OQueerCupid
November 18, 2014 8:18 AM   Subscribe

After complaints and boycotts over the limited options it gave for users to describe their gender and sexuality, internet dating site OKCupid has begun testing a far more inclusive self-identification system.

For sexuality, the list now includes: Straight, Gay, Bisexual, Asexual, Demisexual, Heteroflexible, Homoflexible, Lesbian, Pansexual, Queer, Questioning or Sapiosexual. The list of genders now includes: Woman, Man, Agender, Androgynous, Bigender, Cis Man, Cis Woman, Genderfluid, Genderqueer, Gender Nononforming, Hijra, Intersex, Non-binary, Other, Pangender, Transfeminine, Transgender, Transmasculine, Transsexual, Trans Man, Trans Woman, or Two Spirit.

The update is not yet available for all users.
posted by showbiz_liz (162 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
 
When I search for women seeking women, about half of the profiles say "I wish there was an option for 'queer' on here!" But then, I am in my 20s in NYC...
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:19 AM on November 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


OkCupid probably doesn't really care, it just needed to figure out how to manipulate all of these categories into data so they can run their meaningless correlation stats.
posted by 90s_username04 at 8:23 AM on November 18, 2014 [7 favorites]


Enjoys Friction
posted by benzenedream at 8:25 AM on November 18, 2014 [12 favorites]


I'm surprised sapiosexual made the cut. Is that really a "sexuality"?
posted by smackfu at 8:40 AM on November 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


Little things like this make me so happy, it's brilliant when you come across proof that humanity is managing to be more accepting and tolerant, in whatever form that it comes in. The other day I snuck into a university to use the toilet (well ok, I snuck in for the cheap drinks, but I ended up needing the toilet) and there was a gender neutral option. It's the first time I've come across one of those, and it was really uplifting to have evidence of progress, as well as cheap drinks, all in the same night.
posted by Ned G at 8:42 AM on November 18, 2014 [7 favorites]


If this means that users who expend energy by complaining about "social justice warriors" are less likely to message people to whom this stuff is important, I'd say it's a win for all sides.
posted by theraflu at 8:42 AM on November 18, 2014 [11 favorites]


smackfu: "I'm surprised sapiosexual made the cut. Is that really a "sexuality"?"

Classism: the sexuality.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 8:44 AM on November 18, 2014 [23 favorites]


I'm surprised sapiosexual made the cut. Is that really a "sexuality"?

Apparently yes, for the purposes of the designers and users of a dating site. Why not?
posted by rtha at 8:48 AM on November 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


What's the difference between gender fluid and gender non conforming?
posted by ReeMonster at 8:55 AM on November 18, 2014


Wouldn't it be better to use sliding bars or a spectrum graph (like those ones in art programs) instead of using distinct mutually exclusive labels (which in all honest, is what OKC's current system boils down to)? And then if people actually want to put a term on their sexual preference/gender, they could have like a fill-in text field too.
posted by FJT at 8:57 AM on November 18, 2014


Fluid suggests your gender identity isn't fixed, whereas a gender non-conforming person might non-conform in a specific way.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 8:58 AM on November 18, 2014 [6 favorites]


ReeMonster: "What's the difference between gender fluid and gender non conforming?"

"My gender (expression) changes with [x] frequency" vs "My gender (expression) is more or less static but doesn't conform to typical ideas of masculine or feminine slash what is considered appropriate for my assigned sex"
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 8:59 AM on November 18, 2014 [7 favorites]


It's not a win though necessarily for trans people who don't want to feel pressured to note that they are transgender, for any number of perfectly valid reasons.
posted by BecauseIHadFiveDollars at 9:00 AM on November 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


If this means that users who expend energy by complaining about "social justice warriors" are less likely to message people to whom this stuff is important, I'd say it's a win for all sides.

It could be a double edged sword, though. People could just filter out all the sexuality and genders they don't want to see. Remember, there's already an emerging evidence that people already filter out certain races (shown by lower messaging and response rates for African American women and Asian men).
posted by FJT at 9:05 AM on November 18, 2014


It's not a win though necessarily for trans people who don't want to feel pressured to note that they are transgender, for any number of perfectly valid reasons.

Aren't they still free to choose "Male/Female" if they don't want to disclose?
posted by murphy slaw at 9:05 AM on November 18, 2014 [4 favorites]


Wouldn't it be better to use sliding bars or a spectrum graph (like those ones in art programs) instead of using distinct mutually exclusive labels (which in all honest, is what OKC's current system boils down to)?

...no?

I mean this would be adding shitloads of needless complexity to a dating site that wants to reach as many people as possible. What you're talking about would be a usability nightmare.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 9:07 AM on November 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


(does the autostraddle link keep crashing on anyone else's smart phone, or is it just me?)
posted by Space Kitty at 9:10 AM on November 18, 2014


Is that really a "sexuality"?

As a matter of gender theory, cultural history, and psychology, this is a fascinating question around which you could frame a terrific graduate seminar. As a matter of pragmatics for an online dating site, who the fuck cares?
posted by RogerB at 9:12 AM on November 18, 2014 [19 favorites]


"It could be a double edged sword, though. People could just filter out all the sexuality and genders they don't want to see. "

Uhm, yeah, that's the point of dating sites. You try to find who you're looking for and filter out who you aren't looking for. I'm a straight guy looking for a girl who likes guys. I'd obviously filter out lesbian girls since they're obviously not going to be into me.
posted by I-baLL at 9:16 AM on November 18, 2014 [17 favorites]


I mean this would be adding shitloads of needless complexity to a dating site that wants to reach as many people as possible. What you're talking about would be a usability nightmare.

Umm, are we talking about the same dating site? OKCupid? The one with all the quizzes, that translate answers into an opaque match, friend, and enemy percentages? That allow you to drill down and compare each and every question that you answer with the other person? That has little sliding bars that rate people in different categories like "this person is cleaner than you" or "she likes velvet paintings more than you do"?

I think there will always be an audience that loves this stuff, and I never said we should make this stuff required, because virtually everything on a dating profile is already an optional field, except for username and email address.
posted by FJT at 9:17 AM on November 18, 2014 [3 favorites]


Aren't they still free to choose "Male/Female" if they don't want to disclose?

Of course they can, but it concerns me that rejection could be much more dangerous now when a transperson discloses to a possible mate. I know it worries me more than it did before... and it was always a dicey situation to begin with. I definitely feel more pressure.
posted by BecauseIHadFiveDollars at 9:18 AM on November 18, 2014 [4 favorites]


Is that really a "sexuality"?

It is if all you wanna do is get together and mind fuck.
posted by ReeMonster at 9:18 AM on November 18, 2014 [5 favorites]


I'm sad that bitter isn't an option.
posted by Rubbstone at 9:20 AM on November 18, 2014 [9 favorites]


Btw, if there's heteroflexible and homoflexible, why aren't they just put together into flexisexual.
posted by BecauseIHadFiveDollars at 9:21 AM on November 18, 2014 [6 favorites]


Of course they can, but it concerns me that rejection could be much more dangerous now when a transperson discloses to a possible mate.

Ah, I see what you mean. Increased fear of accusations of "deception" because the option to disclose was there but wasn't taken.

Sorry, didn't intend to be flip about it.
posted by murphy slaw at 9:21 AM on November 18, 2014 [6 favorites]


I continue to be amazed that other people care SO MUCH about how other people identify. I can't possibly imagine what about sapiosexual you find objectionable enough to mock by suggesting it doesn't exist. I just don't understand it.
posted by stoneweaver at 9:23 AM on November 18, 2014 [6 favorites]


I can't imagine it wasn't much of a struggle to get OKCupid to adopt this. They're not eHarmony for cryin' out loud. They're quirky, liberalish data nerds who actually are drooling at having more categories to number crunch. They're just kicking themselves that they hadn't thought of this before.
posted by jonp72 at 9:24 AM on November 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


I suppose. There is still both man and cis man.

As a cis man, I'm not sure which I'm "supposed" to choose.
posted by booooooze at 9:25 AM on November 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


BUT NO ASTRO-MAN
posted by murphy slaw at 9:26 AM on November 18, 2014 [6 favorites]


"You told me you were homoflexible!! But now I realize, you're a fluid in DISGUISE!"
posted by ReeMonster at 9:26 AM on November 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


As a cis man, I'm not sure which I'm "supposed" to choose.

I think the idea is that 'Man' is a supercategory of 'Cis Man' and 'Trans Man' and you have the option to decide how specific you want to be - you can choose M or CM as you like.
posted by psoas at 9:27 AM on November 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'm surprised sapiosexual made the cut. Is that really a "sexuality"?

Whelp, so long as OKCupid is doing that, why not make "masc only", "no curry/rice" and "no fatties" count as sexualities too?
posted by Conspire at 9:27 AM on November 18, 2014 [10 favorites]


I can't possibly imagine what about sapiosexual you find objectionable enough to mock by suggesting it doesn't exist.

It's a bit self-congratulatory, innit? At least it usually comes across that way when people use it in their profiles.
posted by prize bull octorok at 9:28 AM on November 18, 2014 [9 favorites]


stoneweaver: "I can't possibly imagine what about sapiosexual you find objectionable enough to mock by suggesting it doesn't exist. I just don't understand it."

Codifying "I'm not attracted to stupid people" into a sexuality legitimises prejuduce.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 9:29 AM on November 18, 2014 [11 favorites]


I can't imagine it wasn't much of a struggle to get OKCupid to adopt this. They're not eHarmony for cryin' out loud. They're quirky, liberalish data nerds who actually are drooling at having more categories to number crunch.

I was also kind of surprised to hear that OKCupid was the target of complaints and boycotts considering how much more progressive it is than most other general-interest dating sites, but it has also been a while since I've used it. Anyhow, good on them.
posted by psoas at 9:31 AM on November 18, 2014 [3 favorites]


I just see this as OKC throwing their hands up and saying "What the fuck ever, you guys! Have fun with it!"
posted by edheil at 9:31 AM on November 18, 2014 [4 favorites]


I can't possibly imagine what about sapiosexual you find objectionable enough to mock by suggesting it doesn't exist. I just don't understand it.

