Is ASMR Erotic, Sexual and Perverted?

If the above title leaves you feeling bewildered, lost and befuddled, welcome to the world of ASMR, that stands for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response. Many videos on YouTube end with ‘ASMR’, which means these videos are made for relaxation purposes with the following sounds or visual stimuli also known as ASMR triggers: whispering, slow and soft speech,  choice of words and phonemes (Ps, Ts, Ks commonly trigger the tingly sensation), sounds of lips smacking when eating or kissing, certain accents, eye contact, hand movements that make you feel close in proximity, sounds like crinkling, tapping, scratching or flipping pages and the list goes on (Richard, 2014). Now, have you ever experienced a tingle in the head that travels through your spine to the limbs? This tingly sensation is euphoric, relaxing and gives you a feeling of well being. ASMR videos are being watched by thousands of people daily, with the most popular videos hitting millions of views. Is the success of these videos the calming and relaxing feeling one gets from them or is it something sexual, flirtatious and seductive? A big misconception about ASMR is that it involves something sexual (Richard, 2014). This is not true. However, there is a subset of these videos that are focused on a more sexual perspective such as fetish videos.

Over the years, there appears to be a lot of comments about the sexuality and fetishes on YouTube’s ASMR videos to the displeasure of the content creators (Richard, 2014). These ASMR artists, or otherwise known as ASMRtists, hate that their efforts are being compared to something taboo in the eyes of the public – sex. Generally, women ASMRtists who dress more revealing and flirt with the audience receive the most hate.

GwenGwiz is a talented ASMRtist with 286K subscribers who suffers from the sexuality hate as newcomers often see it as a beautiful woman seducing them on the video.

Indeed, it is a valid point as the soft tone of voices is one of the ASMR triggers and is very similar to a seductive tone. Besides, Gwen’s slow and soft articulation of speech coupled with knowing glances to the camera, it is easy to see why people tend to view her ASMR videos as ‘sexually suggestive’. To add on that, the media is also advertently and inadvertently trying to sexualise ASMR (Richard, 2014), where newcomers might just get the wrong idea of the main purpose of such videos. Perhaps one way to solve this problem is to consider these ASMR videos as massage for the inner body and coincidentally, massages have been viewed as somewhat sexual too. Honestly speaking, ASMR videos are as sexual as massages, you can make it sexual if you want, but in the beginning, it is seldom the case. Who knows? ASMR could one day fill the role of foreplay instead of good old massages.




Richard, C. (2014). “ASMR University: The Art & Science of Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response.” Retrieved 20 April, 2018, from

In-Class Exam: It’s Raining Men

Q-1: Julie and Mike are into sadomasochistic sexting. Which among these emojis is most likely their ‘safe emoji’? Why?

Characterised by or deriving sexual gratification from both sadism and masochism, sadomasochistic sexting can be regarded as the tendency to derive sexual gratification from inflicting pain, suffering or humiliation to own self and others through the use of instant text messaging. In sadomasochistic activities, a simple ‘no’ will not be taken for real and it will not take you very far. Especially so if you are a woman, your ‘no’ will be disputed. Why? Simply because if you think of performativity and gender roles, men are known to pursue women, so it plays a lot into that culture that women are brought up to experience pain, say ‘yes’ even though the situation is unpleasurable (Cameron & Kulick, 2003). In that respect, safe words must be previously established and agreed upon, words that both partners agree mean stop.

When things are getting rough and kinky, you may not think you need one before you embark on your erotic night of fun, but in the heat of the moment, you will be glad you planned ahead. Safe words or in this case emojis can work for any couple, in any relationship, in any scenario or kink. It is all about feeling relaxed in knowing you are giving your partner consent. The best and most fulfilling way to explore sexual fantasies is when both partners are comfortable with the arrangement. According to Cameron and Kulick (2003), the solution will be to come up with words that 1) stand out in context jarringly and 2) has an unambiguous meaning. In sadomasochism, common safe words include the use of a traffic light system (‘green’ for go on, ‘yellow’ for slow down, and ‘red’ for stop). In both cases, these words are highly unlikely to be used as part of the performance of a sadomasochism activity. Their usage will be completely out of place in context, which allows for their effective usage. Against this backdrop, I presume the following emojis are most likely Julie and Mike’s ‘safe emojis’ on a spectrum: ???

