by Dan Savage
My roommate is into BDSM. Fine. I couldn't care less about his sex life. He met two women at a BDSM club whom he regularly "plays" with. They enjoy being subjected to what he calls "erotic torments." Fine. But he also watches BDSM pornography. Since he has no way of knowing if the women in the BDSM porn enjoy the "erotic torments" they're subjected to, I don't think it's fine to view this pornography. These women could have been forced or they could be doing it because they're in financial distress. Not fine. Therefore, I say it is impossible to enjoy any BDSM porn ethically. Do you agree?
He Enjoys Loathsome Pornography
Yes, HELP, I don't. Wait. No, HELP, I do.
Goddamn English language.
What I mean to say, HELP, is that it can be ethically problematic to enjoy BDSM porn of unknown provenance. I agree with you there. But I disagree with your conclusion: i.e., that it is therefore impossible to enjoy any BDSM porn whatsoever, in any form, regardless of its provenance. Your conclusion rests on the assumption that no BDSM porn producers are using models who are just as turned on making BDSM porn as your roommate is watching it.
New technologies—credit cards, digital video production, the internets—have revolutionized the porn industry. Yes, there are still big, mainstream porn studios pumping out product, most of it non-fetish/kink. But today there is tons of fetish/kink porn being produced by and for fetishists of all stripes. Many of these smaller porn producers are hyperethical about the use and abuse of their models. That's particularly the case with producers of BDSM porn, most of whom are acutely sensitive to charges of brutality because, well, their products can seem so brutal.
"In my experience," says Lauren of Two Big Meanies (www.twobigmeanies.com),a small BDSM porn outfit based in Seattle, "folks in the BDSM scene are much, much more scrupulous about negotiating consent, sexually and otherwise, than people in almost any other walk of life." TBM's owners—Lauren and Russell—don't just make BDSM porn for perverts like your roommate; they're BDSM players themselves and they tap regular play partners for many of their models. As a consequence, says Lauren, "informed consent and mutual pleasure are the building blocks of what we do."
And how does scrupulousness about consent inform TBM's treatment of their sometimes long-suffering models? "For us personally, we make a point of letting our models know that we want them to enjoy and get off on the shoots, while providing them with ways to express and protect their own boundaries," says Lauren.
So, before you freak out about your roommate's porn preferences—and frankly, HELP, you could care a bit less about his sex life—you might want to ask him where he's getting his BDSM porn.
I'm 23 and have been with my boyfriend for 15 months. About six months into the relationship I became pregnant. It was a lot sooner than we planned for, but we decided to raise our child together and move in with each other. About three months ago, when I was six months pregnant, I was cleaning out our shared computer. I found a profile of my boyfriend on AdultFriendFinder.com. He had been e-mailing a female in her 40s, exchanged NAKED pictures with her, and said he wanted to meet her for "discreet 1-on-1." I confronted him and he insisted he never met up with her and was only on that website because "we were having problems."
I was upset, but decided to give him another chance because I love him. Then a month ago, I found another personal ad he placed. No naked pics this time, but the ad was also for a "mature curvy woman." To make things worse, it was Valentine's Day and I was eight months pregnant! He said he sent the last e-mail because he was "bored" since he is unemployed.
Dan, I'm still with him but there are doubts in my head about trusting him. I love him and want to raise our child together, but I don't know if what he is doing is an addiction or if he's just playing me for a fool. Should I DTMFA? Give the relationship a chance for the baby's sake? Please help, Dan!
Problematic Reality Engulfs Girl
If the pressures of a baby on the way drive your boyfriend into the bat-wings of curvy, older women, PREG, he's going to be deflowering goats by the side of the road once he's confronted with the pressures of a baby on the premises.
I'm sorry, PREG, and your letter's a heartbreaker, but I can't offer you the help you need. Because what you need is a time machine that can whisk you all the way back to August of 2006. Then nine-months-older-and-wiser PREG could order nine-months-younger-and-dumber PREG to have an abortion or, better yet, to not have sex with that unemployed asshole at all. But at this stage all I can tell you to do is dump the motherfucker already.
