America's sex drive is being destroyed by the president
November 8, 2016 is the day my libido died. Passed on. Kicked the bucket. RIP. Ever since Trump won the election, I just haven’t wanted to fuck.
Before, I was hypersexual. My libido was so high I often wondered if had a medical thing. I was perma-in-the-mood. My partner and I got in countless arguments because all I wanted to do was fuck, and he’d like to, you know, cuddle.
Now, my will to bone is clocking in somewhere between post-menopausal church mother and a vegetative state where I can hear you, I just can’t respond.
It’s like I’m a different person; a person I hoped I’d never be.
Sure, I’ve been a little depressed since the election. Sure, I’ve felt a little devalued. Stressed, maybe. Hopeless? Definitely. Unsafe? Check. And I’ve been much more preoccupied with things like basic human rights than I have with trying to find a threesome porn I haven’t already watched.
I am in good company, though.
Several people I’ve talked to about this confessed their libidos have also been different since the election. The report from the street — the street being four friends of mine and a handful of women I interviewed through social media — is that Trump killed their libido like he killed the Affordable Care Act.
Since his victory last November, people just aren’t as horny as they used to be. They’ve got more pressing matters on their minds. And it’s kind of fucking with them.
Randy, a gay 28-year-old graphic designer from Brooklyn, told me that since Trump won, he’s been having a hard time getting aroused.
“Before the election, my sex life was awesome,” he says. “My libido’s not crazy high or anything, but I’ve never really had a problem getting it up or getting into it. But now, there are much more important things to think about. My rights and my health are at stake. The rights and the health of the people I love are at stake. I need to figure out how I can help; what I can do. I feel like this administration is essentially telling me, ‘You’re not a person. You don’t matter.’ And you know what? It’s hard to get hard when that’s running through your head.”
Randy's boyfriend is feeling down, too. After the election, they didn't have sex for two weeks. They couldn't.
"I don't know how to describe it other than despair," he says. "At that point, you just want to be there for each other, not inside each other. Sex just doesn't cross your mind."
A bartender friend of mine, Selena, reported the same. Ordinarily a highly sexual person who’s had problems finding partners who can keep up with her, she tells me she’s currently struggling with the insecurity her newly lowered libido has brought.
“I guess I’m one those people who gains confidence through sex,” she says. “It’s always made me feel good about myself; to be desired and to be able to feel pleasure. It’s how I de-stress. But, I’ve just been depressed lately … “ she trails off. “I don’t know. I feel like I’ve lost touch with myself and what turns me on. I guess I feel incapable.”
A choir of similar feelings echoed throughout the conversations I had. I kept hearing the words “scared” “depressed,” “angry,” and “insecure.” People are struggling with arousal, satisfaction and confidence — new, previously unexperienced struggles people were surprised to suddenly be faced with. When I asked people how much they thought this had to do with election — as opposed to an another underlying issue — the most common response was “all of it.”
As Randy put it, “I’m a different person now that I was before Trump won. I’m working on getting back to my old self.”
It’s a disturbing thought — that a distant political figure could actually have such a negative effect people’s sexual expression, but it made me wonder: is it actually possible that Trump is killing our libidos?
Obviously, many more variables than who is president influence our decision to fuck — we’ve got physical health, mental state, connection, passion, trust, boredom and the need to feel alive to contend with there. However, recent research suggests political elections have a much bigger effect on our sex lives than we think.
Basically, it all boils down to how the feeling of winning or losing affects our levels of testosterone, the horny-making hormone. When you win a contest or competition (e.g. sports, trivia, video games), you tend to experience an increase in testosterone, and thus, you’re more likely to be interested in sex. In fact, you don’t even have to be directly involved in a contest to experience this effect — even spectators have similar changes in testosterone levels (that explains why Craigslist personals sections pop the hell off in cities competing in the Super Bowl).
This is where politics come in. During an election, your candidate is a player and you are a spectator. If your candidate wins, your testosterone will rise.
And if your candidate loses … your testosterone makes like the bee population and falls.
One study found that both during and after Obama’s 2008 victory in the presidential election, the amount of democrats watching porn online skyrocketed — according to Google keyword data analyzed in the stud. Dems could barely contain their excitement, or bodily fluids. Meanwhile, republicans, depressed by the loss, kept their hands where God could see them.
