Sex sells politics

By Hetal Bhatt

New advocacy groups are using what they see as a very convincing approach to push for their political cause – sex.

Groups like Votergasm and F’ The Vote are encouraging members to become more actively involved in the upcoming election by promising them more action in the bedroom.

“Our main mission is to increase voter turnout,” said Michelle Collins, spokeswoman and director of Votergasm. “We know young people have the urge to vote and also the urge to have sex with each other. But sometimes they don’t have any idea how to register to vote or find someone to have sex with. That’s where we come in.”

Votergasm was created in the spring of 2004 and calls on its members to pledge not only to vote in the upcoming election but to also have sex with someone else on Nov. 2 who is also voting in the election. Collins said the post-election payoff promised by Votergasm to its members is what entices the most people to the organization.

“The ‘climax’ of the Votergasm experience is the Votergasm Election Night Parties with young people in every state turned on from voting, liquored up and duty-bound to fulfill their pledges,” she said. “We’re non-partisan but we’re pro-partying.”

In contrast, a group called F’ The Vote is very much partisan in the political cause they are marketing with sex. F’ The Vote aims to vote George W. Bush out of the Oval Office by “seducing” conservatives into not voting for the President in the November elections. Members will try to get conservatives to sign a contract saying they will not vote for Bush in exchange for sex.

Nathan Martin, spokesman for F’ The Vote, said the best way of getting conservatives to shift their steadfast support for Bush was with a very direct and personal one-on-one exchange.

“Bush supporters and Bush opponents very seldom mingle with each other, and we wanted to create some dialogue between these voters because there was virtually none before,” he said. “We also wanted a way of relaying our personal beliefs in a one-on-one situation toward the Bush supporters about why we feel that way against Bush, and the one practical method we could come up with was with sex.”

Although each group says they are attending to peoples’ everlasting desire for sex, student reactions to the groups have been rather lukewarm.

“I think it’s great,” said Neil Schindelar, freshman in ACES. “It could get a lot of people to vote because they know they’ll probably get to have sex along with it.”

But fellow student Devin Chambers, freshman in LAS, thinks the groups are tarnishing many people’s moral values.

“I think it’s very unethical because it’s like soliciting prostitution to people in order to make them vote with your cause,” Chambers said.

Collins disputed that argument, and said that incorporating sex into politics is not immoral at all.

“First of all, there’s no prostitution involved except possibly buying someone dinner and drinks,” she said. “Secondly, patriotism and sex go hand-in-hand together. Both are fundamental rights of ours and they are what keeps America going. Without sex, America would come to a grinding halt without any grinding.”

Along with the debate over Votergasm’s morality, Chambers also is skeptical that F’ The Vote’s sex-driven advocacy methods will succeed.

“I doubt it’ll be effective at all because the people who are supposedly pledging not to vote for Bush might only say that because they want to have sex at that particular time,” he said. “But when they enter the voting booth, they’ll probably still vote for Bush. At least, that’s what I would do.”

Ultimately, it is not the sex that the groups are focused upon but the prospect of getting young Americans involved and getting each other involved in the November elections. Martin said that even if associating sex with politics is an easy way to get young people talking, it’s not the sole approach to starting dialogue between them.

“People can argue whether our tactics are right or wrong, but in the end, our goal is to create some communication between politically opposite people who normally would never associate with each other,” he said. “Whether or not they’re having sex is not the important thing; the important thing is whether they’re talking to each other.”