So. Much has been made over the last couple weeks on certain blogs about the pity-the-Trump-voter-who-can’t-get-a-blowjob articles that have been cropping up. I even intended, though never succeed) to write a post about the wonderful humanitarian work done by OK Cupid when they publicly posted a bit about users tendencies in 2017.
For those not in the know, OK Cupid gives users random questions, then matches them based on their answers to those questions. Some are created by OK Cupid and these cover most of the obvious (read: expected) questions. Some are created by users and these can be anything at all, frequently showing either insight or dadaist tendencies or even trolling. But OK Cupid also creates some questions themselves that are meant to be more topical and more creative. They report on users’ answers every year, possibly more often, but this year two of their Trump-inspired questions were featured prominently. The first was whether a user would be turned on by someone asking them to participate in pee play/golden showers, would not be turned on but could be convinced to participate in the right moment or with the right person, or could not be convinced to participate. The second was simply phrased, “Trump?” with 4 possible answers: Hell yes, Yes, No, and Hell No.
Those wanting to date a Trump supporter (“Hell Yes” at 4%) + those otherwise willing (“Yes” at 7%) totaled 11%.
Those excited by golden showers + those who could be convinced to participate totaled “almost 1/4” according to the OK Cupid blog post (Other sources said the exact number was 23%).
Much laughter was had by many at these statistics. But I have no admonitions for guys or anyone else based on them. While PZ has written about how taking pee back into your body for health reasons is stupid and wrong (it’s excreted from your body for a reason, people), there’s nothing so toxic about urine that squirting a pint on your skin or even in your mouth is going to do any significant harm. Doing it for health? Don’t, because it has no positive effect on your health and may have some negative effects if taken internally, especially if done with large amounts or frequently over a long period of term. Doing it for sex play? Sure. You do you. Or me. Or whomever, so long as they’re consenting and you aren’t taking enough inside you to cause problems. Even then, it’s your body I guess. And the same goes for Trump voters as for pee: If you aren’t noticing negative effects and it turns you on and everyone involved is consenting, go ahead and date a Trump voter.
The real problem in the articles about the relative undesirability of Trump voters isn’t that they might somehow accidentally convince a few thousand people that urine is an important part of a balanced breakfast. The real part is that too many are overtly sympathizing with the same type of behavior that defines rape: the deliberate violation of consent.
From a CNN article on the trials of being a Trump voter looking for a date in NYC, we get this anecdote:
Still jubilant about Trump’s election, [Mike] Lagana’s politics are seeping into the conversations he has with dates. The 24-year-old meets women in many ways: IRL (in real-life), on Facebook and Tinder. He recently matched with a woman on the latter, the conversation progressed to Instagram, where they shared a friend in common. It was a good start. His profile features pictures of him at work, with his dogs and one from January that reads: “President Trump we did it!” After around 10 messages back and forth, his match declared that she wasn’t a Trump supporter, following with “the fact that his (Trump’s) flat out racism and sexism isn’t a deal breaker for you turns me off, no offense.”
“My politics don’t define me,” he says, with one of the great accents of a New Yorker with Italian heritage. There wasn’t much room for debate – “please stop talking to me,” she concluded.
“I think it’s nonsense” Lagana told me. “Just because I voted for someone does not mean I’m this stuff. Oh, he’s racist, or he’s a Nazi or whatever the case may be. I’m not any of that. I take offense to it. You know nothing about me.”
I suggest he might experience more of those reactions over the next three years dating in NYC. “Eight” he counters, and laughs. Frequently coming across the “swipe left if you voted for Trump” bio, Mike ignores the demand. “I still swipe right. I would like them to know who I am first before I openly tell them I voted for this person. They know nothing about me. I’m a very reasonable guy. I’m a nice person, open-minded.”
Though swiping right (to initiate communication with a potential match) when clearly told that a person does not want that communication is not rape, it is the rejection of another person’s autonomy. What is most important is not the mere existence of a man who does not respect a woman’s autonomy: we’ve always known those men are everywhere. What is most important here is the choice of the author of the CNN piece (one Orlaith Farrell) to ignore how despicable and ugly it is to persist in contacting someone who didn’t want to be contacted. This is the core of harassment-by-communication*1, and refusing to respect “No” more generally is the core of all harassment and of sexual assaults, including rapes.
I don’t think it’s possible for every Trump supporter to be as rape-y as Mike Lagana. There were too many Trump supporters for that to be true; this wasn’t the election of the 6th grade class president at your local middle school. Nonetheless, it’s really true that if you voted for Trump, then by definition Trump’s bragging about committing sexual assault with impunity, his racism, his flagrant ignorance were no deal breakers for you. Amazingly, the article appears to take Lagana’s counter-argument seriously, and leaves entirely unaddressed his assertions that he’s “reasonable” when he doesn’t appear to be able to reason out the difference between “sexism wasn’t a deal breaker for you in deciding to vote for Trump” and “you are exactly like Trump”, that he’s “nice” when he proudly embraces the thinking at the core of harassment, and that he’s “open-minded” when he’s clearly not willing to listen to what the women on dating apps are telling him.
Maybe Orlaith Farrell isn’t willing to say this, but I am: when someone says that they don’t want to date you, for any reason at all, then even if you don’t like the reason, even if the reason is a completely terrible reason, you don’t get to date person. Lying or concealing something that someone said is an obvious deal-breaker is fine … if you then accept the boundary the person constructed. You don’t have to tell someone you’re a Trump voter (or a trans* person or a coffee drinker or a Def Leppard fan) and wait for the inevitable rejection. You can just choose to walk away – or swipe left – instead. What you don’t get to do is accept an offer that wasn’t made, and then lie or conceal information until after you’ve had your chance to violate someone’s boundaries long enough to do whatever you want to do.
That’s wrong. That’s creepy. Guys, and everyone else, don’t do that.
*1: There is such a thing as harassment by repeated physical contact as well.