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September 27, 2018

The Sapiosexuality Dissonance

Behind the buzzword "sapiosexual" lies a kind of hypocrisy.

by Luthfi Dzulfikar

“Hey, have you heard about this smart chick on Twitter?” my friend suddenly blurted out in the middle of our conversation in a quiet coffee shop. We had been talking for some time until he was distracted by his ever-so-seductive Twitter feed.

“Which one? That girl from PSI? What’s her name, Tsamara?” I asked.

“Well yeah she’s cool and all, but, no, not her. It’s this Cania girl. Cania Citta Irlanie, have you heard of her?” My friend inquired back.

“Yeah sure. She hosts that political show on YouTube, right? What about her?”

“She’s so damn intelligent. You know how I love smart girls, right?”

Let me bring you up to speed: this friend of mine claims that he’s a “sapiosexual” –  someone who tends to be attracted to people who are intelligent. Of course, it makes sense to yearn for someone who is intellectually stimulating, but only recently has this personal preference been elevated to the status of “sexual orientation” by the mainstream media. Don’t believe me? Look at some of the most prominent dating apps and you’ll see some people listing “sapiosexual” under sexual identities.

I try to always be skeptical with buzzwords like this, so in an attempt to better understand how exactly he interprets the term sapiosexual, I inquired deeper about his newfound internet crush.

“Alright, tell me. What about her thoughts did you like?”

“To be honest, I don’t really understand her arguments. But most beautiful women don’t even bother talking about ‘heavy’ issues, so she turns me on,” he said enthusiastically.

If this is the definition of sapiosexuality, then boy am I disappointed. I had thought that people call themselves sapiosexuals because they seek partners who can challenge their way of thinking, make conversations interesting, or maybe strive for a future together in which each person contributes equally to the partnership. But the way he explained it sounded less like a philosophical praise and more like mental masturbation.

I imagine him responding with a dirty smirk to a cute woman expressing a critical thought with, “ Oh, yeah, baby. Keep talking!”

Maybe I’m just exaggerating. Maybe my friend is just an odd case among people identifying as sapiosexuals who actually live up to the label. I was willing to keep an open mind about this, so I decided to investigate further. I thought the easiest way to do this was by scouring Twitter threads by well-known female figures who were considered “beautiful” and look at the replies given out by other people.

What I found was a tad bit confusing. Although most repliers contributed to the discussion with feedbacks or remarks, a considerable portion of them were just present to express their measly attempts at flirtations. It was like a digital strip club with men jerking off to enlightenment.

But instead of being critical, am I just being spiteful? Probably. But it’s a bit hard to ignore this when the phenomenon, at least in my observation, mostly apply to women. I rarely see people go euphoric when a guy says something smart. At least not in the way that it happens to women, especially those who are considered “pretty” by conventional standard. Praises directed at critical thoughts by guys are nearly always substantial and actually address or add value to the conversed issue.

Our political climate, religious sentiments, and corporate environments often culturally discriminate against women, leading to their rather low representation in our national political theater or within the top management of corporations in various industries. In my eyes, this strongly contributes to our collective expectation for men to cognitively excel further than women.

It’s as if it’s normal if a guy is smart, but exceptionally breathtaking when women are. Like men are expected to be knowledgeable, but not women. Do you see the tinge of patriarchy now?

The most irritating part of this dissonance is that (once again, in my naïve observation, but hopefully yours too) this almost exclusively happens when a woman is both smart and beautiful – as if once you’re granted with good looks, it’s overtly astounding to also be intelligent. It highlights the hypocrisy of men who freely use the term sapiosexual and claim to feel aroused by intelligence, but not so much when it’s not accompanied with physical beauty.

It’s somewhat saddening that as a society, we’ve been so used to seeing the role of beautiful women solely to please and entertain, so that the moment one of them starts quoting Kierkegaard and Solzhenitsyn, we immediately lose our mind.

Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a critique of the behavioral tendency to value intelligence significantly more than other aspects when identifying a potential mate. After all if you’re only attracted to those who are intellectually inferior, you probably have an unhealthy ego complex that demands you to always feel superior.

Neither is this a complaint on the legitimacy of the term sapiosexual, although, to be honest, it does come to me as pretentious and elitist. But hey that’s just my opinion.

This piece of writing is more a call against hypocrisy. If you claim to value knowledge above all else, please don’t just do so when you spot someone cute. If you claim to be a lover of intelligence, please don’t just poorly flirt with and mental-masturbate to people with thought-provoking tweets. It’s tasteless and cheap.

If you claim to be a sapiosexual, live up to the label. Be a sapiosexual because you genuinely feel that wit and acumen is far superior to looks, because you want to challenge your thinking and be a better individual, because you love engaging in deep discussions that shatter cultural perceptions.

Don’t be like my shitty friend.

Luthfi Dzulfikar is an avid writer slash humanist who is currently studying International Relations & Politics in Universidad Carlos III Madrid. Check out his unimportant thoughts on Youtube and Twitter, here (youtube.com/luthfidzulfikar) and here (twitter.com/Libertweep).