For me, it's not that I find it objectionable; it's more that it seems like an attempt by straight people to claim a form of queerness by putting a label on dating smart people, as if that was equivalent to being LGBT. It just seems a bit like showing up to a PoC convention so you can share your Irish pride, or whatever.
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:32 AM on November 18, 2014 [44 favorites]


Whelp, so long as OKCupid is doing that, why not make "masc only", "no curry/rice" and "no fatties" count as sexualities too?

Nailed it. Also, can we coin "punctuasexual"? I'm sexually attracted to dates who are on time and don't make me wait around for 38 minutes.
posted by ReeMonster at 9:34 AM on November 18, 2014 [9 favorites]


Yeah, and, like, it's NEVER used in the sense of, "I'm attracted to intelligence first and foremost, regardless of gender," it's pretty much always some straight dude letting the straight women he's looking for know that he expects them to meet his personal standards for what he thinks counts as smart.
posted by prize bull octorok at 9:35 AM on November 18, 2014 [6 favorites]


So people would use sapiosexual essentially in place of "straight", is this right? I need to do some googling, I think - had assumed it just meant "all humans"...
posted by ominous_paws at 9:37 AM on November 18, 2014 [5 favorites]


From a certain perspective, every preference is a new sexuality, and everybody but Ward And June Cleaver is "queer."

WAIT, hold the phone -- "1950s household" is a kink, therefore Ward and June Cleaver are queer too!
posted by edheil at 9:37 AM on November 18, 2014 [5 favorites]


You try to find who you're looking for and filter out who you aren't looking for. I'm a straight guy looking for a girl who likes guys.

The reason I brought it up, because I think seeing that other peoples profiles, especially people that don't want to date me, is a good thing. It helps me see them as just people and real and not something different and out of the ordinary.
posted by FJT at 9:41 AM on November 18, 2014


I thought sapiosexual just meant you can't finish unless your partner is doing the Sunday crossword in pen.
posted by murphy slaw at 9:43 AM on November 18, 2014 [18 favorites]


Wait... so as ominous_paws was thinking, maybe "sapiosexual" actually means you're into H. sapiens sapiens and H. sapiens neanderthalensis, but you are not attracted to H. ergaster or H. habilis?
posted by edheil at 9:43 AM on November 18, 2014 [16 favorites]


No "Willing to Learn?"
posted by jonmc at 9:44 AM on November 18, 2014 [3 favorites]


If the Dunning-Kruger Effect has told us anything, it's that sapiosexuals most likely aren't getting what they think they are.
posted by tittergrrl at 9:48 AM on November 18, 2014 [6 favorites]


Wow, I don't even know what half those terms mean! I'm going to go look them all up. I'm impressed, but also a little worried about what this ignorance says about me.
posted by backseatpilot at 9:48 AM on November 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


I actually really dislike the fact that I have to choose a "self-identification" in real life (its usefulness on online dating sites is much more obvious to me, because I want to be findable). Like, I date everybody, but right now I'm leaning toward women, especially butcher women, but I also like certain types of guys a lot, and I'm definitely cis, but I have a lot of typically masculine or andro presentations, and like... I guess I could say I'm a homoflexible or queer gender nonconforming cis woman, but I'd much rather just say who I am, instead of having to choose a box. I don't feel any of those words at all. They don't seem to fit.

This actually caused me a ton of angst and delayed my self-awareness of my interest in women, because I only knew of the 'main' boxes and I knew I didn't fit any of THOSE, but I tried to cram myself into one anyway.
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:48 AM on November 18, 2014 [8 favorites]


FWIW, I do know of one person (a grad student for many years now) who is attracted to insanely smart people and *only* insanely smart people, ever, at all, at all, ever, even a bit, and they've been pretty miserable because they've pretty much only been attracted to professors, who can't date them because of school policy. On the up side they're very close to becoming a professor themselves which will open up options considerably.

There's just the one person I've ever known like that. But that's a preference that seems to be as powerful (and limiting) as many people's sexual orientation is. So... who knows. Maybe there really are a few "sapiosexuals" out there, in some meaningful sense of the term.
posted by edheil at 9:49 AM on November 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


Ok, I'm normally a bit disappointed by how quick a lot of folk are to barge into any discussion of any alternate sexuality kind of thing, and start being a bit patronising about how silly or mundane they find it all.

I had assumed that those above knocking "sapiosexual" was more of this sort of behaviour. Having looked it up a bit, I'm now pretty goddamn sure I'd like to pitch most people using the word directly through a window.
posted by ominous_paws at 9:50 AM on November 18, 2014 [9 favorites]


I'm impressed, but also a little worried about what this ignorance says about me.

Some are very culturally specific, such as hijra and two spirit. I only know them because I like reading about gender and sexuality for fun; I'd never expect the average person to know them.
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:50 AM on November 18, 2014


An open window, onto some sort of soft material where they could have a good think about their choices in life, of course, but still.
posted by ominous_paws at 9:50 AM on November 18, 2014 [5 favorites]


ominous_paws: "An open window, onto some sort of soft material where they could have a good think about their choices in life, of course, but still."

*throws sapiosexuals out of window onto soft pillows*

*yells "STOP WATCHING SO MUCH SHERLOCK" after them*
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 9:52 AM on November 18, 2014 [18 favorites]


All the defenestrasexuals reading this thread suddenly perked up
posted by prize bull octorok at 9:54 AM on November 18, 2014 [44 favorites]


Yeah, and, like, it's NEVER used in the sense of, "I'm attracted to intelligence first and foremost, regardless of gender"

I dunno, I see it used that way all the time on tumblr. I tend to see it used to describe people who can only be turned on when there's an intellectual connection, but I guess I wouldn't be surprised to see bros ruining it too. I certainly don't think it counts as an orientation in the sense that would grant somebody protections or anything, but I honestly don't see what's wrong with people describing their sexuality however they want. The classism accusations are really quite a stretch, there are plenty of very smart people who aren't wealthy or even educated. It seems more insulting to say that lower-class people are less likely to be smart (I don't think they are) than to say that you're only attracted to smart people.

If the Dunning-Kruger Effect has told us anything, it's that sapiosexuals most likely aren't getting what they think they are.

Wha? How does Dunning-Kruger apply here? This has nothing to do with self-evaluation at all. I've seen plenty of people who don't describe themselves as especially smart talk about intelligence being their primary turn-on.

If people have a problem with everyone continuing to self-sort into narrower and narrower categories, that makes a ton of sense, but this is not much different than any other sexual subculture identification. Mostly I think it's kind of shitty to make fun of people for trying to figure out their sexualities using whatever words work for them, but sure, many of them are young and still trying to figure everything out so it can get embarrassing.

It reminds me of the ongoing tumblr kink wars - is kinky an orientation and/or a sexual minority? Is that sufficient to consider yourself queer? etc ad infinitum.
posted by dialetheia at 9:56 AM on November 18, 2014 [7 favorites]


I actually really dislike the fact that I have to choose a "self-identification" in real life

Yes, so much this. I am aware that specific labels are very important to some people and I don't have an issue with that, but I do have issues with people insisting that I categorize myself according to whatever terms they think are the most important, whether or not I feel like they apply to me or mean anything to me.
posted by poffin boffin at 9:58 AM on November 18, 2014 [8 favorites]


(this is free-form, go nuts)
posted by jepler at 9:59 AM on November 18, 2014 [14 favorites]


If these changes allow me to keep showing my profile to all genders, but not straight women and not gay men, I will be a very happy OKC user.
posted by ursus_comiter at 10:00 AM on November 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


Pretty much every time I've ever run into the term "sapiosexual" on dating sites, it's wound up meaning "I am attracted to specific types of intelligence, particularly written communication, and also I have conflated 'intelligence' with 'the cultural signifiers of my in-group, so mostly young adult literature and Sherlock and Doctor Who and all that sort of thing." And I'm sure it means other things to other people, but it's a term that is so degraded as to be meaningless at this point.

And honestly, if someone identifies that way, I will respect their right to identify themselves as they see fit (although I will probably get a little feisty if they start acting like it's a category on par with being gay/straight/bi/queer/etc), while at the same time reserving the right to think it's pretty silly. I don't believe the two concepts are incompatible.

It reminds me of the ongoing tumblr kink wars - is kinky an orientation and/or a sexual minority?

Show me someone who's been fired from their job or fucked in custody hearings for being attracted to smart people and we'll talk.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 10:02 AM on November 18, 2014 [7 favorites]


I'm surprised sapiosexual made the cut. Is that really a "sexuality"?

Mind: the gap.
posted by Ratio at 10:03 AM on November 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


I don't get how saying you're only attracted to smart people is able to be categorized. It doesn't strike me as different than saying you're only attracted to beautiful people, yet there's no "aesthesexual" out there, at least not that I'm aware of.
posted by FJT at 10:04 AM on November 18, 2014 [3 favorites]


It's only Tuesday. Give it until the weekend.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 10:06 AM on November 18, 2014


Show me someone who's been fired from their job or fucked in custody hearings for being attracted to smart people and we'll talk.

So is orientation necessarily a function of societal consequences & oppression? Not at all trying to argue, and I don't have a strong opinion one way or the other, but this comes up a lot and I'm always curious.

It doesn't strike me as different than saying you're only attracted to beautiful people, yet there's no "aesthesexual" out there, at least not that I'm aware of.

That's already the default though, right? Most people determine sexual attractiveness based on looks, as far as I know, at least in the absence of other mitigating factors.
posted by dialetheia at 10:07 AM on November 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


I dunno, I see it used that way all the time on tumblr.

I don't tumblr, but yeah I would imagine it gets used with more earnestness there. Really, there's nothing dating site culture can't ruin, right? I sort of nodded in recognition at the classism thing because it does seem to get dropped alongside other class markers (i.e. interests are wine tasting, travel, expensive adventure sports, etc).

On preview,

and also I have conflated 'intelligence' with 'the cultural signifiers of my in-group, so mostly young adult literature and Sherlock and Doctor Who and all that sort of thing.

That too.
posted by prize bull octorok at 10:07 AM on November 18, 2014


That's already the default though, right?

But high intelligence is always preferred to low or no intelligence, so it's already seen as a preferable trait.

