It’s often said that there’s nothing certain in life apart from death and taxes, but whoever came up with the phrase hasn’t considered the two other universal factors of life: sex and politics. These two subjects have always been deeply intertwined at the policy-making level.
Many laws exist to regulate sex and its many related subjects. Anti-miscegenation laws once determined who could have sex with who. Laws against homosexuality and age of consent outright ban certain people from having sex, albeit for different reasons. And if that isn’t enough, there’s the eternal debate about regulating sex work.
On a more personal level, there are people like you who likely just wanted to read up on missionary sex tips but now find themselves curious about what fetishes, sexual positions, and politics have to do with each other. Buckle up, because this is about to get wild.
What Are the Sexual Fetishes Included and How Were They Chosen?
How do you tell if a fetish is a fetish? Though fetishes like BDSM are easy to agree on, largely because of how normalized and common it is, what counts as a fetish tends to differ based on who you ask.
Some people might identify futa (sex with a woman who has a penis) as a fetish while others might count it as a paraphilia, especially if they come from a more conservative background. To be clear, I’m not saying there’s anything wrong or fetishistic about being attracted to transgender women.
Futa, in its original Japanese context, does not refer to transgender women but to intersex women since futa has its own, ahem, mythology of female characters who do not transition or identify as transgender but have a male sexual organ.
Explaining that makes me question my sanity. But let’s continue.
Aella, an Austin-based independent researcher who runs a research institute on sexual fetishes, started the basis of this study on the relationship between fetish and political alignment back in 2017.
In a blog post titled “How Taboo Are These Sexual Fetishes?” she shared what fetishes people believed were seen by society as more taboo or less taboo. Aella also asked her 2,044 respondents how much they enjoyed the fetishes listed.
The majority of respondents were men, accounting for 1,456 of all survey answers, while women made up 527 of the entire sample. A word of caution: neither of these studies are representative of the views of transgender men or women as, Aella says, “there was low trans data.” That said, the numbers kind of make sense considering that transgender people make up a relatively small size of the population (though the exact numbers aren’t clear because of the risks that come with coming out).
Additionally, both men and women have been known to not be entirely reliable when it comes to reporting their sexual activities and interests due to differences in how they perceive their experiences and societally ingrained expectations of sexual behavior. All of these self-report surveys, and similar studies on sex and fetish, are reliant on how aware respondents are of their own objectivity.
Unsurprisingly, the fetishes rated most taboo are necrophilia, pedophilia, and bestiality. These are followed by vore (a fetish involving eating people or being eaten alive), scat (or coprophilia, a fetish about poop), and creepy crawlies (a variant of bestiality, but with insects).
Note that the more “extreme fetishes” on the graph are colored in blue, indicating that the majority of its enjoyers are male. Most of the female respondents were into less taboo fetishes like bondage, male domination, female submission, and rape-play.
As awful as the latter one might sound to you, rape-play with males in the aggressor role still fits the conventional gender dynamics, making it far less taboo than the other fetishes on this list. Interestingly, the most taboo female-leaning fetish is piercing and cutting, a fetish centered around a penetrative act. Talk about Freudian connotations.
As we go towards the left side of the graph, fetishes become less taboo and more popular. Light bondage is still mostly enjoyed by women, but only slightly more than men. Meanwhile, most guys are into uniforms, anal sex, and female use of sex toys — a break from the popular belief that heterosexual men hate them.
Lastly, in the most widely enjoyed and least taboo spot on the list, are alternative positions that are not missionary sex. The correlation found between how interested one sex was in a fetish and how taboo it was seen as were statistically significant at p < 0.01.
Hence, the data establish that missionary sex is, more or less, a middle point or neutral ground in all of this weirdness.
Missionary Sex Is Centrist but Sex Positions Besides Missionary Are Libertarian Left
Now onto the fun part. On October 26, 2021, Aella published another blog detailing the results of a survey that also asked people what kinks they’re into. As for why she’d do the same survey again, it might have been motivated by a need for a larger sample size.
“I asked a bunch of people what kinks they were into,” She wrote in her post, “And as an almost afterthought asked people what quadrant of the political compass they were on.
Similar to the previous survey in 2017, though, it seems this one doesn’t include data from trans people. It would have been interesting to see how the charts would look if, say, authoritarian right female-to-male transitioners were asked about their fetishes, but given the relationship that far-right ideological groups have with trans people, it’s understandable that Aella may not have had enough data for it again.
The Sexual Fetishes and Political Orientation of Men
In the authoritarian right quadrant, we have bestiality, scat, pedophilia, piercing and cutting, creepy crawlies, and sounding rated as the most taboo of the fetishes as based on the 2017 survey. But there are also a few fetishes that line up with issues that authoritarian right-leaning people have strong positions about, pun intended.
For one, the 24/7 power dynamics fetish, a submission and domination kink that involves constant play behavior, calls to mind tradwives, a growing alt-right trend that seeks to return women to an idealized homemaker role.
