The paradox of sex and wine

Credit: Shawn Talbot

"Going for the sexual jugular shows all your cards. There’s something about it that screams, 'I've got nothing else' "

-Courtney Lanthier, wine enthusiast

Is desperation being repackaged as progressivism?

A quick scroll on Instagram shows me the following:

  • bottle shots nestled between big tits

  • scantily clad women gyrating on reels debunking wine tropes (did you know not all Riesling is sweet? I come bearing wine knowledge with my cleavage!)

  • advocacy for the sexualization of wine in general, sold as female empowerment

For a long time, I was this woman. If all I did was expose myself, surely I'd be taken seriously for my bravery and edginess, no?

Yet, I never saw my male counterparts engaging in this behaviour: only women. Why was this the case?

Further: male writers who so dare use sexual language almost always come under fire, deemed misogynistic. Why then, is it only acceptable when women are the sexual purveyors?

About 6 years ago, I made the decision to rebrand a now defunct wine blog I used to write called "Malolactic Interpretation" (yes, I'm cringing along with you) to what is now known as SILK + COUPE. The intention was to be a space for women just like me: childless and unmarried with brash, dissenting opinions. Essentially, female pariahs who didn't really fit in.

My sister connected me to a photographer friend of hers, and though he didn't specialize in nudity, because of their relationship, he was willing to shoot some photos that would allegedly catapult me to internet stardom.

I instructed him that I wanted to capture my "edginess" through nude lounging in fur coats, pouring wine all over my body, and even *BLUCK* posing with sushi on my back.

It's hard to grasp what I thought would happen because looking back from today's eyes, it doesn't make sense to me anymore.

And if I'm being brutally honest, the entirety of the shoot was uncomfortable. Yes, I was naked, but something just felt inherently wrong, as though I was knocking on a door that wasn't mine to approach.

Inevitably, I posted a few of the photos to social media to some shock and surprise, but because there was no substance behind what I was trying to portray, the photos never really provided me the real estate I was hoping to cash in on. Vapid effort equaled vapid response.

I look back on that woman I once was and feel sad. I was lost, insecure, and battling a cripplingly low self worth - why do so many of us think exposing ourselves is the answer? There's nothing unique about exploiting your body for validation.

I am known for my love of the female form. I love to push the envelope by posting photos in sheer t-shirts which expose my nipples. The desire still persists. No one who engages in a little shock value now and then can't say it isn't fun to ruffle feathers. Yet my intention is not to sexualize myself. It's to normalize that going braless needn't be sexual - it should be liberating.

It's a quizzical notion to place merit on personal expression via nudity - is it empowering or is it regressive? Who decides?

We find ourselves in an ecosystem of cognitive dissonance. Third wave feminism applauds belligerent activism rife with misandry and university degrees funded by OnlyFans accounts, all while demanding equality. Before you too label me a misogynist - I ask you - do you see any men peddling wine with high res photos of their asses?

Confusing this landscape even further - we get offended when we see wineries utilizing nudity on their labels, which we then deem as sexist. It's enough to make me scratch my head and wonder how the hell we got here.

It's so easy to reduce issues of this nature into a binary - which just isn't the case. Nuance, empathy and delicacy are required, bringing it back to the notion of who it benefits.

When things quickly start feeling exploitative, it leaves me wondering if the intent is pure, or truly empowering - and that is a line that remains blurred between desperation and progressivism.


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