And, with the phrase "high intelligence" I'm starting to realize how the stat and label obsessed have slowly made dating into a PnP RPG. I imagine the next big thing is choosing mates with high willpower and resistance to fire.
posted by FJT at 10:21 AM on November 18, 2014 [7 favorites]


This is the thing with sapiosexual, I believe that because it's listed as an orientation rather than an interest or something, the meaning behind it is "It's not the body that attracts me, but the brain inside." Which is all well and good, but it does come off as an attempt to be a "better" bisexual. Or a way for someone to say they are "bisexual" without the possible stigma of being capital-B Bisexual. It does come off, as many have noted, as self-congratulatory and maybe a little disingenuous. But it's hard to know for sure.

It just seems a little shitty to say : "I'm only bisexual if someone meets my IQ standard." But it really seems more to be "well I think I'm smart, and if you like the same things I do then you must be smart as well and therefore it is safe for me to be attracted to you" which is where my Dunning-Kruger snark came from. Perhaps it will just be a stepping stone to someone identifying as bisexual, but it just comes off as people trying to do an end-run around the problems with being bi.
posted by tittergrrl at 10:21 AM on November 18, 2014 [3 favorites]



I had assumed that those above knocking "sapiosexual" was more of this sort of behaviour. Having looked it up a bit, I'm now pretty goddamn sure I'd like to pitch most people using the word directly through a window


The term is defenestrate, I believe you'll find.
posted by Diablevert at 10:21 AM on November 18, 2014 [3 favorites]


Aren't they still free to choose "Male/Female" if they don't want to disclose?

I'd assume that just as people are free to put the age they identify as/with rather than the time elapsed since birth, they'll be able to do that with these options.

I'd also assume that most people will continue to appreciate those whose profiles are both forthright and accurate over people who offer in-person surprises.
posted by namespan at 10:24 AM on November 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


Unless you're into a sort of Samuel Delany-novel-esque radically-different-intelligences thing, like, how does that "sapiosexual" business not just trigger your own anxieties way too much? What if you're all "well I am sapiosexual so I am attracted to smart people" in your profile and then the smart people are all, "lol, you, intelligent?" I mean, people generally use to to suggest "I am attracted to people with whom I can be smart", as far as I can tell, and that requires asserting that your own intelligence is great enough that smart people will also think you are smart. Perhaps I have just had some blows to the ol' vanity lately, but I do not think I could assert that with any kind of confidence.

Can't one just say that one likes [favorite modes of cultural production] and leave it at that?

I mean, I've met some really, really smart people, and while they are all delightful and everything, I would certainly not assume that because I like smart people, any one of them would be delighted to find themselves in my company.
posted by Frowner at 10:26 AM on November 18, 2014 [5 favorites]


This is the thing with sapiosexual, I believe that because it's listed as an orientation rather than an interest or something, the meaning behind it is "It's not the body that attracts me, but the brain inside."

I think this is how I read it, at first anyway. I'm also still a little confused as to what makes this particulary, what, noteworthy, I guess, as an objectionable thing to list about oneself or to list as a desirable characteristic in a partner, but I concede that my lack of familiarity with dating sites is probably playing a huge role in my confusion here.
posted by rtha at 10:26 AM on November 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


But high intelligence is always preferred to low or no intelligence, so it's already seen as a preferable trait.

Sure but most people are able to achieve sexual arousal without it, which is the supposed claim being made here. I have no doubt that this is used more often as a subcultural marker than anything else, but it still seems like poor form to make fun of people for trying to suss out their sexuality even if they do it in awkward and embarrassing ways. I wish way more labels had been available to me growing up, if only because it highlights how arbitrary and fluid and overlapping the labels are in such a way that maybe those labels would have mattered a lot less to me.

How do folks feel about demisexual? How about the political connotations of choosing pansexual vs bisexual? There's a lot more to discuss here than making fun of people for being juvenile fangirls, which is what I'm mostly seeing here.
posted by dialetheia at 10:27 AM on November 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


It really seems to me that labels about gender and sexuality are basically just polite ways of saying what sort of genitals you have and what sort of genitals you want to interact with, which is important on a dating site because the entire point of those things is to consensually interact with someone else's genitalia. I realize everything's more complicated than that, but that dimension of it is important to people and there isn't any other way to quickly filter by those criteria.
posted by Small Dollar at 10:27 AM on November 18, 2014


I imagine the next big thing is choosing mates with high willpower and resistance to fire.

The really important thing is letting us choose dump stats, too, so we can fully min-max our potential romantic partners. PunPunCupid.com
posted by RogerB at 10:28 AM on November 18, 2014 [3 favorites]


Also anyone who says that dumb people can't be hella hot is a BIG LIAR
posted by ominous_paws at 10:29 AM on November 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


*an important part of dating sites, as opposed to the entire point
posted by Small Dollar at 10:29 AM on November 18, 2014


And, with the phrase "high intelligence" I'm starting to realize how the stat and label obsessed have slowly made dating into a PnP RPG. I imagine the next big thing is choosing mates with high willpower and resistance to fire.

This is gonna get really confusing if you're looking for a twink.
posted by prize bull octorok at 10:30 AM on November 18, 2014 [3 favorites]


Also anyone who says that dumb people can't be hella hot is a BIG LIAR

exhibit a: GASTON
posted by poffin boffin at 10:30 AM on November 18, 2014 [7 favorites]


And, with the phrase "high intelligence" I'm starting to realize how the stat and label obsessed have slowly made dating into a PnP RPG. I imagine the next big thing is choosing mates with high willpower and resistance to fire.

"I only date dragons?"
posted by Zalzidrax at 10:36 AM on November 18, 2014


Dragons and Fire Lord Zuko.
posted by ursus_comiter at 10:37 AM on November 18, 2014 [6 favorites]


Well he is pretty sexy.
posted by Zalzidrax at 10:42 AM on November 18, 2014


I think you mean "hot".
posted by Small Dollar at 10:44 AM on November 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


exhibit a: GASTON

No one strokes like Gaston
No one pokes like Gaston
If you're into breath play
No one chokes like Gaston

"I'm especially good at as-phyx-iating"
Oh what a guy that Gaston
posted by murphy slaw at 10:44 AM on November 18, 2014 [33 favorites]


I wonder, when people go to a dating site and they find someone who self-identifies as transgender... do they immediately think they are pre-op, post-op or non-op, and how does that affect how they respond/react? Should that also have been part of the entire gender stratification?
posted by BecauseIHadFiveDollars at 10:48 AM on November 18, 2014


It kinda bums me out that this has turned into joking and debates about the legitimacy of sapiosexuality.

I take issue with the folks who say that if [something] is a sexuality, now [false equivalence] must be equally valid, and therefore both are ridiculous. Some folks say that about asexuality, or about other genders. I was participating in a discussion somewhere and someone asked what cis meant, and then was like "well, I was born a man but I feel that inside I'm really centaur". It is great that it is something that has so little effect on your life that you can feel comfortable joking about it, but for some people it is a constantly grating topic. They are regularly being told that they are invalid for feeling or identifying or whatevering how they do, and debating the legitimacy of it is just perpetuating that.

As someone who isn't actively looking at the moment, but who identifies in a few of the new categories, it's a pretty great change. What I'd love is to have the option for stacking some of the sexuality options. Demisexual queer, Homoflexible asexual, etc.

Personally I identify as a Genderqueer, female-bodied, masculine of center, grey-asexual queer, who is kinky and poly-friendly. So...yeah. Just because *you* think some of these are ridiculous...that's ok! You don't have to pick them! Someone who identifies with that term is really grateful for the option right now.

I tend to see the "labels" as descriptions, not definitions. It gets folks started on a similar page. "Girl* who likes girls and guys" doesn't quite cut it for me (and SO many other people). I see a ton of folks who say they wish there was a queer option, or additional gender options. I'm hoping that like facebook's change last year, they will have a very positive response on this. I know it'd be beneficial to a lot of folks.

*I am not a girl. Even if I was cis, I'm not a *girl*. Girl is not equivalent to guy, so even the shift to man/woman is a positive step, and I'm glad they didn't go with "male/female".
posted by HermitDog at 10:54 AM on November 18, 2014 [15 favorites]


Sure but most people are able to achieve sexual arousal without it, which is the supposed claim being made here.

That makes a little more sense. So, it's kind of like Joaquin Phoenix in "Her", you're attracted to someone that doesn't have to have a physical body then?
posted by FJT at 11:09 AM on November 18, 2014


And, with the phrase "high intelligence" I'm starting to realize how the stat and label obsessed have slowly made dating into a PnP RPG. I imagine the next big thing is choosing mates with high willpower and resistance to fire.

Oh I would love that! So many times I'm cooking and ask somebody to hand me something on the oven and they're all, "That's too hot! And then when I touch it it's mildly warm.
posted by bswinburn at 11:12 AM on November 18, 2014 [3 favorites]


Codifying certain things as identities can get really messed up, though? I mean, kinky grey-asexual queer, there's nothing harmful in any of that; but, "I'm not attracted to the stupid" or "I'm not attracted to black people" or "I'm not attracted to trans women" are judgements, not orientations, and judgements with a lot of social power behind them at that, and I consider it extremely harmful to legitimise stuff like this behind labels like "sapiosexual" that put them on the same level as, say, demisexual.

and yeah you bet your bottom dollar there are official-looking words for not being attracted to black people or trans women or any number of other marginalised groups, but googling for them makes me feel dirty as hell, so
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 11:13 AM on November 18, 2014 [11 favorites]


You'd need some third party verification system so you don't get fake-fire-resistant guys who go all Viserys Targaryen when it counts.
posted by almostmanda at 11:16 AM on November 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


and yeah you bet your bottom dollar there are official-looking words for not being attracted to black people or trans women or any number of other marginalised groups

Yeah, like how surely by now everyone knows that saying "family-values-oriented" means IMMENSE VILE HOMOPHOBE and yet people still use it like it's nbd

posted by poffin boffin at 11:18 AM on November 18, 2014 [8 favorites]


I get what you mean ArmyOfKittens, but the people I know who use "Sapiosexual" don't mean it as "I'm not attracted to stupid folks". For them it's more like where demisexual means there needs to be an emotional connection before sexual attraction, sapiosexual means there needs to be an intellectual connection before sexual attraction.

