“I’m aware of sex”
September 23, 2019 1:42 PM   Subscribe

"I truly didn’t expect the “sapiosexual” discourse to flare up again five years after OkCupid added the term to its list of categories — thus inflicting it upon the mainstream dating world — and two years after the New York Times finally got around to their trend piece." You're Not A Sapiosexual, You're Just Annoying: Miles Klee on knowing when you really need a label (and when yours is embarrassing).
posted by everybody had matching towels (204 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
 
Hey Miles - so sorry to hear that someone else's way to describe what they are attracted to is annoying to you. I wouldn't fuck your mind with a 10-foot pole.
posted by PhineasGage at 1:49 PM on September 23, 2019 [14 favorites]


say what you will, content was created on this day
posted by prize bull octorok at 1:52 PM on September 23, 2019 [64 favorites]


I wouldn't fuck your mind with a 10-foot pole. - PhineasGage

Eponysterical
posted by justkevin at 1:58 PM on September 23, 2019 [243 favorites]


Among left leaning profiles I've seen in the app over the past yer, the following is fairly common: "no TERFs, Trumpists, or sapiosexuals."
posted by MillMan at 2:00 PM on September 23, 2019 [28 favorites]


"Hey Miles - so sorry to hear that someone else's way to describe what they are attracted to is annoying to you. I wouldn't fuck your mind with a 10-foot pole."

At the same time, there are plenty of people who will take any and no opportunity to expound of their specific sexual preferences. This site is pretty good about it, but presumably the corresponding reddit threads for this article are filled with people talking about what they find hot, as if anyone asked, as if anyone cared, as if even they themselves cared.

Before this article I would have thought "sapiosexual" was just someone who was attracted to sapient beings. Which is to say, they'd fuck a dolphin or a cow or a dog or another species of ape, etc. After this article, I'm operating on this same assumption.
posted by GoblinHoney at 2:03 PM on September 23, 2019 [36 favorites]


I'll never say someone else should shouldn't feel free to label themselves whatever they want, but if you're, but all other measures, a straight person, I don't want to see you co-opting the language used by queer people in an attempt to... I don't know what... get some of that sweet, sweet, non-mainstream cred I guess? I mean, go ahead and do it, but I'm going to call you out or roll my eyes, depending on the volume or the setting.

Or as Miles said:

A straight dude who goes for well-endowed women might call himself a “boob guy,” but at least he does us the favor of not insisting he’s “tittysexual.”
posted by MCMikeNamara at 2:13 PM on September 23, 2019 [97 favorites]


I'd never really looked into the term "sapiosexual", but when I first encountered it in someon's profile I just assumed it was a trendy superficial way for people to claim they're attracted to intelligence in a partner while humblebragging about their own intelligence. Nothing I've heard since has convinced me otherwise.
posted by Greg_Ace at 2:15 PM on September 23, 2019 [96 favorites]


Now let's do "fluent in sarcasm"!!
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 2:15 PM on September 23, 2019 [31 favorites]


Never forget this Sean Rad (Tinder cofounder) interview:

“Apparently there’s a term for someone who gets turned on by intellectual stuff. You know, just talking. What’s the word?” His face creases the effort of trying to remember. “I want to say ‘sodomy’?”
posted by ripley_ at 2:16 PM on September 23, 2019 [53 favorites]


At least they aren’t attracted to microservices that emit JSON according to the REST paradigm, or they’d be ApiSexuals.

Also, if they really really loved bees, and exclusively dressed in tyvek suits with a screened in helment, they’d be apiarysexuals.

And at least they aren’t exclusively attracted to canadian mounties covered in syrup, or they’d be sappysexuals.
posted by jenkinsEar at 2:17 PM on September 23, 2019 [55 favorites]


Which is to say, they'd fuck a dolphin or a cow or a dog or another species of ape, etc

Nah, that'd be a sentieosexual.
posted by Pyry at 2:21 PM on September 23, 2019 [7 favorites]


I am not even quite sure what it's supposed to mean. Is sapiosexual "I am only attracted to smart rather than dumb (or I guess 'mentally attractive rather than mentally unattractive'?) members of my preferred gender(s)"? Or is it "I am attracted to smart rather than dumb people regardless of gender"? That is, I've seen people use it both as if it did and as if it it didn't imply being bi/pan.

I don't particularly know why I care, except that I hate not knowing what words mean.
posted by LizardBreath at 2:23 PM on September 23, 2019 [6 favorites]


FYI if a hetero guy says this, it means ‘it’s ok if you’re slightly less conventionally attractive, as long as you laugh at all* of my jokes and fawn over my pseudo-intellectual platitudes.’

*I repeat, all of them!
posted by The Toad at 2:24 PM on September 23, 2019 [125 favorites]


no TERFs, Trumpists, or sapiosexuals


I'm socially semi-adjacent to some of the primal sapiosexuals and ... yeah, based on my experience with them, hard pass, tho that was a long time ago.

Now that i think about it, I was also adjacent to a couple primal incels, way back in the day.
posted by Sauce Trough at 2:24 PM on September 23, 2019 [5 favorites]


I love the tweet referenced in the article
we as gay people, we get the job of bullying people who earnestly identify as sapiosexual
Because I, as a gay dude, roll my eyes so hard at people who earnestly invent sexual minorities for themselves that are at best dubiously supported by evidence. And also because the wording of the tweet reminds me that I, as a gay dude, am the last person who should be bullying anyone for describing their sexuality in whatever goofy terms they feel like. No one should have the job of "bullying people who earnestly identify". Quietly judge, sure, but just let it go.

I do appreciate a smart man though. In my younger, trickier days one of my criteria was "is he capable of a conversation after the sex?" Also thinking of the guy I went home with one time whose creepy house had no bookshelves.
posted by Nelson at 2:29 PM on September 23, 2019 [36 favorites]


Glad to see the hot takes industry is still plowing forward like Adam Savage in an armoured truck through parked cars on an abandoned Alameda runway
posted by GuyZero at 2:29 PM on September 23, 2019 [25 favorites]


I'll bet Einstein couldn't have written such an efficient takedown, though.
posted by Ten Cold Hot Dogs at 2:31 PM on September 23, 2019


> Now let's do "fluent in sarcasm"!!

a shirt in the same font that says "sarcasm hurts my feelings"
posted by idiopath at 2:31 PM on September 23, 2019 [5 favorites]


Didn’t the Primal Sapiosexuals fight a war with the Celestials in one of those big Marvel crossover events?
posted by GenjiandProust at 2:33 PM on September 23, 2019 [39 favorites]


At least they aren’t attracted to microservices that emit JSON according to the REST paradigm, or they’d be ApiSexuals.

Also, if they really really loved bees, and exclusively dressed in tyvek suits with a screened in helment, they’d be apiarysexuals.

And at least they aren’t exclusively attracted to canadian mounties covered in syrup, or they’d be sappysexuals.


This used to be a bit Tim Kazurinsky did on Weekend Update on SNL, back in the '80s
posted by briank at 2:39 PM on September 23, 2019 [6 favorites]


"Also thinking of the guy I went home with one time whose creepy house had no bookshelves."

John Waters is on record saying that if the person you're attracted to has no books on their shelves at home, don't fuck them. John Waters is not wrong.

As for me, I used to think I liked "smart." Turns out I do like smart. But over time I realized I like "kind" better.

Mind you, I'm not going to put "empathosexual" on any dating profile.
posted by jscalzi at 2:41 PM on September 23, 2019 [84 favorites]


This is dumb. Saying you're "sapiosexual" is as silly as saying you are a "chocoholic", knowing full well that there's no such thing as chocohol.
posted by SoberHighland at 2:41 PM on September 23, 2019 [57 favorites]


I wonder what the Venn diagram between people who call themselves sapiosexuals, libertarians, and New Atheists looks like.

Also, I will take any opportunity to share Ready Player One author Ernest Cline's poem Nerd Porn Auteur
posted by JDHarper at 2:45 PM on September 23, 2019 [17 favorites]


MetaFilter: Quietly judge, sure, but just let it go.
posted by darkstar at 2:45 PM on September 23, 2019 [55 favorites]


knowing full well that there's no such thing as chocohol.

Well, I wouldn't go that far.
posted by Greg_Ace at 2:47 PM on September 23, 2019 [11 favorites]


This is making me feel too repressed-Catholic, but I wonder if anyone is using these labels because they feel uncomfortable disliking casual sex. It’s normal to not want to sleep with someone you’re not yet intellectually or emotionally connected to. Just like it’s normal if you don’t care about that and want someone purely physically. But maybe if you’re young and dating through apps you feel like that’s hard to explain without a label, and you haven’t wised up to the fact yet that you don’t have to defend your preferences to potential partners or make yourself fit into a box. So you can short-circuit the discussion by saying “I’m X, take me or leave me.”
posted by sallybrown at 2:49 PM on September 23, 2019 [34 favorites]


Quietly Judge Dredd: In the future, one sapient is the law.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:51 PM on September 23, 2019 [8 favorites]


God does it often feel like call-outs of things like this go straight past "no seriously you aren't some kind of sexual minority because you insist on somebody liking the same TV shows as you before having sex" and into trashing the whole idea of nonsexual attraction:
Maybe when one of them marries an AI program or disembodied brain in a vat, we’ll be able to talk about what it means to prize raw thought without concern for appearance or carnal action
Is that necessary? Really? I guess it's obligatory for the sake of the hot take. Not that I think all the people or even anything like a majority of the people using this label are aspec, but would it be that hard to stick with "evidence suggests you do not actually like that thing you say you prize" and not "contrary to the lived experience of real people, that thing you say you like isn't even possible".
posted by Sequence at 2:53 PM on September 23, 2019 [10 favorites]


So are we talking about nerd-attracted folks?
posted by nikaspark at 2:53 PM on September 23, 2019


Horny dweeb. Mommy, what's that?
posted by Oyéah at 2:54 PM on September 23, 2019


I wonder if anyone is using these labels because they feel uncomfortable disliking casual sex.

Demisexuality is something to explore in that case?
posted by nikaspark at 2:55 PM on September 23, 2019 [9 favorites]


I think it is people who nervous talk, during sex.
posted by Oyéah at 2:55 PM on September 23, 2019 [2 favorites]


I'll never say someone else should shouldn't feel free to label themselves whatever they want, but if you're, but all other measures, a straight person, I don't want to see you co-opting the language used by queer people in an attempt to... I don't know what... get some of that sweet, sweet, non-mainstream cred I guess? I mean, go ahead and do it, but I'm going to call you out or roll my eyes, depending on the volume or the setting.

Yeah, I agree. On another dimension of identity, it reminds of white Americans who are wayyy too excited to tell you about how they are this fraction of German and that fraction of Irish.

Being into intelligence is normative! Given that many of the examples people are bringing up don't fall under the ace umbrella, making up an identity for liking something so normative just makes it seem like this person is Simply Better Than Everyone Else.
posted by Ouverture at 2:55 PM on September 23, 2019 [21 favorites]


As mentioned above, there’s a degree of ambiguity in the term that prevents it from communicating clearly.

It seems to me that the key reason for even applying a label to yourself at all on OkCupid is so others know whether you’re a potential date/mate and what you’re especially looking for.

When a guy identifies as a “sapiosexual”, I have no idea whether that means the guy is straight, but mainly looking for a deep intellectual connection with a woman, or whether he’s pan, and open to anyone (e.g., another dude) with an interesting/attractive mind/intellect.

There seems to be a little work still to do on clarifying the term.
posted by darkstar at 2:57 PM on September 23, 2019 [8 favorites]


but I wonder if anyone is using these labels because they feel uncomfortable disliking casual sex

When I was using the apps to actually look for casual sex one of the most common things in profiles to see was people just straight up saying "No hookups" so I don't know if it's that. My friend on the other side of the country also mentioned the same thing to me when he was using them.
posted by primalux at 2:57 PM on September 23, 2019 [3 favorites]


When I was younger and came across this particular bit of bullshit, I was all "it me!!" but it quickly became clear that it didn't mean in practice what I was told it meant and also that I'm just your average nebulous queer on multiple axes. Furthermore, I had yet to appreciate the part of myself attracted to charming idiots of all genders. If I wanted to make a LJ post about morosexuality, would I also wear a top hat while typing?
posted by Mizu at 2:58 PM on September 23, 2019 [17 favorites]


What’s the term for “getting turned on by outrage over outrage over outrage over a pretty dumb idea?” Because I’m seeing a lot of that.

And... I guess it describes me, but with a “feeling smug about...” somewhere in there.

Dammit.
posted by GenjiandProust at 2:59 PM on September 23, 2019 [15 favorites]


>It seems to me that the key reason for even applying a label to yourself at all on OkCupid is so others know whether you’re a potential date/mate and what you’re looking for.

