Ben Rosett

Sexuality in Conversation

Is Being "Sapiosexual" Just a Cover for Classism?

Maybe you’ve seen it while swiping your favorite dating app, or you even have it in your profile: Sapiosexual. The term has become more popular in recent years and connotes a person of *discerning* tastes who values “good conversation” and “intelligence” over such superficial things such as looks or career. But here’s the thing: Calling yourself a sapiosexual outs you as unnecessarily pretentious and co-opts actual sexual orientations by taking on fake orientation terminology.

But, you say, you really do prefer smart people. But how are we measuring intelligence here? Someone who’s knowledgeable in the same things you are? Someone who has a degree (or several) from prestigious universities? That person you’re courting may not have read Infinite Jest (which isn’t that good, by the way), or know the ins and outs of the biggest battles in WWII, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be attracted to them. And just taking a gander at some of the world’s biggest and brightest hints that a post-secondary degree isn’t all it’s cracked up to be (the man who invented the iPhone didn’t even finish one year of college, let alone four).

Claiming to be interested in brains over beauty doesn’t make you more noble, either—it makes you a gatekeeper. Most people would list things other than looks higher on their datability scale. Personal interests, humor, kindness or sportsmanship almost always outweigh “beauty” when people are being honest, so your insistence that you’ll only date smart people makes you look like a judgmental jerk.

Never mind the fact that inventing a fake sexual orientation demeans those orientations that already exist. Queer people continue to struggle with gaining society’s acceptance that their sexuality is real and valid and not a choice. Inventing a term to explain your preference invalidates queer identities. If you can make up a term, why should an asexual person be taken seriously?

Claiming to be interested in brains over beauty doesn’t make you more noble, either—it makes you a gatekeeper.

Moreover, inventing a term to try and co-opt very real sexual preferences makes it sound like you are in some way oppressed—you aren’t. No one is bashing you, turning you away from giving blood or adopting, or banning your right to marry, so leave the fake sexual orientation at home, okay?

At the end of the day, calling yourself a sapiosexual says more about who you are than the people you think you’re attracted to. Your belief that your intelligence is of utmost importance and your ego must be stroked by romances that fit your understanding of the world closes you off to literally millions of people who have different experiences. All because their intelligence doesn’t meet your “level.”

So sure, you may be really good at your job, or read 200 books a year. But instead of making up a bullshit “sexual orientation,” you could maybe use your brains to actually say what interests you in a potential partner by outlining the things you are interested in.

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