I’m going to share an embarrassing story. Once, not long after my internship, I was approaching a deadline, and the person I was supposed to interview emailed to let me know they couldn’t make our call. They wanted to know if we could do the interview via email. I was over the moon.
As someone with social anxiety, canceling a meeting at the last minute with me is like giving me a birthday present even though it’s not my birthday. I celebrate days like that.
The email interview went well, I got some great info and I wrote my article. Publish. Move on.
Except, the next day I came in to find out my article had been sitting overnight, getting page views, and I’d misgendered the person I interviewed. In fact, it was obvious (after reading numerous emails from the company’s PR asking me to fix it) that I’d misgendered them because they were Asian.
They shared a name that’s typically associated with a different gender in another culture and, because I didn’t actually speak to the person I was interviewing, I just made an assumption. And you know what they say about assuming.
Anyway, I did finally interview them and we talked about how people like me can be better allies to women in tech, and that made for a good article too.
Here’s my point: sometimes you just have to accept that you weren’t operating with all the information and you made some assumptions. It’s okay to walk those back and change ideas about yourself that were somehow tied to your misinformed (or, in my example, under-informed) decisions.
I bring this up because this blog post is like a delayed subtweet. I’m wading into a debate about sexuality during Pride month and, well, it might seem like right now isn’t the time to be quibbling about stuff like that.
I’m talking about sapiosexuals. And there’s only two things I need to say:
- There’s no such thing as a sapiosexual
- We probably need to be kind to people who think there is (and also educate them)
I’m not trying to dunk on anyone. But we do need to nip this shit in the bud. And Pride month is actually a great time to do that.
This is the meanest thing I’m going to say in this piece, but: Marsha P and the gang certainly did-fucking-not fight the cops for anyone’s right to pretend that “being attracted to intelligence” is a legitimate sexual identity. It’s not. You’re just arrogant.
I’m sorry. But if you’re a so-called sapiosexual you needed to hear that. It comes from a place of love. Seriously. Breathe with me.
Here’s the straight fucking dope: Sapiosexuals are not attracted to any measurable form of intelligence, including IQ.
Here’s some tea to go with that dope: IQ is not a trustworthy measure of intelligence.
Here’s some wisdom based on decades of dope, tea, and hardcore study: You – that is, the person who is reading this right now, hello, hi, you, yes, you – cannot tell how intelligent another human is.
Those truths may have been difficult for you to read, but you don’t have to take my word for it.
A psychometric evaluation of sapiosexuality conducted by researchers at the University of Western Australia in 2018 determined that people claiming to be so-called sapiosexuals did not exhibit attraction to people of high IQ, but instead were more likely to indicate attraction towards people who fit their own subjective idea of intelligence.
Let me break that down for you: if you can’t tell whether someone is actually highly intelligent or not, then you’re not attracted to people who are highly intelligent. You have an idea of what you think an intelligent person would act like and you’ve fixated on that.
Here’s what’s wrong with that, in plain English:
- Neurodiverse people often seem less intelligent than our abled peers, yet on average we’re demonstrably more intelligent.
- Measures of intelligence are inherently racist. As recently as this week, we’re seeing disgusting “race norming” practices exposed across the entire medical field. A similar bias exists in psychology.
- There are thousands of studies demonstrating that views on intelligence are intrinsically tied to racism, bigotry, and misogyny.
The bottom line is this: If you’re only sexually attracted to tall people that’s a fetish. And if you’re only sexually attracted to people with penises, that’s a sexuality. If you’re only attracted to people once you’ve established a connection, or you’re generally just not sexually attracted to people: those are sexualities.
If you’ve made it to the end of this article, read the aforementioned study, and still think you’re only “sexually attracted” to smart people: you’re probably a bigot.
It’s not that intelligence can’t be a fetish, it’s that it can’t be a sexuality. And you should probably understand that there’s an incredibly important difference between “objective intelligence” and “subjective intelligence”
But, if you’re not a bigot, and you once claimed to be a sapiosexual, you shouldn’t feel bad. Anyone could get swept in the ideology of looking at people for what’s inside their heads instead of their pants – on the surface, there’s some merit in the idea.
The problem is that silliness about “intelligence” as a sexual driver is not only inherently problematic, it distracts from legitimate discussions of literal grave concern to the LGTBQPIA+ community.
Muddying the discourse with bullshit about sapiosexuality detracts from the more important, real battles faced by queer people. Worse, it gives validity to spurious arguments against legitimate sexual identities – it’s basically mana for bigots. Sapiosexuality as a sexual identity is the equivalent of the “I identify as an Apache attack helicopter” meme.
So stop it. You’re not sapiosexual. Anyone who studies human intelligence should be able to easily explain why most of us are culturally incapable of discerning intelligence outside of our own limited racial and peer experiences.
If you’re one of those people who called themselves sapiosexuals out of ignorance, and should you be courageous enough to take this challenge, I invite you to simply: cut it the fuck out.
To everyone else: let’s offer a little amnesty in hopes the whole sapiosexual nonsense will just fade away and we don’t ever have to talk about it again.
Wanting to fuck smart people isn’t a sexuality. But as someone who regularly does (my fiancee is brilliant), I highly recommend it.
Tristan is a science and technology journalist who values life, humanity, and taco soup. He/him