How your political views can influence what turns you on (yes, really)

Monique Verduyn examines the relationship between coitus and convictions

13 December 2020 - 00:02 By Monique Verduyn
Author Justin Lehmiller found that Republicans were more likely than Democrats to fantasise about activities that involve sex outside of marriage.
Author Justin Lehmiller found that Republicans were more likely than Democrats to fantasise about activities that involve sex outside of marriage.
Image: 123RF/Dmitrii Shironosov

On the surface, our sexual and political lives appear to be strange bedfellows. Why would your choice of candidate correlate with your sexual preferences? Turns out that it does, though.

In their book The Pragmatist's Guide to Sexuality, husband and wife Malcolm and Simone Collins set out to find the associations between people's political beliefs and their sexual appetites — oral, anal, doggy-style, threesomes, BDSM and so much more.

Unsurprisingly, they assumed that terminally unfashionable right-wingers would be more sexually conventional. After all, the policing of sexuality is a favourite pastime of conservatives. They oppose premarital sex, same-sex marriage, reproductive rights, contraception and sex education.

The problem, as the Collinses discovered, is the attraction of the unobtainable. Nothing makes us want to try something more than being told we can't do it.

The appeal of the taboo stems from a long-standing principle of psychology known as reactance. It stipulates that when our freedom is threatened and we're told we can't do something, we want to do it even more. This is why taboos, no matter what they are nor how disgusting, often become turn-ons. It's bad and wrong, but it feels good, it feels erotic, it feels alive, it feels juicy.

Conservative Christians have much higher libidos than their liberal counterparts and their appetites are often kinkier, too

The authors also discovered that conservative Christians have much higher libidos than their liberal counterparts and their appetites are often kinkier, too.

Their research found that Americans who get turned on by watching a predator eat a person outnumber the entire population of Massachusetts, a significant number of people in the US are likely to be turned on by parent-child role-play, and more Americans are turned on by faeces than have a PhD. What the hell?

Modern-day conservative ideology seeks to impose its rigid, restrictive way of life on everyone except its adherents.

Justin Lehmiller, author of the book Tell Me What You Want: The science of sexual desire and how it can help you improve your sex life, found that Republicans were more likely than Democrats to fantasise about activities that involve sex outside of marriage, like infidelity, orgies and partner swapping, from '70s-style “key parties” to modern-day forms of swinging.

And then there is Jozsef Szajer, the top politician in Hungary's ruling anti-gay right-wing Fidesz, who resigned last month after being caught shimmying along a gutter as he fled an all-male orgy in the heart of Brussels' gay bar district with narcotics in his backpack (the police broke the party up because it violated coronavirus restrictions).

Back at home, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbàn and his party are defenders of conservative Christian values, defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman and seeking to block adoptions by same-sex couples.

In announcing his resignation as a European lawmaker, Szajer said that for some time “participating in the struggles of daily politics has been an increasing emotional burden for me”. Diddums. Curiously, other members of Fidesz have recently had to resign after sex scandals, too.

'SA IS A BASTION OF SOCIAL CONSERVATISM'

In SA, as much as our progressive constitution meets the criteria for liberal democracy, it's sadly at odds with the beliefs and opinions of the majority of South Africans themselves. To verify this, simply spend a day on local Twitter (black or white); you'll find the reality is that our country is a bastion of social conservatism.

The ANC Youth League's Sizophila Mkhize spoke out earlier this year after she was briefly barred from the party's national executive committee lekgotla because her dress was too short. Female commuters at taxi ranks risk being humiliated, harassed, and groped in public if they wear miniskirts.

Yet SA's porn habits seem to belie our inherent traditionalism. According to Pornhub, we consume a lot of adult entertainment. In 2019 the top search by South Africans on the site was “black South African”, followed by “lesbian”.

SA's porn habits seem to belie our inherent traditionalism

Our politicians certainly have had a lot of explaining to do when it comes to their sexual habits, few more so than Accused No 1, whose steamy sex life has repeatedly come under the spotlight. Welcoming as he is of multiple sex partners, his largesse has not extended to ungqingili (gay men), who he once claimed he would happily knock out.

And who can forget the video of Malusi Gigaba giving himself a hand and asking the recipient of the video to fellate him?

Even the hapless Mmusi Maimane made the headlines in 2015 after a woman sent an e-mail claiming she was one of several colleagues used by men in the DA as “playthings” — something the party dismissed as disinformation.

Which brings us to the question of whether you should shag someone with bad politics: right-wingers in 50 shades of khaki, radical militants in red overalls, tepid centrists in between — under the circumstances it's not hard to imagine that political values can also sometimes be relationship deal-breakers.