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Going Shopping

By Dan Savage · December 15th, 2004 · Savage Love
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My girlfriend and I have been together for two years, and while it's the best relationship I've ever been in, we're not sexually compatible. Her ideal amount of sex would be twice a month. For me the number is closer to once a day. We've reached a compromise that usually comes out to three times a week, but that number leaves her feeling oversexed and me feeling undersexed. The reason she claims to not like sex is because she's usually unable to climax without fantasizing that she's being drugged and taken advantage of by evil research scientists. I have offered to buy props (lab coat, clipboard, drug paraphernalia, etc.) and role-play this fantasy with her, but she has asked me not to, saying that she feels "broken" for having this fantasy and doesn't want to make things worse. I've finally persuaded her to agree to try it, but only if I can get an expert's assurance that going through with it isn't likely to make things worse. Any help you can give would be greatly appreciated.

-- Undersexed Because of Evil Scientists

P.S. She says she doesn't count a sex-advice columnist as an "expert" but might be persuaded if you got an actual sex therapist to comment.

Hopefully the long string of letters, periods, commas and parentheses after Yvonne K. Fulbright's name -- MS Ed., Ph.D. (c) -- will impress your girlfriend. Fulbright is the author of The Hot Guide to Safer Sex (Hunter House, 2003), and according to her Web site (www.yvonnekfulbright.com), she's "a media darling often described as the Dr. Ruth of Generation Y." Yvonne's Web site lists every publication she's ever graced with a quote -- which seems a bit desperate to me but, hey, I'm no expert -- and she has a few choice quotes for your girlfriend. Unfortunately, they're probably not what you want her to hear, UBOES:

"Sexual compatibility isn't the problem here. Your girlfriend is the 'victim' of a much larger issue -- the guilty complex your girlfriend has for engaging in sex. Her fantasy reeks of sexual inhibition, most likely due to negative messages about sex growing up or perhaps sexual abuse. Furthermore, its elements of force and being overpowered scream taboo rape fantasy, which is fairly common in both sexes. ... Such fantasies can be great fun and healthy forms of sexual expression if they're acted out in safe, secure, consensual sexual relationships. It is important to keep in mind, however, that studies on rape fantasies have found that women whose sexual fantasies involve men using force rate themselves as feeling more frightened, guilty and disgusted. They also report being less happy and less likely to act on their fantasies.

"Acting out this fantasy is not going to solve the problem at hand (i.e. the amount of sex you're having). It may get her off, (but) she's still going to have her complex with sex and feel oversexed. In addressing this issue, your first step is to reassure your girlfriend that it's OK to have such fantasies -- that there is nothing wrong with them and she has nothing to feel guilty about. Second, don't push acting out the fantasy unless she wants to. A lot of people would rather not act out their fantasies for fear that actualization could taint erotic reactions and diminish arousal. Plus, in some cases fantasies can scare the crap out of us and acting them out may simply cause further trauma. Third, work with your girlfriend on identifying a professional who can help her with her issues, with the American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors and Therapists (www.aasect.org) being a great place to start."

I hope that helped, UBOES, but I kind of doubt it. Like a lot of advice proffered by "sex experts," Yvonne's advice seems designed to drive your poor girlfriend out of her mind.

"There is nothing wrong with (her fantasies) and she has nothing to feel guilty about," Yvonne says, "(but) actualization could taint erotic reactions and diminish arousal (and) may simply cause further trauma." Rape fantasies, says Yvonne, can be "great fun and healthy forms of sexual expression," but women who have them are "frightened, guilty and disgusted ... less happy and less likely to act on their fantasies." If this is expert advice -- "Your fantasies are normal, you disgusting freak, and they can lead to wonderful sexual experiences unless, of course, they ruin your sex life forever..." -- I'll stick with the amateur variety, thanks.

Our expert can't even bring herself to answer the question: What should you do? Instead, she recommends -- didn't see that one coming! -- counseling. Like a lot of sex experts, Yvonne has probably never met a kink that didn't qualify someone for therapy. I don't mean to be an ungracious host -- Yvonne is my guest expert, after all -- but she's the kind of sex expert who gets on my nerves. She presents herself as young, hip and sex-positive, but she peddles the same old fear and repression that sex "experts" have trafficked in since they were telling us that masturbation kills. Dr. Ruth? More like Dr. No.

Since Yvonne won't answer the question, let me: Should you go through with it? Is it likely to make things worse?

Yes, UBOES' girlfriend, you should go for it. No, it's not likely to make things worse. It's been my experience -- personally, professionally (and I've been at this a lot longer than Yvonne) -- that when people "actualize" long-suppressed fantasies with a caring partner, they not only get off, they also feel a tremendous sense of relief. That feeling of relief is usually followed in quick succession by feelings of "Why the fuck did I wait so long?" "What was I so afraid of?" and finally "When can we do it again?"

The fact of the matter, young miss, is that your fantasies aren't going to go away, and besides the blazingly obvious -- no shit: your fantasies have something to do with overcoming your sexual inhibitions though eroticized helplessness -- you're not going to get much out of therapy. And far from making matters worse, acting on harmless sexual fantasies, however bizarre, frequently diminishes their relative importance to your sexual inner life.

Forbidding yourself to act on a sexual fantasy is like forbidding yourself to think about bananas -- it makes it hard to think of anything else, you know? If you would just relax, embrace your fantasies and appreciate the goldmine you're sitting on the form of a dreamy GGG boyfriend, you'll be a much happier and more sexually fulfilled person. You might even be able to climax thinking of something else -- i.e. you'll feel less "broken," not more, once you give yourself permission to act on these fantasies.

But, hey, don't take my word for it. I've got a couple of bonus guest experts for you: Sebastian and Laurel Wood of MedicalToys.com, "the largest provider of medical toys, products and apparel for the medical fetish, nurse fetish and medical BDSM scene on the Web." Like Yvonne, they're experts -- only the Woods are experts, authors and lecturers on medical fetish, which is the proper name for your kink.

"When we founded MedicalToys.com, we did so to give adults like this man's girlfriend the opportunity to understand that this is a very common fetish and desire," says Sebastian. The first thing the Woods wanted you to know, UBOES, is that you're not a freak: "We have a very large customer base in the U.S., thousands of customers, all of whom have similar desires."

Like me, Laurel and Sebastian thought you should give your evil-scientist fetish a whirl. "It is healthy to explore these fantasies in a safe environment (like with a lover)," says Laurel, "and it is healthier than suppressing these thoughts. If it does not produce the expected fireworks, at least the couple will know they have tried, and maybe it will inspire them to try another fantasy."

 
 
 
 

 

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