Perspective: Michaela Cuomo may have made it hip, but ‘demisexual’ is a tale as old as time
In an age where random hookups are en vogue, I’m happy for anyone to reignite the notion that sexual connection is best achieved within committed relationships
I learned something new from New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s daughter Michaela recently: My brand of milquetoast sexuality has a name — demisexual. It sounds like an interesting kind of sexual attraction but, in reality, it’s a tale as old as time.
As it happens, there’s apparently a name for someone who is only sexually attracted to those with whom they share an emotional connection — that is how Michaela and I “identify” sexually.
How this ancient idea came to occupy a place in the list of far more groundbreaking sexual orientations I’ll never quite understand. Nevertheless, Michaela has popularized the idea that you should only be physically intimate with someone you share a connection with. A new name perhaps helped make it a bit more hip than it’s been, and for that, I applaud her. In an age where random hookups are en vogue, I’m happy for anyone to reignite the notion that sexual connection is best achieved within committed relationships.
There are some data points that indicate the reputation among youths for traditional monogamy is making a comeback. They’ve seen and lived the alternative, and hopefully more young women (and men) are ready for its roaring return.
The Daily Caller recently reported on good news in this vein:
“The portion of U.S. children who live with both parents exceeded 70% in 2020, reversing a nearly 30-year-long trend, data shows.
“70.4% of children under 18 live in two-parent households, and 63% of minors reside with both birth parents, according to the Current Population Survey by the U.S. Census Bureau, Institute for Family Studies reported.”
The statistics on the outcomes for kids in one-parent homes are well-known, and for many in their 30s and below, they are well aware of what it feels like to grow up with a single parent; the likelihood is they either lived it or watched a close friend experience it. I’ve written extensively about my appreciation for raising my kids in a two-parent home after growing up with a (superhero) single mother. Unfortunately my experience is far from unique, and perhaps more children of single parent homes are choosing a different path when they form their own families. My choice to live as a demisexual (I sound so hip!) is directly tied to these childhood experiences. And now my emotional connection with my husband has led to the birth of our fifth child last week.
In February, a soon-to-be Jewish writer in Los Angeles, Nellie Bowles, sat down for a conversation on Rabbi Ari Lamm’s podcast “Good Faith Effort” to discuss her decision to convert to Judaism, the most ancient faith there is. Lamm, an Orthodox Jew, asked Bowles, “To put it mildly, those who occupy the towering heights of American culture don’t look kindly on traditional religion … Why choose traditional religion in today’s culture?” To which Bowles replied, “You can get rid of tradition; you can scrap all the traditions you want. But traditions are the answers we have forgotten. Traditions are the answers to questions we have forgotten we even had to ask.”
Bowles goes on to explain that as a gay woman it’s a bit strange and sometimes difficult to emphasize the importance of tradition. “I don’t want to reinvent the wheel with everything. I don’t want to have to create new rituals for every new life stage … around marriage, death, birth; and they’re already made and tried and true … There’s a model that works really well, and I’d like to port some of that wisdom into my life.”
A similar realization may be dawning on young people today: There is an ancient wisdom in engaging in the trappings of traditional life: faith, monogamy and the two-parent nuclear family. Why reinvent the wheel on relationships and family structure when there is already a model that has worked for the whole of human history?
Michaela Cuomo can call her way of life whatever she wants, but she is merely interested in living in a manner that hasn’t been hip or commonplace since her grandparents’ generation was on the dating scene. Given the rising popularity of the nuclear family and, according to Bowles’ reporting on the subject, of traditional religions, it doesn’t appear that she’s alone in that desire for a return to something deeper, older and more meaningful.
Bethany Mandel is a contributing writer for Deseret News, editor at Ricochet.com and a contributor to the Washington Examiner blog and magazine.