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Desirability politics is a concept for exploring social ideals for sexual and romantic attractiveness, how those ideals are formed, and whether they help or oppress individuals in forming relationships.
Desirability politics challenges the notion that attractions to others are inherent within us and suggests that instead they are social constructs which can pull us towards others if we do not actively fight against them.
Just as a government’s political system can oppress the people living under it, so can desirability politics oppress people within a society. Due to desirability politics we may feel we should pursue a person with a fit, athletic body and a handsome or beautiful face.
Our pursuit of these measures of attractiveness may mean we overlook someone with other qualities we also find attractive, although they have a lower ranking in desirability politics, like a sense of humor or a kind heart. Because in the world of desirability politics, there is no place for a person who is overweight or intersex, for example. That’s why the majority of advertising still uses white, young, slender models. These models are objectively seen as desirable by our society.
As with all politics, it’s important to challenge desirability politics and decide whether we have been swayed by it or are following our own desires. It can be difficult to determine whether you are attracted to someone because that attraction is inside you or whether desirability politics have played a part, but objective questioning can help us find true happiness.
Similarly, we can also find ourselves victims of desirability politics when we attempt to change ourselves to suit society’s standards. While weight loss can be a worthy pursuit for improved health, it can also become oppressive if it’s undertaken to suit society’s beauty standards. Examining the motivations for change is crucial to avoid oppression by the system of desirability politics.
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