Dear readers: Two writers stepped in to answer the Savage Love Letter of the Day while I was on vacation, and I wanted to share two of their responses. (The SLLOTD is blasted out to folks who have the Savage Love app.) First up is Daniel Bergner, an award-winning author whose newest book is What Do Women Want? Adventures in the Science of Female Desire, which Salon said "should be read by every woman on earth."
I came out as gay during my marriage five years ago. (I'm a woman who doesn't like the word "lesbian.") I want to be in relationships with women, get married, etc., but I haven't dated since my divorce. But I'm ready to start. I started on Craigslist in the w4w section and then moved to the m4w section, looking to fulfill a pegging fantasy. In working up the courage to respond to one guy's ad — and then emailing/texting a total stranger that I was masturbating — I thought of asking for my own fantasy. I asked if we could "meet" without meeting: go to a coffee shop, sit across the room from each other and flirt via text. If that went well, I wanted him to follow me to my place (stalk me), break in, rough me up a little, fuck me and leave. That was too intense for him. I don't consider this a rape fantasy. I've been raped, and it was the worst experience of my life. This is consensual sex. I don't want to meet directly because I want him to remain a stranger. I want to be safe. I'll have a safe word. I'd also like to discuss this with my therapist, because I was sexually abused by my father, my cousin and my mom's boyfriend. I feel so hung up by the fear of being raped that it has restricted my ability to enjoy anything. Maybe by doing this I can face that fear. I'm also completely turned on by it. Can I do this safely? Is this healthy? Am I still a gay girl if I fulfill some kinky fantasies with men?
Not Wanting Rape
So you haven't talked to your therapist but you're reaching out for advice online, you're declaring yourself a gay woman but starting your post-divorce erotic life hunting for sex with men, you'd like that sex to commence with a "meeting" that is a nonmeeting, and you want to be stalked, roughed up and fucked by an intruder in a way that bears only a minimal (and constructive) relationship to your having been raped and sexually abused. Since your letter is full of paradox, can I tell you something paradoxical? Your fantasies are utterly hot and are absolutely nothing to be ashamed of, but they scream out Slow down and seek serious counsel!
Everything you lust for is at the same time somehow avoided or semi-denied. Father, cousin, mom's boyfriend performed some work on the core of your psyche, and probably laid down some of the wiring for your current yearnings. This does not mean your fantasies are weird (rape fantasies — I'm going to call them that — are among the most common sexual scenarios women imagine), but it does mean you've got deeper thinking to do before you take real risks. What I'm sensing is searing heat, confusion and a deluded hope that you can control the forces you're about to unleash. "I have a safe word." Not necessarily. Words won't always be heeded by total strangers you've asked to get rough with you.
I'm pretty sure you can pull off some version of what you wish — with a measure of safety — when you're thinking more clearly. I'm all for seizing ecstasy while exorcising the past. I'm just saying, know thyself better. You'll be a better judge of the right not-rapist.
As for your last question — "Am I still a gay girl?" — let go of categories. If you're turned on by both genders — and almost every bit of research I've encountered suggests women often are — count yourself lucky. Your options are enviably wide.
Chris Savage is Michigan's most widely read progressive political blogger. Rachel Maddow calls Chris's blog — Eclectablog.com — "the indispensable Michigan politics source." He is also an organizer for the Michigan Democratic Party. Follow Chris on Twitter @Eclectablog.
I am a 21-year-old male. My girlfriend has a bad temper and is extremely needy. She won't allow me to see family or other friends because I have to spend all of my free time with her. Sometimes she hits me when she's angry. She reads all my texts, but won't let me read hers. The problem is, I love her. She says she can't live without me, and I'm worried that if I break up with her, she'll do something drastic. What can I do?
Let's look at a few of the descriptors you used for this person you say you're in love with: bad temper, needy, angry, violent. I'd add manipulative and controlling. Where are the positive words people in love normally use?
Here in Michigan, the right-wingers that have taken over our state have demonized our teachers and made "union member" a slanderous phrase. They've worked to take away women's reproductive rights and raised taxes on the poor and the elderly. They've been assholes to everyone but their business pals. But every now and then, they do something nice. When they do, people fall all over themselves to thank them. Then these assholes do the same stuff all over again.
That's the position you're in. You have a choice to make — continue to be treated like a doormat, or recognize that you're being abused and kick this woman to the curb. You'll soon find out that she can live just fine without having you to wipe her feet on. You're fortunate: You can do this now. In Michigan, we have to wait until 2014.
On the Savage Lovecast: Brazilian waxes for men, from the waxer's perspective, at savagelovecast.com