I love sex.
I know, it’s shocking to hear from a young cis woman from a Southern conservative background and family. It’s honestly shocking to hear from any person in America outside of a comfortable social setting, when you’re sitting around with your girlfriends in private, discussing which vibrators get you there faster or which of your ex-partners delivered the best orgasm. And honestly, some friend groups don’t have the confidence to discuss those details because if you look at numbers, 23 percent of public schools in America still teach abstinence as an effective form of birth control. Only about 50 percent of young adults learned how to use forms of birth control, and less than 6 percent of adolescents reported those classes including any information on the LGBTQ community. I know mine didn’t.
After Republican Congressional Candidate for the 5th District Denver Riggleman was busted for delving into the less popular, but very present, Bigfoot erotica kink on his private Instagram, it triggered his opponent to take aim. Leslie Cockburn proceeded to berate him on Twitter for the image, writing that he is “not what we need on Capitol Hill.” As if someone’s sexual preferences determine whether they are equipped to help run a country–definitely not his opinions, beliefs, or politics.
The fact Cockburn could use a poorly-drawn, poorly-photoshopped gag photo of Riggleman’s face on a crude bigfoot illustration to distract an entire population (outside a few angry fellow Democrats on Twitter) from the fact Riggleman has ties to white supremacists and has campaigned with Corey Stewart not only hurts her cause, but uses a fetish to both normalize and humorize the very dangerous rise of white supremacy, as well as shame yet another kink.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not into bigfoot erotica. I didn’t even realize that was a kink, but on reading about it, I wasn’t surprised. Internet Rule 34 should squelch any further astonishment. Around 75 percent of people have at least one fetish and in America, around 40 percent of people love good, old-fashioned whips and chains. Yet there isn’t a single form of widely, socially acceptable sex in America outside of the missionary position. Even with the rise of best-selling smut series “50 Shades of Grey,” main character Christian Grey’s backstory and unhealthy, abusive entrance into the world of S&M communicates that the people who engage fetishes are damaged, unstable people riddled with past abuse. Not to say the two are mutually exclusive, but it furthers the narrative that anyone who likes to wear handcuffs in bed is somehow illicit or depraved.
If you can look past the Amazon pulp fiction smut novels, one of which allegedly being Riggleman’s own creation based on years of inside jokes with his military pals, you’ll find just another group of people into cryptozoological erotica. Okay, so maybe not totally mainstream, but there are honestly weirder kinks out there and my philosophy is as long as what you do is safe and consensual, it shouldn’t matter what that thing is. Sex is just another part of being human, and it should be accepted as part of our everyday lives, just like brushing your teeth.
When I was in college, walking around half-naked on stage during our annual production of The Rocky Horror Picture Show was my happy place. No body shaming, total absence of gender constrictions, complete acceptance of every sexuality under the sun, and absolutely no kink shaming. Rather the opposite. All that mattered is everything we talked about or did was safe, sane, and consensual. Consensual sex was a turn on because if someone was willing to let you tie them up and hit them with a paddle, there was a degree of trust, love, and arousal there that’s hard to beat.
The reality was harsher when I returned to Richmond and remembered there are people whose sexualities are still closeted, whose kinks and sexual desires are considered deviant, taboo, even sinful or evil (sometimes rooted in an antiquated religious foundation). There are people who contract easily avoidable STDs or friends that get pregnant either because they incorrectly used a form of birth control or they had no access to it. According to the CDC, as of April this year the number of people contracting sexual diseases in Virginia and Washington, D.C. has reached epidemic levels. Virginia has seen an increase in chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis cases.
There are many people who will never be sexually free. I’m currently experiencing an insurance drought, and cannot afford to spend over $200 each month on birth control pills because the government told me no. Perhaps if political candidates focused on improving healthcare plans rather than each others’ kinks, this wouldn’t be an issue.
Fostering the notion that sex, sexual education, or kink is wrong perpetrates the same unhealthy behavior that increases the number of teen pregnancies and STIs, and keeps LGBTQ sex education out of the conversation. This isn’t a new idea, but now this mentality has entered into political discourse as a weapon against a political candidate who has potentially dug his own grave. It calls into question why we are more offended by the idea that a political candidate has inside jokes with his friends or, god forbid, a sex life, than the fact he publicly flirts with white supremacists.
Degrading human life is the most insolent form of perversion we can achieve. When Leslie Cockburn tweeted that photo, she outwardly suggested that being horny for Sasquatch is more perverse than believing black, brown, and Jewish people are lesser than white people. And just so we’re clear, it’s not. Now, this hyper-obsession with sexual freedom is finding its way into our politics, it’s just one more malicious way to distract voters from visceral problems and oppress anyone who isn’t a straight white man who loves his vanilla life–boring. I’m a rocky road girl, myself.
Everyone needs a way to get their rocks off. Just add Bigfoot to the list.