Spooning. It’s an intimate activity that most couples enjoy very much. Earlier this month, however, the online magazine, Slate, published a controversial story which suggested spooning is sexist. Can this be true? Let’s explore some of the reasoning behind this statement to see if you agree.
The idea behind J. Bryan Lowder’s Slate article stems from the symbolic image of a man as the ‘big spoon’ and a woman as the ‘little spoon.’ This kind of image implies that the man should protect the woman he is holding. Lowder points out that when couples engage in this activity, it reflects a larger societal issue that men are big and strong and that women must be protected by a man.
Although heterosexual couples have been the only ones mentioned thus far in this article, Lowder believes that the same sexist mentality is at the root of all spooning among all couples. Even if gay or lesbian couples are spooning, one person is always the big spoon and thus is preventing the little spoon from having a sense of individuality. As a solution, Lowder recommends “vertical cuddling” or sitting upright, side-by-side with the one you love. This way, both people are free from enclosure and can still be intimate, yet individuals.
The biggest problem with this vertical cuddling idea is that one of the traits of this kind of affection calls for the couple to be awake. Another benefit of spooning is that it’s a comfortable way to sleep. There is warmth and security. As long as both people enjoy it, is the activity really sexist or wrong? In fact, the feeling of well-being while sleeping can be bonding.
Comfort is another bone that Lowder picks about spooning. He states that the big spoon may not know where to put their hands and the leg situation can get awkward. It feels like he’s describing two kids dancing at their first junior high dance. Sure, spooning could be awkward the first few times a couple does it, but as they get to know each other, it won’t be anything like how he describes.
In the end, the Internet has made a joke of sorts out of Lowder’s statements that spooning is sexist. The definition of cuddling is to hold someone in your arms as a way of showing love. While putting your arm over one’s shoulders (or cuddling vertically) does show an affection of some sort, it is not to the same degree as spooning. In fact, doesn’t putting your weight on someone else’s shoulders suppress them just as much as spooning?