Seems to me the term makes it clear that you're interested in congratulating yourself for being very smart, and you want to meet other people who are interesting in doing this with you. And I would very much want to know this before agreeing to go on a date with someone.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 3:01 PM on September 23, 2019 [33 favorites]


Where I've seen this term, my assumption has been "this person is listening to a podcast that I don't listen to, and I'd like to keep it that way, but they'll probably start talking about it immediately."
posted by condour75 at 3:02 PM on September 23, 2019 [20 favorites]


Sapiosexual: when "Dunning-Kruegersexual" is just too clunky
posted by Ouverture at 3:02 PM on September 23, 2019 [77 favorites]


On another dimension of identity, it reminds of white Americans who are wayyy too excited to tell you about how they are this fraction of German and that fraction of Irish.

Yes, this. Perfectly gets at why this term bugs me so much, and in the same way that people enthusing to strangers about their White Genealogy bugs me. It's a classic case of "members of a dominant and powerful group claiming to be more unique than they are, in order to get what they perceive as the interesting parts of minority status without any loss of privilege."
posted by witchen at 3:02 PM on September 23, 2019 [38 favorites]


One of my first crushes was on an absolute idiot.

Never went anywhere, though. He was straight, clueless, and couldn’t carry a conversation in a tote bag.

But boy, he sure was pretty.
posted by darkstar at 3:03 PM on September 23, 2019 [12 favorites]


> I wouldn't fuck your mind with a 10-foot pole.

Not what I typically think of when someone describes a mindfuck!
posted by I-Write-Essays at 3:05 PM on September 23, 2019 [3 favorites]


I would love to hear a description of the tote bag.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:05 PM on September 23, 2019 [14 favorites]


zengargoyle restrains from explaining the party game 'mindfuck' because it's a doozy.
posted by zengargoyle at 3:08 PM on September 23, 2019 [3 favorites]


Y'all are being completely unkind and unempathetic. In general, in online dating, for straight women it means "I don't want someone 10 years younger than me showing off his abs in a bathroom mirror selfie, I want someone who is interesting at dinner before I would consider taking them home." Why that deserves this firehouse of snark here is a mystery.
posted by PhineasGage at 3:09 PM on September 23, 2019 [31 favorites]


Chocoholism is real & deadly
posted by grumpybear69 at 3:10 PM on September 23, 2019 [4 favorites]


> Where I've seen this term, my assumption has been "this person is listening to a podcast that I don't listen to, and I'd like to keep it that way, but they'll probably start talking about it immediately."

Reminds me of the joke:

How do you know when someone is (vegan | sapiosexual | polyamorous)?
They'll fucking tell you.
posted by casconed at 3:11 PM on September 23, 2019 [13 favorites]


Yeah, most people don't sit around ruminating over word choice and what it says about us quite as intensely as we text-based comment board enthusiasts do.
posted by prize bull octorok at 3:11 PM on September 23, 2019 [19 favorites]


Jason Mendoza, from The Good Place: dumb as bag of hammers but kind and unselfconscious and pretty
posted by JDHarper at 3:11 PM on September 23, 2019 [15 favorites]


firehose of snark

Because of the flip side, of appropriating the language of actual oppressed minorites for use by the normative power structure.
posted by Scattercat at 3:13 PM on September 23, 2019 [28 favorites]


Y'all are being completely unkind and unempathetic. In general, in online dating, for straight women it means "I don't want someone 10 years younger than me showing off his abs in a bathroom mirror selfie, I want someone who is interesting at dinner before I would consider taking them home." Why that deserves this firehouse of snark here is a mystery.

If straight women are having trouble finding men to date, putting "sapiosexual" in their profile is only putting more gasoline on the trash fire. And as I and others have mentioned, it makes queer people feel...not great? At the very least, it certainly brings up a couple alarm bells for me.

And when it comes to dating people of any gender, putting disclaimers in general never works as well as people think it might.
posted by Ouverture at 3:13 PM on September 23, 2019 [25 favorites]


Y'all are being completely unkind and unempathetic.

Interesting comment to read from the person who left that first comment in this thread.
posted by everybody had matching towels at 3:14 PM on September 23, 2019 [31 favorites]


This is making me feel too repressed-Catholic, but I wonder if anyone is using these labels because they feel uncomfortable disliking casual sex. It’s normal to not want to sleep with someone you’re not yet intellectually or emotionally connected to. Just like it’s normal if you don’t care about that and want someone purely physically. But maybe if you’re young and dating through apps you feel like that’s hard to explain without a label, and you haven’t wised up to the fact yet that you don’t have to defend your preferences to potential partners or make yourself fit into a box. So you can short-circuit the discussion by saying “I’m X, take me or leave me.”

Yeah, a lot of this stuff is perfectly excusable among young, insecure or isolated people and for that reason I try not to trash on it, at least not in person.

I am also reminded of once when I made really mean jokes about libertarians and really hurt someone's feelings because I didn't realize that they were a libertarian - not some kind of Galt gulch jerk, just from a background where there wasn't a lot of left and libertarianism was the closest you could get. I still feel bad about it and wish I could take it back. With a lot of these things, it's easy to point to genuinely horrible internet people and use them as a stick to beat real life people who are maybe a little naive but perfectly ok.

My suspicion is that most "sapiosexuals" that you actually meet in the flesh are going to be people who've been told that their interests are dumb, books are boring, complicated stuff is boring and "don't you ever stop thinking?" Some of them will be people who would have liked to go to college, or liked to go to a four year college, but did not have the money*. By saying that they're "sapiosexual", they're really saying, "I like people who like to think about stuff, whether their thinking is genius-level or just average".

*I feel like there's sometimes a class dimension to the whole "lol terrible internet people" bit. I guess what I'm saying is that there are a lot of smart people who didn't get as much education as they deserve. Sometimes you meet people who are using low grade concepts to think with because they didn't get, like, four years to read books and instead pull their concepts from the internet and TV, but the quality of their thinking isn't actually terrible and they're actually pretty smart. Someone might be trying to articulate something smart using unwieldy words and ideas.
posted by Frowner at 3:16 PM on September 23, 2019 [171 favorites]


Saying you're "sapiosexual" is as silly as saying you are a "chocoholic", knowing full well that there's no such thing as chocohol.

Right! It would be like calling Chris Christie's New Jersey bridge scandal back in 2013 "Bridgegate". No one would do that.
posted by ODiV at 3:17 PM on September 23, 2019


Fedorasexual
posted by misterpatrick at 3:18 PM on September 23, 2019 [3 favorites]


Frowner, that's a really excellent, insightful comment.
posted by prize bull octorok at 3:23 PM on September 23, 2019 [11 favorites]


Dunning-KruegersexualIs that someone who fails to pay a sex worker, in South Africa?
posted by Oyéah at 3:25 PM on September 23, 2019 [3 favorites]


I thought once maybe sapiosexual referred to people like me - I literally only find people attractive if I like their personality. I am incapable of finding boring or asshole dudes hot. I've only been attracted to someone instantly ONCE and that was because their personality lit up the room (reader, I married him). Personality directly affects how I see people.

But I have no reason to make that into a whole identity and put it on a dating profile and label myself. That's the dumb thing about this. And in practice it means "I am smart and want someone who acknowledges my smarts and discusses my particular interests!" Not "I find kind people always look pretty."
posted by stillnocturnal at 3:25 PM on September 23, 2019 [11 favorites]


Maybe one of the reasons why this blew up here a little is that there's so much to unpack; the whole concept of intelligence itself, whether or not the self-proclaimed "sapiosexual" really understands it (when was the last IQ test they had, do they understand its limitations and what it's really measuring, or do they believe that they're smart because they have a bachelor degree and/or dig Rick and Morty for all the "right" reasons?), and what they mean by being attracted to someone intelligent: anyone above average in intelligence, someone roughly as smart as them, someone smarter than they are, or someone almost, but not quite, up to their actual or self-perceived level?

Because the automatic suspicion is that the sort of person who advertises themselves as "sapiosexual" is really in the last category, and would very much not like to be with someone in the second-to-last. The suspicion is that it's not a way of stating what they prefer, it's a way of stating what they themselves believe they are smart, with the unspoken provision that they will be judging you by their own, possibly completely arbitrary standards. And, if you're judged unworthy, then they are, by their definition, better than you, because of the status given to smart people in our society. The more compassionate view, as well-expressed by Frowner above, may be true for individual cases, but any of us who have spent any amount of time in dating apps know how much it can hurt to be dismissed by people for the most arbitrary or poorly-justified reasons. Thus the negative reactions.
posted by Halloween Jack at 3:31 PM on September 23, 2019 [33 favorites]


I don't doubt there's a real thing as being a Sapiosexual, but in my years of online dating, it's usually a self-diagnosed appropriation of that real thing, and invariably a kind of humblebrag. They are above petty superficialities like physical attraction, and are looking for a brainiac like themselves. There is a high correlation between being an online dating sapiosexual, and having your favourite author be 'Jane Austin'.
posted by Capt. Renault at 3:36 PM on September 23, 2019 [5 favorites]


lots of talking about sex usually means no sex /just_sayin
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 3:36 PM on September 23, 2019 [1 favorite]


My personal take on this was that a sapiosexual bar would be full of white abled cis straight men who are utterly convinced that they are totally self-made, have no understanding of their privilege, and are creepy toward women, especially queer women and women of color.

Just say you're classist already and stop trying to dress it up as an orientation.
posted by bile and syntax at 3:40 PM on September 23, 2019 [19 favorites]


I guess what I'm saying is that there are a lot of smart people who didn't get as much education as they deserve. Sometimes you meet people who are using low grade concepts to think with because they didn't get, like, four years to read books and instead pull their concepts from the internet and TV, but the quality of their thinking isn't actually terrible and they're actually pretty smart.

Hunh, deja vu.

I've been on the receiving end of this type of revelation before when a younger friend started telling my partner and I that sometimes people are smart even though they don't have even an undergraduate degree. Our eyebrows kept rising higher and higher as her story went on and finally I broke in and said "Yes Kay, I know. I don't have an undergraduate degree. And neither does [partner]." She was shocked.

Nice to know that even though I didn't get four years to read books my thinking might not actually be terrible.

TLDR - I know you meant well, but what you wrote still felt hurtful.
posted by Secret Sparrow at 3:41 PM on September 23, 2019 [13 favorites]


Every man I've crossed paths with who uses the term appears to be using it to say, "I know I'm only looking for girls under 25 who are extremely hot, while I am not - often by quite some distance - that age or description, but you don't get it, I only want to bone the smart ones. Not too smart, not smarter than me, but definitely not carrying any class/socioeconomic markers of "unintelligent" people. You can't hold it against me because I can't help it."

I've never actually crossed paths with a woman who used the term.
posted by Lyn Never at 3:43 PM on September 23, 2019 [31 favorites]


Furthermore, I had yet to appreciate the part of myself attracted to charming idiots of all genders.

The older I get, the less I think of myself as "a smart person" and the more I think of myself as a particular kind of dumbass who needs to find someone who finds my particular brands of idiocy appealing, if that person actually exists. Honestly, I think in a lot of ways the internet has in fact helped me to think about a lot of this stuff in ways that are a lot more practical, it didn't necessarily take books? Just... getting off the beaten path a bit.

Fandom. I mean it was fandom.

For people who haven't had that, I don't mind eye-rolling a little over this, but I'm not going to be that hard on it when it's not talking about a specific sort of cishet dude. That kind of person is a thing, but I definitely saw this on OKC among queer women the last time I was looking, it's not just them.
posted by Sequence at 3:44 PM on September 23, 2019 [14 favorites]


I used to know a guy whose hobby was OKCupid. He loved the app, and stories about its development; he loved the data it produced, and all the different projects that used it; and he loved going on OkCupid dates. Typically, he went on at least 100 per year.

According to him, 'sapiosexual' on OkCupid was usually code for 'only interested in people who went to an Ivy.'

He himself had at least one Ivy League degree, and he still thought it was horrid.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 3:44 PM on September 23, 2019 [11 favorites]


The original definition, as quoted in the article, seems pretty clear that the word was meant to mean attraction irrespective of gender. So is the snark about the cooptation of the word by straight people (most specifically, straight men)?

If so, I get the eye-rolling. Otherwise it seems like a fairly reasonable word, honestly.

Being into intelligence is normative!

To say you are into intelligence is normative. But it isn't accidental how many men will only be with women who do not challenge their intellect or credentials.
posted by Dip Flash at 3:46 PM on September 23, 2019 [4 favorites]


To say you are into intelligence is normative. But it isn't accidental how many men will only be with women who do not challenge their intellect or credentials.

Certainly! And a term like sapiosexual doesn't do anything about that (and if we're going to keep talking only about hetero relationships, it only attracts another altogether kind of horrendous straight man).
posted by Ouverture at 3:48 PM on September 23, 2019 [7 favorites]


Here's my only problem with the term sapiosexual: OKCupid has a box you can check that says "I don't want to see or be seen by straight people" (insert hoary twitter joke about how we need that setting for real life). When I was a baby queer, all I knew was that I was done with straight cis men*, and the only way I could screen them out, without screening out some other people I may be interested in, was to check that box. EXCEPT that I kept getting likes from straight cis men - the one group I wanted nothing to do with, dating-wise. I finally figured that all these dudes were getting around that by calling themselves "sapiosexual" (and ALSO straight). So basically, these dudes were kinda pretentious AND also using sapiosexuality as a way to access bi women.