And I hope you have family nearby, PREG, because you're going to need their help.
I discovered your column recently, and I was intrigued by the following statement from a column you wrote last December: "While most of us learn to live with and occasionally conquer our fears without eroticizing them, a number of us respond to sexual fears or traumas by incorporating them into our erotic imaginations."
My wife gets totally turned on by fantasizing about me with another guy. She doesn't really want me to do it with another guy, she just gets off—hard—to the mental imagery. The whole thing began when I revealed early on that I identify as a 1 on the Kinsey Scale (some same-sex fantasies, no desire to act on them). That led to whispered scenarios involving fictional characters like massage therapists, culminating in some pretty massive orgasms for both of us. Tame stuff, really, by Savage Love standards.
She hasn't been able to understand why she has these fantasies, and why they get her so hot, especially since she doesn't want them to move from fantasy to reality. Me, I don't care that much as to why—I just enjoy the role reversal. She, however, agonizes over it the next day, wondering why-oh-why. It turns out she started having these fantasies when she was in a previous relationship with a guy who had sex with men before, and, she suspects, during their relationship (yes, she's since had an HIV test). She has some fairly powerful abandonment issues, and apparently her man-on-me fantasies have become thoroughly entangled with her fears that I will cheat on her with some dude. Which I won't, because I really and truly don't want to.
So, my question is: Now what? The game we play is fun in moderation, and I'd hate to give it up entirely. But I'm leery of doing anything that plays on the deep-seated fears of the woman I love. Or, since people ride roller coasters and jump out of airplanes because they're scary, should we just look at it that way and keep things the way they are?
Not One To Get All Yappy
Understanding what experience inspired her fantasies—if that experience inspired her fantasies—won't make them go away. Since your wife will have to live with those deep-seated fears regardless, NOTGAY, it seems to me that she might as well derive some pleasure from them. So keep things the way they are.
Guys who can't come from oral sex alone, er, unload in this week's web extra. Read on.
Hey Dan, about your response to HACB: I upset a few women before I realized I couldn't get off from head alone, no matter how great it got/felt. When I figured it out and started to explain to women that head didn't do it for me, most just tried harder. They wanted to be the one who finally managed to suck it out. Once in a while women will try too hard and I'll have to speak up to prevent my skin from getting sucked off the shaft.
Orgasms Resonant Ass Loads
Good advice for HACB. I am a straight guy who has never had much of a thing for blowjobs. I found them sexy as hell and a nice warm up for sex, but I've never been able to come from a blowjob alone. The times I was able to come involved additional stimulation. In addition to trying different oral techniques, HACB could try mixing in hand stimulation and see if that helps. And if HACB can handle it, her guy might be able to get off if she lets him fuck her face. I let my girlfriend work her magic for a good 20 minutes or so, which gets me about 80 percent there. Then I fuck her face to completion, being careful not to go too deep. This may work for HACB's guy if all else fails.
Difficult Blow Job Cummers Unite
I'm one of those guys. I've had good ones and I've had bad ones, but I've never felt even close to coming from a blowjob alone. I've had girlfriends who put in serious work on that front, and some who loved to swallow, and that would start with them giving head, but end up with me finishing myself off and them latching on at the last moment to get it all. And I must say, it's never been a disappointment! I still love being blown!
The difficult part was getting over my hang-ups about jacking it in front of a girl. I mean, we're raised to feel shame about performing the act, so to deliberately perform it... and into/onto someone else? Scary!
The Happy Wanker
I'm writing in response to "Having A Cock Block," the woman who had trouble bringing her ex-boyfriend to orgasm orally.
Penises are like dogs: You can train them to do tricks (roll over, play dead, beg), but you can't control them. All but one of the girls I have slept with hated giving blowjobs. One girl I was with would gag, cough, and retch if even the smallest taste of semen hit her tongue. I was with her for eight years and my penis has been trained to not come by oral sex.
