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“I learned a lot about the nature of sexual desire in modern America, but one of the more intriguing things I uncovered was the political divide in our fantasy worlds,” says Justin Lehmiller, who surveyed more than 4,000 Americans — in all 50 states — about their sexual fantasies.
It’s no secret that in the United States, Democrats and Republicans — particularly in today’s climate of extreme animosity along party lines — don’t agree about much. But Lehmiller wasn’t looking at policy disagreements. He wanted raw data on what people who fall into the two sides of America’s political spectrum ‘get off’ to.
Lehmiller surveyed participants in 2014 and 2015 (before the Trump presidency) by presenting them with a list of hundreds of people, places and things; they were then asked how frequently they had sexual fantasies about each. The full results can be found in Lehmiller’s new book, Tell Me What You Want: The Science of Sexual Desire and How It Can Help You Improve Your Sex Life.
So how do Democrats and Republicans differ when it comes to sexual fantasies?
Well, Republicans are more likely to have sexual fantasies about activities involving sex outside of marriage — orgies, partner swapping, cheating situations and “cuckolding,” the term for watching your partner have sex with someone else. Lehmiller connects these fantasies to the fact that these nonmonogamous and voyeuristic activities are “huge no-nos in a political party that continues to make ‘traditional marriage’ one of the cornerstones of its official platform and regularly funnels federal funds toward abstinence-only sex education.”
Basically, those things are “taboo” for Republicans.
On the other hand, Democrats are more likely to have sexual fantasies about BDSM, including spanking, bondage and dom-sub play. As it turns out, Democrats are much more masochistic in their sexual fantasies than Republicans. Lehmiller explains that as well: “It’s not a stretch, then, to suggest that playing with power differentials — especially in BDSM settings, where women and men might not appear to be on equal footing and where the lines of sexual consent might not always be explicit — is taboo in many Democratic circles.
Maybe you don’t find it all that surprising that the sexual fantasies of Democrats and Republicans are different. But, as Lehmiller quite literally found, whatever your political leanings, Americans are much more similar to each other than they are different. For starters, both Dems and GOP supporters fantasize with the same frequency, which is reportedly several times per week.
“There’s far more that unites us than divides us when it comes to sexual desire,” Lehmiller says. “If only Congress could be as bipartisan as we are in our sexual fantasies.”