There are a LOT of folks who can be sexually attracted to someone without having an intellectual or emotional connection. They might not act on it without those, but the sexual attraction is there. For other people it isn't, those are the folks that I know who use that term.

Not saying some people don't use the term in gross ways, but such is the human way with all things.
posted by HermitDog at 11:19 AM on November 18, 2014 [5 favorites]


Oh, I don't know. I'm asexual and I cringe at people who rush to meet orientation terms they haven't seen before with jokes and mocking, too. I've had a lot of nasty experiences with that, and I'm delighted for friends of mine (not being looking myself) that identifying publicly as 'asexual' (and demi!) is an option.

But sapiosexuality gets right up my nose because of what it's implying. Preferring "higher intelligence" is pretty loaded, and even when it's not being read as "cultural signifiers of my group of friends" (like Sherlock etc), what I see people describing tends to be... culturally specific. I mean, intelligence is notoriously hard to define--are we going with ability to navigate a spatially complex space? Ability to solve complex mathematical problems under pressure without practice? Level of time to solve an intellectual problem? Ability to negotiate tricky social situations without ruffling feathers?

Oooorrr are we going with "has a PhD" or "can quote Chaucer" or "speaks Latin at me" or "gets my nerdy interests" or "gets all As in school?" The signifiers I see about what qualifies as "smart" to sapiosexuals generally seem to me to be things a person knows rather than how fast they learn, if you follow me, and the specific things that are prioritized are generally really class-specific and culturally loaded. And that to me is way more a function of what the people around you valued while you grew up, and especially the education you had access to, than it is a function of something that is innate to you yourself.
posted by sciatrix at 11:22 AM on November 18, 2014 [8 favorites]


That makes a little more sense. So, it's kind of like Joaquin Phoenix in "Her", you're attracted to someone that doesn't have to have a physical body then?

To be clear, I'm not and I totally don't identify that way, I just think it's kind of crummy how people are being so dismissive about this. I think that's a lot closer to it, though, yes - it's primarily intellectual attraction that they value.

"I'm not attracted to the stupid"

That seems like an uncharitable read of the term, although I can absolutely see where you're coming from. In my experience it's used less to rule out partners and more about identifying the locus of sexual attraction, and some people apparently feel strongly that it's basically 100% intellectual and not based on physical or aesthetic attraction. To allow those people to find each other seems generally harmless.

People filter their dating partners by all sorts of factors; the broader question of how those preferences interact with prejudice, and what sorts of preferences are acceptable and what aren't, is more interesting than snarking over one particular term. Like, even if we do collapse the term down to "only wants to date people they think are smart," is that prejudicial or problematic, or an acceptable personal preference? I think reasonable people can disagree here.
posted by dialetheia at 11:24 AM on November 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


The "new" identities are fantastic as descriptions of preferences and practices. I am a little bit uneasy with them as descriptions of deep or foundational stuff (whether you call that an "orientation" or something else), not least because as far as I can tell* the vast majority of demisexual and asexual people are women or AFAB people, and this leads me to wonder whether these identities are at least in part a product of the pressures and foreclosures on women's and AFAB people's sexuality. There's an underlying set of judgments, too, about what "unmarked" human sexuality is like ("sexual"...not demi-, not a-) that I think reifies some problematic stuff.

I don't like the rhetoric of "oh, but healthy people are sexual, something bad must have happened to you/you must fix yourself if you are asexual", but I'm a little bit uneasy with how I seem to encounter these terms on the queer/left internet as totally depoliticized and not worthy of any inquiry. Not because there's anything wrong with the people who describe themselves as asexual, but because there is clearly something very, very restrictive and fucked-up about how blank/unmarked "sexuality" is described and understood.

I also think the fragmentation of asexuality is interesting - people who identify as asexual who enjoy having sex but don't have sexual fantasies, people who identify as asexual who have sexual fantasies but don't experience attraction to people in the real world, etc. The Most Hook-Up-Having person I know identifies as asexual, and I think that suggests that there's something unexplored about the term.

*could be wrong, basing this on the large number of asexual people I've met on the internet and the smaller number I've met in real life.
posted by Frowner at 11:25 AM on November 18, 2014 [10 favorites]


I would also like to note that "intellectual connection" seems frequently poorly defined. Is it "I find you interesting?" Is it "I find you smart?" Is it "I can get caught up in intellectual discussions with you?" I'm struggling to figure out why that's a more important thing to specify than "I enjoy your company and I want to hang out around you."

For me, the difference between sapiosexual and demisexual is that in my experience demis are usually going "I experience sexual attraction infrequently, it takes me a long time having a relationship with a person to experience it, and I cannot reliably predict whether it will ever happen." I.... am finding it hard to envision a non-classist way to define sapiosexual that doesn't already fit into demisexual (in the sense that we generally do not hang out with people unless we find them interesting in some way). HermitDog, is the difference your friends use purely about emotional/intellectual connections? Because I think the question I get hung up on re sapiosexual is--why is it important to specify "I find you intellectually engaging" rather than "I enjoy your company and want to be around you?"
posted by sciatrix at 11:30 AM on November 18, 2014 [3 favorites]


(Although mainly what this thread has done for me is to get a particularly earwormy version of Pete Shelley's "Homosapien" stuck in my head.)
posted by Frowner at 11:30 AM on November 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


Sciatrix, I had a huge crush in college on a woman that I didn't first look at twice in class because of how beautiful and insightful her posts were to the class's discussion forums. I asked her out and she said 'no', so it's not like being attracted to someone for solely intellectual reasons requires any sort of long term connection at all.

I doubt I'd identify as 'sapiosexual' though. When I saw the term I was guessing it meant something like 'I'll date anything capable of language and tool use. Bring on the neanderthals and green-skinned space babes!'
posted by Zalzidrax at 11:39 AM on November 18, 2014


Also the comparison upthread with cis makes me uneasy, because, like, cis woman and trans woman are different categories that we can a) identify with but we are also b) placed into by other people, with potentially serious consequences for those of us in the marked class (trans women).

Being a trans woman is both an identity and a category under kyriarchy which can have profound consequences for day-to-day life, as you can be placed into that category even if you don't identify with it: I know a number of people who consider themselves agender or otherwise nonbinary but exist within the category trans woman because that is how they are perceived. The same goes for people who consider themselves, say, homoromantic but who are placed into the category of gay and may face consequences as a result.

I don't see the same balance of identity/category for sapiosexual; it seems like a poor comparison.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 11:41 AM on November 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


OK so shouldn't all of you objecting to people identifying as sapiosexual be happy that you can screen them out on OKCupid? If you just think it's silly and eye roll worthy, great! You don't have to date those people. Again, I come back to: Why is this worth so much grousing? I mean, I don't think I am hot to date anyone IDing that way, but this makes it easier for me to do that. So. What's the problem again?
posted by stoneweaver at 12:18 PM on November 18, 2014


Jesus, I can barely get a date as it is. Now I have to negotiate my way through a confusing white noise of gender identities? Can't I just be attracted to the cute people?
posted by elwoodwiles at 12:18 PM on November 18, 2014


Jesus, I can barely get a date as it is. Now I have to negotiate my way through a confusing white noise of gender identities?

You're being more than a bit dismissive of other folks' lived experiences. If you work on this, you may have more luck getting dates.
posted by sebastienbailard at 12:45 PM on November 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


Btw, if there's heteroflexible and homoflexible, why aren't they just put together into flexisexual.

As much fun as "flexisexual" would be to say, the way I understand it, heteroflexible is "mostly heterosexual but occasionally not" and homoflexible is "mostly homosexual but occasionally not", so they're symmetric but not the same.
posted by en forme de poire at 12:59 PM on November 18, 2014 [4 favorites]


OK so shouldn't all of you objecting to people identifying as sapiosexual be happy that you can screen them out on OKCupid? If you just think it's silly and eye roll worthy, great! You don't have to date those people. Again, I come back to: Why is this worth so much grousing?

Just the fact that many people equate identities like sapiosexual, demisexual, etc with being gay or transgender. All of those words do describe a way of being, yes, but they're not equivalent, because they don't describe identities or practices which are outside of the traditionally acceptable mainstream.
posted by showbiz_liz at 1:00 PM on November 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


OK so shouldn't all of you objecting to people identifying as sapiosexual be happy that you can screen them out on OKCupid? If you just think it's silly and eye roll worthy, great! You don't have to date those people. Again, I come back to: Why is this worth so much grousing? I mean, I don't think I am hot to date anyone IDing that way, but this makes it easier for me to do that. So. What's the problem again?

Well, I think it's another instance of the core philosophical divide between lumpers and splitters, and people tend to get excised about that in any field, from anthropology to literature. Plus there's an inherently exclusionary aspect to embracing any given label as a core part of one's identity: not only a sense of "I am This, and not that or those" but also "I am This, and it is so important to me that I am This that it's one of the first things you should know about me, in order to form your opinion of me and relate to me as I would wish." I mean, you can argue that the whole point of online dating as a enterprise is to replace one's instinctive emotional and physical reaction to the presence of another with taxonomy and algorithms, but a lot of people dislike that aspect of it, finding forcing themselves into boxes ---even ones labelled genderfluid---so they can be more efficiently sorted confining. I mean, on average I tend to be more often attracted to brunets than blonds; naming myself a carinophile would tend to put off some perfectly nice blond folk I might otherwise be attracted to, I should think. As well as all the people who had to google what a carinophile might possibly be and therefore determined that I'm pretentious and self-involved. Lumpers, no doubt.
posted by Diablevert at 1:00 PM on November 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


I'm a straight guy looking for a girl who likes guys. . .

posted by I-baLL at 12:16 PM on November 18 [9 favorites +] [!]


Eponysexual. (Not a category.)
posted by The Bellman at 1:02 PM on November 18, 2014


but, "I'm not attracted to the stupid" or "I'm not attracted to black people" or "I'm not attracted to trans women" are judgements, not orientations,

Yes? But...this is where I get all tangled, I guess, because "lesbian" is an orientation, but implicit in it is "I'm not attracted to men." Which is I guess both a judgement and an orientation.
posted by rtha at 1:02 PM on November 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


Lesbian = "I like women", though, not "I like [only these privileged classes of] women".
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 1:06 PM on November 18, 2014


64 characters of free text oughtta be enough for anybody.
posted by j_curiouser at 1:20 PM on November 18, 2014


As much fun as "flexisexual" would be to say, the way I understand it, heteroflexible is "mostly heterosexual but occasionally not" and homoflexible is "mostly homosexual but occasionally not", so they're symmetric but not the same.