Then, there’s raceplay, another submission and domination fetish that involves acting out racial imbalances. It’s not your typical “cuckolded by a black stud” fetish, but a controversial form of BDSM that has people of color “role-playing as slaves, or people of Jewish heritage role-playing as prisoners,” as Metro explains.
Gregory Gorelik writes in his essay, “How Sexual Dominance Influences Politics,” that the connection between sexual domination and politics is much more direct in fascism, the quintessential authoritarian right governance structure, because it relies on dominance over other political tactics compared to its peers.
Plus, there are the added sexual undertones of political dominance. Huh. Maybe that’s why we also see ageplay, pedophilia, and bestiality in this quadrant since they all involve a degree of power imbalance between the people involved. Oh, and uniforms.
You have fairly similar stuff in the libertarian right quadrant, but pay attention to where futa is placed. It’s the closest in its quadrant to the libertarian left quadrant. If we take a look at that quadrant, we see a lot of fetishes that put men in more conventionally female (a.k.a submissive and receiving) roles. Aside from pegging, we have males submitting and females dominating along with the male use of sex toys.
Amusingly, the libertarian left quadrant includes vore, the eating people alive fetish. If you’re familiar with the “eat the rich” slogan of the libertarian left, you may have had a chuckle about this when you noticed. Maybe in the bedroom it’s “eat the rich but only if they give informed and enthusiastic consent”? Anyway, at the furthest left of the quadrant is “group sex.” Cue the communism jokes.
Going into the authoritarian left, we have a slightly less blursed list of fetishes that return to the traditional male giving/taking/dominating and female receiving/submitting roles. Positions that aren’t missionary sex are generally most enjoyed by this quadrant, too.
The Sexual Fetishes and Political Orientation of Women
The women’s version of the graph has a more or less similar allocation of fetishes, but they’re noticeably clustered closer to each other as a whole compared to the male graph. This mirrors the 2017 study where the fetishes mostly enjoyed by women leaned towards the less taboo side of the scale.
Having said that, we still have some pretty taboo fetishes on the authoritarian right quadrant of the women’s graph. Just like the men’s, we have pedophilia, bestiality, raceplay, uniforms, age play, and 24/7 power dynamics. However, the male dominating fetish shows up here instead of in the authoritarian left, as it does in the previous chart.
Exhibitionism also makes an appearance, as if it were meant to compliment the authoritarian right male proclivity for voyeurism. But age play, pet play, and rape-play move closer to the left here, suggesting that left-leaning women prefer BDSM-related activities.
Futa and female domination sit at the far left side of the political spectrum for women. Compared to the men surveyed, the female respondents find group sex a more centrist activity along with positions other than missionary sex.
Unlike men, women see vore as a more authoritarian fetish. This one is admittedly a reach, but there’s something to be said of the gender themes of the graphs so far. From what we’ve seen, traditional and “less taboo” fetishes put women in the receiving end of the sexual exchange and men tend to rate women in dominating and taking roles as a more leftist fetish.
When women are depicted as monsters in horror, they’re often put in consumptive roles where the act of unapologetic eating, with all it implies about renunciation of expectations of femininity and making oneself small, is what’s horrifying to male audiences and enthralling to female audiences.
There Have Been Studies About Fetishes and the Political Compass Before
It’s not the first time someone has tried to delve into the relationship between sexual fetishes and political beliefs.
Joe Twyman, head of political and social research at YouGov, conducted a series of surveys in 2014 to find out if you could guess what political factions people in the UK would support based on their kinks. The short answer is: no. At least, not reliably.
The findings just weren’t statistically significant enough and that’s after Twyman had already controlled for age, gender, marital status, and sexual orientation.
Like Aella’s findings, though, there are some trends here and there. For one, politically conservative people had less specific kinks than their liberal counterparts. To be fair, “sex with a TV/movie star” is pretty tame compared to bondage.
This brings us to the gaps in Aella’s findings and why, just because someone does or doesn’t enjoy missionary sex, doesn’t mean they definitively belong to a certain ideological group.
Why Liking Missionary Sex Does Not Necessarily Make Someone a Centrist
If you remember your statistics classes, you’ve likely already noticed a few problems with Aella’s research. For one, there are a lot of unanswered questions about the people answering her surveys. How old are they? What are their sexual orientations? What is their level of education?
Political ideology is often divided based on age because, typically, average income rises with age so older respondents may find that it’s in their best interest to support economic right-leaning policies as they age.
Regarding sexual orientation, well, someone who isn’t heterosexual may be more inclined to have sexual fantasies and relations with non-cisgender people. Other than this, the differences in placement for the futa fetish might also be connected to the supposed fluidness of female sexuality.
Personality can also factor into this. Both leftist beliefs and sexual flexibility are related to the Big Five Trait of openness.
TLDR: Many questions. Not enough literature. But it makes for an interesting jump-off point for anyone interested in investigating the topic further.
To be clear and fair, though, Aella makes no claims on her data’s ability to predict or infer any cause and effect between fetish and political ideology. It’s just a correlation — a bit of fun for anybody who’s geeky enough for that. So don’t fret about having to say you’re only into missionary sex to hide your political ideals.