Preliminaries in Love

A few months ago I came across an article I found intriguing. It was based around a survey of how stress affects sex life – but that wasn’t the interesting bit for me. What grabbed my attention were the tables contained within. I’m looking at the stage before we even get to love; how we practice rejection of those who don’t fit our criteria.

For once, it wasn’t the sight of the word transgender which caught my attention. Although, because they’re at the bottom of the list of desirable suitors it did make me wonder how much of the dogmatic trans-women are women mantra is down to a desperate attempt to open up the dating pool.

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Working my way up the list, I’m ignoring the ‘person of same gender’ response because I’ve no way of knowing how many self-identified lesbians with a penis answered that one. I’m also slightly mistrustful of those numbers for reasons discussed in the additional observations at the end of this post.

Spiritual or religious beliefs and political stance can be lumped in together to a degree. Both are concerned with opinions and perspectives. I’m alarmed that women are a whopping 13% and 12% less likely than blokes to want to pair up with someone who holds a differing opinion. That’s pretty fucking shocking and slightly disturbing. I mean, less than half of all women surveyed would not consider sleeping with someone from a different religion? One has to wonder which religion they were and which was the one which sprang to mind when asked the question. Is it really so important to think the same thoughts as one’s partner? Is believing the same bullshit necessary for healthy compatibility?

Out of all questions, the survey found that having a partner from a different country is the issue people are least concerned about. Three quarters of men are open to the idea although women are still not so sure and only slightly over half of them would be fine to sleep with a non-native. If we look at the stats for those who would date someone with a different race or ethnicity it drops slightly. I’m assuming what we mean is, we’d rather take someone from another country if we have a similar ethnic background, most possibly could indicate anxiety over language issues. Men are far more keen than women and I wonder if that’s down to those who like the idea of a Thai bride. Women are more likely to be impacted socially because, traditionally at least, they’d be the ones expected to move to the husband’s country.

I’m mostly curious about the 29% of men and 37% of women who won’t date someone of a different social class. Really? In this day and age? I mean, social class isn’t even supposed to be a big thing anymore, is it? But then if you look at the stats for social mobility. . . Is this mostly working-class types refusing to date upwards or the other way around? Why, and that’s a big shouty WHY, don’t people date outside of class? Why is it such a big issue. I mean, for fucks sake. I can’t actually believe it comes into the picture. But then I’d happily reject a suitor for talking through the best part of a song, so I should probably calm myself down.

It seems women are far fussier overall with only three areas they’re more tolerant than men; dating an older partner, transgender, or same gender. Traditionally, there is less stigma for a woman to be dating an older man however there is an increasing number of younger blokes who are happy to increase the age difference upwards. I’ve read articles which claim this is partly due to younger females desiring older males which leaves a shortage of women for the younger blokes to attract but I’m not entirely convinced.

Is there a class bias for radio Five listeners? It’s possible. I tried to find demographics but nothing came up. Its remit is to provide news and sports coverage, so it’s probably not such a great source for sociological insight. My main concern is its posting on the BBC News site which is a source of info for a good chunk of the general population. It’s hardly the epitome of an example of fake news, but I do think it’s ever-so-slightly manipulative

Additional Observations

When the office of national statistics asked 178,197 people about their sexuality back in 2013, over 90% said straight. This is clearly a larger sample size than the BBC’s paltry 2,000. Even as recently as 2016, 93.4% said straight and 4.1% of the remaining 6.6% said they either didn’t know how to identify themselves or they just flat out refused to answer the question. Should I conclude the BBC Radio Five channel has a significant number of gay listeners? Or maybe a higher number of LGB people engaged with the survey because they were drawn to participate because their group was mentioned? I have no idea. . .

If we’re ever going to get away from the rampant closet homophobia which is still negatively impacting men and women, then we really need to stop both trivialising and marginalising the issue. Same-sex attraction is not a decision one makes. You don’t leap out of bed one morning and get to decide “oh my last straight relationship was a failure, I think I’ll try a gay one next”. I’m not talking about bi people here, they may well get to pick and choose whether they want to be in a hetero or same-sex relationship, but then – they don’t get to choose if they’re bi or not. Sexuality, in this day and age, shouldn’t be up for debate nor stuck in radio polls which are also indirectly asking whether you’d shag a Tory if you’re a Labour supporter. Most people are too unaffected to realise prejudice, stigma, and negative stereotypes are insidiously enforced with things like words, statistics, and even government policy. So, yeah, it’s a poxy and questionable poll but what troubles me is the small matter of a significant number of people going through sexual reassignment surgery because of internalised homophobia. If homophobia is no longer so explicit, where the fuck do we think people are getting the messages from?

Sources:

BBC Article

2016 ONS Survey

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