I’m a queer woman who believes in queerness both as a radical politics and as a sexuality. On the one hand, I was excited to watch the rise of Bernie Sanders, and the way the popularity of his campaign shifted public debate around capitalist resistance. But on the other hand, it’s made finding people to have sex with sort of tricky. I often find now that potential mates, whether in person or online, will front views significantly more radical than their actual beliefs. And of course, in the sack, you eventually figure out what those true beliefs are, since you can’t just yell radical epithets at each other (at least not for very long). One woman, for example, was all about smashing the corporate-media state—but couldn’t stand the “unprofessionalism” of independently produced documentary films or print media. And a dude I went out with, who’d convincingly expressed anticapitalist sentiments online, went on at length in person about how the biggest problem with his corporate job is that it doesn’t pay him enough money. So the question is: How am I supposed to navigate the divide between pop anticapitalism and actual radical politics in a way that still gets me laid?
—Perplexed Queer Radical
Dear Perplexed Queer Radical,
It’s too bad we can’t just yell radical epithets at one another in the sack. As feminist writer Susie “Sexpert” Bright once suggested, there’s an eroticism to “Workers of the World, Unite!”
I am delighted that resistance to capitalism has acquired so much cachet that you are besieged by posers. This may be bad for your sex life, but it’s good for the world.
Do consider that, over time, lovers may influence each other’s politics. I’m married to another leftist, who has convinced me, a brainwashed child of the Cold War, that the Soviet Union was a force for good in the world (they did defeat the Nazis, after all). He’s also adopted some of my square electoralism.
Perhaps you’re being too hard on these prospects; after all, some of these differences sound like starting points for conversation rather than endings. As a longtime media professional, I also get annoyed by all the typos in lefty publications like Z Magazine; does that mean you and I don’t stand a chance (please say it isn’t so)?
But it’s also true that in any encounter between two people, a disparity of political sophistication is likely. Some people (usually but not always men) enjoy the role of telling an ingenue how the world works. But not you—political cluelessness is, for you, a literal turnoff. You don’t want to listen to lot of bourgeois claptrap while rolling around in bed, even in a casual hookup. I think, therefore, that you should look to get laid through socialist intellectual meetings rather than through OkCupid or Tinder. Perhaps you could join a Jacobin reading group? Better yet, if you can swing the airfare sometime, the journal Historical Materialism holds an annual conference (usually in London) that is also a massive and perverse sex party. You may think I’m joking, but I swear I am not.