Which is incredibly important for a dating site - ie a woman self-identifying as homoflexible means I (cis straight male) better be making one hell of a case for why I'm one of the ones worth crossing the aisle for, and it lets me factor in that additional effort required when deciding whether to write them in the first place.

I haven't used OKC in five years, but back when I was this sort of specificity would have been highly appreciated.
posted by Ryvar at 2:13 PM on November 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


Boy am I glad I'm married.
posted by jonmc at 2:29 PM on November 18, 2014 [3 favorites]


It's odd how it's not okay to judge people for some sexual preferences--e.g. preferences in plumbing--but it's okay to judge them for others.

So what if you only like Plumbing A or Skin Colour X or IQ Level Z? Unless you and I are sleeping together it's none of my business.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 2:38 PM on November 18, 2014 [5 favorites]


But...this is where I get all tangled, I guess, because "lesbian" is an orientation, but implicit in it is "I'm not attracted to men." Which is I guess both a judgement and an orientation.

I guess I don't see any judgment there. A lesbian isn't going to be attracted to me, but there's no judgment in that, just her orientation.
posted by Dip Flash at 2:39 PM on November 18, 2014


A note from your friendly local OKC mod.

The new category options were generated by frequency of terms in text input by OKC users. This is why the lists are idiosyncratic and may not have symmetry across genders, sexual habits (there's "kinky" but not "vanilla"), and so on. Nonetheless, these are currently the terms most popular on OKC.

Enjoy!
posted by Dreidl at 2:41 PM on November 18, 2014 [15 favorites]


Dreidl: That's super interesting! Thanks!!
posted by tittergrrl at 2:51 PM on November 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


The new category options were generated by frequency of terms in text input by OKC users.

Do you mean frequency of self-description, or frequency of searches? I can see an argument for both, though I expect that using the search terms would be the most helpful if the goal is to assist people in finding what they are looking for.
posted by Dip Flash at 2:51 PM on November 18, 2014


Hey there! I work at OkC (signal_to_noise there) and was the developer who spearheaded this happening (although not without a lot of support from my fellow designers and such). This and wanting to look at all that sweet sweet data were pretty much the reasons I joined OkC: I was frustrated with the lack of options, and wanted to make it more representative of the people I was friends with in the world.

Dreidl: that is not at all how we generated them. I just sat down with a few fellow queers and we hashed over lists, looked through what people were doing online, and tried to come up with something that was expansive but not overwhelming. It went through a few revisions in product and here we are, sapiosexuals (whether you want to throw them out of a window or not) and all.
posted by tastyhat at 2:59 PM on November 18, 2014 [17 favorites]


I started out writing a thing about my problems with sapiosexuality as a concept, and then I realized that basically every one of my objections happens in any other type of sexuality. Are you not smart if a sapiosexual isn't turned on by you? No, you're just not that person's type of smart. How do sapiosexuals know if someone's smart enough to turn them on? The way you know that someone is "masculine" or "feminine" or whatever else enough to turn you on. Doesn't everyone value intelligence? Sure, but everyone appreciates whatever they find to be a pleasing physical form too. Maybe sapiosexuals get drunk and go home with a kind of smart person because it's been a while and they're not feeling terribly picky. Sexualities largely describe tendencies anyway; they are not, ideally, delimiting.

So when I think about what bothers me about the idea of sapiosexuality, it is the idea that my intelligence, which I value, will be subject to judgement and evaluation; that my intelligence will be sexualized without my permission, and, indeed, around a sapiosexual is constantly sexualized; that if sapiosexuals don't like my intelligence, it might mean there's something wrong with my intelligence; that if I wanted to be attractive to sapiosexuals, I would need to put my intelligence on display and make sure it's the kind of intelligence that sapiosexuals like.

Basically, I don't want my intelligence to be treated the way our society treats women's bodies. So that's an interesting thought.
posted by Errant at 3:31 PM on November 18, 2014 [10 favorites]


On the other hand, Errent, you can't knock up your intelligence. The ability or lack thereof of one's physical self to elicit desire in others is pretty inextricably tied to the reproduction of the species, in a way that my intelligence or my shoes or my ability to impersonate a 19th century English governess is not, for 99.9% of the population. Some things simply must be dealt with.
posted by Diablevert at 3:47 PM on November 18, 2014


A lesbian isn't going to be attracted to me, but there's no judgment in that

Some men definitely see a judgement in that. Weird, but true.

Errant has managed to articulate some of what I was trying to get at. If I state on OKCupid that my orientation is lesbian, that's not simply a positive statement about who I will date, but also a negative one about who I won't; it doesn't say something just about me - it also says something about who/what I find attractive.

It's interesting that the list doesn't include dyke; in my experience, many women who identify as lesbians - and not as dykes, or who don't use the terms interchangeably - have often been women I would not want to date at all, because it can be a signal for a particular kind of politics that I am not a fan of. Now, this is awfully inside-baseball, I know, but I think maybe this is what got me ruminating on this.
posted by rtha at 3:54 PM on November 18, 2014 [4 favorites]


Sure. All I'm saying is that my instinctive distaste for the idea of sapiosexuality is an interesting thing for me to interrogate. I'm not asking you to.
posted by Errant at 4:13 PM on November 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


Conspire: Whelp, so long as OKCupid is doing that, why not make "masc only", "no curry/rice" and "no fatties" count as sexualities too?

It took me like, fully a minute to figure out what they were getting at with the curry/rice thing... and now i'm just grossed out and sad at the state of society.


I'm all for sapiosexual being a category though. Who would check that who wasn't like, extremely concerned about ethics in gaming journalism, excited about the doritos mountain dew flavor, and wore a fedora that was perpetually tipping like a Euler's disk?
posted by emptythought at 5:14 PM on November 18, 2014


But high intelligence is always preferred to low or no intelligence, so it's already seen as a preferable trait.

This may be true in your scene, at this time, sure, but don't forget that in other scenes, more than a generation of women were raised to act dumb in front of potential boyfriends, to be more attractive.

Being a trans woman is both an identity and a category under kyriarchy which can have profound consequences for day-to-day life, as you can be placed into that category even if you don't identify with it... ...The same goes for people who consider themselves, say, homoromantic but who are placed into the category of gay and may face consequences as a result.
I don't see the same balance of identity/category for sapiosexual; it seems like a poor comparison.


At least one of the people I know who see themselves as some degree of sapiosexual did have consequences (that I know of) and suffer at the hands of family precisely because they were "placed into the category of gay" by other people... a category they didn't identify with, because it's just random and irrelevant whether some hot brains come in a package with the "wrong" plumbing.

And with all of them, it didn't really come across to me as this dismissive stereotype of someone humble-bragging "I'm smart and I only want to date people like me", if anything, being smart like them was not interesting. At least one of them guns for the kind of super-nerdy person who would struggle to get any kind of date, because that's where you can find out-of-you-rown-league super-smarties that haven't already been snapped up early by someone else.
posted by anonymisc at 5:23 PM on November 18, 2014


I think this is pretty rad.
posted by threeants at 9:18 PM on November 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


> Lesbian = "I like women", though, not "I like [only these privileged classes of] women".

ArmyOfKittens, what do you mean by “privileged” here?

You don't seem to be using it in the normal feminist sense of an ability a class of people has that another class lacks. Do you mean it in the sense of privileges versus rights?

My guess is that you're trying to say that orientations can't be chosen. Is that correct?
posted by Renegade Duck at 1:45 AM on November 19, 2014


Renegade Duck: "ArmyOfKittens, what do you mean by “privileged” here?"

I'm specifically putting sapiosexual into the same category as other sexual identities that conveniently distance the person in question from having to interrogate their lack of attraction to socially marginalised people. To provide an example, cis lesbians who just happen to not be attracted to trans women are very, very common. Other examples have been given in this thread.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 2:21 AM on November 19, 2014 [4 favorites]


it's pretty much always some straight dude letting the straight women he's looking for know that he expects them to meet his personal standards for what he thinks counts as smart.

And probably the converse, too, in the way we had that thread a while back about David Mitchell (of Mitchell and Webb) and there were guys who were adamant that the only reason a model married him was because he was rich, even though numerous women (myself included) chimed in to say, no, he's hot because he's smart and funny.

I've never heard the term sapiosexual before today but I guess there's some definition that applies to me. I mean, there are plenty of guys I think are super-hot but I'm probably not going to have sex with them based on that alone. But if OKC is using sapiosexual to indicate someone is attracted to intelligent people then it would be more helpful to me if I could check a "humorsexual" box because that would probably cover intelligent, too.
posted by Room 641-A at 5:14 AM on November 19, 2014


(Derail)

David Mitchell (of Mitchell and Webb) and there were guys who were adamant that the only reason a model married him was because he was rich, even though numerous women (myself included) chimed in to say, no, he's hot because he's smart and funny.

Victoria Coren is many wonderful things, but I don't think she's ever been a professional model of any stripe. Was this just code for "attractive"? They both come across to me as slightly weird in ways that are very familiar & I suspect that they're very well suited to each other.

(Underail)
posted by pharm at 5:31 AM on November 19, 2014 [3 favorites]


I think one reason I'm uneasy with value-judgment-osexualities is that when you add "osexual" to something, you're using language to suggest that it is in some way more inherent/hard-wired than cultural. You're attempting to give it some weight that is greater than just "I am really only attracted to people who [watch Sherlock/have great spatial skills/etc]".

Admittedly, every sexuality is fuzzy-edged, and every sexuality is also a political category - so there are gay men who occasionally sleep with women, for instance, and being "gay" rather than "this guy who almost always sleeps with men but occasionally sleeps with women" is a political identity created by medical and juridical economies. That is, people are gay [as a specific term that we claim is simple and always the same] because of a political struggle over gender and sex, and being gay is a weapon in that struggle.

