They say politics make strange bedfellows, but apparently politics also play a role in what and who we fantasize about in bed.
Justin Lehmiller, a research fellow at the Kinsey Institute, wrote a piece for Politico citing data from “the largest and most comprehensive survey of sexual fantasies ever conducted in the United States” that shows that Republicans and Democrats are turned on by different fantasies.
While both parties reported they fantasize at the same rate — several times a week — the themes of those fantasies were divided along party lines. Republicans tended to prefer fantasizing about sex outside of marriage: “things like infidelity, orgies and partner swapping, from 70s-style ‘key parties’ to modern-day forms of swinging,” Lehmiller wrote. Republicans also reported more voyeuristic fantasies like going to a strip club or watching one’s partner have sex with another person.
Democrats, on the other hand, were more likely to favor fantasies that included domination and power dynamics, including BDSM. According to Lehmiller, “The largest Democrat-Republican divide on the BDSM spectrum was in masochism, which involves deriving pleasure from the experience of pain.”
To explain why the political parties differ so vastly in their sexual tastes, Lehmiller looked to each party’s values. He wrote that we fantasize about forbidden fruit, that which we cannot have. So Democrats value equality, and domination and submission seem antithetical to those values, making them forbidden and therefore ripe grounds for fantasy. Since Republicans value sex within the bonds of marriage and single partner sex, the idea of multiple partners and infidelity turns them on.
“Nothing makes us want to try something like being told you can’t do it. This is why taboos, no matter what they are, often become turn-ons,” Lehmiller wrote.
The survey also asked participants to name politicians they had fantasized about, and the results revealed that we are sometimes bipartisan in our fantasies. Of the one in ten who admitted to fantasizing about a politician, nearly one in three Democrats said they had fantasized about a Republican, while only 17 percent of Republicans said they fantasized about a Democrat.
The most frequently mentioned politician fantasy was Sarah Palin. Other popular choices included John F. Kennedy, Bill Clinton and Nikki Haley for Republicans, and Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton topped Democrats’ list after Sarah Palin. (Lehmiller noted this data was collected from 2014-2015, before Donald Trump rose to political prominence.)
But while we are a nation divided by politics and sexual fantasies, Lehmiller pointed out that we are more similar than we are different. “There’s far more that unites us than divides us when it comes to sexual desire,” he wrote. “If only Congress could be as bipartisan as we are in our sexual fantasies.”