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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

SL Letter of the Day: Object Lesson

Posted by Dan Savage on Wed, Mar 19, 2014 at 10:29 AM

I need advice. I'm a young male hetero. I'm a virgin and I've never been in a relationship. I keep trying though. I'm an introvert and I don't have the best confidence or self image, though I'm seeing a counselor to improve these aspects of my life. In the meantime though I still have these human desires for which I need an outlet. I've indulged in adult entertainment in the past, but lately I've begun to contemplate taking advantage of the burgeoning market of custom clip makers to satisfy my desire to see a particular fantasy brought to life.

But I'm conflicted. On the one hand I've tried to take to heart your advice about how we should embrace our desires. If it's what I want, and it's not dangerous and I'm paying for the service, what's the harm? And I think that this could also be a form of exposure therapy, that if I can make the fantasy a reality, I'll no longer be preoccupied by it, like an itch I can't scratch.

But I also wonder if I'm kidding myself, and if I'm feeding a habit that should be curtailed. I worry I'll be crossing a line, and that I may have some greater dysfunctional issues that need to be addressed rather than fulfilling my carnal desire in video form. And I consider myself a staunch feminist, so I worry that while I'm paying a professional for a service she freely offers, I may also be committing an affront to the fight for women against objectification. I want to be a good person, and an ethical one, but I still have those base carnal urges. Which comes first? Should I get the video made? Or seek guidance from a professional?

Troubled Video Buyer

My response to TVB—and his to me, and mine to his—after the jump...

••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••

Can you tell me what this particular fantasy is?—Dan

Gosh where to begin? It's not violent or illegal. It's just oddly specific. It's a kind of hybrid fantasy, a variant on themes of agalmatophilia (attraction to statues) and erotic transformation and bodypainting. The gist of it is woman is turned into a living statue or robot, able to move about but unaware and in a hypnotic trance. There is no sexual act, no depictions of physical violation. It's pure objectification.

Actually I'm glad you asked me, this, because I was too self conscious to mention it initially, but I can see now that it's an important detail (and I'm sorry I withheld it initially). I think it ties into my issues of having not had success with women, and my own low self image. I often feel judged and I'm naturally passive by nature, and I think that has led me to nurse fantasies where the woman will not judge me... because she cannot judge me. That's why I feel so damned conflicted about it. Because I don't want to be an objectifier of women, because I try to treat everyone with courtesy and respect, yet the feeling is there all the same, and I can't shake these fantasies that absolutely DO objectify women...literally!

Does this answer your question? And am I terrible person?—TVB

In the new "Savage Love" that comes out tomorrow frequent guest expert Jesse Bering, the author of Perv: The Sexual Deviant In All of Us, helps me answer a question from a father who's worried about his son's kink. Bering tells dad to chill out: his son's kinks are done deal and there's nothing dad can do to "cure" his son of his kinks. We talked about where kinks come from—"some people (mostly males) have a genetic predisposition for being 'sexually imprinted' during development"—and Jesse made this point about the role that chance experience and exposure has in the formation of kinks that I had to cut from the column for space:

"These cases demonstrate the role of early experience in shaping our adult carnal desires; before the invention of synthetic rubber, for instance, there were no 'latex fetishists,' and while 'agalmatophiles' (arousal by statues) was apparently quite common in Ancient Rome and Greece, today it's a virtually unheard of type of paraphilia."
So it turns out that agalmatophiles haven't gone extinct—because here you are, TVB!

Rest assured: You are not a terrible person—to the contrary: you come across as thoughtful and conscientious (almost to the point of paralysis)—and you seem to have a good grasp on/rationalization for why this particular fantasy turns you on. Good for you. As for your fear of objectifying women: almost all women enjoy being objectified*. Almost all men enjoy being objectified. Almost all people at other points along the gender spectrum enjoy being objectified. Now here's the "but": no one enjoys being objectified all the time even if most people appreciate being appreciated for their externals now and then. So you shouldn't let your worries about objectifying women stop you from exploring your fantasies. What you should do is find a woman who wants to be objectified by you, one who enjoys the very particular and specific kind of objectification that turns you on (or is happy to explore your kinks to please you), and consensually objectify her at times when she's up for being objectified.

Until that woman comes along, TVB, be a job creator and order up that porn.—Dan

* This sentence will be taken out of context on Tumblr.

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