A specific focus on food refusal, however, develops the perspectives and brings out some of the gender dynamics at work. Self-starvation signifies a space where women can act outside cultural dominance. The presentation of women onstage, despite its potential for ambiguity and challenge, is ultimately governed physically and narratively by men – or by boys, with all the liminality and ambiguity implied by this distinction. Food behaviour on the Renaissance stage was used to figure both sex and sociality. Self-starvation separates Cynthia from human life, with its connotations of ‘base’ and sexuality. Cultural products of a male author, self-starving women on the Renaissance stage intersected with highly charged ideological issues. If women genuinely cease to desire, need, or demand – and thus remove themselves entirely from a symbiotic society of which their consumption and consequent punitive restriction is a necessary part – then they move beyond its limitations, the resulting freedom rendering control of their behaviour ever more important.