over my head and tried to simultaneously drown and suffocate me in my sleep, while rattling my brain apart with excessive purring. 12 hours later and I’m still not awake lol.

    • It’s okay ;) I was trying to get to the serious tradeoffs you discussed, while also realizing that for some people it might be more of a sarcastic response, or “I’m not getting laid anyway” response, or even a “eh, I don’t like sex THAT much” response.

  3. Having been celibate for the past dozen years it would be easy for me to give up sex for a year. But having done so a dozen times I can assure you that it hasn’t made me thin yet!
    In all seriousness I think thinness is overvalued in this society.

  4. Sadly, this does not surprise me. Perhaps because as a woman, I was socialized always to put the man’s pleasure above my own- just look at Cosmo, if that seems odd! It’s a funny package, that- thin= socially acceptable, and sex =/= pleasure, for a lot of women, regardless of their sexuality. I keep having my heart broken by cis women* who believe what they have down there is disgusting, who have never had an orgasm, who would never dream of asking their partners to lavish the same attentions on them as they lavish on their partners.

    *(I say cis women specifically because I am not as familiar with the experiences of trans women in regards to sexual confidence, but as socialization is largely similar, I would say that things are possibly even worse for trans women, most especially as their personhood is constantly questioned by people around them.)

  5. I dont just see the fat issue here. What it boils down to is people valuing being ‘acceptable’ to random strangers more than their own pleasure.
    There is something so wrong and sad about that.

    • This week I’ve been re-reading “The Beauty Myth” by Naomi Wolf and she does an amazing job of pointing out how it is all connected. Women who are starving themselves, not getting enough food are listless and not able to cause a ruckus in the world. Women who are consumed by guilt and shame for the way their body looks will not stand up and be noticed.

      Up til a certain point in time women were taught that sex was shameful and only should be used for procreation, and you certainly weren’t supposed to ENJOY it, now women are socialized to believe that eating is shameful and bad and should only be used to survive at the lowest weight possible, and you certainly shouldn’t eat something simply because it tastes good.

  6. I know it’s a small percentage of the population, but I can’t help but notice you’ve completely overlooked the possibility (probability?) of asexual women.

  7. I was just about to say, it’s not that uncommon for a lot of women to just not take much pleasure in sex. I wouldn’t say that sexual pleasure in undervalued simply because I think sex as a whole is overvalued to begin with, but of course thinness is way overvalued.

  8. I love sex, and I would take this deal in a heartbeat, because I think it would be much easier to find partners after the sexless year ended if I were thin. (I am assuming that means “thin for life”) So for me it would be a tradeoff of one year for better sexual odds and probably more sex for the rest of my life.

    I’m also in the “not getting laid” category and have been for a few years. I miss sex, but I miss being touched even more. I hardly ever come into physical contact with another human being.

  9. Interesting article and interesting comments. As people have said, the results might show how little many women value sex, or how poor their sex lives are.

    Unfortunately, in a materialist society, the real way to gauge how much people want to be thin is to ask what material sacrifices they would make for it. Would they go without discretionary income for a year? Work for free?

    Which, now I think about it, would be a very interesting social experiment. We know that fat has a financial penalty (job discrimination and so on), but how much is thin actually worth? If you could put it on the open market, what would the real price be?

  10. I can imagine some sort of ghoulish game/reality show that actually put these sorts of mental games to the test. I’m not pitching this idea. But it’s one thing to say “being thin feels better than anything I can imagine” and having the actual reality right there in front of you.
    When women who have previously always been slim gain weight, sometime they do feel quite uncomfortable. I’m pro-comfort, so if for them, the idea of being thin would make them more comfortable, I get that. But for me, the idea of being thin but not having sex is not comfortable. It’s uncomfortable, to say the least.

  11. Both, I think – i.e. women’s enjoyment of sex is undervalued, and thinness is way overvalued. Tellingly, women who deprive themselves of food are less likely to actually desire and enjoy sex – your body on a diet has a way of making you obsessed with food, to the expense of what it regards as less essential activities, till it gets what it needs. If I got thin enough to be ‘acceptable’, I’m betting it would be at the expense of my libido anyway. Certainly I both had less sex and enjoyed it less back when I was thinner than now and struggling to be thinner still, although I suspect experience has a lot to do with that as well (it would be interesting to see how those figures pan out in age terms – older women being more likely to be having satisfying sex, yet also perhaps more prone to our age-conscious culture’s constant message of thinness = youth). For me, at least, there’s no contest.

    Final note: I wonder, if you asked men whether they’d give up sex for a year in exchange for a six-pack, what their responses would be. And how they’d compare with the responses if you’d asked them ten years ago.

  12. Another possible thought: Do the women surveyed have young children? If they do — especially more than one, plus/minus a paying job and/or other caretaking responsibilities — they may not have time for a whole lot of nookie anyway, so maybe it doesn’t seem like they’re giving up something they haven’t (pretty much) already.

    And yeah, I pretty much guarantee that most of the women were not thinking of solo orgasms as part of “sex,” although I certainly do.

  13. Is it any surprise at all? I mean, many would gladly lop off an appendage to have the ideal figure. One of these ridiculous “surveys” comes out about every three months or so. I think it says more about the person/company asking.

  14. One big thing: being thin (like an earlier commenter, I assume this is for life, not just for the year?) means you will almost certainly get far better medical treatment: refusal-to-diagnose and refusal-to-treat are common for fat women, and it’s not unusual at all for even serious symptoms of life-threatening medical incidents to be dismissed as “You need to lose weight.” It’s harder to get physical exams, it’s harder to get doctors to agree to needed procedures, and on and on.

    You put “increased years of life and health due to the ability, as a thin person, to access adequate medical care” into the equation, and a mere year of celibacy might not seem like such a big deal.

  15. Perhaps this just strikes a nerve for me because my life is so busy right now that frequently choosing between taking time to go to the gym or having sex while the baby is sleeping is a reality and not a hypothetical.

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