*I later figured out that my gender is "non-normative" and I'm mostly attracted to people whose gender is also non-normative in similar ways, but that took a while. And now I don't really have to worry about straight cis men, because it turns out calling yourself a genderweirdo on dating apps is a pretty good way of screening them out. I can't recommend it highly enough if it applies to you.
posted by the sockening at 3:53 PM on September 23, 2019 [42 favorites]


Nice to know that even though I didn't get four years to read books my thinking might not actually be terrible.

I'm sorry - it was a very, very clumsy thing to say. What I was trying to convey was that you can be brilliant at...moving ideas around or having ideas, and if you're using words in a way that is not recognized by the middle class, people don't know how to look at the ideas because it's easier and more emotionally/socially rewarding to pounce on the words, and the formal meaning of the words rather than their demotic meaning. To tell the truth, using a word in a demotic sense to convey a useful idea isn't naive; it's just the use of a different rhetoric.

I shouldn't have characterized college as "four years to read books" when what I was really trying to get at was "being socialized into using middle class language to convey middle-class ideas". I'm between classes, background wise, and I see a lot of situations where my richer friends literally can't listen intelligently enough to get the ideas that my working class friends are bringing to the table. This is a matter of language and class, and I didn't say what I should have said.

I was aware as I was writing that I was both using too jokey a tone and not saying it very well, and I apologize for being patronizing and seeming smug.
posted by Frowner at 3:57 PM on September 23, 2019 [43 favorites]


Further, I wrote badly because I was not being frank. The libertarian I accidentally insulted wasn't stupid; she was from a working class background and the people at the table with me and I froze her out like assholes basically for classist reasons - we had learned that "libertarian" was a bad thing to be, so we didn't bother trying to understand what "libertarian" conveyed outside our small social sphere.
posted by Frowner at 4:01 PM on September 23, 2019 [23 favorites]


"Also thinking of the guy I went home with one time whose creepy house had no bookshelves."

John Waters is on record saying that if the person you're attracted to has no books on their shelves at home, don't fuck them. John Waters is not wrong.


Yeah but what about well read people who prefer digital books and live a minimalist lifestyle that doesn’t put much weight on how much of their intellect is represented by physical objects?

Is this a sexuality?
posted by Young Kullervo at 4:05 PM on September 23, 2019 [23 favorites]


Define intelligence.

I am book-smart. I started proofreading my dad's written correspondence when I was in elementary school because he is not book-smart. I have a graduate degree and he enlisted in the Army when he was 17. But he can rebuild a car engine and I can't. He taught himself SLR photography. He's always been an early adopter of technology and takes things apart to see how they work, then rebuilds it better. But he has shitty grammar and doesn't read and won't eat anything besides meat and potatoes.

Aside from appropriating the language of sexual minorities, sapiosexual is just another way of saying "I'm an intellectual snob." Because I guarantee those self-proclaimed sapiosexuals wouldn't recognize my dad's intelligence. (I didn't, when I was self-absorbed teenager.)
posted by Ruki at 4:11 PM on September 23, 2019 [44 favorites]


Yeah but what about well read people who prefer digital books and live a minimalist lifestyle that doesn’t put much weight on how much of their intellect is represented by physical objects?

Is this a sexuality?


I don't know, but it's pretty hot.

A completely unbiased opinion, not at all influenced by my own decision to rely heavily on Overdrive for books.
posted by betweenthebars at 4:11 PM on September 23, 2019 [6 favorites]


How many people who are call themselves sapiosexual were kids who grew up listening to Blondie and really resonated with the lyrics to “I’m Always Touched By Your Presence, Dear” because y’all that song is sexy as hell and if we could all get behind the idea that sapiosexual means that then maybe having the sapiosex could be kinda hot AF

imagining candles, sitting on shag carpets, passionately talking about social construction, orientation and gender while drinking wine and listening to Joan Armatrading...wearing striped turtleneck sweaters and baby blue denim bellbottoms and those suede G.A.S.S shoes
posted by nikaspark at 4:14 PM on September 23, 2019 [3 favorites]


I've never actually crossed paths with a woman who used the term.

I actually first encountered it in a woman's profile; as it turned out she was by no means dumb but she had a ...dubious relationship with facts and with her perceived level of knowledge on a wide range of topics.

I was unaware of the term's usage outside of a heterosexual context, so that part of this thread is interesting and informative.
posted by Greg_Ace at 4:25 PM on September 23, 2019 [2 favorites]


Sapiosexuality is bullshit.

It's ableist. Given how our methods of "measuring intelligence" always seem to play out, it's racist. It's self-aggrandizing, always presuming that the speaker is the smartest person in the room and will only grant his favor to someone that can keep up - and it's almost always "his" favor. And that never really seems to be the case, does it?

And y'know what? For all that they proclaim that they are attracted solely to intelligence, self-described sapiosexuals never seem to be interested in smart people who aren't conventionally attractive. Odd, that.
posted by kafziel at 4:37 PM on September 23, 2019 [36 favorites]


This article was prompted by Mark Ronson using the term, not people using OkCupid, not your average person at all. Whatever type of person he is sexually attracted to, he could find people of that type willing to date him. His comment didn't fall into any of the generous uses we're suggesting here. It comes on the heels of Sam Smith announcing their pronouns and Ronson's collaborator Miley Cyrus making news every day with her most recent relationship with a woman. It's hard not to look at his comment with a little side-eye when it's declared as if it's equivalent to these other things but has absolutely none of the same risks.
posted by tofu_crouton at 4:37 PM on September 23, 2019 [16 favorites]


I don't know, but it's pretty hot.

hi i no longer have the scores of bookshelves of my past but my kindle is bursting at the seams with loads of literature hmu anytime
posted by youarenothere at 4:42 PM on September 23, 2019 [10 favorites]


Because of the flip side, of appropriating the language of actual oppressed minorites for use by the normative power structure.

Thank you, yes, I was struggling to put to words why this bothered me, and that's pretty much it.

You want nice conversation before or after fucking? That's not a sexuality, that just means you graduated from high school.

You need to like someone before you fuck them? That's not a sexuality, that just means you're not a sociopath.

Look, my straighty liberal brethren, I get that it's disappointing to not be in the cool kids club that gets to use a label that makes your parents uncomfortable, or otherwise sets you apart from khaki-short wearing, GreatClips-haircut having, pasty white heteros like me, but you know what, you don't have to have everything. Having 99.9% of everything should be enough, and you should be embarrassed to have it.
posted by slagheap at 4:42 PM on September 23, 2019 [36 favorites]


I've garnered attention from self-described sapiosexual women on OKC, and always felt like it was a bit of a back-handed compliment, ie, "Good thing for you I'm not attracted to looks!"
posted by frogstar42 at 4:43 PM on September 23, 2019 [7 favorites]


I'm a classic overthinker and part of me would like to dig in and explore the ever more granular permutations of categories and subcategories and combinations of subcategories of sexuality to the nth degree (all of which apparently develop their own flag.) However, I'm a middle-aged queer woman still weary from bisexual erasure who is finding a lot of this discourse increasingly emotionally exhausting.

Demisexual used to be term used as a subset of asexuality for folks who found that they weren't quite so strictly ace within a really solid relationship, yes? Now I mostly hear it used by polya and/or kinky folks who are super into sex with their partner(s) but not interested in casual sex play partners. So, they're being reverse-slut shamed into adopting a new sexual orientation term that means, um, preferring sex to be in the context of emotional intimacy.

(And they're annoyed that the flag is in ace colors. )

(Or, alternately, annoyed that cisgender heterosexual demisexual sapiosexuals aren't understood to be queer.)

I'm a bookworm who likes big words and bantering chemistry, but sapiosexual is some elitest twaddle, y'all. I also am literally not attracted to people unless I am attracted to them!

Look, I don't want to be an asshole to anyone finding value in new terms to think through their desires. I also find value in new terms to think through my desires. I also don't agree with considering every variation of emotional and physical desire to be an alternative lifestyle requiring perpetual earnest lecturing and regular howls of outrage.
posted by desuetude at 4:59 PM on September 23, 2019 [18 favorites]


Since when is it appropriate here to tell other people what is an acceptably non-normative thing to be an important part of their identity?

Or that they actually don't care about being an X very much, so they shouldn't pretend like it's a big deal?

Or that when they say they are an X, what they actually feel and mean is Y?

Or that the word they invented like 15 years ago for being an X is bad and not correct and they should actually call themselves a Z?

Or that actually, you met some Xs and they were real assholes, so it's totally OK to say a bunch of generalizations about how all Xs are assholes?

I thought Metafilter made a point of being kinder than this.
posted by value of information at 5:06 PM on September 23, 2019 [35 favorites]


There’s so much shit that apparently I’m doing wrong and I genuinely appreciate it when MetaFilter brings it to my attention. Be right back, I’m deleting a certain label on my OkCupid profile now that I understand that it is fucked up in many different ways.
posted by Bella Donna at 5:07 PM on September 23, 2019 [13 favorites]


MetaFilter: we had learned that "libertarian" was a bad thing to be, so we didn't bother trying to understand what "libertarian" conveyed outside our small social sphere.
posted by biogeo at 5:07 PM on September 23, 2019 [11 favorites]


That’s said, I favorite value of information’s comment so so hard.
posted by Bella Donna at 5:09 PM on September 23, 2019 [1 favorite]


We all once just sort of agreed that “metrosexual” meant “straight guy who bothers to pluck his unibrow” instead of “turned on by subways” or “wishes Geo still made sexy sexy automobiles.”

I feel like we were all trying less hard to prove we were the smartest (and therefore hottest?) person in the room back then.
posted by armeowda at 5:14 PM on September 23, 2019 [4 favorites]


Because the context isn't just that they're referring to themselves as x it's that they're operating in the code and framework of queer folk and their language. It's not just stating what they are, there's an angle of appropriation that's valid to discuss and critique.
posted by Ferreous at 5:15 PM on September 23, 2019 [21 favorites]


I conduct IQ tests as part of my clinical training.* Sapiosexuals who obsess over IQ scores (and I've seen a lot of them) bother the shit out of me. Let's completely ignore the fact that we don't know that that's actually measuring intelligence, the reliability is not great, the cultural effects are massive--let's not even get into that. Let's talk about the fact that your IQ score, on the most widely used test of intelligence, is made up of four index scores: verbal comprehension, perceptual reasoning, working memory, and processing speed. You can vary wildly between indices. I have never tested someone with a "superior" IQ who had every index in the superior range. It can happen (and I am quite close to someone who did in fact test superior on all four indices, and who has been treated like they're stupid their whole life because of their ADHD) but it's much more common to have two very high indices, and two average or high average indices.

And here's the thing: when sapiosexuals (and most other people) talk about intelligence, they're almost universally referring to verbal intelligence. At the very least, it's a requirement: you need to like to read, and be good at verbalizing yourself. The assumption is that if you have a high IQ, these two things will be true by default. When actually, I see more high IQ people with high processing speed and perceptual reasoning, and then average verbal reasoning and working memory. I've tested someone with a 140 IQ who hated reading and hadn't picked up a book in years (they were diagnosed with a reading LD), and who wasn't any better at verbalizing themselves than anyone else. Also, you can have an extremely high verbal comprehension score and have a totally average overall IQ! IQ scores don't mean what you think they mean, and whether they mean anything at all is questionable at best!

Sapiosexuals that don't talk about IQ scores... make me see a little less red, but they have the same problem because they almost always define "intelligent" as "highly verbal, likes to talk about books and science." Like, I was going to say almost word for word what Ruki said (literally, do we have the same dad?). My dad didn't graduate high school, but he is absolutely as smart as me. The knowledge and problem-solving ability he has for pretty much literally every trade (mechanics, electrical, plumbing, construction, etc.) is astronomical. He's got a ton of science knowledge, too, but it only ever comes up in the context of the trades and it's all very practical and problem-solving focused rather than "let's have a theoretical discussion." No sapiosexual I've ever met would consider him "intelligent."

Me, though? I'm a book nerd who's never scored below the 98th percentile on a reading/verbal test in my life, I'm a good writer and I'm getting a PhD. I must be the smart one, right? Spoilers, all: I'm DEAD average on every single other test of intelligence. My processing speed? Abysmal. I just started my cognitive neuroscience class and needed my partner to explain to me how FUCKING ELECTRICITY WORKS. Ask me to add 6 + 7 and I'll probably say 15 or some dumb shit like that. But I've been called "highly intelligent" all my life... almost universally by people who are also highly verbal book nerds with similar interests to me. I've become pretty convinced that "you're intelligent!" just means "you have clever thoughts about the things I like!" I'm definitely smart in a lot of ways, but I'm super fucking dumb in a lot of other ways, and I think that's true for most people.

It's my belief that everyone is pretty damn smart about something, and just because it's not something you're interested in doesn't mean it doesn't count. "Sapiosexual" is a meaningless word because I legitimately don't think that people can be arranged in a scale from "dumb" to "smart" and whether or not someone can have a good conversation with you has to do with their interests and experience with the topic, not some arbitrary number. Just say you like people who can have deep conversations about X, y'all. It's less classist/racist/ableist and only makes you look annoying to people who don't want to have deep conversations about X (who you don't wanna date anyway), with the added bonus of not being ableist/racist/classist.

