Not long ago I was out drinking with a group of friends and we started playing the If-You-Had-To game. The idea is to present players with two people they would never want to sleep with — and then make them choose which they’d sleep with. Here are some of the fiendish alternatives I had to face: Imelda Marcos or Wallace Simpson? Ayn Rand or Yoko Ono? Gertrude Stein or Virginia Woolf?
Then one joker said: Theresa May or Jemima Khan? Everyone laughed at this no-contest choice. Everyone except me. How could I tell them the ugly truth: I’d prefer a night of passion with right-wing Theresa over lefty Jemima any day of the week.
But then I belong to that small, deviant group of liberal-lefty-pro-feminist men who find conservative/right-wing women super sexy. In an age when anything goes — at least in terms of sexual pleasure — ours is a lust that dare not speak its name.
I know this because later that evening, I turned to one of the group and confessed my secret longing for the likes of Theresa May, Ann Coulter and Sarah Palin — ideally all at once. I thought my fantasy night of passion would be received with sympathy and understanding. After all, this friend of mine pays a woman in Earls Court to put him on a rack and do things you don’t want to read about. He just looked at me and said: ‘You’re sick!’
I can just hear the chorus of left-wing women complaining that, here we go again — judging women in politics by their looks! Well, actually, looks have nothing to do with it. By that criteria, I should be swooning over Jemima instead of drooling over Mrs May. So no, this is not about looks; it’s about the sexiness of a certain mindset and sensibility. What is the appeal of right-wing women to men like me? After all, left-wing men are not supposed to sleep with such women. (We’re meant to find their political convictions too repulsive for that sort of thing.) But politics is rooted in tribalism and dark emotions, as much as reason. To lefty men of my persuasion, right-wing women are the Other; alluring because they are so exotic; exciting because they’re so forbidden.
I envy men of the right — their sexual lives are not constrained by the rules of sexual correctness we lefties are expected to live by. For us, playful S&M can pose all sorts of perplexing questions about class, power and gender that they never have to worry about. The left-wing drama critic Ken Tynan once had a conflict between his commitment to bottom-spanking and his commitment to civil rights when the woman he paid to indulge his passion for S&M turned out to be black. Tynan, like a good champagne socialist, chose pleasure over principle.
We good, caring lefty pro-feminists can’t ask — or pay — a women to dominate us; to tie us up or spank us. But we can get a right-wing woman who will indulge us in a verbal lashing should we dare to utter any of our core progressive beliefs. Take that you multicultural-loving cretin, WHACK! Further European integration? You euro-loving toad! WHACK! Fifty shades of Milton Friedman, anyone?
Right-wing women have always had a bad press when it comes to sex. They are usually portrayed in novels, sitcoms and films as sexually uptight, prudish and repressed by Victorian values or religious faith. Sex for them, goes the stereotype, is something one does for purposes of procreation. By contrast, women of the left are seen as sexually liberated and thus more open-minded when it comes to sexual experimentation.
That may have been true in the 1970s, but nowadays it’s more likely to be women of the left who are uptight and repressed — and that’s due to a sexual correctness that has come in the wake of third-wave feminism. Don’t get me wrong. Feminism has done a lot of good for women — and men — but it aims to take all the dirt and dark stuff out of sex. Consequently, the bedroom has become a minefield where you have to take care what you say, lest you cause an explosion of feminist wrath.
I recently had sex with a woman who writes for the Guardian and in the heat of the moment I said, ‘I love you — you filthy slut!’ I meant it as a compliment! Honest! She stopped the proceedings and gave me a long lecture about how the ‘verbal demeaning of women’ was totally unacceptable. I had a similar experience with a woman of the right. (I won’t repeat what I said because it’s too embarrassing.) But she just laughed and said, ‘Oh, you do say the sweetest things to a girl!’
Women of the right will not tolerate sexism; but nor do they have that tendency of some left-wing women always to play the victim of sexism. They have a robust, get-on-with-it attitude to life that makes them less prone to the neurotic, whiney, oh-poor-me melodrama that has infected so much thinking of left-leaning feminists.
To suggest that political ideology can influence not only an individual’s sexual allure but their sexual performance as well might seem absurd. Would anyone be so foolish as to claim that generally speaking, people on the right are better in bed than people on the left? Actually, Americans have done surveys to find this out and you can find one that says liberals are better in the bedroom than conservatives and another that claims Republicans have more orgasms than Democrats.
I have slept with women who write for the New Statesman and women who write for the Daily Telegraph and I can’t honestly claim that one lot is better than the other. But there are certain post-coital benefits that come with women of the right. They never subject a man to the music of Nick Drake or Nina Simone. As good libertarians, they don’t mind if you smoke in bed or pick up a newspaper or roll over and go to sleep — come to think of it, that’s what they are more likely to do. Nor do you ever have to lie in bed and watch some mawkish film about Nelson Mandela or one made by Michael Moore. (They don’t think you’re demented because you’d rather watch Die Hard.) And right-wing women never think that leaving the toilet seat up is a passive-aggressive act of patriarchy.
Sorry, comrades, but when it comes to the bedroom I’ll have to vote Tory.
This article first appeared in the print edition of The Spectator magazine, dated 19 July 2014Tags: Feminism, Jemima Khan, men, Romance, Sex, Sexism, the left, the right, Theresa May, UK politics