Just Because You’re Not Into It Doesn’t Mean Someone Else Can’t Be

I want to address a common misconception I see in discussions of sexual preferences, in part because it’s helping lay a foundation for a discussion of sex work I’m going to explore in some upcoming posts.

People seem to have this idea that if they’re not into it, no one else can be or should be. Like, “Ew, I think anal sex is gross, who could do that?” Or “I can’t believe some people like being tied up and spanked, that’s disgusting.” Or “I would never, ever sell sex, how could anyone else do so?”

I would agree that in a limited few instances, there are some things that are inconceivable or disgusting to us that should be, such as having sex with someone who cannot consent (a child, an animal, a person who is unable to give consent due to intoxication, unconsciousness, coercion, or whatever other reason). But outside of those cases, I see absolutely no reason why your opinion of other people’s sexual choices matters.

The reason I think this is even worth stating explicitly is that there are still laws governing sexual acts, ranging from sex work and kink to sodomy and extramarital sex. If these acts are practiced by consenting adults, I see no reason to have laws about them, unless those laws exist to make it safer for the consenting adults in question (and even then, for goodness’ sake, ask the people who it’ll affect how it will affect them! Like this blogger did with the mandatory adult performer condom laws in California).

I think one of the underlying reasons for this judgmental phenomenon goes back to what I’ve labeled the adjacency effect, whereby the acts and identities of one group are believed to affect the well-being of another group. Otherwise, the “How could you do X when I think it’s gross/immoral/etc.?!” argument just doesn’t hold up. If a sex act is between consenting adults, let’s refrain from judging it, shall we? At least publicly?

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About Jeana

Jeana

Jeana Jorgensen, PhD recently completed her doctoral degree in folklore and gender studies at Indiana University. She studies fairy tales and other narratives, dance, body art, feminist theory, digital humanities, and gender identity.