The microphone emoji (?) will represent ‘go baby!’, a green light to continue on with the kinky activity, followed by the cheeky monkey covering its mouth emoji (?) suggesting the yellow light for ‘calm down now’ and lastly the zipped up emoji (?) means to stop right now, signifying the red light.  In sadomasochistic activities such as sadomasochistic sexting, pain, suffering and humiliation are bound to happen in the giving or receiving of pleasure from such acts. While doing so, there will no doubt be plenty of screamings, shouting, crying, laughing, panting, breathing and other noises produced in the process. Now, is it remotely possible for sadomasochistic sexting to not produce any noise at all? It would be highly strange and impossible and I doubt that! Therefore, these emojis ??? will likely do its job as ‘safe emojis’ to stop the activity, as they suggest no more noises will be tolerated based on a spectrum. Additionally, in sadomasochistic texting, one will not be able to hear any noises coming from another party so these emojis will appear strange and stand out when used in this context. First, the microphone emoji (?) will signify the green light to continue on with the kinky activity, allowing both partners to make as much noise as they like. Second, the cheeky monkey covering its mouth emoji (?) will suggest the yellow light to go ahead and continue on with the activity but to calm down or reduce the intensity of the actions. Lastly, the zipped up emoji (?) will indicate the red light to stop the activity right now and no noises shall be tolerated.

In view of the above, these emojis are most likely Julie and Mike’s ‘safe emojis’ on a spectrum: ???, with the zipped up emoji (?) being the ‘safe emoji’ to stop all sadomasochistic sexting right here, right now.




Q-2: Remember Donald Trump’s ‘this-was-locker-room-banter’ excuse after that video of his conversation with a group of men on a bus in 2005 was released last October during the presidential campaign? I’m sure you do… Now, read the top three entries for ‘locker room talk’ in the UrbanDicitionary. Do you agree with it? Does it fully capture what ‘locker room banter’ is and what social/interpersonal functions it serves?

Definition (1): The crude, vulgar, offensive and often sexual trade of comments guys pass to each other, usually in high school locker rooms. Exists solely for the purpose of male comedy and is not meant to be taken seriously.

Definition (2): Any manner of conversation that polite society dictates be held privately – with small groups of like-minded, similarly gendered peers – due to its sexually charged language, situations or innuendos.

Definition (3): Racist, sexist, and crude language most men use towards immigrants, minorities, and women, when they are with their fellow male chauvinistic pigs.

In light of the definitions above, I agree with them to a certain extent as they do provide the meanings of ‘locker room banter’ on a superficial level, such that these vulgar, offensive and often sexual trade of comments men pass to each other are meant for the purpose of male comedy among like-minded and similarly gendered peers. However, these meanings do not account for the underlying functions that ‘locker room banter’ serves. Typically, when men engage in crude ‘locker room banter’ and talk about women, it is mostly done to brag about their sexual prowess and skills. These men are playing on stereotypes for sex such that it is crucial for a heterosexual man to reaffirm their heterosexual identity and masculinity and portray themselves to be good fuckers. With gender roles so deeply entrenched, you can almost hear a heterosexual man exclaim, ‘Some women may be faking orgasm but not with me!’ Sex as an activity is not just an activity but a discursive construction of who we are. It is a projection of ourselves as who we want to be seen. From this, we can see that language and sexual intercourse is linguistically mediated. On the same note, sometimes when men talk about women, it may not just be about bragging but self-deprecating too. They may lament, ‘Oh, I didn’t get to date her’ to which the other men understand and would respond, ‘Sometimes they reject us! Screw them!’ The mispoint is not about him being a misogynist pig but men talking about women like that is actually reflecting negatively about men themselves.

Additionally, men engage in crude ‘locker room banter’ to serve the purpose of gossiping. The usual perception is women gossip more than men but research has shown that surprisingly, men do it more often. Gossip has specific social functions to play and may facilitate the purpose of social bonding to create solidarity through establishing in-group, out-group boundaries. Also, men are also seen to engage in crude ‘locker room banter’ to gossip about other men. By doing so, they are reaffirming their heterosexual identity and masculinity, talking and commenting on them as if they were commenting on a girl.

In conclusion, we can see that there are underlying functions that ‘locker room banter’ serves such as to brag about one’s sexual prowess and skills as well as gossip for the purpose of social bonding.