*No I don't like it.
posted by brook horse at 5:20 PM on September 23, 2019 [108 favorites]


I thought Metafilter made a point of being kinder than this.

The appropriation of queer identity by straight people, just as the appropriation of racial identity by white people, is messed up!

To shield this behavior under the rhetoric of "kindness" is another form of defensive fragility.
posted by Ouverture at 5:27 PM on September 23, 2019 [49 favorites]


let's all compare SAT scores now
posted by roger ackroyd at 5:27 PM on September 23, 2019 [10 favorites]


What is being appropriated? The right to define yourself by whatever "____sexuality" you see fit? I'm pretty sure that belongs to everyone.
posted by Crane Shot at 5:37 PM on September 23, 2019 [7 favorites]


Finding this thread interesting and a little disquieting.

I have an acquaintance who is queer, poly, and AFAB, and often refers to herself as sapiosexual. She hangs out with a nerd subculture that I perceive as having a steep learning curve. If someone asked me why she calls herself sapio, I would estimate that she doesn’t experience sexual attraction until a person has demonstrated intellectual curiosity and critical thinking. They’re necessary (but not sufficient) conditions.

I might be projecting.

In the past I (enby, queer, afab) have occasionally called myself sapio, but more because when my brain is doing whatever it does when I’m learning (especially from reading certain kinds of nonfiction), I also get turned on. It’s kinda neat, but also annoying in how distracting/disruptive to my learning process it can be.
posted by itesser at 5:44 PM on September 23, 2019 [2 favorites]


Man, this thread is rife with eponystery.
posted by y2karl at 5:50 PM on September 23, 2019 [3 favorites]


The appropriation of queer identity by straight people, just as the appropriation of racial identity by white people, is messed up!

I may well agree with regard to some acts of appropriation (I didn't dig through the entire rabbit hole of the specific Mark Ronson drama) but I don't accept that it's reasonable to gatekeep the terms other people invent for themselves to sincerely self-identify with in public, and the majority of dismissiveness and meanness both in the article and in these comments are aimed at that act of self-identification.
posted by value of information at 6:03 PM on September 23, 2019 [4 favorites]


It's getting increasingly difficult to judge quietly.
posted by Nelson at 6:13 PM on September 23, 2019 [3 favorites]


You are absolutely free to self-identify as whatever you choose, and I don't think that there's a real problem with that. But when you self-identify as whatever you choose to someone else, whether in public in general or on a dating site/app in particular, you are engaging in a form of communication that others may critique according to their understanding of the term, their lived experience with people who self-identify as such in public, etc. I don't think that it's particularly cruel to interrogate someone's use of a term that may be problematic and/or unclear, especially if it's based on a concept that itself may be poorly understood and/or defined, as per brook horse's comment (thanks, brook horse). This is especially true when someone is claiming an identity that comes off as more of a humblebrag. If that's cruel, well, I'll let Nick Lowe explain it.
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:17 PM on September 23, 2019 [20 favorites]


Intelligence as described here is not an innate characteristic (how could it be?) but a type of social performance. I guess the question here is whether we want to define sexuality based on attraction to certain behaviors.
posted by duvatney at 6:18 PM on September 23, 2019 [7 favorites]


I would estimate that she doesn’t experience sexual attraction until a person has demonstrated intellectual curiosity and critical thinking. They’re necessary (but not sufficient) conditions.

Isn’t this what “having a type” used to mean, rather than it being an independent sexuality?
posted by sallybrown at 6:22 PM on September 23, 2019 [35 favorites]


Oh, just one more IQ testing insight: the majority of people I’ve tested with high IQ did not think they were smart. During feedback, I generally tell people which scores are average before I tell them what’s high or low. I have had multiple people with 130+ IQs give a sigh of relief when I tell them they’re average in x and y, followed by a comment along the lines of, “Wow, it’s so nice to be average [rather than below average] in something for once.” Obviously this sample is biased because they’re coming in for an LD or ADHD evaluation, so have been more likely to struggle with “intellectual” pursuits like reading and education... but I still think it says something about how we conceptualize intelligence. At the very least, slapping “sapiosexual” on your profile is probably gonna scare off people like them.
posted by brook horse at 6:28 PM on September 23, 2019 [15 favorites]


I was idly wondering about sapiosexuality the other day and thinking, "how can that be a thing though? And if it is a thing, isn't everybody basically a sapiosexual? Don't we all want to be with someone who's on the same level? Are there people who are attracted to stupidity?"

Anyway, my big concern is there seems to be a tremendous amount of women on dating apps who are searching for a "partner in crime." Leaving aside the worries about the potential ensuing crime spree, I wonder if it's wise to speak openly about committing crimes on a dating app.
posted by wabbittwax at 6:33 PM on September 23, 2019 [14 favorites]


It would be nice, though, in the shared recognition of sapiosexuality as a flawed conceit at best and active self-aggrandizement at worst, if folks didn't rush to show their whole ass and condemn legitimate ace-spectrum identities like demisexuality in the process. That isn't as simple as "you need to like someone before you fuck them", it's certainly not being "reverse-slut shamed", and comments like these betray some pretty nasty acephobic prejudice.
posted by kafziel at 6:34 PM on September 23, 2019 [14 favorites]


Wow. I didn't know that originally the word related to a minority. I used it when I was dating because I don't care how men look, short, tall, skinny, fat, skin colour, warts all over their face. But for me to bond with someone, I need to be able to talk about anything without my conversation dismissed as abnormal or boring. I'm autistic. I find multiple things fascinating. Had a lovely long relationship with a man who didn't finish high school, and didn't have the trade tickets he needed with the apprentices he was teaching on the firm he worked for, so they set him up with a lazy guy who did have the quals so he could continue teaching. On our first date, heading back to the boat he'd completely rebuilt himself,the only alcohol he had was premixed with coke. So we had a fascinating hypothetical conversation about how (given time) we could distil and separate the bourbon from the coke. We would go hiking and both be overwhelmed in fascination by the structure of fungi or the sound and sight of the birds.

We talked about fiction books and religion and politics and the ratio of the anchor chain length to the boat to keep it moored. We listened to music and without knowing anything about how it was constructed, discussed how the songs made us feel. One night I turned in early, and he put his ipod on speaker, and we spent 6 hours snuggling in the dark and listening to it.

I could come up with inventions (none of which I ever saw through) or ridiculous jokes and he got me, he got my sense of humour.

The other men I dated who I could talk to like that are still friends. But most of them looked confused (near as I can tell) when I mentioned anything other than small talk.

So sue me. I am not neurotypical and most neurotypical men seemed to find my conversation boring or irritating or worthless. I wanted and found someone that I could talk to about any shiny lizards that crossed my mind and I found one. He has more educational qualifications than me and he played music professionally for years. He's now on a disability pension because of anxiety and depression. I work in a university, where, by a stroke of luck, I met a mentor that I still work with, who keeps throwing challenging and new work at me after 15 years. I edit books and theses and analyse data, design websites, presentations and theoretical models.

I think everyone has a story, a trick I taught myself to try to overcome overwhelming social anxiety. I have coaxed the lifestory from taxidrivers, I have friends from many walks of life, though the autism makes it hard for me to do the things to maintain those relationships. And I'm somehow an intellectual snob? I just wanted someone to listen to me, and not treat me as a pair of walking boobs.

Harsh, people. I'm really surprised how harsh you are on this topic.
posted by b33j at 6:40 PM on September 23, 2019 [40 favorites]


I've escaped whatever terrible fates are reserved for people who are horrible enough to call themselves sapiosexual, but I haven't escaped the fate of people who are proud enough to call attention to the fact that they're clearly above doing so, and probably won't escape the problems with the next turtle on the infinite stack of various problematic/ostentatious hazards of just about human activity even if I am among those privileged enough to begin to perceive it.
posted by wildblueyonder at 6:42 PM on September 23, 2019 [2 favorites]


What is being appropriated?

For starters, the coming out experience. Being queer requires dealing with systemic oppression and constant erasure, and the burning need to stand up and tear that shit down by creating spaces for ourselves.

Cis straight people already have all the space. We have to steal it from you in order to not be steamrollered every fucking moment. Not everything is queerness. Not everything is comparable.
posted by bile and syntax at 6:42 PM on September 23, 2019 [36 favorites]


Oh and my guy likes my brain the way it is. He's proud of me when I get more Jeopardy questions right than the contestants. He likes my jokes. He's kind and he takes care of me.
posted by b33j at 6:43 PM on September 23, 2019 [4 favorites]


b33j, it sounds like your relationship is just a good relationship, period/in general (and congratulations, seriously, that stuff is hard to find). But not necessarily a good sapiosexual relationship.

What people describe here as identifying with the term sapiosexual? It sounds a lot like "having things in common" and "feeling respected" and "having stimulating conversations." And I would argue that that is fairly universal, in terms of what we'd consider ideal in romantic connections. People generally don't avoid those things.
posted by witchen at 6:48 PM on September 23, 2019 [15 favorites]


But for me to bond with someone, I need to be able to talk about anything without my conversation dismissed as abnormal or boring.

As another autistic person this is very valid but I suspect when you find someone who does that, it has little to do with their intelligence. It’s about their kindness, respect, empathy. My partner talks about all sorts of things that I really don’t understand (they are DEFINITELY smarter than me) but I still find it interesting and encourage them and engage. My MIL probably wouldn’t be described as smart by most people, but she will listen to me ramble on about topics that go over her head. She always finds interesting questions to ask even if she’s totally unfamiliar with the topic. Usually they’re connecting to relationships or the practical impact on day to day life instead of theoretical or abstract concepts, but I don’t value it any less for that.

Conversely I’ve been dismissed by very smart people who weren’t interested in what I was interested in. It’s not the intelligence that makes people receptive to my autistic rambling. I mean, shit, I’m in a PhD program and I have maybe one or two people I feel like I can do that with. So definitely get needing someone that values and respects the way your brain works, but I don’t think that’s necessarily correlated with intelligence.
posted by brook horse at 6:56 PM on September 23, 2019 [21 favorites]


Anyway, my big concern is there seems to be a tremendous amount of women on dating apps who are searching for a "partner in crime."

To me, "partner in crime" means they're up for some Poirot/Marple roleplay.
posted by betweenthebars at 6:58 PM on September 23, 2019 [21 favorites]


To me, "partner in crime" means they're up for some Poirot/Marple roleplay.

"Gang-Bang On The Orient Express" ...?
posted by wabbittwax at 7:03 PM on September 23, 2019 [9 favorites]


You want nice conversation before or after fucking? That's not a sexuality, that just means you graduated from high school.

i think graduating high school is being used as a lowest-bar measurement here but a lot of people don't and it doesn't mean anything about anyone

a joking hell yeah to the morosexuals ("attracted to dumbasses and dumbasses exclusively"). i would give my life for a sweet man who doesn't know shit or fuck and doesn't expect me to. (on preview, also for autism reasons - for me, it really is wanting someone on my level who engages with me, and for me, that primarily means someone who's patient and lets me express things in my own way when i have difficulty and feel stupid, and i'll do the same.)
posted by gaybobbie at 7:23 PM on September 23, 2019 [11 favorites]


What people describe here as identifying with the term sapiosexual? It sounds a lot like "having things in common" and "feeling respected" and "having stimulating conversations." And I would argue that that is fairly universal, in terms of what we'd consider ideal in romantic connections. People generally don't avoid those things.

Additionally, none of these correlate to how intelligence is generally performed, especially in the dating world. And that specific performance of intelligence also has little to do with the health and quality of a romantic relationship.
posted by Ouverture at 7:23 PM on September 23, 2019 [11 favorites]


Frowner: wise words. I will keep them in mind the next time I hear some young person* in this small, economically depressed town with one of the worst school districts in the state make some pro-Trump/anti-immigration/fake news comment and maybe even try to engage them in a conversation. Perhaps this will help me lose some of my contempt for the local population.

(*Fully-grown adults who continue to hold such beliefs don't get this consideration.)
posted by she's not there at 7:31 PM on September 23, 2019 [5 favorites]


What people describe here as identifying with the term sapiosexual? It sounds a lot like "having things in common" and "feeling respected" and "having stimulating conversations." And I would argue that that is fairly universal, in terms of what we'd consider ideal in romantic connections.

Laughsoblaughsob, you have clearly not been a heterosexual woman dating heterosexual men in the world. It is absolutely not common for heterosexual men to want those things.

I don’t have “sapiosexual” listed on my dating app, because I’m partnered and don’t use one, but if I had one, and had heard about it, I totally would, because I am tired of all my life pretending to be less smart and less good at things than I actually am because otherwise heterosexual dudes would get angry and insecure. I don’t care what someone’s actual IQ is but when I was dating, I never wanted to do the calculus of “lose the chess game or have him sulk all night?” Sapiosexual, to me, says “I’m interested in people who are smart and value smartness in other people. Men who don’t constantly demand their women become smaller and smaller every day.”

