WILL: Do you feel your sexual desires align with your politics/ethics?
YES – 60%
NO – 40%
FOX: Yes-ish — maybe 75 to 80% at this point? — but only because I’ve worked very hard for years to resolve that dissonance both by changing my desires (therapy) AND by changing my politics (I used to be sex-pozzie as hell and that kind of facile analysis actually doesn’t jive with an honest acknowledgment that I’m sometimes aroused by things that genuinely disgust me.) And also because, at this point, I’ve largely managed to No True Scotsman my most problematic fantasies out of the “desire” category and into the “intrusive thoughts” category; so I just tell myself it’s a coping mechanism. Not sure how true that is. But I still get off to fucked-up shit sometimes. And yeah, tbh, it’s mostly heteronorm shit taken to its most fetishy extreme.
WILL: One of the interesting things from my non-anon version of this poll is that all the cishet men felt dissonance. Many cis women felt dissonance. Every single trans woman said they felt zero dissonance. Interestingly the non-anon poll is the reverse of this with almost 2:1 reporting strong dissonance.
N1X: that’s basically what I’d expect from the non-anon poll. the less privilege, the less potential to be oppressive?
WILL: The reversal in percentages is weird tho, I expected the opposite, that few would admit to not having ethical desires.
FOX: It’s virtue signaling. Most politically-minded people will pay lipservice to having a critical analysis of their sex, even if that analysis just boils down (as it often does) to “I felt kinda weird about this but then I realized that feminism means CHOICE.”
But, privately, I think most people prefer to avoid considering their own desires politically and basically just tell themselves that everything’s probably fine. Because the alternative is too scary. The alternative is they might have to stop having the sex they like. Or, even scarier, that they might find they stop LIKING the sex they like — and then what?!
I think one of the strongest indications that someone has actually critically analyzed their own pattern of desire is they have a period, sometimes multiple periods, of intentional celibacy in their history — regardless of whether their desire pattern ultimately changed afterward or not. It often does, but not always. What’s relevant is that the person actually put their money where their junk is and TOOK TIME to figure their shit out, rather than just telling themself they’re woke while still in the thick of it.
Your gender breakdown doesn’t really surprise me because cishetero men are the least likely population, for a number of obvious reasons, to have critically analyzed their own sexual politics. Whereas many queer and trans people are forced into this kind of reflexive self-analysis from a young age. “Do I really want what I think I want? If I do, what does that mean about me?” is basically the outline of every teenage coming out narrative ever.
So it’s not that disalignment between desire and values is necessarily more inherent to heteros than queers. It’s just that most queer folks have often had lots time to think about (and resolve) their cognitive dissonances around it — whereas cishets are more often like, “Oh shit. Never REALLY thought about that before. Quick, someone throw me a theory so I don’t have to quit having sex! Umm, feminism means choice?”
WILL: What I’ve found anecdotally is cishets who have thought about it and given up on resolving dissonance.
FOX: I mean, I’ve given up on resolving dissonance, too — like, many times since I was 9. I keep coming back to it because my circumstances (internal & external) demand it of me. It’s not a linear process. *shrug*
FOX: I’ve actually been meaning to write something about this for a while — about how giving up “problematic” orgasms for me personally has been a bit like quitting smoking (or sugar.) Never achieved but asymptotic? I dunno. Also, like, it’s not a priority for everybody. Most smokers kinda want to quit, but some people just smoke.
FOX: I am smoking a cigarette right now, btw. And I’m probably gonna go masturbate to something horrible.
N1X: what i’m curious about is whether one can be a radical but also have desires that are technically oppressive
FOX: Yes. Because purity politics around who counts as “a radical” are bullshit. But it’s not radical behavior to be in denial about whether your desires are actually rooted in and/or perpetuating oppression. Like, for example, calling your desires “technically” oppressive instead of just, y’know, oppressive. Just bite the damn bullet.
WILL: Denial, no. But you can still have lower base desires that you suppress / don’t identify with.
FOX: That is a totally legit strategy. I mean, that’s my strategy for managing a lot of the white supremacy I’ve been inculcated with.
N1X: like could one be like “well, my desires are probably never going to change. may as well do my best to not be an oppressive rapist.” meaning: well, there’s flat-out ignoring consent, and then there’s the question of whether there can ever be consent in a hetero relationship.
FOX: Yup. And you’ve gotta decide where your own threshold is for continuously asking yourself that question.
N1X: i mean it’s not relevant to me, a non-cis non-het. But I think it’s an interesting question
FOX: P.S. Two cigarettes.
N1X: cigarettes are only harmful to you tho so it’s fine (unless secondhand smoke is a factor)
FOX: Internalized oppression is still oppression. 🙂 And now all my smokes are gone and I’ve got a date with some cartoon rape porn. Goodnight.