So there's always an argument for saying "this sexuality is created by medical and juridical economies too and therefore it is the same as being gay"...and I mean, that's true. What we think of as intelligence, who gets to have and display "intelligence", whose intelligence is rendered invisible or punished - those are political categories. But I feel like we drift more and more toward "everything is political and therefore nothing is", toward the evisceration of political categories. And while there's a certain utopianism in that, it seems a bit rough on people who are much more marginalized for their gender expression and sexuality.

What I mean is this: while it may be true that someone is socially marginalized for being attracted to intelligent people, and it may be true that this person finds it more difficult to get suitable partners, that social marginalization is not similar to the social marginalization experienced by gay people or trans people. More, none of the elaborate medical and juridical regimes which create gay and trans identities are present for sapiosexuals; there is no system of therapy to stop you being a sapiosexual; there is no legal code which will take your kids away; there is no sapiosexual neighborhood; there are no sapiosexual bars, coffeehouses and businesses.

When we talk about how every serious preference is a sexuality, we're ignoring the ways that "sexualities" themselves are created by history, law, culture and medicine.

We're also placing these preferences well outside of being questioned in any way, as Army of Kittens says. Now, I think there's some risk once you start questioning preferences - if I can question the sapiosexuals, why can't I question whether a gay man who sometimes sleeps with women should maybe call himself bisexual (I would not do this, actually)? And there's some ideology in play - if you really, truly think that being gay is a transhistorical quality (ie, that gay men were gay in much the same way as they are now at all times in history and all points in space) then you have to lean on the biological alone - you have to argue that gay identity is biological primarily and is expressed similarly over history, and that humans can never have a society where "gay" and "straight" are not Really Important Social Organizing Categories. The idea that "gayness" is socially constructed more than biologically is a risky idea with real political implications, right? If you start talking like that, maybe you are sounding like the people who think that people "choose" to be gay.

At the same time, I think that a close attention to the political and historical creation of sexual and gender identities offers the best hope of making a good argument. After all, I am not a queer sorta-trans person in 500 AD, where I would live my sexuality and gender very differently; I need to live my sexuality and gender identity - constructed as they are! - in a way that is not miserable in my society today. I might not think of myself as queer or sorta-trans on the Mars Colony of 2500, but that doesn't solve my problems today. My identity is not transhistorical but it is political.
posted by Frowner at 5:36 AM on November 19, 2014 [21 favorites]


To add: I think that the sudden proliferation of subjective-osexualities is rooted in the desire to find a non-political way to legitimate sexual preference, a way to put it beyond question, and that this can never happen - putting some sexual preferences beyond question is always going to create political consequences for other sexual preferences, and the question is what consequences and for who.

So for instance, people (especially women and AFAB people) need a way to express "It takes me a while to develop sexual attraction and I need some connection to the person", because we live in a society where "normal" sexuality is described as if it were "normal people are glad to have sex at the drop of a hat, and if you don't, you'd better have a good reason". Not only is this, like, literally untrue, but it obscures the many cultural factors that make lots of people unwilling to have sex at the drop of a hat - the burdens of birth control, disease prevention, slut-shaming; the lack of knowledge about what makes sex enjoyable for women; the centering of 'how you have sex' around male experience; the fact that anyone who does not enjoy heterosexual male sexual practices as they currently exist has much less access to ideas about what they might enjoy instead; etc etc. And the privileging of male desire, so that a woman who does not want to have sex when a man does has to justify her feelings. So it's very difficult to sort out "people who would develop sexual feelings slowly even if we were living in the utopian Mars Colony of 2500" from "people who develop sexual feelings slowly because they have learned to survive in this culture".

On the one hand "demisexuality" is a really useful sorting descriptor, and it's a useful bozo filter - you can tell someone that you are demisexual and then there's moral traction for saying "wait, you're pressuring me to have sex when I don't want to and you're being a jerk because you don't recognize my sexuality", and presumably, people who want to have sex immediately will be less likely to pursue you.

And there certainly are tons of juridical and medical regimes which police sexuality and which attempt to classify people who don't want to have sex right away as broken. But only certain people! Teenagers - especially poor teenagers or teens of color - who want to have sex right away are slutty, immature, etc. Marginalized women who want to have sex right away are also slutty and immature, etc. Gay men who want to have sex right away are promiscuous, have no respect for sexual health, etc. The people who are broken - according to regimes of power! - because they don't want to have sex right away are for the most part middle class adult women and some middle class adult men. People, in short, who the law and medicine want to go ahead and have sex, provided that they do it correctly.

(I surmise that one reason there's so much variety in asexuality - people who like to have sex but don't experience what they consider sexual attraction; people who have sexual fantasies but not sex; etc - is precisely because of this same logic of "sexuality means one thing only, that you experience an undifferentiated and easy-to-identify 'sexual attraction' to a person in front of you and you then enjoy acting on it and that this is completely natural and not produced by culture"....so everyone who doesn't experience this is, by default, asexual. That is, there's no cultural space for anything but this one late-capitalist heteronormative way of being sexual.)

This is one of the reasons that I feel that the new categories bear a lot of investigation - I think they have the potential to obscure the regimes of power that produce them.

This is different from gay and trans identities, because those identities were imposed by regimes of power and then deconstructed and politicized. Whereas a number of the "new" categories seem to be a response to a regime of power which treats the regime of power as natural, which is why I am a little uneasy.

As descriptors of what people like to do, these all seem perfectly useful, but I am a little bit worried about how this seems to spill over into "every strong sexual preference is hard-wired, non-political and unchangeable and comes from somewhere that is not a regime of power".
posted by Frowner at 6:54 AM on November 19, 2014 [23 favorites]


Victoria Coren is many wonderful things, but I don't think she's ever been a professional model of any stripe. Was this just code for "attractive"? They both come across to me as slightly weird in ways that are very familiar & I suspect that they're very well suited to each other.

Thanks for clarifying; I couldn't find the original thread. I don't know who she is, I just know her attractiveness was the issue. Maybe there were other comments along the same lines using models as examples, but the point was definitely that she was supposedly out of his league physically so she was "obviously" a gold-digger.
posted by Room 641-A at 7:46 AM on November 19, 2014


As descriptors of what people like to do, these all seem perfectly useful, but I am a little bit worried about how this seems to spill over into "every strong sexual preference is hard-wired, non-political and unchangeable and comes from somewhere that is not a regime of power".

I wish I could fave this a hundred times. It's something I think about a lot when it comes to kink, but usually I feel like I'll get yelled at for expressing it: namely, that the fact that you see way more dominant men and submissive women is not necessarily just a form of biologically hard-wired sexuality, and in fact is largely a product of a culture which imposes those roles on men and women every single day, albeit in a different way. I think that's an important question to ask, and I don't think it's even slightly the same as asking whether someone is "REALLY gay."
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:07 AM on November 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


I'm glad that people have more options to choose from, but on a personal note I see this as potentially very limiting. I'd describe myself as kinky, bisexual and genderqueer. But I don't know that I want to box myself in like that on a dating site. I think a lot of people who would like me are not necessarily going to actively know that's what they're looking for. A straight dude who likes women - even if they are not very feminine - might not even think about checking the "genderqueer is okay with me" box (or however this works). He may just check "I like women," look at profiles and narrow his scope from there. And yet, if I just check "woman" that's not a totally accurate descriptor of who I am or how I present.

On the flipside, as someone looking for partners, it could limit my scope as well. I guess I would just check every box because I'm not all that concerned about gender? But I do still have preferences.

Ugh, this is confusing. But again, I'm glad that people who fall outside of the cis/mono boxes have more choices if they want them.
posted by desjardins at 8:30 AM on November 19, 2014


but the point was definitely that she was supposedly out of his league physically so she was "obviously" a gold-digger.

Given that Victoria Coren is in profit to the tune of multiple millions of $/£/€ from winning poker tournaments, this seems quite unlikely. Who on earth were these people? I must invoke the "someone is wrong on the internet!" xkcd and go tell them immediately!
posted by pharm at 8:48 AM on November 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


Following on from Frowner's comments, this post has been going around my circle on Tumblr lately and may be relevant/interesting: Could you possibly explain the thing about people saying asexuality is exclusive of anyone who isn't white?
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 8:54 AM on November 19, 2014


Also, can we coin "punctuasexual"?

Not to be confused with "punctasexual" in which you are only attracted to images of discrete spots and points. (Discrete only! Ha ha ha I kill me)
posted by en forme de poire at 9:29 AM on November 19, 2014


I'm specifically putting sapiosexual into the same category as other sexual identities that conveniently distance the person in question from having to interrogate their lack of attraction to socially marginalised people. To provide an example, cis lesbians who just happen to not be attracted to trans women are very, very common. Other examples have been given in this thread.

I guess my question is, why does anyone have to interrogate their attraction or lack thereof? Isn't the whole point that your sexuality is your business and not the business of anyone you aren't sleeping with or trying to?
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:57 AM on November 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


I guess my question is, why does anyone have to interrogate their attraction or lack thereof? Isn't the whole point that your sexuality is your business and not the business of anyone you aren't sleeping with or trying to?

Seriously, if your "sexuality" is racist or transphobic, don't you want to put a little pressure on that? Like, yes, your sexuality is your business, but if it radically conflicts with your values, don't you want to investigate just a little bit, try to figure out if maybe you've just never challenged yourself to look closely at the stereotypes in your head? I mean, I have had some stupid reasons for being attracted/not attracted to various types of person, and if I had never ever investigated them a little bit, I would still be sadly trying to date mean short cis male intellectuals, all of whom just happened to be white. That was my "natural" sexuality for years, and it was a giant horrible disaster based on internalized [misogyny/homophobia/bad stuff], and I'm glad that I didn't just say "well, I'm a short-mean-cis-male-osexual and no one should suggest otherwise".
posted by Frowner at 10:12 AM on November 19, 2014 [10 favorites]


feckless fecal fear mongering: "I guess my question is, why does anyone have to interrogate their attraction or lack thereof? Isn't the whole point that your sexuality is your business and not the business of anyone you aren't sleeping with or trying to?"

Because codifying these types of preferences as sexualities can and does reinforce oppression. Like, sure, it's Jane Bloggs' business that she's decided she won't find trans women attractive despite being a lesbian, but turn that into a sexuality with its own fun latiny prefix and you have a cool new way structurally to oppress trans women.

