Dear Dan: Here’s a non-COVID question for you: I’m a queer white female in a monogamish marriage. I vote left, I abhor hatred and oppression, and I engage in activism when I can. I’m also turned on by power differentials: authority figures, uniforms, hot guys doing each other. Much to my horror this thing for power differentials plus too many WW2 movies as a kid has always meant that for my brain (or for my pussy) Nazis are hot. Fuck me, right?
Other maybe relevant bits of info: I’m not interested in roleplaying with actual partners, I’m fairly sure this proclivity is not reflective of any deeper issues, and I’m both sexually and emotionally fairly well sorted. Not perfect, but fine working order and all that. And I get it: people like what they like, don’t judge yourself for your fetishes, just get off without being an asshole to anyone. The problem is that my usual way of getting off on/indulging my fantasies is to read erotic fiction on the Internet. I’d love your input on whether seeking out Nazi porn is problematic for some of the same reasons that porn depicting sex with kids is problematic. Am I normalizing and trivializing fascism?
—Freaking About Search Histories
Dear FASH: Seeking out child porn — searching for it online, downloading it, collecting images of children being raped and sexually abused — is problematic (and illegal) because it creates demand for more child porn, which results in more children being raped and sexually abused. The cause-and-effect is obvious, FASH, the victims are real, and the harm done is incalculable.
But while it may discomfort someone to know a nice married lady who donates to all the right causes is furiously masturbating to dirty stories about hot guys in Nazi uniforms doing each other, FASH, no one ever has to know that. So you do no harm—not even the supposed harm of discomforting someone—when you privately enjoy the fucked up stories you enjoy. And while there are doubtless some actual Nazis who enjoy reading dirty stories about other Nazis, most people turned on by dirty stories about Nazis are turned on despite themselves and their politics. Transgressive sexual fantasies don’t arouse us because they violate societal norms and expectations (in a safe and controlled manner), FASH, but because they allow us to violate our sense of ourselves too (ditto). Just as a feminist can have rape fantasies without actually wanting to be raped herself or for anyone else to be raped, a person can have sexual fantasies about hot guys in Nazis uniforms doing each other without wanting Nazis to come to power.
I have to say it was a easier to give anti-Nazi Nazi fetishists like you a pass — to shrug and say “you do you” but please keep it to yourself — before racist demagogues, white supremacists, and anti-Semites started marching around waving Trump flags. But no one picks their kinks and being told “that shouldn’t turn you on” has never made a problematic or transgressive kink less arousing. And when you consider the number of non-erotic novels, movies, and television shows the culture cranks out year after year—and how many actually trivialize fascism (I’m talking to you, Hunters) — it’s seems insane to draw a line and say, “Okay, this story about Nazis isn’t okay because that lady over there masturbated while reading it in private.”
Dear Dan: I’m an apartment-dweller in a dense urban area. Last night I overheard my neighbors having sex — no big deal, right? I consider myself a sex-positive person, and have always held and espoused the belief that if you can’t have loud sex in your own home, where can you have it? But the sex I overheard last night was fairly kinky. Someone I read as a cis man was dominating someone I read as a cis woman. They were in the apartment right across from mine — about 20 feet away — and my bedroom window faces theirs. There was a LOT of derogatory talk, hitting, name-calling, giving orders, and some crying. I could tell it was consensual — she was very clearly having a good time — and I eavesdropped long enough to witness the post-coital return to equilibrium. Everything seemed great. But physically I experienced this as overheard violence. I was shaking and had a hard time getting to sleep afterwards. I’m glad I stuck around until the end. It helped me feel better. I guess what I’m saying is that I needed some aftercare. I’m still thinking about it this morning, and I’m concerned that being triggered by my neighbor’s sex is going to become a regular part of my life. I’m wondering about the ethics of the situation: Do kinky folks have an obligation to muffle potentially triggering sounds? Or is any overheard sex potentially triggering to someone and am I therefore applying a double standard here? What do you think?
—The Vanilla Neighbor
Dear TVN: You went from overhearing kinky sex to eavesdropping on it — meaning, you went from accidentally hearing your neighbors fucking to intently listening as your neighbors fucked. And you needed to do that. You heard something that sounded violent but hearing more led you to guess it was consensual sex and listening all the way to the end — all the way through the aftercare—confirmed your guess was correct. So for you own peace of mind, TVN, you needed to keep listening. But you don’t need to listen next time. If it triggers you to hear your neighbors fucking, don’t listen. Close the window and crank up some music or go for a walk and listen to a podcast.
That said, TVN, you raise an interesting ethical question: Are kinksters — particularly the kind of kinksters who enjoy verbal abuse and impact play — obligated to keep it down? While I think people should be considerate of their neighbors, people are allowed to have sex in their own homes, TVN, and it’s not like vanilla sex is always quiet. But if the sex a couple enjoys could easily be misinterpreted as abuse or violence by someone who accidentally overhears it, that couple might wanna close the window and turn up some music themselves — not only to avoid alarming the neighbors, but to spare themselves the hassle of explaining their kinks to a cop.
For the record: I would tell person who enjoys a good single-tail whipping to find a soundproof dungeon to enjoy that in (because that shit is loud) but I wouldn’t tell a person who screams her head off during PIV intercourse to find a soundproof box (even though her shit is just as loud). Instead I would urge her fuck at 8 PM, when most people are awake, rather than 2 AM, when most people are asleep. (It can be annoying listening to someone screamfuck but it’s even more annoying to have your sleep ruined by a screamfucker.) Is this a double standard? Perhaps. But it’s one I’m willing to endorse.
Dear Dan: 1. Is it safe to hook up again? 2. Will it be safe to hook up again soon? 3. You’ll tell us when it’s safe to hook up again, right?
—Getting Really Impatient. Need Dick. Really.
Dear GRINDR: • It isn’t.
• At some point.
• I will.
A note from Dan: Hey, Everybody: Me and Nancy and the tech-savvy/at-risk youth will be doing a special Savage Love Livestream on Thursday, June 4th at 7pm PST. You can send your questions to email@example.com or ask them live during the event. I’ll answer as many as I can in one fun-filled Zoom meeting! Tickets are $10 and all proceeds from the Savage Love Livestream will be donated to Northwest Harvest, a non-profit that distributes food to more than 370 food banks in Washington State. Go to savagelovecast.com/events to get tickets!