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20 September 2019

Sorry Mark Ronson, putting “sexual” on the end of something doesn’t make it a sexuality

Turning your “coming out” into an implied brag about your IQ without a doubt qualifies as “being a dick”.

By Eleanor Margolis

Let’s get something straight: Mark Ronson didn’t “come out” as sapiosexual, he announced it. In the same way someone might announce they only enjoy reading Dostoevsky in the original Russian.

I first came across the term “sapiosexual” back in my Tinder days. One woman had described herself as such in her bio, and I somehow got it into my head it meant she was sexually attracted to monkeys. So I googled it, and it turned out sapiosexual meant attracted to – above all other trifling factors like gender and appearance – intelligence. Good thing I looked it up, because then my clearly very dumb self was able to left swipe this person.

Because, the thing is, we already have words for gender not playing a part in attraction: “bisexual”, “pansexual”, and probably – knowing the LGBTQ acronym’s tendency to expand and consume all – a handful of others. Intelligence is a hard thing to define and it varies from person to person; so being attracted to someone’s brain is still being attracted to them. Bringing a particular characteristic into your sexual identity is just obnoxious. For example, I happen to be extremely attracted to funny women, but I don’t identify as “clownosexual”. I’m just a lesbian with a type. The only thing preventing Mark Ronson from coming out (genuinely coming out) as bi or pan is a need to seem like a deep-thinking, ethereal being who transcends all but the mind (which, in practice, probably means taking time out of your day to correct people’s grammar on Twitter).

Putting “sexual” on the end of something doesn’t make it a sexuality. Of course, we’re all free to define our own identities, but let’s not be dicks about it. And turning your “coming out” into an implied brag about your IQ without a doubt qualifies as “being a dick”. Even more so because it implies that anyone who isn’t sapiosexual is an unenlightened brute who only sees looks. Being attracted by intelligence is hardly a new thing; we’ve just invented an annoying, pseudo-queer word for it. And apparently we can blame the dating site OkCupid for this, seeing as they added it to their dropdown menu of sexualities in 2014. Although we can also thank them for allowing all this subset of pretentious douchebags to identify themselves.

I beg of anyone using dating apps: do not be intimidated by the sapiosexuals. They’re not the Oxford Uni admissions office, they’re just trying to get laid like the rest of us. Even if they do insist on boning to the informative tones of Melvyn Bragg discussing the Industrial Revolution. Or somehow incorporating the Times’s cryptic crossword into foreplay. Which isn’t a sexual identity, by the way: it’s a kink, which is something – of course – that shouldn’t be shamed, but rather looked at with bumbling sensitivity by Louis Theroux. Although “Louis Meets the Sapiosexuals” would be the dullest thing to happen to television since whenever golf was first broadcast.   

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Oh, and if we have to add an “S” for “sapiosexual” to LGBTQ, I will cancel my membership.