P.S. this has actually happened
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 10:13 AM on November 19, 2014 [6 favorites]


It just sounds to me like people are being judged for their sexual preferences, and I thought we weren't supposed to do that.

What if I have challenged the stereotypes in my head and I'm still not attracted to X? Does that make me X-ist, still? Is it sexist for gay men to be unattracted to women? Nobody is attracted to everyone, and that's okay. I'm short and chubby, which is not a thing a lot of gay men are into. I don't shame them for it, they like what they like and they don't what they don't.

I'm just trying to understand how 'non judgemental' and 'unless you don't like certain people' coexist.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:21 AM on November 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


feckless fecal fear mongering: "I'm just trying to understand how 'non judgemental' and 'unless you don't like certain people' coexist."

A good start is not turning a personal preference -- which is, in all of us, a messy and socially-influenced thing -- into a sexuality.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 10:23 AM on November 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


Okay, but let's leave 'sapiosexual' (for example) out of this. If someone doesn't like X, how is that anyone's business but theirs?
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:25 AM on November 19, 2014


If someone doesn't like X, how is that anyone's business but theirs?

Because these things don't occur in a vacuum. It's like asking "if someone doesn't want to be friends with black people, how is that anyone's business but theirs?"

And if your objection is "well, that's different, I'm talking about sexuality" - well. That is exactly the objection we've been raising: the idea that slapping the sexuality label onto a preference raises it above the possibility of being culturally influenced and potentially a big fucking problem.
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:28 AM on November 19, 2014 [6 favorites]


I'm not sure I'd reduce it to a "personal preference" anyway - the claim is that sapiosexuals' primary sexual drive is intellectual, not that they just don't like dumb people. If you think that claim is bogus, fine, but "personal preference" is not what people who identify that way mean by the term.

This is such a weird messy conversation, and I feel like everyone is talking past each other. It doesn't help that we've been conflating gender and sexuality descriptors throughout the conversation. To be clear, are you arguing that it's wrong for OKCupid to add these sexuality options? I think we all agree that there is absolutely no need for any protected status for these descriptors, but is it wrong for people to use them at all just because people don't face oppression for identifying that way?
posted by dialetheia at 10:37 AM on November 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


On a lived-experience level, it is so difficult to sort out all the many things that attract one to a particular individual that it seems deeply problematic to say "I am a cis-lesbian-o-sexual, I am hardwired to be incapable of being attracted to trans women" or "I am a thin-but-muscley-man-o-sexual, I am incapable of being attracted to a chubby guy ever no matter what". The more we repeat these stories about ourselves, the truer they feel and the more they reinscribe stupid and harmful norms. And also, the more we render invisible the cultural propaganda work which helps those stories to feel "natural" and "true" - that fat is "really" "naturally" ugly and a sign of low status and weakness; that trans women are not "really" women and their bodies are unattractive. When we naturalize preferences that are in line with prejudices, we're saying that we alone are too smart and authentic to have our preferences shaped by social prejudice and therefore it's just coincidence that our preferences are in line with bigotry.

I think it's tricky, because you don't want to be all "well, I know that I should find [person] attractive but I don't, but I will go out with them anyway" (although actually, cis women do this all the time, because that's how cis women are taught!).

I do think, based on a variety of personal experiences, that many many preferences are substantially social - that if you see a group as socially desirable, you're more likely to be attracted to them. I've found that my preferences have changed over time, partly in ways that I find positive (after seeing more positive images of body-diverse people on fashion tumblrs, I am attracted to a wider range of bodies) and negative (after spending time in fandom, I now actually find certain types of gross generic blond people attractive because I've been barraged by so many images of stupid movie stars from Sherlock and so on).

Again, on a lived-experience level, I think it's far better not to repeat a narrative about how you just are biologically incapable of ever, ever being attracted to [despised social category].
posted by Frowner at 10:45 AM on November 19, 2014 [5 favorites]


slapping the sexuality label onto a preference raises it above the possibility of being culturally influenced and potentially a big fucking problem.

Everyone's desires are thoroughly culturally influenced, and yet the heart has its reasons which reason does not know, you know? The motivations that lie behind desire are incredibly powerful, and almost entirely unconscious. I don't think you can browbeat people into wanting to fuck you, or yourself into wanting to fuck who you're "supposed" to want, the kind of person who aligns with your values. I mean, ask a closeted Evangelical how well that stuff works.

There's an interesting double game here, because I think you're right, claiming a mere preference as an identity can have that "sheilding" effect. But only the person having the desire can possibly know how profound, how fundamental, a particular desire is to their sense of self. And people lie to themselves all the time...
posted by Diablevert at 10:49 AM on November 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


There's an interesting double game here, because I think you're right, claiming a mere preference as an identity can have that "sheilding" effect. But only the person having the desire can possibly know how profound, how fundamental, a particular desire is to their sense of self. And people lie to themselves all the time...

See, that's why I'm much more in favor of putting a little bit of pressure on myself. I know that I'm more likely to self-delude or lie or simply be unable to access useful knowledge about myself, so I like to start from a place of "hey, could I be attracted to this person?" rather than "well, this person is [category] so no matter how smart/funny/short/glasses-wearing/readerly they are, I could never ever be attracted to them". It's about looking for possibilities rather than looking to foreclose them.

I've also noticed that sometimes I get an initial revulsion from a person I'll later find myself ridiculously attracted to, if they have something [unusual to me] about them. For me, I feel like this is about protecting my sense of myself, like "I am not the type of person who is attracted to [person with a particular very visible disability/etc]", or about about preserving the status quo, so that while I may on the one hand be missing out on a date, on the other hand at least I am not experiencing change, which is scary and bad. Obviously, not everyone thinks this way - but the world being large, I assume that there are other people who also have this weird revulsion/change/identity thing going on.
posted by Frowner at 11:06 AM on November 19, 2014 [6 favorites]


I can sort of see that, but I dunno...interrogating myself about why I'm not attracted to the people I'm not attracted to feels oddly clinical and romance-strangling, elevating my political convictions over my emotional life I a way I personally would find alienating, constraining. The vast majority of people in existence, I do not want to fuck. The connection and attraction I feel to the limited amount of others...there's something precious to me, meaningful to me, about its very ineffitability, the mysterious ness, of that attraction. Of all the gin joints in all the world. "I've wandered around, and finally found, somebody who could make me be true, could make me be blue, and even be glad, just to be sad, thinking of you...." I've no doubt my desires have been stamped by the mold of my culture....but to try and reframe my desires into what I think they ought to be in order to be more virtuous seems....like lashing a branch to a pole in order to curb its unnatural growth, and tame wildness into prettiness. Seems Brave New World-ish, the Huxlean kind, drug my beta self into mild beta-brand love. The mystery is what makes life meaningful.
posted by Diablevert at 11:43 AM on November 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


That's how I used to feel about sex- it should just 'be', and if it's not good, it's just that you and your partner aren't compatible.

Then I did a bunch of research and changed a lot of my assumptions and tried a bunch of new things, and now I have much better sex. And it's just as ineffable and whatever as before.
posted by showbiz_liz at 11:54 AM on November 19, 2014 [3 favorites]


See, that's why I'm much more in favor of putting a little bit of pressure on myself. I know that I'm more likely to self-delude or lie or simply be unable to access useful knowledge about myself, so I like to start from a place of "hey, could I be attracted to this person?"

I get this, and I get the context, and yet I still have a very visceral reaction because growing up a dyke this was my childhood and adolescence: I knew I was not attracted to boys but everything around me said I should be, so I should pressure myself, shouldn't I? Which is in part how I ended up saying "yes" to a guy friend I genuinely liked (but not Like That) who asked me to be his girlfriend. It lasted about a month and pretty much wrecked our friendship for the remainder of senior year of high school.

I guess what I'm saying is, the self-interrogation and pressure, they are also swords with more than one edge.
posted by rtha at 11:54 AM on November 19, 2014 [3 favorites]


I guess what I'd add to my comment upthread is that putting a little bit of pressure on yourself about why you're attracted to people is also a political thing. Like, it doesn't make sense for me to ask myself whether I should be attracted to some random famous cis dude, because I am already constantly told that Benedict Whosis and that Young Magneto actor and so on are the very pinacles of male beauty and desirability. There are no narratives saying "Frowner, you should under no circumstances be attracted to cis men because they are inferior and ugly". There are no social structures disadvantaging cis men compared to me. I don't need to overcome anything in order to be attracted to generic cis dudes - society as a whole would be only too thrilled if I were to sit around making much of the allure of [random male actor]. If anything, I have to overcome pressure in order to act on attraction to women, gender non-conforming people, etc.

On the other hand, there are lots of narratives saying that I shouldn't be attracted to fat people, or black women, or trans women, and relatively few positive romantic or sexual portrayals of those groups. If I were to say "well, I am just not attracted to trans women, nothing against trans women, but [creepy remark about trans women]", I'd be sailing with the tide.
posted by Frowner at 12:54 PM on November 19, 2014 [3 favorites]


I get where you people are coming from, but I cannot agree with you. Either we can judge people for their sexual preferences or we can't--it truly is an all-or-nothing proposition because the moment we say it's okay to judge some preferences (apart from the ones which actively harm others, e.g. pedophilia, rape--and even then it's fine to have the preferences; it's acting on them that's the problem), we are implicitly saying it's okay to judge them all.

If it's not sexist for me to be rarely attracted to women, it's not racist for whoever to not be (or only be) attracted to people of colour. Everyone draws the lines around their sexual attraction somewhere--maybe you (that is, anyone here, not aimed at someone specific) draw the line at cis man bodies but trans man bodies are fine. Or whatever the lines are.

Like I said, I'm short and chubby. Look at any gay media and you'll see exactly how often that is presented as a sexy ideal. But I don't think, as Diablevert said, that I can--or indeed should--browbeat anyone into sleeping with me because their sexual desires aren't inclusive enough. Maybe they're making a value judgement about fat, maybe they just prefer the feel of hard muscles, maybe they prefer fucking a skinny person. It doesn't matter at all, because it is not my place to judge who they like or why in exactly the same way it is not their place to judge who I like or why.