Cameron, D., & Kulick, D. (2003). Language and Sexuality: Cambridge University Press.

How to Lose Your Wife on Valentine’s Day




How to Lose Your Wife on Valentine’s Day


Jaslyne Loh Jia Ling




Disclaimer: This blog post is the perfect guide on what to do on Valentine’s Day if you wish to be kicked out by your wife, as we embark on a story of a husband taking his wife out on a romantic dinner date that did not exactly lead to a happily ever after, delving into topics such as food advertising, vocabulary of Valentine’s Day menu, food policing and gendered food choices, food metaphors, and food-based double entendre. This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.




Liam lounges comfortably on his couch, flipping through channels on a television as an advertisement catches his attention.


A romantic Valentine’s Day dinner at La Madeleine that will blow my mind away?! Leanne had better love me to pieces!

As the camera zooms in on a slim-figured model sinking her teeth into a slab of steak, she seductively teases viewers: it’ll blow your mind away. Such sexual imagery and suggestive words, actions or gestures in advertisement often overuse gender role clichés and stereotyping to integrate appetite and sensual passions into food (Mac Rury, 2008). As the primary goal of the advertisement is to gain attraction, advertisers have been tinkering with the fact that verbal representations of sexual gratification coupled with gestures are fundamental forms of human appetites, where pleasure acts as a game plan to draw attention toward fantasy fulfilment (Ewen, 1988). Researchers have proved both the effectiveness and salience of sexual appeals in consumer advertising, where the utilisation of sexual elements plays a part to increase consumer brand recall and positive attitudes toward the brand (Poon, 2016). When it comes to food advertising, sex has proven its appeal as a mainstream gender discourse with staying power.




As Liam and Leanne browse through the Valentine’s Day menu of La Madeleine, Liam begins licking his lips and gives his lady a sexy wink. Before you jump to conclusion that Liam is a perverted psychopath, the restaurant may have a part to play in this! Since food plays a key role on Valentine’s Day, most Parisian restaurants create a special menu for this special day by naming the items on the menu in relation to love (Faivre, 2010). Research on the corpus of approximately 30 menus present words that are explicitly related to the concept of love, particularly in the area of eroticism, where the vocabulary of food is used to speak of sex (Faivre, 2010).

Ranging from sensuality to passion to sexuality, it is no surprise that Valentine’s Day dishes in Paris are named after erotic references such as amuse bouche or mise en bouche, which refers to small amounts of food served before the starter for the stimulation of appetite. Simply translates to tickle the mouth, this erotic reference suggests physical love starts with foreplay like how a meal begins with starters: both meant to titillate the mouth before the real action takes place (Faivre, 2010). With food and sex intimately connected, strongly evocative words like melting and runny appear more frequent on a Valentine’s Day menu than on an average one, leaving diners to see the obvious double-entendre (Faivre, 2010). Interestingly, there is a pair of popular homophones: la chère and la chair for the fare and the flesh, constituting an anticipation of the night to come (Faivre, 2010). The vocabulary used ranges from simple sexual connotations that express desire, orgasm or sensuality to explicit pornographic references such as sexy movie 37.2 le matin and sex position cravate de notaire (Faivre, 2010).



I’d like to be blown away by a melt-in-your-mouth wagyu steak in medium rare from your Valentine’s Day special! For the lady, perhaps a salad?

Perhaps not, Liam! Men commenting on women’s meal choices is one of the disturbing ways to exercise control over women’s bodies, and we often wonder when are they going to stop ‘food policing’ and allow us to eat in peace! In this 21st century, it is shocking how society pressures us in making gendered food choices and that research has shown oversimplified representations of women and men eating habits persist for many of us (Chan, 2016).

There are some differences between masculinity and femininity in eating behaviour where a masculine man will eat anything to fulfil his hunger and have a preference to eat very fast and in large quantities (Monge-Rojas et al., 2015). Contrastingly, a feminine woman will eat lesser amount and slowly as they take more bites compared to their male counterparts. Additionally, for a woman who eats a lot without caring about what she eats is considered manly or unfeminine (Hill & McCutcheon, 1984). In view of the above, this explains the gendered food choices on why it is feminine to eat like a bird and dine on salad while it is masculine to eat in large portions and plenty of red meat. The message is crystal clear: as a woman, your body is public property and fair game for comment, where instruction and policing for a women’s physical form exists simply to titillate men (Chan, 2016). The belief that men possess an automatic ‘right’ over any women’s body in a public space is worryingly ingrained as it deeply damages societal norms about women’s bodies. Unfortunately, the presence of realistic and objectified images of women are bound to create a massive impact on their body image and self-esteem. So I say, fire the food police and eat what you want!