There is absolutely zero evidence that anyone is claiming “sapiosexual” as a queer identity, or as anything else but a way for people to exist in this increasingly terrible, awful world.
posted by corb at 7:43 PM on September 23, 2019 [21 favorites]


I have nothing in particular to add about the term "sapiosexual" itself, but for the people saying that liking intelligence is normative: you evidently weren't young where I was young. It took getting to college for me to feel that some of the stigma of being interested in books and thinking was beginning to wear off.
posted by a certain Sysoi Pafnut'evich at 7:59 PM on September 23, 2019 [12 favorites]


There is absolutely zero evidence that anyone is claiming “sapiosexual” as a queer identity

But the headlines around the Mark Ronson thing all literally use the phrase "coming out" (example). As I am not dating, I don't claim to understand the intricacies around why people would or wouldn't find this useful on their profiles, and I have no interest in telling people how they can or can't identify, but I can certainly understand why co-opting the language around the quintessentially queer experience of coming out of the closet would rankle people.

(To Ronson's credit, this doesn't really appear to be his doing. I gather the topic came up during some ITV chat show he was on, and he just said something like "I think I might be one". Which of course reinforces just how unlike coming out this is; his off-the-cuff statement is immediately praised and headline-worthy with mostly softball articles, except for the articles like the FPP link criticizing the idea of sapiosexuality itself.)
posted by biogeo at 8:04 PM on September 23, 2019 [17 favorites]


I guess I'd just rather people say things like "I’m interested in people who are smart and value smartness in other people. Men who don’t constantly demand their women become smaller and smaller every day." I don't really know exactly what someone means by "sapiosexual" but I know I can respect a person who writes those lines.
posted by biogeo at 8:09 PM on September 23, 2019 [19 favorites]


I guess I'm way too late to make a bestiality joke

shit
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 8:14 PM on September 23, 2019 [5 favorites]


Okay, so you know how foods will say they're "GMO-free" or "made with real chocolate", implying that their competitors are made with GMOs or fake chocolate? "Sapiosexual" feels much more like that sort of marketing than any descriptor of sexuality.

We've already got "demisexual," which works just fine. But "sapiosexual" just comes across as "I care about intelligence (which is unusual!)".

It shows a misunderstanding of how people generally operate, and feels like subtle slut-shaming.
posted by explosion at 8:16 PM on September 23, 2019 [21 favorites]


Men who don’t constantly demand their women become smaller and smaller every day.

Many of the men using the term sapiosexual behave exactly like this because what they want is a woman smart enough to tell them their ideas are clever but not smart enough to say when they’re wrong. I am not heterosexual but this has been the experience of many of my het and bi friends in the dating app world.

“Not all x” etc., but seeing that in a profile is no guarantee.
posted by brook horse at 8:16 PM on September 23, 2019 [31 favorites]


My experience in online dating is that "sapiosexual," like most self-applied descriptors, has an invisible suffix: "...but I still won't talk to fat people."
posted by MrBadExample at 8:17 PM on September 23, 2019 [30 favorites]


Re It's a classic case of "members of a dominant and powerful group claiming to be more unique than they are, in order to get what they perceive as the interesting parts of minority status without any loss of privilege." and related comments

The desire to be seen as "more unique" than one statistically deserves seems like human nature to me, i.e., not limited to the purview of the reigning powerful groups/classes. Aren't we all special snowflakes in some way or another? That you don't find their stories sufficiently interesting really isn't relevant. It's their life/their story and the "interesting parts" are legitimate, regardless of the fact that no one lost status to acquire them.

As long as they're not claiming that they totally "get" oppression based on the fact that their 5th great-grandmother was one of George Washington's slaves (or because they have chosen to identify themselves with a label that invites snark), what's the harm?
posted by she's not there at 8:17 PM on September 23, 2019 [1 favorite]


Isn’t this what “having a type” used to mean, rather than it being an independent sexuality?

not anymore, now the cishets have special words to make themselves feel included in the + at the end of lgbt
posted by poffin boffin at 8:29 PM on September 23, 2019 [23 favorites]


There’s so much shit that apparently I’m doing wrong and I genuinely appreciate it when MetaFilter brings it to my attention. Be right back, I’m deleting a certain label on my OkCupid profile now that I understand that it is fucked up in many different ways.

This is the sexiest thing I've read in this thread.
posted by davejay at 8:31 PM on September 23, 2019 [5 favorites]


what's the harm?

In a world where trans and non-binary folks are still fighting to get recognized for who they are, in a world where bisexuality is still largely invisible (Happy Bi Invisibility Day!), in a world where people are still making jokes about "made up" genders or sexualities?

The harm is absolutely real. It suggests to the ignorant that people are making this shit up for attention. It propagates myths like "trans-trenders."

Show off how special you are with your words. With your stories. Don't use the language of the marginalized to buy yourself some sort of imagined "cred".
posted by explosion at 8:31 PM on September 23, 2019 [31 favorites]


b33j, I'm genuinely sorry that my comment was hurtful. But I also think that you and I are coming from a similar place. My dad and I both have ADHD and we both only started treatment for that last year. I agree so so much that everyone has a story. You told yours and I told mine and my dad's because there are so many different kinds of intelligence and I feel like the way that sapiosexual is most commonly used values one particular kind of intelligence over all others.

But also, many comments later, this kind of exquisite granularity is just tiring. It's blurring preferences and orientations. People are finding words they didn't have before and that's good! Pansexual wasn't a word when I was growing up because of the gender binary. There's already a perfectly good suffix for preferences. They can use that for new words for preferences so it doesn't make it seem like sexual orientation is a choice.
posted by Ruki at 8:32 PM on September 23, 2019 [2 favorites]


Aren't we all special snowflakes in some way or another?

I'm not.

Shh

posted by Greg_Ace at 8:41 PM on September 23, 2019 [6 favorites]


I hate that John Waters quote. It’s so dumb. Don’t judge people by their stupid bookshelves.

Judge them from across the library veranda, your eyes lock for a second and they disappear into the 300s... are they looking for financial advice or grief coping due to the death of a beloved parent or pet...?

You surreptitiously linger at the banned books week display as they saunter up to checkout.

With a wink you curtsy and tip your fedora.

It was totally a dead cat AND parent!

Hashtag stupid and autobiographical but I play both parts.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 8:53 PM on September 23, 2019 [6 favorites]


To me, "partner in crime" means they're up for some Poirot/Marple roleplay.

When I say it, I mean "be Herbert Marshall in Trouble in Paradise or GTFO"
posted by praemunire at 9:10 PM on September 23, 2019 [2 favorites]


> If someone asked me why she calls herself sapio, I would estimate that she doesn’t experience sexual attraction until a person has demonstrated intellectual curiosity and critical thinking. They’re necessary (but not sufficient) conditions.

I support all of that. I am also like that! But I do not think that what I find hot in terms of inclination for intellectual discourse is a completely separate sexual orientation akin to the difference between heterosexuality and homosexuality. THAT is the usage of "sapiosexual" that bothers me.
posted by desuetude at 9:56 PM on September 23, 2019 [14 favorites]


You want nice conversation before or after fucking? That's not a sexuality, that just means you graduated from high school.

i think graduating high school is being used as a lowest-bar measurement here but a lot of people don't and it doesn't mean anything about anyone


It's pretty lame that this (or calling someone a "dropout" or referring to their GED) is still a "clever" way of calling someone stupid. I love telling people I was a high school dropout, because I honestly don't give a shit if someone judges me for it. It's one of the few things I'm weirdly not self-conscious about. I'm like, what, you want to judge me because I had major mental health problems at 17? The best is when people backpedal and say "but you got your GED, I'm talking about the people who didn't even do that." Like, lol, glad I snuck in under your low bar, there, Senator. But seriously, I think everyone I've met who dropped out had to deal with some major shit at some point. I took the GED next to a guy who told me he'd been living in a shelter since he was 15. But yeah, I'm sure neither of us could hold a conversation with one of the real geniuses out there.

So yeah, I didn't graduate from high school. Am I undateable?

The answer is yes, but it's not because of my intelligence, it's because of my personality. Get it right, people.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 9:58 PM on September 23, 2019 [35 favorites]


I am utterly mystified by the folks here asserting that a straight woman using a shorthand word in a dating profile to indicate she is looking for someone with intelligence rather than abs is somehow diminishing anyone else's humanity, or "appropriating" something, or insulting the less educated. There are real injustices in the world. This isn't one of them.
posted by PhineasGage at 10:00 PM on September 23, 2019 [13 favorites]


You want nice conversation before or after fucking? That's not a sexuality, that just means you graduated from high school.

I did not graduate high school. I still want stimulating conversation with the people I have sex with.

Before you write things like this, please remember that the people you are being cruel to are here and we will see what you think of us.
posted by Secret Sparrow at 10:06 PM on September 23, 2019 [30 favorites]


asserting that a straight woman using a shorthand word in a dating profile

So I have never seen a woman use this in a profile, that's pretty new. I did, when I was on OKcupid many moons ago see really really REALLY shitty men use this term. It is appropriating queerness, and it's a major fertilization of a very western centric idea of "intelligence" that is more often used to exclude rather then include. And for the record, though I did finish college, I was also a high school dropout so that comment was not great.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 10:23 PM on September 23, 2019 [14 favorites]


please remember that the people you are being cruel to are here and we will see what you think of us.

Change a few words of this, and read "here" as meaning "in the world sharing the air you breathe" and we all get ourselves a very nice motto for living as better people tomorrow than we were today.
posted by davejay at 10:25 PM on September 23, 2019 [2 favorites]


It seems to me that there's a lot of social pressure to make appearance extremely important in dating, and I don't mind if people push back against it.
posted by Nancy Lebovitz at 10:30 PM on September 23, 2019 [1 favorite]


I guess this is the place to admit that I thought sapiosexual wasn’t that you wanted to fuck smart people (?!) but that wit, signals of intelligence or of intense....sapient interest, etc gave you that frisson instead of, like, sexy stuff doing that. I recognized that gross people were using it in the Gross Way, but assumed it was just allos doing the thing where they erase ace identities in every way possible, including from the acronym whenever possible and particularly when it’s otherwise straight dudes trying to get laid. Sigh.

I don’t refer to myself as sapio because the big ace tent is comfy for me, and I never will now! But wit is more fun than physical foreplay for some of us, and I can accept there’s no need for a specialized word for it.
posted by zinful at 10:38 PM on September 23, 2019 [6 favorites]


utterly mystified

Have you considered reading one of the many detailed explanations?
posted by ominous_paws at 10:39 PM on September 23, 2019 [12 favorites]


I am very attracted to Sapiosectionals. Smart sofas that I can mutti-config are my jam.
posted by a humble nudibranch at 10:54 PM on September 23, 2019 [8 favorites]


Oh god that typo. The word is "fetishization" not fertilization.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 10:59 PM on September 23, 2019 [5 favorites]


Some shitty straight men use the term "sapiosexual" to mean "I'm a misogynist who wants a bright little lady who isn't like other women." Those straight men are shit *and* that's not what that term means.
Ana Mardoll on how sapiosexuality is a type of ace/aero/asexuality rather than just being attracted to smart people.
posted by MartinWisse at 11:09 PM on September 23, 2019 [17 favorites]


Many of the men using the term sapiosexual behave exactly like this because what they want is a woman smart enough to tell them their ideas are clever but not smart enough to say when they’re wrong.

This conversation is fascinating to me, because I too have heaped scorn on people using the sapio label, only ever having heard it from cishet dudes, generally from Ivy-Leage or adjacent schools*, who want cishet women who are smart...enough to appreciate how much smarter said dudes are than them. Usually by laughing at their Nietzsche puns and nodding enthusiastically while they gush over Jonathan Franzen. They're not using it to express an overriding preference so much as adding it as an extra clause to all the desired qualities already implied by being a high-status dude looking for a female partner (thin, symmetrical, upper-middle-class, etc.).

Will keep in mind from now on that, as Frowner mentioned, words: they do not always mean what you think they mean to the people you think you're talking to.

*Mind you, at this point my age cohort left undergrad 12 to 20 years ago, so...yeah. See also: people who mention their high-school IQ scores in casual conversation.
posted by peakes at 11:20 PM on September 23, 2019 [5 favorites]


a type of ace/aero/asexuality

Looks like I'm behind on my jargon.
posted by rhizome at 11:21 PM on September 23, 2019 [3 favorites]


Ana Mardoll doesn't actually get to decide what a word means for other people.
posted by tavella at 11:24 PM on September 23, 2019 [22 favorites]


I trust mefites (bewilderingly) because the world is a hard place for me to navigate. I appreciate your comment very much, Ruki. I don't claim to be supersmart or have a high IQ, because I can't drive or socialise very well, even if I can teach myself other things.

I went on a date with a guy when I had sapiosexual as a label, and he worked with databases, and when I asked him specifics, he said, he preferred to use excel, because then he didn't have to reeber semi-colons went. He puffed himself up as this ectremely intelligent guy who decided to order for me because he wanted to taste my food, as well as his own, was not interested in an unusual reflection on the roof of a balcony we walked past, dissed my understanding of data, and described the mother of his chikd as mum, even tho they were divorced, because he thought I might stalk him (yeah,fine, but couldn't he say ex, to say he shared a property with mum was very confusing).

