We Learn About Sex For The Same Reason We Learn About Food

Published: NOVEMBER 25, 2015
Sex and food both improve with knowledge.
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I've been teaching about sex and sexuality for over three years now, and somehow I had never been approached with the question, "What is the point of learning about sex?" So, when I was asked that for the first time not that long ago, I didn't really know how to reply.


In my experiences as an educator, most people come to me with some sort of desire to learn about sex. There's no question around why they would want to learn about sex in the first place. In this instance, someone had quite literally stumbled into a gathering of sexuality educators and professionals, and was genuinely perplexed as to why we would even be talking about sex. We tried to come up with concise reasons why we talk about it, but it took a fair amount of explaining to get our reasoning across.

Why do we learn about sex? It seemed so obvious to me that I didn't have a simple and concise reply. When I brought it up to a friend of mine, who is not a sexuality professional (although that does not mean that he didn't have anything wise to say on the topic), he had the simplest answer: "Sex is like food." (Want to mix food and sex? Read A Beginner's Guide to Food Play.)

How Sex Is Like Food

At that point, everything clicked. I love food and making food from scratch (I'm an avid fermenter and love to bake). In fact, my love of good food matches my interest in learning about sex and acquiring interesting sex toys to try out and talk about. My Instagram is full of pictures of food and pictures of new sex toys.


However, thinking about it more, it makes so much sense! Food preparation and food experience improve with knowledge. The same goes for sex; the more you know about it, the more you can experiment and improvise. In my experience, everything improves as you learn more about it.

Sex and food are often interchangeable in our experiences of them, as well as how we learn about them. Here are some examples:

Knowledge Is Pleasure
The more you know about food and cooking, the better equipped you'll be to make healthy choices. Sex works the same way; the more you know about different sexual acts, the safer they'll be.


Mastering the Basics Is Essential
The more you know, the more you can improvise. When you're cooking, you might want to follow a recipe the first few times, but after that you can start swapping out ingredients, adding new ingredients, and giving each dish your own personal flair. If you get especially knowledgeable, you can even start making up your own ingredients. This works in the bedroom too. Once you're really good at the basics, you'll have the skills to branch out into new and different things!

Practice Leads to Appreciation
Just as a sommelier is able to pick out different flavors and talk about the age, fermentation process and origin of a wine, with careful training and cultivation of the palate, sexually adventurous folks can become connoisseurs of sensation.

Discovering Your Tastes Takes Time
There is a huge variety of food cultures and subcultures that take a lot of time and immersion to get involved with; the same is true of sexuality cultures.


There Are Tools to Make Things Easier/Better/More Pleasurable
Food preparation can be highly advanced, and can involve a lot of gizmos and gadgets, including "single job" tools. The same is true for sex. Of course, both things can be accomplished simply as well!

It's Personal
It takes time to understand what foods and what type of diet work best for you. The same goes for sex; we all have different needs and desires.

Not Everyone Will Be Adventurous
Some people are picky or closed minded about their food, and don't want to try eating or making anything new. It's the same with sex. Some people stick with the first things they learned, and never stray beyond them.


They Play to Our Senses
Sex and food can both access all of the senses and, when done well, are both deeply sensual experiences.

They're About More Than the Sum of Their Parts
In the same way that food is about more than nourishment, sex is about more than reproduction.

Expertise Isn't Everything
You don't need to be a chef to know about and have skills when it comes to making food. You don't need to be a sex educator to know about and understand sex.


Food and sex are two of the greatest pleasures life has to offer. They're ingrained into our existence as human beings. They make up a huge part of culture and experience, and are entwined with how we think and how we interact with the world. In many ways, the way we think about them is interchangeable.

Why do you learn about sex, and in what ways are food and sex similar for you?

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Caitlin Murphy

Caitlin began their sex education experience when they received an email in reply to the resume they posted on Craigslist asking if they'd be interested in an interview at an adult store. Though they had never been in an Adult Store at this point in their life, they needed a job and figured "Why not?"

This was ostensibly the moment in which their life changed.

Now more than a year on,...

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