Picture this: You’re on a first date, and the person you’re seeing slides over in the booth you’re sitting in, real nice and close. As the tension builds, they put one hand on your leg — too high up to be just a friendly caress — and lean in to whisper something sexy into your ear: “The attempt, in the last few decades, to graft Marxian economics onto anarchism has been a disastrous mistake, causing us to focus too much on the economic sphere as a site of struggle despite the fact that it sustains the means of production/distribution through its monopoly on the use of coercion.”
If this situation turns you on, then congratulations: You’re either indiscriminately horny, or one of the growing number of Americans who have recently polarized left and started calling themselves “socialists.” In the past two years alone, the Democratic Socialists of America has grown from 6,000 members to 56,000, a boom many attribute to the results of the 2016 election and the rising tide of red-pill-style conservatism espoused by our Capitalist-in-Chief Donald Trump. This has had a number of effects on our little American culture — even who we fuck.
According to Woke Twitter and a staggering number of Medium blog posts written by leftist women who will devour you if you so much think about diddling a Republican, people are now less willing to date those with what they consider to be “bad politics” than ever before. As MarketWatch reports, Democrats and Republicans don’t even use the same dating apps anymore, and there’s been a dramatic uptick in conservative daters feeling sidelined by clear warnings of “No Trump voters” on apps like Tinder, Bumble and Hinge. Even eHarmony, the hallowed, beige funeral home of dating beloved by conservative Christians and post-divorce Karens, has reported that the number of people down to date those with different political views has dwindled to just a handful of raisin-like catch-alls.
Picking up on this trend, OkCupid recently added a series of Trump-related questions to its compatibility survey, which found supporting the president was a hard no for 72 percent of its users. Now, 42 percent of female OkCupid users say they’d choose political compatibility over great sex, and the site has seen a 1,000 percent increase in political terms on people’s profiles since 2016.
So, where are people going nowadays to find politically like-minded fingerbang partners to ghost? Well, if you’re a socialist who just so happens to be looking for a side of revolution with your romance, you might try Red Yenta, Twitter and Instagram’s newest and nichest socialist dating platform for hot, young millennial Marxists looking to fuck the capitalist patriarchy and each other — consensually, of course.
Red Yenta isn’t the first socialist dating site to crop up on ye olde internet (a similar platform called OkComrade had a glorious, but brief run in 2014 before becoming defunct), but it is, as far as I can tell, the only one whose interface doesn’t look like a Trojan virus-encrusted Geocities page. As such, it’s home to a modest number of mostly young, educated millennials and street-legal Gen Z-ers whose genders, sexual orientations and dating styles are as diverse as the meaning of socialism itself.
Here’s how it works: You, a radical leftist with a thirst for corporate blood, send a 280-character bio describing your A.S.L — age, “socialist sect” and location — to Red Yenta, and they’ll push it out onto their modest, yet rapidly expanding following of just under 3,000 comrades. Interested parties can DM you separately — presumably to organize both a date and a labor strike — and you take it from there.
Be prepared not to know what your date looks like, though; Because the format is inspired by @_personals_, the Instagram account where LGBTQ+ singles post impossibly brief lonely hearts ads similar to old-school newspaper personals, there are no photos allowed on Red Yenta. That means that any connections you make are based on mutual values, beliefs and interests, not how hot someone’s glistening, FaceTuned ab selfie is. This is something that Red Yenta dater Rachel, a 21-year-old anarchist-socialist from Boston, says creates a refreshingly unsuperficial take on online dating. “You can really connect over mutual passions,” she tells me. “We’re all shallow, especially me, but without knowing what someone looks like, you can’t necessarily write them off right away. It makes you want to give people a chance. People can be attractive because of how they think, not just how they look.”
Rachel, whose interests include “labor rights, unions and casual fucks,” first heard about Red Yenta after seeing a tweet about it on her timeline. So far, she’s made a few connections and gone on a few dates, the likes of which she describes as a “lot less awkward” than regular dating. Reading over the profiles of other Red Yenta users, it’s easy to see why: These people are specific about who they are and what they’re looking for. If you match with them, it’s because you’ve got something juicy to connect over right off the bat.
