This is our truth, tell us yours
Content note for mention of food and consensual sex.
There is a scene in the novel Tom Jones where he eats an erotic meal with the woman who turns out to be his mother. (Its wonderfully lampooned by Pratchett with Nanny Ogg and Casnunda in Lords and Ladies) Food is of course wonderfully sensual, you don’t need to eat a banana to suggest other pleasures, simply using your lips, mouth and fingers, enjoying the pure physicality of it can be a way of suggesting other physical pleasures.
At the same time I wonder if the truly erotic part of eating with someone is not the physical but the mental. Eating together is a communal activity, where usually sexual contact is not possible, except for that dance of feet under the table, which can be more heavily erotic than a full striptease. However usually the activity takes place above waist level, and the dance is words, looks, glances to check where the other is looking, communication in all forms.
I suppose this idea of what’s really erotic about food is on my mind because of two recent, quite different events. A client said they wanted to try food involved with sex. I was very tempted to send him a list of my local favourite restaurants and say chose one, but I knew what he meant. Now, I am not intending to shame anyone who enjoys sploshing, YKINMK is very true, but this isnt what they wanted to try, instead they wanted to incorporate food into the sex we were having. Not that fun was not had, but it struck me at the time that it was far more about ticking the box of having done something naughty than messy play or sploshing. Masturbating with a piece of fruit then eating it is surely in no way substantially different from masturbating with a dildo, the difference comes in the eye of the beholder, the idea of breaking some societal rule about what is and isn’t acceptable. Touching the taboo is of course so much a part of what makes sex hot for many, and doing what “good girls don’t” a large part of why clients pay for sex workers. However the breaking of a taboo, to have that erotic charge, must apply to both parties. To widen it, since of course sex work carries a large performative element and my actual hotness (or notness) is largely irrelevant, this attitude is something I have seen in a variety of sexual encounters. If you wander into what you think are the darker corners, but to the other party they are still in the sunlit uplands, there will be a fundamental disconnect between the two of you.
Which brings me to another encounter involving food, a recent meal out with my fellow traveller here. The setting, and conversation, were decidedly not designed to arouse. We shared plates, dipped meat, and discussed everything from the history of American Football to my current mental health (reasonably good thank you for asking). It was however an erotically charged meal, where my mind kept wandering to pictures of being naked, of remembered pleasures and ones hopefully to come. It makes me think of what divides good sex from bad. Its not a topic I write about very much anymore, the quality of sex a sex worker has is irrelevant to the fight for rights. Oh its more fun if orgasms result (and thats a purely personal opinion, I know plenty of sex workers who dislike coming, and understand their reasons) but for me, an orgasm is a nice bonus. I do though still ponder that quality which seems so hard to pin down, the X in the equation of good sex.
One variable is of course consent, full, informed consent. We could call that Y. It;s not enthusiastic consent, that erases so many people, including sex workers. It also in a reversal of what its proponents intend (or so I hope) means the consent of the horny pissed person is considered better in some way than the consent of the stone cold sex worker who hates her job. Lust is not consent.
If Y+X= good sex then, with the Y being consent, I would like to argue that the X is a mutual sharing of end goals. Those goals could be anything from both orgasming, pregnancy, Domination and submission, breaking a taboo, or simply showing love. (Yes mono bonding sex exists, its fine, its no better or worse than any other reason to smoosh genitals, or any other body parts). Sharing a meal with Carter is in some ways as much an act of sex as anything we do with our clothes on, since I feel the distinction between foreplay and insertion of body parts into holes is a wholly (forgive the pun) false one. Its closer to good sex than inserting a strawberry into an orifice, since the mutuality was missing (although,and it galls me that I have to write this, it was fully consensual). Framing good sex in this way has a number of advantages it seems to me. It is inclusive, if pleasure is a mutual goal, all well and good, but it does not demand pleasure as a goal. It carries within it the need for communication, genuine communication, to determine the mutuality, and perhaps most importantly it removes determining how we value sex according to just our own desires, and includes the desires of our sexual partners.