Luckily my wife loves blowjobs—and the taste of semen. She was patient with my disobedient penis and we managed to retrain it. So try not to be too upset at a penis that is not coming on demand and don't take disobedience from a penis personally. Sometimes a penis needs a bit of retraining.
Be Patient With The Penises
I second your advice to the woman who dated Paul, the guy who went limp halfway through a 45-minute (!) blowjob. As a 32-year-old straight male that has never come through being blown (or jerked off, for that matter, by anyone but myself), I had an ambivalent relationship to head. On one hand, I loved the sight and feel of a woman going down on me; on the other, I hated the feeling that by not getting off that way I was some kind of freak, that I wasn't showing the proper "appreciation" for what she was doing. It was easy to feel like the lone anorgasmic freak in a sea of guys who blow loads at the first touch of lips to wang.
A few years ago, you ran some e-mails from men who can't come through intercourse—they have to whack off to finish—and one of the best points you made was that the women's movement has done a great job of explaining to the world how complicated female sexual responses are. Women are no longer considered abnormal if they don't get off through vaginal intercourse alone. A woman may need other kinds of stimulation, she may need to do it herself, she may not come every time or at all, and so on. Yet there has not been a corresponding correction to the image of men's sexuality, which is that we're all premature ejaculators, as easy to pop as a squeeze bottle of ketchup.
Keep telling the people how it is: Male sexual response is not monolithic, and it shouldn't be. It is not "sad" when a man cannot get his rocks off from being sucked. (I had a woman tell me that once—just before I dumped her.) A woman is not a freak because she can't come from the same things that get another woman off. Everyone needs to learn that the same is true of men.
Can't Understand Many Women's Attitudes, Dude
A few years ago, I wrote to you regarding my inability to achieve orgasm by receiving oral sex. (I'm a straight male—not the getting-sucked-off-by-some-dude-on-the-side kind of straight male you sometimes take questions from, but the real, meat-and-potato, pussy-loving kind of straight male.) You were kind enough to respond to my query, saying some guys simply can't, but that it might happen at some point in the future. Your assurances put my mind at ease, and made my inability to nut easier to express, in spite of the sometimes incredulous responses I got from women.
The bottom line is, some just can't. And for those of us for whom it is nearly impossible to get off from a nice blowjob, any imperfection in technique can be an absolute no-go. So tell HACB that she needs to communicate effectively, and that even if the guy can't blow, he's probably having a ball watching her go to town. Just put a time limit on it, so her jaw doesn't fall off.
As for me, I am now in my early 30s, and just moved in with a woman I am going to marry. The sex is great, we are both GGG to the extreme, have a wonderful collection of his-and-hers sex toys, and a fantastic relationship outside of the sex, too. And incidentally, she gave me a hummer when we started dating that blew my fucking mind, and caused my first-ever orally induced orgasm at age 30. So, there you go.
Thanks again for the laughs and advice.
A Faithful Reader
My long-term boyfriend is a 30-year-old straight guy who has never gotten off from a blowjob—from me or anyone else. However, the other night I decided to try a little longer than usual. Well... he got really, really close. His body said he was close, he said he was close, and as I'm getting ready for the big moment when... he farted. Farted! Really loudly! He said he guessed it was just because he was so relaxed. I didn't take it personally, but it was certainly weird.
Farted In My Face
Your observation that some men are not able to come from blowjobs needs an addendum: There are some women who cannot come from having their pussies eaten. I am one of them. It is not a matter of the eater's skill. It is not a psychological hang-up on my part. I like having my pussy eaten as foreplay. But it just doesn't get me off.
The only truly mind-blowing orgasms I've ever had were from sexual intercourse—and it has to be "just right." I've concluded that in my case the G-spot HAS to be stimulated either directly or indirectly, and that this simply doesn't occur when my pussy is being eaten.
The persistence with which sexperts insist that cunnilingus somehow guarantees female orgasm bewilders me. I'm sure the guys who can't get the physical stimulation they need to come from blowjobs feel the same way.
Favors Upright Cock Kindling My Embers
A new Savage Love podcast is available for download every Tuesday at www.thestranger.com/savage.