The world of politics is a surprisingly sexual one. A lot of people find that odd; after all, so much of modern politics is cold, hard statistical data, polls, and policy forums. But politics always has been (and always will be) at its most basic, about relationships. The relationships between politicians and voters, and the relationships between politicians and other politicians. Most of these aren’t sexual, of course, but modern preconceptions about relationships are hung up on sex, and there is a sort of assumption that people who aren’t sexual can’t be any good at relationships, whether those are sexual, romantic, or just everyday social interactions.
Politics is also about presentation. Politicians have to fit into the perfect little world of the ‘ordinary voter’, and thus, insists contemporary political thought, cannot be even slightly ‘odd’ or different. In a world that is as inherently sexual as ours, to actively state that you are not so breaches a societal taboo that is rarely challenged. It is, simply put, bad political presentation. Perhaps that explains, in part, the scarcity of openly asexual politicians.
It isn’t helped by the fact that people have only been openly identifying as asexual for a relatively short time period. The phrase, and the online community that surrounds it, has only been in existence for just over a decade, meaning that there has been little time for an openly asexual person to climb through the ranks of any political party. The majority of openly asexual people are also very young, possibly due to them being more able to explore their sexuality and engage with a thriving, young, asexual culture, which goes some way to explaining why no older politicians have come out.
But, statistically, there must be some. One per cent of the population is asexual, and recent surveys have suggested that that statistic might be pessimistic. Politicians can’t stay as solely sexual in that climate. If the House of Commons were to be truly representative, it would need about 7 openly asexual members. At present, no-one has ever even stood for a parliamentary seat and been openly asexual, and I only know of one person who is standing or has stood for any other elected office. That’s unsustainable. In fact, that’s more out of touch than one or two politicians not conforming to society’s sexual normativity.
And asexual people aren’t incapable of forming relationships, whether that’s romantic, friendly, professional, or socially. We can engage in political life, just the same as any other person. Because virtually all relationships in politics have no need to have absolutely any sexual element to them whatsoever. Indeed, the fact that some of them do is, in my mind, rather strange, and breeds yet more of the macho dominated culture that so often fills the Houses of Parliament. Of course, we shouldn’t seek to remove sex from any part of society. But maybe having a more open politics might just help engage more people; not just asexuals, but also the less macho and the unmasculine. Insisting that our politicians are sexual is unhealthy, both for inclusion, and for politics as a whole.