Monday, March 16, 2009

The Politics of Attraction

Bouncing off a hysterically funny post by Aunt B about the penis of one of Tennessee's douchiest state legislators, I've been thinking about how political convictions serve as a filter for who and what we find attractive. The legislator in question, Stacey Campfield, definitely fails to pass Aunt B's filter - and mine, too, now that I've seen his smarmy blog photo. The dude is not ugly - he's got the smooth, glossy looks of a former fraternity president - but geez, does he look self-satisfied. Smug is so not sexy. Especially coming from a sexist Republican.

Aunt B went on a rant inspired by Campfield's telling another legislator that if he had sex with her, he wouldn't want to pay for her children. The bottom line is that Aunt B doesn't want to think about this tool's tool:
So, here we are, forced to think about Campfield having sex. And I’m going to be honest, my first thought was that no conservative Christian woman are going to have sex with Campfield because they don’t have sex with men they aren’t married to and no libertarians are going to have sex with Campfield without him using a condom and them being on some form of birth control and no liberal woman who knows him is going to be able to have sex with him since his antics cause arid tightening in Democrats, so Campfield talking about potential kids he might or might not have is a little beside the point.

(Read the rest here.)
I just love that phrase "arid tightening."

I suppose political anti-sexiness feels different for guys - neither arid nor tight - but a similar phenomenon definitely exists for men, too. One day after last fall's election, possibly courting trouble, I asked my husband if he thought Sarah Palin was sexy. He said, well, she was pretty enough on the surface, but as soon as she opened her mouth? Both her politics and her (lack of) intelligence totally undid her looks. (My husband is clever, as you can see, but he was also perfectly sincere.)

Obviously not everyone feels that way. Lots of guys were ready to vote for Palin based solely on her sex appeal. Most of them appeared to be fellas in their 60s and 70s who'd never have a prayer with her - or at least, those were the ones willing to admit it on the Daily Show.

So here's my true confession: I once dated a guy who wasn't just a Republican, he was a minor player in California's College Republicans. Hey, I was a college freshman when I met him - not even old enough to vote - and he was a senior, so I figured he knew what he was doing. This was back in the early 1980s when moderate Republicans still existed. He was one of that dying breed, His politics tilted leftward of many present-day Democrats, even if he was also kind of an asshole. The assholery was mostly independent of his politics. In my defense I can only say that he was a pretty good kisser.

Maybe that experience also cured me of dating Republicans (and I use the term "dating" very euphemistically, since my friends and I didn't really date). As far as I know, I never got involved with another Republican again.

Oh, I know there are lots of long-term relationships - apparently happy ones - that cross party lines. During my adventures in canvassing last fall, I marveled at those households where husband and wife planned to cancel out each others' votes. In one case, they'd been doing it for 50 years. This couple was so warm and welcoming, they would have fed me cookies and iced tea if I'd been allowed to accept goodies. They were equally warm toward each other. Their political convictions seemed like a thing completely apart from their marriage.

But here's the thing. For me, my politics are my values. My values are my politics. There's no firewall between them. I'm not talking about rigid political correctness, just a deep basic commitment to the equal worth of all humans and the notion that "justice is what love looks like in public" (to quote Cornel West yet again). I can't imagine dating, much less building a life, with someone who didn't share those principles and all their ramifications. Anything else strikes me as, well, aridly tight.

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