Wow, that was such a splendid meal! Sweetie pie, do you think you can cook this marvellous wagyu steak? As you know, the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach! 

Sweetie pie? Is Liam’s wife ‘a dessert’? Before you call the cops on him for cannibalism, let us first explore a variety of food metaphors (particularly on the ‘woman as dessert’ metaphors) that structure our concept of sexual identity. According to Lakoff (1987), the theme ‘(sexual) desire is appetite’ where the object of the appetite is a person, portrays that human is food. In this schema, humans are frequently characterised as the food that will satisfy this appetite, where females are disproportionately used in metaphors that construct humans as sexually desirable (Goatly, 2007). What features from the schema of eating do these metaphor themes transfer to the schema for sex? To equate sex with eating simply indicates the importance of sex in life, and therefore we are entitled to obtain it even through violence or illegal means. By applying these metaphors predominantly to women, men imply they are entitled to have sex with them regardless (Goatly, 2007). Additionally, they propose that fulfilling the sexual appetites of men is the primary purpose of women, similar to the concept that food production is for the primary purpose of eating, with women, like food, passive in this process (Hiraga, 1991).

The following are some metaphors of food equating women-as-sex-objects with desserts for male consumption: cheesecake, cookie, tart (Hiraga, 1991). It is distasteful that the ‘woman as dessert’ metaphor reduces women to the status of objects with implications of inanimacy and powerlessness (Hines, 2000). As desserts, they can be bought, sold, shared, sliced and eaten, totally at men’s disposal (Hines, 2000). Indeed, the male dominant role over his sexual partner is reinforced by conceptualising women in the guise of appetising food.



Perched on a stool at the breakfast bar, Leanne sips on her latte with ‘Simply Nigella’ in the background.


That’s it! Maybe Nigella can help keep my man happy! 

In her latest series, ‘Simply Nigella’, the undisputed queen of the food-based double entendre is back with some of her best innuendos! Often exchanging knowing glances with the camera coupled with slow-motion kneading and whisking for added effect, viewers love sharing Nigella Lawson’s best innuendos on Twitter, adding humour to her simple recipes. For the record, here are some of Nigella’s best innuendos: on filling potato skins, my empty vessels are ready to be loaded, on mince pies, these are my guiltless pleasures, they really are bulging (Charles, 2015), and you get the idea.

In recent years, television cooks and celebrity chefs have been ‘sexing up’ food and cooking, with cooking programmes emerging as acceptable forms of ‘gastro-pornography’ (Meah, 2013). Nigella, specifically, has blurred the lines between bedroom and kitchen in domestic spaces by relying heavily on sexual innuendos to convey ‘food orgasm’ during her cooking programmes. Unfortunately, it seems that the phenomena of ‘sexing up’ food has emerged because it is food, rather than sex, which is no longer highly interesting on its own (Meah, 2013). The sensual engagement with food in its ‘natural’ form has been replaced by an industrialised food system of packet-opening, rehydrating, defrosting, microwaving, and coupled with conventional family cooking in advanced industrialised nations, these can all become rather dull and routine (Meah, 2013).  But all is not lost! It seems that keeping it spicy and saucy by infusing food with sexiness could be the best way to revive the sexual imaginary of food and cooking.



As Leanne puts on her coat, a fleeting thought passes through her mind, ‘Sweetie pie, do you think you can cook this marvellous wagyu steak? As you know, the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach!’ Liam, oh, Liam, how could you have said that? Once again, this generations-old stereotype indicates gender power imbalance, suggesting women’s desirability and sexual appeal are connected to their cooking prowess (Inness, 2006). Thankfully, women are now allowed to go against this stereotype, where even a noncook can still be attractive as a potential partner and find a mate without having to worry about cooking at all (duh!).

Feeling like an empowered woman, Leanne shrugs off her coat, takes a deep breath and speed-dials Liam.






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Charles, M. (2015). Nigella Lawson Gets Saucy: Her Best Innuendos. [cited 2018 15 March]; Available from:

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