I am a liberal parent. I always thought that I could accept anything that parenthood might throw at me. I knew that I could embrace my son if he were straight, gay, bi, trans, etc. If there is a controlling consciousness of the universe, it has a nasty sense of humor. My son is sexually attracted to Pokémon. He dropped hints that I didn't really pick up on. But I have stumbled across evidence of his browsing habits that left me pretty clear about his proclivities. He is now 17, so thoughts that he would "grow out of it" are fading. My biggest fear is that he won't find someone to pair with. I want my children to be happy. Should I address this with him? Try to discourage an orientation that, to me, seems kind of pathetic?
Dad Of Pokémon Enthusiast
"It's possible that DOPE's son is just a curious kid who finds unusual sex fascinating, with his browsing habits no more revealing than discarded tickets to a carnival act," says Jesse Bering, Ph.D., the author of Perv: The Sexual Deviant in All of Us. "But if Pokémon lights this boy's fire in the ways DOPE imagines, there's not much DOPE can do. By age 17, his son's singular erotic profile is pretty much fixed."
What might cause a young man to take a sexual interest in Pokémon?
"Nobody knows why some people are more prone to developing unusual patterns of attraction than others," says Bering. "But the best available evidence suggests that some people — mostly males — have a genetic predisposition for being ‘sexually imprinted' during development."
It's like this: Some kids are going to sexually imprint on random shit; kids are exposed to random shit all the time; there's no way of predicting which kids will imprint on what shit; so there's no way to prevent Pokémon fetishists or foot fetishists or clown fetishists from happening. A small number of our fellow human beings will have kinks that strike others as pathetic, twisted, sick or silly.
And since being shamed by his dad or mom (see below) won't save a kid from his "pathetic" orientation, shaming your son is a waste of time that will serve only to damage your relationship with him. As for your fears that your son will wind up alone ...
"Although DOPE might prefer a regular old queer child instead of a rare plushophile — someone with an attraction to cartoonlike stuffed animals, such as Pokémon — the good news is that his son grew up in a world where, somewhere out there, other people were being erotically molded by animated Japanese chimeras in the same way," says Bering. "Reaching out to that community online can only empower him and help him to accept a now unalterable — and completely harmless — part of his nature. In many ways, life can be easier for DOPE's son: He's got a ready-made sexual niche, complete with hookup opportunities at annual conventions."
Follow Jesse Bering on Twitter @JesseBering.
I am a het husband. Before we married, I let my wife know that I loved spanking women and I was not a faithful man. Fast-forward 20 years: She does not like to be spanked and does not want me cheating, despite my earlier proclamation. So I watch spanking porn and remain faithful. Am I cheating on my wife with porn?
Wannabe Intensely Spanking Husband
You are not cheating on your wife when you watch porn — spanking or otherwise. And I don't think getting together with other women for spanking-only playdates would constitute cheating. Sadly for you, I'm not your wife.
When I was 14, my mother found some dirty stories I wrote on my computer. They were hardcore (bondage, slavery, whippings), and some featured neighborhood MILFs that I had crushes on. My mom went ballistic and terrorized me about my kinks until I left for college. I hated my mother so much during this time. It took me a decade to get over it. I'm now 30 and married. My wife and I appear to be "normal." But we are both into bondage and S&M, we go to fetish parties, and we've explored cuckolding and forced bi. Cutting to the chase: My wife is pregnant. We announced the news to my mom and dad, and they were delighted. Then my mother sent me an email saying that if she hadn't "nipped those dark sexual impulses in the bud," I would "not now have a lovely wife and a morally acceptable lifestyle," and she wouldn't be expecting her first grandchild. I'm so angry. I want to tell my mother that she has my "dark sexual impulses" to thank for her first grandchild! I met my kinky wife on Fetlife! My wife would rather not be outed as kinky to her mother-in-law and says to let it go. What do you say?
Mad Over Terribly Hurtful E-mail Received
I agree with your wife: Let it go. Focus on your wife and the child you two are having together. The last thing you need is your mother getting in your wife's face about her kinks or running to fetus-protective services because she believes kinky parents are a danger to their children.
But just in case your mother brings it up again, write an email to her, one that your wife sees in advance and approves. Something along the lines of: "My adolescent sexual fantasies were none of your business, and your inability to respect my privacy and sexual autonomy caused me great personal distress at the time. Your actions did not help me. They damaged our relationship. My adult sex life is none of your business. All you need to know is this: My wife and I very happy together — both emotionally and sexually compatible — and if you want to be fully involved in your grandchild's life, you will never bring this subject up again."
On the Lovecast: Dan matches wits with 74-time Jeopardy! winner Ken Jennings at savagelovecast.com.