The date ended at kmart, after he had told me twice, longwindedly about the experience of acquiring his much-loved vehicle, where he couldn't find the $10 blender he was hoping for, though there was an equivalent model at $15. As we left kmart and I showed him where his car was parked, I "sympathised" with him, saying it was his cross to bear. He didn't contact me again, and this is probably not relevant to the thread, but he was not unusual in being disappointed that I knew enough about his field to ask questions and offer solutions (obviously not a good thing).

Also, I'm weird. But I know mefites are reasonable, and I know that some of you will consider now that some of us have used the word in order to meet people who will treat the unusual way we think with respect.

I am still sorry that I appropiated a term. I had no idea. I am so very careful of this - I'm currently working on an ecucational project to bring local indigenous stories to children, and I won't fake Aboriginal artwork. I've had an email conversation with a high level dept of ed person who is indigenous, and at some point there will be appointed an artistic mentor, so that our local kids can see local indigenous artwork with the stories we are videoing from the elders.

But please, remember whenever you feel angry about people using a word the wrong way, or wanting to be listened to, stop and ask before you condemn them. We autistic literal-type people have to do this a lot, you know, not correcting people, even with the best of intent, and it's the intent so many of you assumed about my or anyone's use of the word. I accept that I misunderstood the word, and it's connotations, and again, I apologise for that. I do not accept that I am a snob (how can I be, on the edge of society).
posted by b33j at 11:46 PM on September 23, 2019 [16 favorites]


Another vote that I see this as allos co-opting ace language. And it’s not surprising, since the ace community is super anti-gatekeeping. Asexuality isn’t caused by trauma or depression or gender dysphoria, but you don’t have to conduct a differential diagnosis to call yourself ace. It’s not the end of the world if you’re wrong and allo. We want you to have a safe community where you don’t have to try to jump start some feeling that isn’t happening, and waste your life checking each and every fish because everyone says it’s normal to only happen sometimes but also that it will definitely eventually happen so just don’t stop.

I’ve never considered myself sapiosexual. But I am disappointed that the larger numbers of shitty allos can drown out the less visible ace folks and rob us of our language. I agree with Ana that maybe that’s unavoidable. But that doesn’t make it less shitty.
posted by politikitty at 12:29 AM on September 24, 2019 [10 favorites]


Its about context too. Like i've personally seen so many people with humanities phds whose whole social groups are other academics lol about sapiosexuals in a way that feels uncomfortable to me because on okcupid people i see who identify as sapiosexual mostly dont have english as a first language or are nerds without a humanities background. It feels a bit like 'sapiosexual?? someones not read their foucault'

I feel like in that context the figure of the sapiosexual, someone says they are attracted to smartness but is not 'smart' enough to see how many ways that idea fails acts as a kind of release valve. As long as you're not uncouth enough to identify as sapiosexual which is ableist you dont have to think too hard about how ableism might affect who you date or who might be in your social circles.
posted by mosswinter at 12:34 AM on September 24, 2019 [2 favorites]


Also, I will take any opportunity to share Ready Player One author Ernest Cline's poem Nerd Porn Auteur


AGGH FUCK WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT I JUST ATE
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 2:40 AM on September 24, 2019 [9 favorites]


this term describes any woman who would fuck woody allen
posted by elkevelvet at 6:54 AM on September 24, 2019 [2 favorites]


After seeing Greta Scacchi in The Coca-Cola Kid I briefly identified as Santasexual.
posted by kirkaracha at 7:01 AM on September 24, 2019 [1 favorite]


(To Ronson's credit, this doesn't really appear to be his doing. I gather the topic came up during some ITV chat show he was on, and he just said something like "I think I might be one". Which of course reinforces just how unlike coming out this is; his off-the-cuff statement is immediately praised and headline-worthy with mostly softball articles, except for the articles like the FPP link criticizing the idea of sapiosexuality itself.)

Exactly, it was literally a very casual comment about a previous section of that show, and it happened at the end before closing titles and it was the presenter who said "so you’re coming out as sapiosexual, congratulations" while the other presenter laughs and says "he’s out and proud", as a joke, to which Ronson didn’t even respond - here’s the clip at the bit where the exchange happens. It was really not deserving of the attention it got!
posted by bitteschoen at 7:27 AM on September 24, 2019 [4 favorites]


Okay I’m too tired to get into the ableism bit so have been avoiding it, but I’m cognitively disabled (yes, despite being highly verbal and getting a PhD!). The term sapiosexual actively hurts me and the people I love and has been for years. So yes, I’m angry about it. If you’re using it in a way that means something else other than “I am attracted to intelligence” then okay, but that’s not how it’s generally used and because words mean things I will assume the most widely used definition until you tell me otherwise. If you’re using it as an ace spectrum word (and again, not linking it to intelligence), then as one ace to another I’m sorry, but everything I’ve seen suggests the term started in ableism and if it’s used differently now by some ace folks that doesn’t erase the years of hurt it’s caused me and people like me. I am still going to flinch every time I see it.
posted by brook horse at 7:54 AM on September 24, 2019 [10 favorites]


I'll admit that I don't really have much experience with sapiosexuals, but as a queer person I am uncomfortable with the idea of asserting ownership over an incredibly common collocation which essentially expresses the idea of 'overcoming feelings of shame to live proudly and openly in society'. Sapiosexuals aren't doing anything morally wrong qua sapiosexuality (so long as they're operating on an unproblematic definition of intelligence, as several commenters have insightfully observed), so if they in good faith feel like 'coming out' is an accurate description of their lived experience, I think it's a linguistic/conceptual resource they should have access to. And not just sapiosexuals—anyone who has been unjustly made to feel shame about part of their identity, queer or not. Getting possessive over 'coming out' feels like pulling up a vitally important ladder behind us.
posted by Panthalassa at 8:18 AM on September 24, 2019 [5 favorites]


I'm glad to know the connotations this word has for the queer community, and if I ever get back on dating apps I will remove this word from my profile immediately.

However, I can attest that as a bisexual woman, many years ago i hoped this term would convey that I was not a sex doll waiting for a couple to please. Like Corb, I have found most men in the dating pool are *not* looking for intelligent conversations, and I dont like going on dates with people who cant hold a conversation about anything except how soon we can go have sex.

That said, I think it's kind of a big jump to assume that one stupid clickbait headline using the term 'coming out' (seriously, that is so gross) necessarily means everyone using 'sapiosexual' has been viewing it as a sexuality label akin to other queer sexualities. I am generally against telling people how they can label themselves, but this thread makes me wonder if one poorly phrased headline can actually taint a word so completely that it should be avoided.
posted by ananci at 9:00 AM on September 24, 2019 [3 favorites]


All I know is that queer communities I've been a part of have absolutely had issues with cis het people who call themselves "sapiosexual" trying to join as if it brought them the same status as people who are actually persecuted minorities. The behavior is like someone with Irish ancestry trying compare themselves to descendants of enslaved people, except worse because literally nobody has ever been looked down on for preferring intelligence whereas at least the Irish did face some discrimination (but not, as I alluded, anything compared to enslaved people).
posted by schroedinger at 9:02 AM on September 24, 2019 [14 favorites]


As I am not dating, I don't claim to understand the intricacies around why people would or wouldn't find this useful on their profiles,

I'm dating. Checking the "sapiosexual" box lets creepy straight people get around the "I don't want to see or be seen by straight people" block on okcupid. My repeated requests to change the standard for what a straight person is have gone unanswered. OKCupid wants "straight" to mean "someone who only checks the straight box and nothing else". I need it to mean "anyone who checks the straight box, regardless of whatever else they check." This impacts me less than someone who lists as bi (I list as lesbian) but for some reason there are occasionally men popping up in my suggested matches, which I doubt very much happens to cis straight men.
posted by bile and syntax at 9:05 AM on September 24, 2019 [18 favorites]


I feel like in that context the figure of the sapiosexual, someone says they are attracted to smartness but is not 'smart' enough to see how many ways that idea fails acts as a kind of release valve. As long as you're not uncouth enough to identify as sapiosexual which is ableist you dont have to think too hard about how ableism might affect who you date or who might be in your social circles.

Reading this thread, it has been slowly dawning on me how my outsized contempt for that term really must say more about me than the people who use it, and I guess that's it. There have been many people who have expressed valid concerns about the use of the term (appropriation of marginalized language, ablism, classism etc.) but I can't deny that for me a big part is that sense of "here but for the Grace of God..."/unjustified self-satsification about not naive enought to try for that kind of short-cut myself.

Like many people I've had some experience with people using "sapiosexual" as a substitute for class markers/based on a very shallow idea of intelligence and can't help the initial urge to to side-eye that. But people here have made credible arguments that this is not how they use the term, that their idea of intelligence is absolutely more comprehensive, that they use the term not to discourage people lacking conventional/class-based markers of "smartness", but "anti-intellectuals", people who actively resent certain approaches to being thoughtful about things. And this is a way in which I might have wanted to use such a short-cut myself, in a previous life.

Because smartness is certainly normative, and it would be indeed preposterous to suggest that attaching importance to an intellectual connection could entail even remotely comparable marginalization to venturing outside of heteronormativity, but still... anti-intellectual exists. In positions of power too. And some people might have had very negative experiences with them in a formative period of their life and maybe don't deserve so much scorn for trying to use a short-cut.

For what it's worth, I still don't see how that particular shortcut could possibly be useful. Because so many people do use it in the snobby sense. And because there are so many different ways to be intelligent, the mere fact that two people are both looking for an intellectual connection is really no guarantee that they will find one. And the fact that someone is put off by the term sapiosexual is no guarantee that they won't find one, because as we've seen there are many reasons to have issues with the word that have nothing to do with being an anti-intellectual.

It's the same with sense of humour. A sense of humour is important to me. But for the purpose of narrowing down prospective dates, "sense of humour", just like "sapiosexual" is so vague as to be useless to me. I don't think I've ever met anyone who was never amused by anything, but I've certainly met people whose particular brand of humour hasn't won them any favours with me - either because it tends to go over my head, or because I find it off-putting/bigotted/small-minded, etc. I feel there's really no way around trial and error with that sort of thing - you have to make a joke and see if the other person laughs. You want to have an intellectual connection - you have to show curiosity about something, and see how the other person engages.

But my preferred mode of performing "intelligence" is verbal, one of the more widely recognized modes, and therefore I have a million ways of weeding out people who are not into that kind of thing without having to resort to blunt self-declaration. Someone who's inclined to dismiss me as pretentious will find ample reason to do so soon enough. And as to someone who might be into that kind of thing - well, there are many more effective ways to show off verbal intelligence. Which is probably why the term sapiosexual is likely to be met with more ridicule in the humanties than in other disciplines, and I realize now, there are many good reasons to object to the term, but this isn't one of them. Because verbal intelligence is not the only type of intelligence, and showing-off might not be the only reason to use that label and I need to be more aware of that.
posted by sohalt at 9:34 AM on September 24, 2019 [10 favorites]


(One of my oh-so-elegant ways to show off my verbal intelligence is obviously undercutting it by throwing in a couple of spelling mistakes, to create a thrilling sort of tension between aspiration and reality).
posted by sohalt at 9:51 AM on September 24, 2019 [13 favorites]


Like Corb, I have found most men in the dating pool are *not* looking for intelligent conversations, and I dont like going on dates with people who cant hold a conversation about anything except how soon we can go have sex

Unfortunately, this isn't a problem that women using a term like "sapiosexual" can fix. The men who see you as just a prop for their egos won't see you as an independent thinking being regardless. At most, "sapiosexual" tells these men what kind of prop you'll be.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 10:35 AM on September 24, 2019 [10 favorites]


Wow, I--yeah, I uh, maybe shouldn't be reading this, because hoo boy a whole lot of the folks rushing to get their gotchas on how terrible sapiosexual is as an identity term are people who would just as happily rush to reject my own community words as not queer enough. I don't even like the term very much--like brook horse I have some pretty infuriated opinions about the way that the concept of "intelligence" is used in a comparative way to minimize people--but wow, y'all are rushing to throw an awful lot of the same arguments I recognize as things that have been thrown at me. And will be thrown at me again.

If asexuality and aromanticism and demisexuality are concepts that are foreign to you, congratu-fucking-lations. That's my community. You've learned something new today.

As, uh, folks have. In this thread. Demi folks? My community. That's one of my best friends' primary identity word. Has been for years. Not remotely the same thing as "I prefer to have sex within the bounds of a relationship."

I'll never say someone else should shouldn't feel free to label themselves whatever they want, but if you're, but all other measures, a straight person, I don't want to see you co-opting the language used by queer people in an attempt to... I don't know what... get some of that sweet, sweet, non-mainstream cred I guess?

You want nice conversation before or after fucking? That's not a sexuality, that just means you graduated from high school.

You need to like someone before you fuck them? That's not a sexuality, that just means you're not a sociopath.

