In her final column for The Spinoff, in-house therapist Ms X answers the question: when do disturbing sexual fantasies become a cause for concern?
Dear Ms X
I’m 26 and have a question about fantasies. I really get off on the idea of being borderline assaulted, but know that I would definitely NEVER want this to happen in real life.
I’m psychologically strong and healthy and have what I consider to be a healthy sex life featuring plenty of other kinks that I’m totally comfortable talking about and acting upon. This fantasy though… it’s something I keep to myself — mostly out of respect for partners that may have been assaulted in the past, but also because it seems so taboo and fucked up.
What do you think’s going on here?
Ms Damsel in Fantasy Distress
Good question. You get a gold star for this one. Look, where would we be without sexual fantasies? It’s like the cheapest fun you can have alone.
There’s a lot of super dry material in psychology papers that talks abut the importance of fantasies in our lives and accepting, and if necessary analysing and questioning, your own fantasies as they pop up.
I can understand that for a young woman who probably feels reasonably right on politically, socially, and emotionally, this could feel a bit like “wtf is going on in my subconscious and where has this interest emerged from?”
Don’t rush to be horrified or ashamed about it ok? You have (so far ) quite reasonably kept it to yourself because, as you say, you’ve been in intimate relationships with people who have experienced assault and you don’t want to hurt or trigger them in any way. That is a good solid plan.
Not all of our fantasies need to be realised. They can be kept to ourselves and just be something that is for personal use, so to speak. Like a great vibrator for your mind. Understandably you are curious about why you have this particular fantasy and maybe it’s such a powerful one because it’s so very transgressive. Sometimes the things that are precisely the opposite of what we think we want or how we generally are can become erotic to us.
It could be interesting for you to think about whether the power imbalance is a turn on in this fantasy. Are you normally very in control of most of your life?
That’s a very basic attempt at interpretation but just push up against that idea and see if it makes sense. I quite like the Wikipedia entry of sexual fantasies. It has classy pictures too!
The only real issue for you is if you would like to act out this fantasy with a partner. That will take some thoughtful and careful negotiation. That kind of conversation isn’t impossible but you need some time and guidelines.
Have a read of this article, from the New York Times no less, about a woman who told her fiancé about her long term spanking fetish. There’s lots of information available to people who do want to safely negotiate and introduce some kink into their life. We live in a time where you can actually find people who share the same interests if you don’t have a partner who’s into it.
You’re young and smart enough to discreetly google these things away from a work computer but there’s some very good reading to be found on how to safely negotiate something like what you describe, if you get that far.
I know that I haven’t told you why you have this particular fantasy and that’s because fantasies can be weird and mercurial and it’s sort of impossible to work out the origins via a letter. Overall I believe we shouldn’t always strive to understand fantasies fully because then they lose their potency. Especially if they’re not harming anyone (and that includes you).
Which is precisely why I won’t be telling you about the one I have about Bruce Springsteen dusting my filthy side board.
Who’s the boss now Bruce?
We’re really sad to report that this is Ms. X’s final column for The Spinoff; look for her new column on Stuff.co.nz (yes, our Ms X is moving up to the big leagues!) in the coming weeks.
Have a problem and need help now?
Lifeline 0800 543 354
political & climate reportersFind Out More
Youthline 0800 376 633
OUTline (LGBT helpline) 0800 688 5463
The Society section is sponsored by AUT. As a contemporary university we’re focused on providing exceptional learning experiences, developing impactful research and forging strong industry partnerships. Start your university journey with us today.
The Bulletin is The Spinoff’s acclaimed daily digest of New Zealand’s most important stories, delivered directly to your inbox each morning.