On one of her Red Yenta dates, Rachel tells me she and a lovely socialist gentlemen kicked things off by discussing the finer points of their political leanings and their mutual distaste for Trump over drinks. “We got the political part out of the way immediately,” she says. “It gave us something to bond over right away, and there were no awkward silences after that. I was instantly comfortable with him because we understood such a big part of each other.” And while that particular date didn’t blossom into young love, it did give Rachel a chance to connect with another like-minded socialist in a way it’s often hard to on Tinder, Bumble or any other swipe-based dating app where your looks are more important than your politics.
That, in fact, is exactly what Red Yenta founders Marissa Brostoff, a Brooklyn-based writer and English doctoral candidate, and Mindy Isser, a Philadelphia labor organizer, were envisioning when they created the platform. Though they both declined to talk to me for this story, rigorous research reveals they came up with the idea after becoming frustrated with the lack of politically oriented dating apps and options for folks who value anarchy over attractiveness. As Brostoff tells Playboy: “You can say on Tinder what your gender preferences are, but you can’t set a filter for politics, so if that’s something you actually care about, you’re just kind of swiping.”
According to psychologist and relationship expert Susan Winter, Brostoff and Isser may be onto something with this whole “politics first” thing. “We live in a very unusual time period in which political congruence and core values have become a basis for dating in ways they haven’t really been before,” she says. “If politics are important to you, then leading with your views is a good tactic for finding a partner, especially for socialists whose political beliefs tend to bleed into their social values and cultural practices in a way more conventional parties’ don’t always. It lets you address each other’s core values, ethics and ideas about the world from the jump, which gives your connection an instant foundation to work off of. Being more specific about who you are and what you believe in at the beginning enables you to filter only those who meet your criteria.”
According to Rachel, there are several key differences between socialist dating and the kind of romantic chicken dance the rest of us normies do in the pursuit of sex and love. For one, the expectation that people must be constantly motivated by ruthless ambition to produce and acquire isn’t really a thing in the world of socialist romance. While the rest of society tends to value material achievements like nice cars, big houses and property as attractive qualities, many socialists, says Rachel, are more comfortable shooting for more modest goals.
“I find it weird when people insist that their S.O. works to ‘improve’ themselves or is constantly reaching toward ‘ambitions’ or ‘goals,’” she explains. “The obsession with self-improvement seems to come straight out of the capitalist idea that most people should first and foremost be good little worker-bees who produce tangible results. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with an unambitious partner who likes leisure, as long as they’re pulling equal weight in the relationship.” (That’s a take I’m not sure all socialists would agree with, but it does hint that socialist dating might be a bit more chill with regard to the traditional and patriarchal orientation toward marriage, a type of loving Bolsheviks found to be frivolous, classist and a burden to the advancement of society.)
Also, says Rachel (whose opinion is admittedly not representative of all socialists or their dating experiences), there’s a far more thoughtful division of responsibility and labor in socialist relationships. Things like splitting the bill, dividing the housework equally and making sure both people get off during sex aren’t just valued behaviors, but expected ones, something that tends to give women more agency and levels the playing field between everyone involved. “Any socialist recognizes the value of unpaid domestic labor, which has usually been dumped on women,” she says. “It’s pretty standard that people of all genders do their fair share of it.”
That doesn’t always mean socialist lovers have an equal stake in everything, though. As is true in socialist ideology as a whole, the people with more resources and power have an obligation to provide material goods for those with less, a concept that can trickle down into nearly every facet of personal relationships, particularly the economic ones. For example, as Thought Catalog’s Michael Solana recently discovered when he dated a Marxist socialist for five storyworthy weeks, his larger salary meant every meal, cab, drink and tank of gas was on him, a bankroll he was happy to dole out because, well, the sex was amazing.
And, speaking of sex, socialism’s focus on labor division and egalitarianism seems to really improve it, especially for women. According to University of Pennyslavania anthropoligst and author Kirsten Ghodsee, sex is way better under socialism because of the way it derails capitalisitic systems that keep women subdued by domestic duties and lower wages (hot). By supporting things like universal wages, childcare and policies that help the elderly or the sick, socialism can, as she tells Vox, “reduce the burden that is placed on women.” And when women are more economically and socially independent, they have greater liberty and freedom of expression, two things that tend to lead to better sex not just for themselves, but for everyone.