Look, my straighty liberal brethren, I get that it's disappointing to not be in the cool kids club that gets to use a label that makes your parents uncomfortable, or otherwise sets you apart from khaki-short wearing, GreatClips-haircut having, pasty white heteros like me, but you know what, you don't have to have everything. Having 99.9% of everything should be enough, and you should be embarrassed to have it.


This language and these attitudes have been applied to me, directly, for over a decade.

Shall I prove my real queer bona fides, again? I have a same-sex marriage. I pass as gay. I have a short fucking dyke haircut and I walk all the same walks you fuckers do, and still these sentiments are thrown at me and my community. Still. Always. Every time. Here and in every fucking conversation about queerness where some member of the queer community can be characterized as straight. If you are all rushing to preserve queerness from some imagined hoard of really-straight people appropriating at the door of queerdom, know that there are an awful lot of us you leave scars on who you'd rush to count if you bothered to listen.

Yesterday was the day of Bi Visibility. And yet I see the same fucking arguments about "really straight" people appropriating queerness that get applied to bi people as a central fucking plank of biphobia, to ace people, to aro people. Yesterday. These marginalizations are so popular here. That smugness is so popular.

Solidarity is fucking conditional, and the arguments y'all are slinging?

God! I'm burning. I used to have panic attacks when entering queer spaces because arguments with precisely the same shape as the ones y'all are gleefully hurling here were thrown at me, did you know? I'm not as fucking straight as you apparently think. Who do you imagine when you hear the word "aromantic asexual," huh? How straight is that person? When someone marks themselves, says "my experience isn't within the realm of heteronormativity," do you listen to what that person means, or do you rush to sneer and caricature? Fuck that! Fuck that! What is wrong with you all?

I can't hold this for y'all, Metafilter. I fucking can't. Because this attitude, this is rife here, and it burns, and I'm so tired of holding my fucking hands to the fire for this community. Fuck. Fuck.
posted by sciatrix at 10:44 AM on September 24, 2019 [32 favorites]


looks like I'm behind on my jargon look, like, I get it if you don't have a time or reason to delve into this shit, but it's not any more jargon than understanding "bisexual" vs "pansexual" is, and god! the dismissiveness! fuck!

I've been identifying as asexual for fifteen fucking years. I run an offline community, that I founded, that has been bubbling along for nearly a decade. Your lack of paying attention is not my problem. My community isn't fucking jargon.

Do you people hear yourselves?
posted by sciatrix at 10:53 AM on September 24, 2019 [14 favorites]


imagined hoard of really-straight people appropriating at the door of queerdom

It's definitely not imaginary, we're talking about a real-life person who is doing this now. I, and many others in here, have had to deal with cis and het people who take up time and resources in lgbt spaces because they think this particular way to enjoy relationships makes them part of the community. The lgbt community isn't a "catch all" or different sex or or emotional peculiarities. It's a real culture with shared history, goals, struggles, people. A cis man who only dates women but wants them to be his flavor of "intelligent" has none of that in common.

I don't think sapiosexuality is "real" (whatever that means), or more aptly put it's not a sexual orientation. At the most it's a fetish. Being a lesbian isn't about what turns me on. there's so much more than that. "being gay is just about fucking" is a centuries old homophobic argument and it coming from someone trying to squeeze their way into the community doesn't change that.
posted by FirstMateKate at 11:04 AM on September 24, 2019 [11 favorites]


Coincidentally, this article about asexuality ran in the Strib today, prompted by the premiere of this play, which is described as "an exploration of sexual identity on the asexual spectrum, faith and privilege". It seemed fair and sympathetic to me, but ace people may see issues/nuances I don't.

looks like I'm behind on my jargon

For what it's worth, sciatrix, I had a similar "yeah, looks like it; what is the point of this comment other than posturing?" reaction.
posted by Flannery Culp at 11:07 AM on September 24, 2019 [1 favorite]


Wow. Wow.

No shit I know it's not a "catch all." My folks, my folks were in bi and trans communities before they split into their own as a consequence of changes in the way we think about and talk about orientation. I know my fucking history, but it's cute you think I don't. Where do you think the etiologies of asexuality are? Where do you think my community came from?

Because there were people trying to discuss this before David Jay made his pretty website. I have spoken to them. I have spoken to the person who wrote David Jay's fucking Q&A, who is nonbinary and uses singular they and explicitly pulled concepts from bi and pan communities and set up definitions with an eye towards providing a space for people that was built on ideas from those spaces! My community is from a different strain of queerness than yours, interloper, but it's no younger than yours!

Not that, I imagine, you bother to follow up with anyone's history that isn't sufficiently lesbian enough! Not unless you can collapse it into a one-dimensional array of people thinking and acting exactly as you do!
posted by sciatrix at 11:07 AM on September 24, 2019 [9 favorites]


and if you meant to be speaking purely about sapiosexuality, FirstMateKate: know that every single word out of your mouth could have been cut from the exact same playbook of someone directly targeting asexuality and asexual people directly. Word for fucking word. So why shouldn't I react strongly to it as such?
posted by sciatrix at 11:09 AM on September 24, 2019 [5 favorites]


Uh, because the discussion is on sapiosexuality and not about you and not about ace folks? Because it is about actual experiences we're having, that you're completely dismissing?
posted by bile and syntax at 11:16 AM on September 24, 2019 [26 favorites]


You are, of course, doing a great job of listening to my community's experiences, or the multiple people who are not me who have pointed out that "sapiosexual" as it originally was used is best understood as a facet of ace-spectrum communities, or the many people who have extended their potshots at sapiosexuality to potshots at demi people and other ace-spectrum people.
posted by sciatrix at 11:23 AM on September 24, 2019 [9 favorites]



Not that, I imagine, you bother to follow up with anyone's history that isn't sufficiently lesbian enough! Not unless you can collapse it into a one-dimensional array of people thinking and acting exactly as you do!
posted by sciatrix at 2:07 PM on September 24 [+] [Flagged]


Wow this is really uncalled for and very lesbophobic. I don't appreciate you making assumptions about me based on my sexuality.

and if you meant to be speaking purely about sapiosexuality, FirstMateKate: know that every single word out of your mouth could have been cut from the exact same playbook of someone directly targeting asexuality and asexual people directly. Word for fucking word. So why shouldn't I react strongly to it as such?
posted by sciatrix at 2:09 PM on September 24 [+] [Flagged]


1)Of course I'm only speaking about sapiosexuality, that's the purpose of this thread.

2)Words have intent, just because it can be used against X person doesn't mean it's not a valid critique of Z person. That's pretty much how all oppressive language works.
posted by FirstMateKate at 11:24 AM on September 24, 2019 [10 favorites]


[Couple comments deleted; this'll go better if folks can turn down the making-it-personal aspect here... It seems like -- as many people above have said -- there are two separate uses of this term, one that's used by people to describe.. something genuine? and one that's used by jerks to mess with the algorithm on dating sites etc, and that's kind of contaminating the other usage? It seems like there's room to point out the problem with the latter, without dismissing, or being read as dismissing, all novel sexuality terms; it'd be good if everyone can kind of aim toward that.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 11:28 AM on September 24, 2019 [12 favorites]


I’m not sure if the jargon bit was directed at me, but I was speaking of my own experience as someone who has had sex with both men and women. I’m part of that community, too.

I don’t think I’m capable of this place anymore.
posted by Ruki at 11:29 AM on September 24, 2019 [4 favorites]


Hi! I am a queer person who has in the past described myself as "sapiosexual," so I don't think it's somehow an appropriation of queer identity. I am sorry to hear there are apparently legions of tedious straight men ruining the idea for everyone, but at the time it seemed like a good way to say "I'm more interested in making intellectual connections than physical ones." I guess I will say "demisexual" instead even though it's not quite the same thing.

Good to know that using this word makes me a giant, pretentious asshole, though! You guys can really be such jerks sometimes.
posted by zeusianfog at 11:34 AM on September 24, 2019 [7 favorites]


And there’s also a complete dismissal of the actual roots of sapiosexuality in the ace community, which is clearly considered not part of the queer community by a whole barrel of queer folks.

It sucks that misogynists are coopting our language. But also, there are a lot more misogynists out there than ace spectrum folks. Without allies, we have so little control over our language. So it’s not just about inadequate gatekeeping. It’s about a refusal to be seen by a larger community.

And ugh the question of whether or not we deserve to come out or experience oppression. I was clocked as queer in middle school. My death threats called me a lesbian because we didn’t have the language of asexuality. I spent twenty years having panic attacks during sex that I though would eventually pass because I didn’t have the concept of romantic interest without sexual interest.

My erasure maybe saved me from some oppression. But it also created a whole wake of trauma. And refusing to acknowledge this as theft from a queer community, rather than a fancy invention from misogynists continues that erasure.
posted by politikitty at 11:43 AM on September 24, 2019 [14 favorites]


Nothing I've heard since has convinced me otherwise.

Following up, this thread has taught me that while my previous comment appears to remain true for heterosexual people looking for romantic/sexual partners, there's a whole other previously existing usage I wasn't aware of that I'm glad to have now learned.
posted by Greg_Ace at 12:00 PM on September 24, 2019 [6 favorites]


I will acknowledge this as theft from a queer community, rather than a fancy invention from misogynists, because I honestly didn't know--my experience up until this thread has been of its use by the misogynists.
posted by Halloween Jack at 12:02 PM on September 24, 2019 [5 favorites]


I've tried searching, but does anyone have a more concrete source on how the word started in the asexual community? Because neither the explanation in the article, nor the twitter thread linked really offer an explaination, nor do they change my view about the meaning of the term
posted by FirstMateKate at 12:17 PM on September 24, 2019 [5 favorites]


Regardless of whether we invented this as queers, the term is still abelist. Intelligence is still measured in racist and sexist ways (at least in the US, and probably in most of the rest of the world). It is not absolved of sexism, racism, abelism, just because we maybe invented it.
posted by FritoKAL at 12:40 PM on September 24, 2019 [13 favorites]


I think there's a very important line here between the apparent origins of the term sapiosexual, it's relatively small reach before its possible appropriation by OkCupid, and how it's being used and applied today.

We're a relatively old internet community and as such, a lot of us have experiences with people who have identified as sapiosexual, whether it was in the early days when it was a self-identification that was relatively innocuous but empowering for those who chose to use it as a way to relate to others. By the time OkCupid added it as an actual category, it was in wide use on that site in a non-queer context -- and maybe this was appropriation! But if it was, the appropriation was widespread.

If you've identified as sapiosexual, if you've had a good relationship with someone who identifies as sapiosexual, if you feel an affinity with the concept and think it's a good way to describe yourself -- this criticism is not for or about you. And if you have any stake in the word, maybe you should be irritated about the people out there who say they're sapiosexuals but are not the kind and interesting people you're associating with the term.

Because, let me say, there are some total jerks out there who are all too glad to say they're sapiosexual and they're the ones most of us are encountering.
posted by mikeh at 1:44 PM on September 24, 2019 [7 favorites]


We are pissed off. But also retraumatized. No ace person has defended the misogynists who are using this term. Most are even open to the idea that maybe the terminology does more harm than good. Though the real harm seems to be about the OKCupid algorithm which seems like a tangible lever to fix without all this ace-phobic whinging.

But Jesus. It’s like when people think it’s cool to use transphobic or fat shaming language about fascists. You’re broadcasting more about your dehumanizing beliefs (for the greater good!) than actually dismantling oppression.
posted by politikitty at 2:12 PM on September 24, 2019 [5 favorites]


Pardon my ignorance, but is there a link between identifying as asexual and identifying as sapiosexual, other than the fact they're being elevated to equal status on dating sites?
I was ignorant to the possibly-originating livejournal post linked in the article, but the implication seems to be that while the turn-ons for a sapiosexual are intellectual, the outcome is often (although not necessarily) physical.

So I guess you could be both asexual and sapiosexual, but I haven't -- and I may be speaking to my own lack of engagement here -- run across anyone who has identified that way.
posted by mikeh at 2:44 PM on September 24, 2019 [2 favorites]


Could someone point me to a good Asexual 101 website? I'm another person who's confused about the connection, so I'd like to go read a primer.
posted by The corpse in the library at 2:48 PM on September 24, 2019


This has been extremely interesting as an ace person to see that other ace folks have used this word, that I found an identifier that felt right before I even knew that asexuality was A Thing and so did my people! I think I learned it from the shitty usage, but it’s intensely validating to discover that it’s been drifting through queer communities I didn’t even know existed until like a year ago (because ace erasure, yo).
The ableism and other grossness of it in use, or even as it could be used by allosexuals, in particular who don’t know or consider that asexuality exists, seems...inevitable? given the two prongs of ace erasure and ableism in the culture at large. I guess it’s a good example of how labels as just terms are totally insufficient. Identity is a verb, in that it’s finding all the ways you navigate the social environments of the people you are close to as much as it is finding the terms to describe those relational engagements.
Anyhow, it’s just neat that there are other ace peeps who feel an affinity to the way of being sapiosexual imperfectly could ideally describe if we lived in a world where those two prongs of terrible didn’t exist.
(Also online dating provably seems to have ruined everything, I dunno get off my lawn.)
posted by zinful at 2:49 PM on September 24, 2019 [5 favorites]


Although it wasn't the aim, I think zinful pretty much addressed my question. Thanks!
posted by mikeh at 2:58 PM on September 24, 2019 [1 favorite]


I'm sorry I got so heated about my personal experiences when I was in the wrong about the meaning of the word. Also, there might be a cultural issue here as I grew up lower class in Australia where diverse conversation was/is frowned upon. Part of the supposed classless society I suspect. Never show anyone that you might know something they don't as it's almost (I think, but not certain) an insult. I apologise to anyone here annoyed or hurt by my lack of empathy, it wasn't intentional and I will try harder in the future.
posted by b33j at 6:02 PM on September 24, 2019 [2 favorites]


If I never hear the “lesbophobic” dog whistle again it’ll still be too soon.

