Can political ideology sink its roots so deeply that it influences the sexual behavior, desire and even the fantasies of its adherents? At a time when even the most inconsequential things, such as musical or aesthetic tastes, are judged through the prism of politics, it wouldn’t be surprising. For a large part of the population, political ideology is merely a costume that they inherited from their parents and that they continue to wear without really knowing why. Hardly anyone reads the political proposals of the party they are going to vote for. On television, people shamelessly admit that they will vote for X because it is the party they have voted for all their lives and they won’t change now. So it must not be ruled out that this ‘hypocrisy’ or ‘unconsciousness’ is only social and does not influence the private sphere of sexuality.
Most people would bet that those on the left are more uninhibited between the sheets, either because the harmful Catholic morality around sex affected them less or because they were raised by parents who did not believe in the sinfulness of the flesh.
In 2015, the Malaga psychologist and sexologist Francisco Cabello, together with his colleagues Marina Cabello and Francisco Javier del Río, developed a questionnaire called Desea to measure sexual desire. They conducted a study for the Andalusian Institute of Sexology and Psychology, surveying 22,000 Spanish-speaking women from 71 countries on five continents. In 2020, newspaper headlines announced: “Left-wing women want more sex than center or right-wing women,” highlighting the most sensationalist conclusion of the sample. But the study revealed other things, such as that bisexual and homosexual women had more desire than heterosexual women, that desire increases with a higher level of education, that housewives struggle to feel turned on and that, if analyzed by nationality, Spanish women had the most desire.
Francisco Cabello explained to La Vanguardia that polyamorous women “are the ones with the highest levels of desire. They are followed by those who have a partner, but do not live with them. From the erotic point of view, that would be the best relationship model,” he pointed out.
Of course, there are studies for all tastes. Years ago, Binghamton University and the Match.com dating platform conducted a survey in the United States among 5,000 singles of both sexes. It revealed that liberals had sex more often, while conservatives had fewer but higher-quality encounters. 53% of Republicans acknowledged having an orgasm every time they made love, while only 40% of Democrats did.
Socialist countries have always boasted of greater sexual freedom. Why Women Have Better Sex Under Socialism, the controversial book by Kristen Ghodsee published in 2019, emphasizes social and employment improvements for women in the former USSR and countries like the GDR, such as the network of daycare centers, state-funded free kitchens and aid for single mothers. Those conditions allowed them to maintain the right to motherhood, without it implying the end of her education, work or family life. Then and always, the sexual revolution coincided with women’s economic independence.
However, communist sexuality also had its shadows. It excluded those who did not conform to its discourse. In 1979, the endocrinologist Mikhail Stern wrote Sex Life in the Soviet Union, a compendium of his experiences as a doctor in the USSR. On the opposite side of sexual liberation, free love and nudist demonstrations was a population that “has no room for rebellion other than its sexual area,” he wrote. Without privacy in homes, which were shared by several families, and under the shadow of the police, who broke into homes at all hours of the day and night, spaces for privacy were scarce. Stern outlines a society where exhibitionists abounded, where prostitution and sex were bargaining chips to obtain favors like a job and where doctors recommended having intercourse only once a day and for no more than a minute. Homosexuality was considered a crime, as portrayed in Michal Witkowski’s book Lovetown, about the marginal life of two transvestites in a socialist country in the 1970s and 1980s.
“In terms of sexuality, the left and the right have always been extremely reactionary,” says María Pérez Conchillo, a doctor in psychology and sexology, founder of the Espill Institute in Valencia and deputy director of the UNED Sexual Health program. “Unfortunately, all societies have always regulated sexual conduct, because it is related to the birth rate and the issue of heirs, from the moment surplus value appears.” The expert does not believe that there is a right-wing sex and a left-wing sex, because intimate behaviors are not always in line with our ideology: “The British doctor and sexologist Havelock Ellis said it in his book Studies in the Psychology of Sex: ‘Not everyone is like you, nor like your loved ones, friends or neighbors.’ For Pérez Conchillo, puritanism has to do with rigidity of thought. “That rigidity is found in all political ideologies, with very strict rules that must be followed, without openness to difference or variability, and, worst of all, rigidity with oneself, not allowing yourself to think, speak or act in a certain way because it does not go according to my line of thought,” she points out.
“The root of Puritanism is in purity. In Christian morality, for example, the hymen is considered the border that separates purity from impurity in the single woman, while, in the case of the married woman, the most important thing is honor,” says Juan Soto Ivars, writer and columnist. “But the left also has its own concept of purity, which changes over time,” he says. The author cites Soviet literature that ridiculed the figure of Don Juan as an example of the bourgeois, corrupt individualist, who has succumbed to the pleasures of the body, “in the same way that they repudiated pornography, libertines and homosexuals, incapable of producing new soldiers for the cause.” For Soto Ivars, “the purity of the left has been established at a dizzying speed, with a new idea of consent that includes looks, obscene thoughts and cancellation, which is a purge for all those who deviate from correctness. Sins against purity no longer affect only individuals, but the entire community, which is why collective policies and very specific intimacy regulations are adopted,” the writer explains.
According to Soto Ivars, those who are censored often become censors as soon as they acquire a bit of power. “This is the case of the queer movement, which, at first, might seem like absolute debauchery, but has taken the form of a religion, in which any dissent or questioning (for example, the issue of trans athletes) is seen as heresy. It reminds me of the case of John Calvin, a heretic who, in the 16th century, fled from the Inquisition, went to Geneva, became a Protestant, established a theocratic and despotic government and ended up burning Miguel Servetus at the stake.”
Puritanism doesn’t always burn us so quickly. Sometimes it does so over low heat or in the form of traumas. “We all remember the damage that conservative and Christian morality did to the sexual life of many people,” says Pérez Conchillo, “but the current idea of sexuality can also affect it. I see a lot of girls having sex without desire, just to avoid being labeled as uptight or because it’s the right thing to do. Having sex is not like having a beer. Our sexual behavior has consequences. It brings up emotions, and it causes changes, both for ourselves and for others.”
Social networks are the modern gallows where the heretic is whipped, the essence of the new Puritanism. We work for them for free and, in return, they censure and stone us. Soto Ivars recalls a particularly surreal episode: “We all remember the case of the singer Rocío Saiz, who was covered with an LGTBI flag for showing her breasts at a concert in Murcia. Well, in subsequent performances her fans stripped naked at her concerts and showed parts of their bodies to support her and as a protest against censorship. But when they uploaded the photos to social networks, they pixelated the breasts or genitals so as not to run the risk of their accounts being cancelled.”
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