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When spouses give grudgingly 

Q: Any words of wisdom on girlfriends, boyfriends and spouses who claim to be GGG, but systematically take away much of what they give by making it clear that they are not “into it” even as they fulfill their lovers’ fantasies?

For years my wife has indulged me; however, she nearly always prefaces fetish sex play with a statement that makes it clear that she is doing so only grudgingly: “I really don’t feel very creative right now, but here goes ...” “This isn’t what I really like, but OK ...” The result? Either aborted sex play or sex play that highlights the fact that only one of us is taking any pleasure in it. (As every fetishist knows, the other party taking open or tacit pleasure in indulging the fetish is an important element in fulfilling almost every conceivable fantasy.) Is it passive-aggressive revenge? Hostility toward me generally? A self-conscious person needing to relieve some anxiety, clumsily but not hostilely expressed? —Whole-Hearted, Interested Participation Means Everything

A: I strive to be fair and balanced, WHIPME, but lately some Savage Love readers have accused me — me! — of gender discrimination. It’s no coincidence that I tend to come down on the pro-fetish and fantasy-realization side in most disputes, my critics contend, because men are likelier to be fetishists. I’m just another voice out there telling women there’s something wrong with them if they don’t cater to a man’s every whim.

This criticism is wholly without merit. In my defense I would point to the countless times I’ve advised straight men — ordered them! — to cater to their female partners’ needs. I’ve advised straight boys to: eat pussy joyfully and frequently; happily incorporate their women’s vibrators into the action; wear strap-ons if their dicks are small and their women occasionally long for that “filled up” feeling. Shit, I’ve all but offered to come over and strap down straight boys who were reluctant to submit to the aspiring peggers in their lives. Gender bias? As noted feminist Mary Poppins once said: Pish-fucking-posh, beyotch.

But to prove that my pro-kink, pro-fetish, pro-fantasy-realization stance has nothing to do with my dick, I’ve asked Midori — famous sex educator, author, feminist, and full-fledged, lifelong female — to grab the Savage Love reins for a week.

“Does she use guilt-tripping and passive-aggressive statements at other times?” Midori asked after she read your letter, WHIPME. “The same statement can come from a person who feels they lack technical confidence or a person who harbors resentment. If it’s passive-aggressive behavior, you have more issues around basic communication then you do around your fetishes. Perhaps a couples counselor?”

If you determine that she’s not passive-aggressive — and you’ll have to ask the wife to determine that, WHIPME — what does Midori recommend?

“The next time she says she’s not feeling creative, smile and tell her how much you enjoy what she has done and you enjoy her gift to you. The next time she says, ‘This isn’t really what I like, but OK ...’ ask her what she’d like and figure out how to combine both your needs. Maybe she’s feeling that her needs are not met and hasn’t been able to express that. I have seen many eager fetishists focus so much on their own fantasy fulfillment that they leave their partner feeling unheard. After a while, feeling unheard can lead to seething resentment.”


Q: I’m a straight, 26-year-old, relatively kinky male. I met a woman I’m crazy about. We connect on so many levels. However, she’s opened up to me and told me that a man raped her when she was a teenager. She says she still has trouble dealing with this. What struck me as odd was that she told me this after the millionth time she asked me to “rape” her, tie her up, hold her down, call her foul names, etc. I thought I was helping the woman of my dreams get off, but now I feel a little weird. Does she have this fetish as the result of being raped? Is there a sensitive way to bring this up with her? —Suddenly Reluctant “Rapist”

A: “A person’s kinky sex fantasies of ravishment and objectification or humiliation are not necessarily about some repetition of past traumas,” Midori says, “so the real issue here is that you feel confused. It’s not your job to fix her, but you can understand the situation so you can decide how you feel. Here’s the sort of thing you might want to say to her. ‘Sweetie, our sex life is just totally amazing — wow. And I’m crazy about you. I am also touched that you shared with me what happened to you when you were a kid. You know I’d never want to harm you, so I’m a bit gun-shy about the sort of kinky sex we have. I don’t want to be the bad guy in your nightmares. So maybe could you tell me about how you feel with those fantasies?’”


Q: I am a teenage straight boy with a strange attraction to bestiality. I feel that bestiality is wrong, and that no person should ever force an animal to do anything. However, I just can’t stop thinking about horses or dogs fucking the bejesus out of a woman. I’ve never gone farther than masturbating to bestiality porn. I realize I have a problem, and I don’t know what to do. —Boy Into Troubling Erotica

A: “Loads of people fantasize about things they’d never do — and a person can have this fantasy for his entire life and never act upon it,” Midori says. “I think a lot of Greek mythology about people and animals having sex must have come out of such fantasies. And, hey, do you ever fantasize about being that dog or horse? Then it would be fantasy role-playing and not bestiality.”

Oh, and an observation from me, BITE: You say bestiality is wrong because “no person should ever force an animal to do anything.” Um, what about women? Unlike mainstream porn, almost all of the women who appear in bestiality porn were forced into it. A little less concern for dogs and a little more for women might help you work through this.


Q: I’m with a great guy, and our sex life is awesome. Here’s the but: He’s asked me to try dominating him. I want to fulfill his fantasies (I even bought some killer props and scary stilettos), but whenever we do any role-playing, I find it ridiculous rather than sexy. Do you have any advice on how to avoid bursting out laughing when he says things like “Oh, please don’t spank me, I’m a good boy”? —Love This Relationship

A: “Go ahead and laugh,” Midori says, “and then pull him over your lap for making you laugh, and while you’re laughing, spank him!” Midori also felt — and I agree — that you need to rethink your notion of how a dominant behaves. “Forget the grim, dark, dour Mistress stereotype,” she added. “You gotta find your own style! I’ve got some advice for finding your dominance style in my latest book. You might want to check that out.”

Speaking of: I just finished reading Midori’s latest book, Wild Side Sex: The Book of Kink (Daedalus), and anyone who enjoys Savage Love should check it out. Oh, and Midori and I chatted about a couple of other letters that we didn’t have space for here. Go to to read the extras.


Dan Savage’s new book — The Commitment: Love, Sex, Marriage, and My Family — is out now.

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