Signed,
A lesbian whose sexuality (and even gender!) are widely considered “at most [] a fetish”
posted by haltingproblemsolved at 6:45 PM on September 24, 2019 [3 favorites]


Particularly weird for me as I have a guy friend whose last name is Sapio.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 10:16 PM on September 24, 2019 [4 favorites]


Im confused, are we saying lesbophobia doesn't exist, and insisting it does is a dog whistle for...whatever?
posted by FirstMateKate at 8:03 AM on September 25, 2019 [5 favorites]


lesbophobia, at least in the context that haltingproblemsolved is likely mentioning, is used in some anti-trans circles as an argument against transitioning, particularly regarding younger people. to them, it is 'homophobic' and, more specifically 'lesbophobic' 'conversion therapy' to:

- 'force' trans men to transition (assuming that trans men are all really just butch lesbians attracted to women, ignoring that gay trans men exist and that not all were butch lesbians in their pre-revolutionary states)
- 'force' lesbians to date trans women (assuming that once you're born with a penis, you will always have one, even in spirit, and that all trans women are male autogynophilic sex pest predators)

i mean, anti-trans rhetoric is a flaming mountain of semi-digested fast food sliders, anally ejected into a sea of vomit, and it's very common for the bigots on that side of the aisle to take actual concepts, abuse and distort them into nonsensical hate speech that then can, to some audiences, read very differently than it does to others in different contexts...

so 'lesbophobia' tends to read differently to many trans women than it does to cis lesbians.
you know, like how 'theory' can mean one thing to scientists vs. non-scientists.
or how 'sapiosexual' reads differently to what seems like 80% of the people in this thread than the other 20%.
posted by anem0ne at 10:34 AM on September 25, 2019 [5 favorites]


I am a nonbinary lesbian, not a cis lesbian. And nothing I said has to do with trans people. I'm talking about sapiosexuality. To assume I'm cis and a terf because I am a lesbian with an opinion you don't agree with (not you, anem0ne) is... lesbophobia.
posted by FirstMateKate at 10:45 AM on September 25, 2019 [7 favorites]


[So, again it seems like there are two uses of a term here, and we can talk about this and how one use could be genuine and one could be a problem, without making accusations that specific people here secretly intend something hateful - eg anem0ne is carefully distinguishing these and thank you. Separate point - couple of comments deleted; talking about statements being a problem is fine, but please don't make this personal especially about someone who's already left the thread.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 10:59 AM on September 25, 2019 [3 favorites]


It seems we are at a point where there has been so much bad faith arguing and appropriation of terminology outside queer circles that it makes discussing complicated ideas within queer circles that much more difficult. Every time someone uses a term, it seems there is a coopted shadow of that turn putting other people on edge.

I’m not sure what the solution is. I’d urge people to read more charitably, but there is definitely history here that makes that urge a way bigger ask than it should be.
posted by GenjiandProust at 11:00 AM on September 25, 2019 [3 favorites]


Never show anyone that you might know something they don't as it's almost (I think, but not certain) an insult.

There's a term for that (and knowing it is probably a demonstration of what you're talking about): janteloven!
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 11:02 AM on September 25, 2019 [3 favorites]


TERFs are legitimate terrible people and my understanding of the lesbophobic comments on here was not from any kind of TERF perspective - lesbophobia is an attack on all lesbians, not just cis lesbians. I'm also in the agender range, if it matters.
posted by bile and syntax at 11:06 AM on September 25, 2019 [2 favorites]


I don’t presume to speak for anyone but I interpreted it in the context of asexuality. As an asexual I’ve been told I don’t count as a lesbian because I’m not sexually attracted to women and that it’s lesbophobic for me to use that term or to call myself queer or a dyke. I’ve also been told my problems aren’t as important as “real” lesbians and it is, again, lesbophobic to imply that they are. Not saying anyone here believes that, but it’s a pain that comes up when I hear these arguments about different ace spectrum identities not “counting” as queer.

Anyway, gonna go be in lesbians with my partner of 8 years cause I just got paid and it’s time for a sushi date.
posted by brook horse at 12:20 PM on September 25, 2019 [9 favorites]


I was speaking in the context of asexuality, not transness. And it’s obvious on the face of it that lesbians face oppression that is more than just the sum of homophobia + misogyny.

And yet, somehow, in queer community after community, I’ve only ever seen the word “lesbophobia” leveled against other queer women when they call out the speaker for trying to police the boundaries of queer womanhood in one way or another.
posted by haltingproblemsolved at 5:11 PM on September 25, 2019 [2 favorites]


(That’s not an assumption of cisness or terfism. It’s a demand to be treated *better* than cis terves would.)
posted by haltingproblemsolved at 5:18 PM on September 25, 2019


Well, thanks for the accusation, it's not remotely appreciated or accurate. I think this is the first time I've ever used the world lesbophobia, but I'm getting that I'm not allowed to talk about my experiences without writing an entire book on how I'm not excluding people who were screaming at me and also bake cookies.
posted by bile and syntax at 5:54 PM on September 25, 2019 [4 favorites]


I'm a little leery of wading into this thread now that the tensions seem to be high, but apparently I'm doing it anyway.

Count me in as a woman who briefly used sapiosexual as an identity on her way to finding asexuality. That doesn't negate the clear ableist and classist underpinnings the word has and I'm pretty sure if I read brook horse's excellent comment up-thread detailing why it's truly ableist and classist at the time, I would have stopped even sooner. I also never came across a man using it during that time. I'm sure that would have completely changed how I saw the term as well.

I wouldn't use it today and I come into this thread with a large chunk of "ooof, that was not a great look," on my own part.

However, I would like to speak to those of us who didn't inherently know our own sexualities as a young age. I've only recently found terminology that feels right for myself regarding sexuality and I'm 36. This means I spent all of my teens, all of my 20s, and a good chunk of my 30s trying on things to see if they made sense, because I didn't inherently have a sense of being straight or a lesbian. (And I grew up with some weird internalized biphobia.) I have felt sexual attraction to less than a dozen people over my lifetime, have fallen in love with a woman without being sexually attracted to her, and a bunch of other things that don't fit neatly into boxes around orientation.

During my teens and 20s, I was desperate for a romantic, non-sexual relationship, but I wasn't able to put it in those terms. Because I thought that if I fell in love, I'd automatically be sexual in a way that I hadn't been before. That's how these things work, right? I used sapiosexual when I tried internet dating, because I thought it described what I was. This isn't actually a correct description of my sexuality (and again, doesn't ignore the ableism and classism of the term), but I didn't have the words that actually explained what I meant -- and I felt I needed something to signal to potential partners that I didn't want sex right away or even within six months to a year of dating someone. However, I could latch onto needing an intellectual connection as something concrete and explainable.

I'm actually a biromantic ace person who would love to find a romantic, non-sexual relationship. And I was that person a decade ago, but I didn't have the terminology for it.

(Also -- as someone who only found the terminology recently, through LGBTQ friends -- where are the ace friendly spaces? I love my friends, but I'm one of two ace people I know personally and the other lives across the country from me. I get that this is a weird ask considering where the thread is tension wise, but I still want to know.)
posted by JustKeepSwimming at 7:43 PM on September 25, 2019 [12 favorites]


Well, there's asexuality.org which I just found out about as a result of this thread and looking for more info myself. There are also a lot of aces on Tumblr, but there are also a lot of TERF types that are heavily involved in policing gay and lesbian spaces to exclude not only transpeople but aces, aros, and bis. You see a lot of the so-called "queer is a slur" discourse there.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:18 PM on September 25, 2019 [1 favorite]


I also know of the term only through contacts in the Ace community, and find the dismissive, accusatory, smug comments here incredibly weird and insulting and think people are glaringly ignorant of the history of the term. I see it as a welcoming space for the non-neurotypical and people on the Asexual spectrum, rather than being ableist or prizing a specific version of intellectualism or simply preferring elite smartypants. Are people really okay with abusive dudebros co-opting the term and letting them define the concept and villifying people (many of them queer) who have been using the term to mean something non-terrible for well over a decade now? That's bullshit.
posted by thegreatfleecircus at 10:35 AM on September 26, 2019 [2 favorites]


For Ace community: I heard good things about Arocalypse from an Ace friend of mine.
posted by carrioncomfort at 11:25 AM on September 26, 2019 [1 favorite]


I think if people were serious about sapiosexuality I’d spend a lot more time hearing guys go on about how they’re dying to get with Stephen Hawking, Justice Ginsburg, Marilyn Vos Savant, or Steve Wozniak.
posted by bile and syntax at 9:23 PM on September 26, 2019


I think you're deeply misunderstanding the concept of sapiosexuality as intended by many who use it. The term isn't meant to be used as some sort of qualitative measure of needed IQ or anything so dreary, but to express the axis on which some identify their sexuality. That is to say, it is intended to express the idea that their sexuality is, roughly speaking, better understood via mental attraction than physical desire. In that sense it is no more ableist than other forms of attraction as it just seeks to define the nature of their sexuality as opposed to the norm.

The problem with the term and the discussion is that asexuality doesn't map well to how sexuality is normally defined even though the normative definitions don't really do well in accounting for how people tend to actually view the totality of their sexuality as it is so tied to physicality. Asexuality as an umbrella label has been taken up by many who feel left out of normative definitions for the emphasis on physical arousal or desire but under that umbrella there is a great diversity of different ways in which people understand themselves and their desires. Many of those forms don't really fit the narrow definition of asexual, as in experiencing no physical arousal or having no interest in relationships sexual or otherwise. The attempt to limit sexuality to a physical component doesn't match the felt experience of many or only matches it glancingly.

It can be as much the shared expression of one's sexuality that is the issue rather than desire or sexual attraction per se. The aphysicality in that expression is the component that causes the greatest difficulty in dealing with normative interactions both social and personal. The social cost can vary, for many it may be minimal if they present as cis/het, but still not nonexistent as one can still be marked as different or "off" and suffer some consequence for that, while for others who present as outside of cis/het expectations the cost can be the same as any other member of the groups they present as being a part of. The greater difficulty is often hidden for only showing itself in one's private life no matter what group one might identify with or present as. The tension between physical expression of desire and aphysical expression can result in serious conflict that can lead to emotional or physical abuse for not having a "real" sexual identity because it isn't a "fully" physical one.

What makes this so hard to discuss is that even the asexuality websites, such as the one Halloween Jack linked to above, can't avoid speaking of sexuality by use of terms that have or are understood as having an inherent physicality as part of the definition. The site defines asexual as An asexual person is a person who does not experience sexual attraction., which might be defining enough for some, but even looking to their FAQ will show it doesn't really hold in the variety of responses people have and in how they seek to redefine those expressions of sexuality to still fit under the same umbrella even as they stretch the idea of "not having sexual attraction" well beyond any common usage of the notion of sexuality in the culture as they differentiate "aesthetic", "romantic" and "sensual" attraction into different categories which, in common terms, most people do not do. The distinction is about the physical consummation of desire or the interest in the shared expression of such that is more to the point of the differentiation between those who define themselves as asexual or sexual/normative.

This all places asexual identity as caught up in definitions that do not fit their lived experience, so they seek terms that better describe what they understand of themselves. Sapiosexual, for example, might be better understood for some as eroticized shared discursive aphysicality being how one expresses their sexuality, even as that may not define it entirely for the person themselves; sexuality by its nature having both a personal and shared aspect to it.

I do not claim sapiosexual as an identity for myself because I don't much care for how the term doesn't match well with normative understanding and I likewise don't claim asexual or part of any other group identity for not wanting to define myself under a conceptual label that doesn't quite match my experience or to claim membership to any group that holds strong definition. At the same time though sapiosexual, as defined above, isn't too far off from most of my lived experience and I understand why some would wish to claim that as an identity as it can provide a sense of better belonging within a community and allow one to feel less shunned or alone. I'm disappointed by some of the comments in the thread that are almost direct quotes of things people have said about gay, lesbian, and transgender identity throughout the years, I don't believe that's a real thing, You don't get to define what a word means, the vocal majority defines identity and so on. It'd be better if people tried to understand what was being said by those who claim sapiosexual as a label than in trying to force a definition upon them they don't believe.
posted by gusottertrout at 12:40 AM on September 27, 2019 [8 favorites]


Oh, hey, guess what.
posted by Halloween Jack at 1:57 PM on September 27, 2019 [6 favorites]


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