I mean... there have to be people who people here don't want to fuck, and they can be sliced into various categories. Do I get to judge and shame you for those preferences? Probably not. So why do you get to judge and shame others?
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:05 PM on November 19, 2014


Also, what about people who have questioned assumptions, tried new things or different types of people, and figured out that it just doesn't work for them?
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:09 PM on November 19, 2014


I'm wondering why you're going to "saying that we should be somewhat thoughtful about where our sexual preferences come from is the same as browbeating people to sleep with you". If I'm thinking about how I learned that [category] is unattractive to me, that has nothing to do with whether other people want to sleep with me.

But again, this is a fundamental difference in how we think humans work - an ideological difference that can't be smoothed over. I think that sexual preferences are politically modulated and that it is uneasy, often unsatisfactory but necessary work to address this; you think that sexual preferences are on some level so hard-wired that questioning them is useless, and therefore the question of their origin isn't meaningful. Never the twain shall meet!

On the other hand, I think it's very healthy to acknowledge incompatible belief systems - neither of us will convince the other unless one of us changes our beliefs about how human sexual subjects come into being.
posted by Frowner at 1:25 PM on November 19, 2014 [3 favorites]


(I mean that seriously - that we each believe things about people that can't match up, and in a way that's sad because we can't resolve our disagreement, but unless we want to get into "and why do we believe as we do about subject formation", that's just how it's got to be. I guess what I'm trying to say is that although I disagree deeply with what you're saying, don't get the impression that I'm saying that you are arguing in bad faith.)
posted by Frowner at 1:33 PM on November 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


you think that sexual preferences are on some level so hard-wired that questioning them is useless, and therefore the question of their origin isn't meaningful.

No, I think that someone else's sexual preferences are none of my business unless they are a) causing harm to others, or b) sleeping with me.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:42 PM on November 19, 2014 [3 favorites]


Unexamined racist/transphobic/ablist sexual preferences do cause harm to others. I feel like Frowner has covered this pretty well in general, but specifically in this comment in terms of how individual acceptance of bigoted cultural messaging reinforces and propagates bigoted culture both individually and socially.
posted by Corinth at 1:50 PM on November 19, 2014 [6 favorites]


If it's not sexist for me to be rarely attracted to women, it's not racist for whoever to not be (or only be) attracted to people of colour.

Well, first, sex in biological creatures is inherently, well, sexual in a way that race is not; because things like gender and race are socially-constructed properties (which doesn't mean they're fake), the sexual associations with them are also socially constructed. If I am a heterosexual male, I primarily or entirely want to have sex with people who possess female bits. But if I am primarily or only attracted to women with long hair or women who are good cooks, women who exhibit societally-traditional female roles, that attraction is a semi-conscious bias manufactured at least in part if not predominantly by social mores. If I am only attracted to women with tattoos or women with short hair, that's also socially constructed; finding the rejection of gender stereotypes attractive is still internalizing the surrounding social continuum into my sexuality. (It obviously gets much more complicated than this.)

Second, I find it impossible to conceive of a non-racist reason why one would never and could never be attracted to anyone of a given race, because sexuality around race and race itself is culturally generated and not implicit or inherent. No one is born only liking Mexican men. My dating experience has, to this point, no Chinese women in it, for a variety of reasons, and I have probably been less attracted to various Chinese women than other people up to now, also for a variety of reasons, but that doesn't mean I am incapable of finding Lucy Liu attractive or that I won't even look at a Chinese woman, ugh. If what one means is that one has generally not been attracted to those people of a given race that one has met, ok, fine; that has its own embedded problems which are worth thinking about and reflect a wider racist society but it's not really a big deal on the individual level. However, I can't find a non-racist reason why that is something worth announcing. I don't especially care if you are a white guy who has never dated a black woman; in fact, it would be hard to find that surprising and I'm certainly not saying that you have to date one person of every race in order to be a good little progressive. But when you say, "I just don't find black women attractive": what, never ever? Not Beyonce, not Rashida Jones, not Macy Grey, not Tyra Banks, not anyone? Declaring your anecdotal history as though it were a natural law is kind of a problem.

This goes the other way, as well. If you're a black or white man who's only ever dated Asian women for whatever reason, ok, that's nice. But when you profess, "I only like Asian women": and nobody else, not ever? You don't find that absolute conviction to be indicative of something beyond personal preference, especially when it conveniently aligns with very strong social stereotypes about racial sexuality? You don't think it's possible that you have internalized something, that your sexuality is not entirely autonomous?

If someone would be attracted to me except that I'm X race and they're never attracted to X race, or if someone wouldn't be attracted to me except that I'm Y race and they're attracted to Y race, then my race is the only thing that matters sexually to them. I don't have any idea how that ends up not being racist and fetishistic in practice.
posted by Errant at 2:34 PM on November 19, 2014 [5 favorites]


If it's not sexist for me to be rarely attracted to women, it's not racist for whoever to not be (or only be) attracted to people of colour.

It can be racist if your attraction (or unattraction) to a certain race is based on certain generalizations, stereotypes, and the perceived social/economic position in the US of that race.

I live in Southern California. Probably one of the most racially and ethnically diverse places in the world. I look at date postings that pretty much directly say, "I'm not attracted to Asians", or "I don't like Hispanics" or if they're slightly more tactful, "I only like Whites". There are literally millions of Asians or Hispanics and African-Americans that live here, who have thousands if not millions of different facial characteristics and body types (and lots of shades of skin color), not to mention different cultural and ethnic backgrounds. So, if there are so many variations out there, what is the specific criteria being used to define black, hispanic, or asian?
posted by FJT at 2:49 PM on November 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


I mean... there have to be people who people here don't want to fuck, and they can be sliced into various categories. Do I get to judge and shame you for those preferences? Probably not. So why do you get to judge and shame others?

I think the barn door has been wide open for a few millenia on this. All of us were born into a world where people are judged for their sexual preferences. Unfortunately, some people's judging and shaming ability has more deeper and greater reach, because they have more resources, money, or media influence. I'm not gonna go and whine about, but I sure as hell am gonna defend myself and fight back. I'm not gonna shame anybody, but I think in order to even begin to try to dismantle the whole thing is gonna require a lot of critical examination.
posted by FJT at 3:10 PM on November 19, 2014


Well, I don't really feel like repeating myself, but if you're saying it's okay to judge others for their sexual preferences then it's okay to judge you. I don't happen to think that either is okay. Cheers.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 4:06 PM on November 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


(general 'you')
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 4:06 PM on November 19, 2014


Late to the party but:

Yes, so much this. I am aware that specific labels are very important to some people and I don't have an issue with that, but I do have issues with people insisting that I categorize myself according to whatever terms they think are the most important, whether or not I feel like they apply to me or mean anything to me.

One of the things that bothers me about how sexual identity is being used currently is that some of the best minds of the last century have tried to create comprehensive taxonomies of human sexuality, the results have been riddled with holes at best, or supportive of long-standing prejudices at worst (for example the Masters & Johnson conception of bisexuality as caught half-way to a mature hetero/homosexuality.) The notion that my bisexuality can be distinguished from my pansexuality, omnisexuality, or queerness based on something as fuzzy and socially constructed as a number of genders I'm attracted to, when I don't even know what attraction means from day to day after 30-odd years doesn't make a lot of sense to me.

(Never mind that the folk etymology behind objections to bisexuality are usually wrong. The guy who stole the term from botany and applied to to psychology would consider me a psychosexual hemarphrodite.)

I'm attracted to what I'm attracted to, in the people who attract me, when I'm attracted to them. That changes in ways that surprise me well into middle age. I can't really claim to be attracted to all genders, because I can safely say that I find Arnold Schwarzenegger's masculinity in the 80s to be comic at best and repulsive at worst. That falling short of "anything that moves" should be seen as discriminatory against non-binary gendered people including myself doesn't make a great deal of sense to me.

An a related topic. Pointing out the social construction of sexuality isn't to say that people don't have desires, or that those desires are not tied or enabled by biology. It's to point out that human culture builds elaborate roles, taboos, and ideologies around human sexuality. More importantly, it points out that they don't exist cross-culturally, which is something that repeatedly bites us on the ass when we start talking to and about MSM or WSW (terms with an American bias) in non-American cultures where those roles, taboos, and ideologies are different. (Or even within American culture where different groups have different ideas about "gayness.")
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 2:41 PM on November 21, 2014


One of these terms is not like the others, and I'd dump sapiosexual too.
The rest of the terms are fine (although I wouldn't want to have to figure out how to filter/match on them), but yeah, it's at the point where I twitch when I hear 'sapiosexual', because it's become a big dog-whistle for classism, university attendance, or a bunch of other bullshit. Most people I see using the term identify as 'straight' sapiosexual, anyway.

Best recent example - I was looking for things to do in London, and found a terrible fetish party, where the event organisers required that the females had to be attractive, under 50 year old, straight "sapiosexuals" dressed in french maid outfits, and the males... didn't. They were supposed to be intelligent, but only as vetted by the male organisers, who were obviously the kind of brain dead numbnuts who couldn't see why anyone would have a problem with their attendance policy, and genuinely couldn't understand why there weren't any women who wanted to come to this party.


The best way to select partners if you think of yourself as sapiosexual on OK Cupid, is just to answer questions (logic, literary or genre based) in the quizes to your ideal of 'correctly' (what does sapiosexual even MEAN?!), and rate them as extremely important, and if asexual, same for questions based on your preferred sexual habits (whether you want any sexual activity at all, or how long you'd want to date someone if you do occasionally).

Personally, I notice a lot of people who have answered logic questions incorrectly on OkCupid (which lots of people do, so I don't penalise for that), and have rated it as VERY IMPORTANT that my answers match theirs.
Which it's not going to, because they're completely wrong.
This is a most excellent filtering mechanism! Possibly my favourite.
Because I don't mind if you're differently intelligent to me (I only speak one language, if you speak more, if you're artistic, if you're talented in some area, which most people are, hubba hubba!), but if you think you're smarter than you are, and have a discriminatory attitude about it? Oh no. World of no.
I've been in enough relationships with geeks who couldn't handle not being the 'smart one' (as they thought of it) in a relationship. No more.
posted by Elysum at 1:21 AM on December 5, 2014 [2 favorites]


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