There’s actually some data to back this up: One survey of East and West Germans after reunification in 1990 found that Eastern women (who were socialists during the Cold War) had twice as many orgasms as Western women did, as was the case in Cold War-era Poland and Czechoslovakia. Likewise, a recent book called Sexual Liberation, Socialist Style discusses how state socialist countries reimagined the field of sexology to be much more encompassing and personalized than the kind of mass-produced, commercialized model we’re used to seeing in the West, and there are several studies that show that couples who share housework or share child-care responsibilities more equally tend to have better, and more frequent sex.
So, might Red Yenta’s daters be tapping into some previously undiscovered pleasure landscape known only to those who have forsaken capitalism and freely use the word “praxis” in place of the simpler, more cretinous “practice?”
Rachel thinks so. “The best sex I ever had was with a communist,” she says. “He was really interested in what felt good for me and what I wanted. But then he ghosted me right after, so…”
Ouch. Well, in that way, socialist dating isn’t all that different from any other kind of dating. People ghost, break up with each other and act like incorrigible douchebags no matter what their views are. Women on the left are still subject to the same garden variety misogyny all women are, suggesting that things aren’t always as shiny or superior in socialist life as they’re made out to be. And while politically oriented dating of the Red Yenta variety might mean people’s beliefs, interests and values align more than they do on other apps and even in the real world, Winter points out that those things don’t necessarily make a good relationship or create sexual chemistry where there is none. “Sharing core values and politics can create a bond, but it doesn’t necessarily create attraction,” she says. “You can’t really help who you’re attracted to.”
The only downside? The dating pool is small. Red Yenta has about as many members as a public high school does, and their politics and interests tend to be far more niche and specific than most people’s, meaning the net they can cast isn’t big. And while organizations like the DSA have seen explosive growth in recent years, many socialists report feeling uncomfortable flirting with each other at meetings, rallies or in other strictly political spaces. As Playboy reports, they don’t want to seem like “creepers.” So, for many of them, apps it is.
Because of that, it might take a while for users to find their perfect match, but when they do, Winter says they’re likely to have an unusually strong bond whether their connection stays romantic or evolves into platonic comradeship. As of February, Red Yenta had yet to deliver on any storybook romances that they know of, but as Brostoff and Isser tell Playboy, they’re just glad it’s starting conversations. “We are kind of running a small community organization now, whether we meant to do that or not, so there is a certain kind of pressure built into that — we want to make sure nobody gets hurt,” Brostoff says. “We only deserve to have this be a cool fun thing if we’re also making it a place that’s good and not damaging for people. The world sucks ass, we could at least be as kind as possible to each other.”
However, not everyone is buying Red Yenta’s ooey-gooey sign-off message. Calls of “Nice try, CIA” frequently ring out across Reddit from skeptical socialists who see it as nothing more than undercover cop bait and a mutilation of socialism’s historically strong and stoic imagery (a sickle emblazoned across a union’s headquarters doesn’t exactly scream, “I have a crush on my comrade!”). Even leftists on the most left side of the leftist spectrum have scorned it, criticizing its small user base and the concept of political dating in general.
“We’ve gotten a lot of pushback from what some people would call ‘tankies’ calling us cops, the FBI and honeypots, but another thing that they’ve been saying is that communists should not be focused on things like romance,” Isser tells Playboy. “I’ve been a union organizer for half a decade now, and I think there’s this thing that people who spend a lot of time on the internet — and not a lot of time actually organizing with people — do, which is have these very strange ideas about workers and the working class, as if we are all not workers, and are not full humans who experience joy, and pain, and pleasure, and have interests that are not just about working or reading or studying or building our vanguard party. Everyone dates; the poorest people in the world experience heartbreak; that is one thing that unifies us all. It’s so silly to pretend that communists are too good for romance and feelings.”
Amen to that, comrade. Because as anyone who’s ever dated a card-carrying DSA member or one of the many species of cuckbois fresh out of communist summer camp knows, there’s nothing more romantic than when one of them whispers “Bernie would’ve won” into your ear as they fuck you.