Dangerous Compassions


I heard of sapiosexuals some years ago.  Sapiosexual people are attracted to intelligence.  Right away, I could relate to it, as I love intelligence too.

Wow–I am impressed by vocabulary, wit, wordplay, being understood.  Someone who brings me new ideas, like a cat brings a dead lizard!  When someone I love says a phrase in any dead language to me, I blush, squirm, and smile–it’s automatic.  Does that mean I’m sapiosexual?


Also right away, the idea of sapiosexuality alarmed me.  It hurts, how people are valued and prioritized in ways that feel repulsively ableist.

If someone is disabled intellectually, does that make their life have less worth?  No way!  Sounds like eugenics, some gross Hitler stuff.  Yuck!  If someone has a learning disability, does that make them less appealing?  No way!  Ming has a language processing learning disability, and he is my favorite person.  I love differences in strengths, thinking styles, and styles of being.

A lot of what’s considered intelligence is semi-arbitrary.  I can phrase it like “I’m horrible at math,” or I can phrase it like “I excel at not being able to do math.”  I fail in remarkable ways; I’m amazing at not being able to understand basic concepts that others get right away.

Wow, what must be happening in my head?  Please do a study on me!  I’m the only person I know who failed Algebra II / Trig three times, in high school.  Go me!

attention skills

I read about a study that found out people who have schizophrenia can’t tune out secondary conversations as well as people without schizophrenia.  Scientists had headphones and played two different conversations for study subjects, one conversation in each ear.

But the study had value judgment from the outset.  As someone who hears voices and has a diagnosis under the schizophrenia umbrella–you could say I’m bad at tuning out secondary conversations.  Or you could say I’m great at hearing two conversations at once!  How our culture decides what to value is a weird complicated question, more to do with capitalism than pleasure, joy, or actual well-being.


I get disturbed at definitions of intelligence, and how pretension can be mistaken for smarts.  People who sprinkle “as it were” in their conversations and have money, or come from money, are not necessarily appealing.  Performance like wearing glasses and acting better than me?  Zero appeal.  I fell for some costuming of intelligence, as a kid.  Now I laugh at most of that.

Maybe that can be part of the sapiosexual game–sorting out who’s really smart from who can play like that.  Figuring out what kind of smart turns you on.  Engineers can be so different from Chaucer scholars–painters so different from physicists.  Geologists so different from hydrologists.  Hahahaha!

I don’t need proper capitalization in my emails, or for people I like to know the difference between there, their, and they’re.  Attention to detail can appeal to me, but getting caught up on you’re vs your is a waste of time.


One of the people I love the most is urban.  He’s a graffiti artist gardener–a humble, caring maker of prayers.  This friend is not wearing a monocle, sipping wine, or pontificating on foreign affairs with five syllable Latinate words.  He’s cooking delicious foods, listening to hiphop made by friends, painting  with an airbrush, and playing games online with his elsewhere family.

Over and over again, he teaches me slang I never heard before.  His thumb is in the pie of a world I want to move toward.  I’m delighted by a turn of phrase, the juxtaposition of two ideas I never considered connected before, his youthful vibrancy.  He quotes from a spoken word poem–the sentence sticks in my head and nourishes me long after he says it.

Original ideas are the smartest thing in the world.  It’s up to us, to sort the chaff from the brilliance.  You can’t hook someone’s ideas up to an original-o-meter.  You have to be smart enough yourself to recognize genius.

what it is

There are so many kinds of intelligence that my head spins, trying to imagine them all.  Compassion seems intelligent.  In order to feel with someone, I need to be smart enough to perceive what they’re feeling.

Paying attention is an intelligence all its own, but can partly be a choice.  A skill we can practice.  People seem smart to me when they realize that community is so much work, but will keep us alive longer than money.

I wish I could say everyone is smart, in some way.  But I really have met people devoid of any spark of creative insight.  People who don’t know that they don’t know.  Their life is making money and being entertained.  They don’t think learning is fun.

I think learning is the best fun in the world!  But I’ve been mis-seen a lot.  Many people make assumptions about a quiet fat woman–that I have nothing to offer and am not worth anything.  If not much is coming out of my mouth, not much is happening in my head, they believe.  Years of evidence to the contrary can’t change their mind.


Sapiosexual is not a term I’m comfortable with, but I’m warming up to short descriptors that are quick ways to convey a complex concept.  I used to resist labels, but they can help.  Sometimes!

Technically, I guess I am sapiosexual.  But I’m not going to claim it because ableism is not ok, and I’m appropriately freaked out by eugenics.

But I’ve talked myself into the idea that sapiosexuality is more ok than I thought.  Some sapiosexuals are probably ableist, eugenicsy asshats, but non-sapiosexuals can be just as well.  Thank you for witnessing me as I understand.

My mom used to call me “smart baby.”  It was part of my identity, long ago.  I do still identify that way.  But lots of smartness-styles, I probably wouldn’t recognize if they bit me on the butt.

Many people consider poetry worthless.  They find me irrelevant.  I don’t want to treat people that way, but I probably miss a lot too.  Intelligence styles that I’m not the right intelligence style to even recognize.

By Laura-Marie

Good at listening to the noise until it makes sense.

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