Conversely, after the 2004 presidential election when George “Mister 9/11” Bush won again, democrats laid off the porn, while republicans gobbled that shit up like a pardoned Thanksgiving turkey.
The 2016 election was, and is, subject to the exact same trends. Only this time around, the effect is greater. Party lines are harder. There’s more at stake. An entire gender, and about 50 shades of brown, are being marginalized and undervalued by Trump’s beliefs, actions and policies. Most of the country feels their basic human rights to health and liberty have effectively been voided.
Even more troubling for the libido-challenged is the fact that this administration poses the greatest threat to sexual health, reproductive choice and women’s rights in almost a century. Already, Trump has taken steps to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which gave millions of people access to free or cheap birth control, preventative screenings and affordable sexual health services. Already, he’s pledged to defund Planned Parenthood, meaning millions more will lose their access to contraception, sexual health screenings, STD testing and safe abortions (the latter of which only comprise 3 percent of their services). Already, he’s promised to overturn the Supreme Court’s ruling on marriage equality and return the decision to allow gay marriage to the the states, sending the message that the American government has no business ensuring the equal rights of people who engage in non-reproductive sex.
Nevermind the fact that a highly qualified woman — Hillary Clinton — was passed up for a highly underqualified, documented misogynist. Not exactly an empowering feeling for women, or the men who support them. Not exactly confidence-building stuff.
None of these things are particularly arousing. “Let’s have sex!” isn’t really the primary thought most people have when they think about not being to afford birth control or have an abortion if they’re raped (or just don’t want to give up their career to raise a child). Losing your right to marriage doesn’t really fire up the ol’ penis, and being harassed for having melanin doesn’t not a booty make clap.
Instead, these things make people feel stressed, anxious and depressed.
Anita, a 38-year-old small businesswoman feels that way. She told me she’s been “unusually anxious and depressed” since Trump’s ramped up his cabinet of politically inexperienced super-villains, removed all mentions of the word “climate change” from the White House website, and promised to ban Muslims from immigrating to America. “I don’t know what to do,” she says. “I just feel sad right now. Especially because I don’t feel like I can make much of a difference.”
I don’t have to be a psychiatrist to tell you feelings of anxiety and depression like these — the kind most of us are dealing with right now in the long shadow of Trump — can fuck up a libido right and good, even more so than the feeling of winning or losing. When you feel this way, the stress hormone cortisol skyrockets and interferes with the production of sex hormones that make you horny like estrogen, progesterone and of course, testosterone. Making matters worse, depression decreases your brain’s levels of serotonin and dopamine, which continues the cycle and can lead to feelings of hopelessness and low-self worth.
Low self-worth is another huge reason the people I spoke with had a hard time moistening and hardening. How you feel about sex (unsafe) and how you feel about your body (no control) has a major effect on whether you feel like having sex.
As Rayna, a 27-year-old music video editor told me, “If I’m being told by the government that I am fundamentally worth less than a man, that I do not have a right to decide what happens to my own body, and that I should only have sex to procreate — or because Donald Trump grabbed my pussy and I have no choice in the matter — it makes me feel insecure. You have to feel confident about yourself to want sex, and I’m trying to figure out how to do that when I’m basically being told my needs and safety don’t matter.”
… Still wondering if Trump could really be affecting people’s sex drives? From the looks of things, not only has he fucked with fucking, but he’s fucked with people’s mental health, which fucks with fucking even fucking more.
However, Los Angeles marriage and family therapist Athena Lennon advises not to let it.
“People should be using sex to make themselves feel better during this time,” she says. “Although it can be very hard to become aroused when you feel helpless or depressed, it’s also important to recognize the positive benefits sex can bring.”
She’s right. Sex has been shown to improve mood, boost confidence, alleviate depression and reduce stress, all things both I, and my colleagues are sorely in need right now.
So, does that mean we should all just be having more sex right now, then?
Not necessarily. Lennon urges not to force it.
“It’s not going to feel good if you’re genuinely uninterested in it,” she says. “I’d recommend working through your feelings as much as you can during this time, and let yourself feel what you’re feeling because pretending you don’t have those feelings isn’t going to help. However, do try to recognize your self-worth is not tied into politics. You don’t have to believe what people in power say about you. It’s your choice whether or not you want it to affect you.”