John Waters says if you go home with someone and they don’t have any books, don’t sleep with them. The implication here is twofold. One, that your desire will have evaporated upon catching sight of a shelf heavy only with a cactus, a Two and a Half Men box set, and a miniature ceramic gnome opening his coat with the words “Say hello to my little friend” engraved by his feet. Two, that sex is powerful, and should not be shared, as a matter of course, with a person who does not respect literature. That you should not reward bad behaviour, especially with something as magnificent as your naked body in the half light.
Of course there are exceptions. Let’s not forget the “never kissed a Tory” silliness. And there’s nothing less attractive than a person who loves books too much – who fetishises the “written word” and buys that cologne said to smell of “old paper”. Less boner-kill than boner-apocalypse, if you like books so much Alec why don’t you MARRY one, Jesus. But the point holds: use your sex wisely, and dumb people don’t get laid.
In Ohio a couple have started a movement called Vote Trump, Get Dumped. Alongside a selection of his quotes (including “26,000 unreported sexual assaults in the military – only 238 convictions. What did these geniuses expect when they put men & women together?” and “If Hillary Clinton can’t satisfy her husband, what makes her think she can satisfy America?”) they lay out their plan for an anti-Trump sex strike. “To cast a vote for Trump is to agree with his sexist…offensive treatment of women,” they say, asking people to pledge that they won’t “date, sleep with or canoodle with” anyone who supports Donald Trump.
For an Ameriphile like me, the US can appear as moulded plastic, neon, wipe-clean and fabulous. When Obama was elected, we basked in the glory, reflected. So when we see Donald Trump (assumed by many of us initially to be an April Fool of a candidate, a man who looks like two plastic bags caught in a tree through high winds) with a serious shot at the presidency, we wonder what it says about us, and a country that we revere.
People, real people, are voting for him. And others who aren’t continue to love them. Are wives rolling their eyes as husbands explain why a wall must be built along the Mexican border? Staying quiet while the father of their children nods to the necessity of restricting travel on the basis of religion, waiting for ten when he’ll fall asleep in his big chair?
I’ve started searching online for stories of Americans struggling with their partners’ support of Trump. And though his supporters are mainly straight men (half of American women have a “very unfavourable” view of him), there are some who don’t fit the mould. A man called Tee Lee posted a photo of his condo in Trump Tower, with the comment: “As an African American, I have always loved Trump.” He went to bed. The next day he tweeted: “My partner for 6 years has just broken up with me, just because I support Donald Trump and his ideas. #gaysfortrump #gay #sad.” Perhaps his boyfriend was supporting the sex strike.
One problem with the Vote Trump, Get Dumped movement for women, though, is that surely if their partners cared about what they thought, they wouldn’t be behind Trump in the first place. “You have to treat ’em like shit,” he’s reported to have advised a friend.
But could it change things? Really? Sex strikes have a history of, if not working, then at least changing conversations, even though they appear to verify the dull idea of men as entitled to sex, and women as vulnerable vessels whose only power resides in their pants. When sex strikes work – one held in Kenya in 2009, when women protested against political infighting, is said to have led to a stable government within a week – they work in spite of sex. They work because people turn their heads. The media starts to pay attention. Movements like the one in Ohio could be powerful not because they encourage women to withhold sex but because they encourage undecided voters to learn how their potential president feels about women.
Until then, bear in mind that your remarkably effective safe word for use in consensual bedroom liaisons remains “Donald”.