Carole M. Counihan has observed, however, that bodies are not always necessarily equally permeable; some societies are marked by “beliefs about interpenetrable body boundaries,” while others develop “a belief in one-way bodily influences.” Where disparities in the penetrability of various bodies occur, the distinctions often run along gender lines; that is, women’s bodies will be treated as more permeable than men’s. Turning to the example of modern American/Western society, she further observes that “our culture defines men’s bodies, and hence their persons, as much less vulnerable and permeable than women’s, and that this is part of a more extreme situation of gender dominance and subordination in our culture.” All of this is sharply captured by the image of woman as vessel into which a man may reach, and out of which he takes the contents he desires. To make a woman a wife is to demonstrate the permeability of her body in the act of deflowering (or consummation); thereafter, her body is available for his use. She has no similar claim on his body.
Gail Labovitz, “Is Rav’s Wife ‘a Dish’? Food and Eating Metaphors in Rabbinic Discourse of Sexuality and Gender Relations”, in Studies in Jewish Civilization, Vol. 18; Love – Ideal and Real – in the Jewish Tradition from the Hebrew Bible until Modern Times, ed. Leonard J. Greenspoon & Ronald A. Simkins (Omaha: Creighton University Press, 2008), 162.