"The Word That Describes Me Is 'Sick'"S

Susie and Aretha Bright believe that mother-daughter teamwork is the answer - or maybe the last resort - for all your sex advice needs. Send us your questions! Mail to sexperts@jezebel.com. Today, shame over sexual fantasies and second-husband sex.

Dear Susie and Aretha,

I experienced my first orgasm last year. No physical stimulation was involved- it was purely a mental exercise. Since then, I've bought sex toys and used them with great success. I'm confident when it comes to my ability to please myself. The problem is the mental stimulation it takes to get me to come is the most depraved type. I'm not kidding. I'm worried that there's something wrong with me. My fantasies don't involve death or mutilation, but that's about the only limit. I can't come, even with intense physical stimulation, unless I think about pain, humiliation, and obedience. I saw a list of fantasies that "cross the line" on some web site, and I think I hit at least two or three. It's not just S&M. I find that fantasies of misogyny work just as well as ones of bondage, if not better- and I'm an unapologetic feminist. I know I shouldn't be ashamed to be sexual, but I think the word that describes me is "sick."It doesn't help that I go to a women's college. I have about as much chance of finding a boyfriend as I do of winning the lottery. I don't know if I'll ever find it possible to achieve pleasure when I'm in a real relationship. I'm not a virgin, but I've never come with another person. Is there a way to reconfigure your sex drive? Or am I asking for the equivalent of those deprogramming camps that certain awful parents send their gay kids to? Is there any help for a pervert like me?

-One Sick Puppy

Aretha: Puppy, chill out. You are not sick.

Susie: Any credible sex-ed web site or book would take a more nuanced view of taboo fantasies than a "Don't Go There" list. Put down the Cosmo Magazine. You are hardly alone.

Aretha: If you told me you got off thinking about sex with animals, being raped, incested, or anything else taboo- I still would not consider you sick. Fantasies about taboo things are great, because they are FANTASIES- nothing bad is happening in real life.

Susie: I'm sure there's been times in your life where you were made to do something you hated, or were humiliated by a bully or authority figure. No one finds it pleasant, let alone arousing. You have no control whatsoever. But when you fantasize an humiliating punishment, for example, or a depraved act- you control every aspect, every moment. You take yourself exactly to the erotic brink YOU want to go to… and then you get the catharsis, the orgasm. Lemonade is made out of your lemons. It's human nature.

Aretha: What site did you go to that said certain fantasies "cross the line"- says WHO?

Susie: Yeah, you need to report them to the sex-ed police! ;-) The BEST research about why we fantasize the things we do, is in a book called The Erotic Mind by Jack Morin. It's worth a good ten years of therapy- and you'll be able to help a lot of other people feeling similarly tortured!

Aretha: I have to ask, if she REALLY doesn't like these fantasies and wants to be thinking about something else- is there something else she could be doing?

Susie: It's not dog training. You can control behavior, but you cannot bend the unconscious to your will. Nobody likes to hear it, but that's the truth. When behavioral psychiatrists treat "repeat sex offenders"- people who cross the line of reality and consent, who violate other people's boundaries-they give them strict homework to masturbate to "appropriate" fantasy material and "aversion therapy" for the unwanted fantasies. The results have not been inspiring, much like the failures of the "Homo Rehab"camps. You can't suppress specific sex fantasies effectively. You can only diminish or eliminate one's entire libido by chemical or hormonal means. I'm sure that's not what Puppy has in mind!

Aretha: Pup, I know you're at a women's college, but are you chained to your desk? Why do you think you can't have a boyfriend till graduation? Are all the other girls at your college waiting till graduation to have a bf, too?

Susie: Hitch a ride into town.

Aretha: I don't know why you haven't come before with your other sexual partners, but I'm guessing they didn't know what turns you on.

Susie: I'm guessing you haven't had enough chances to try much of anything out- or some decent privacy!

Aretha: Do you want to role-play your fantasies with a lover? Or even talk about them?

Susie: I predict you're going to find some really hot radical tender boyfriend who will be thrilled to find out you have the same "sick" fantasies that he does. Think up a funny "safe word" while you're sitting in your next semester of Abnormal Psychology. Don't waste another moment doubting yourself.

• • • •

Dear Aretha & Susie,

I'm in my second marriage. I met both my husbands within the framework of a tight-knit conservative religion. My current husband and myself consider ourselves religious people, although we came to this level of religion as adults. Before I became more religious, I had been sexually active in college. My first marriage ended for many reasons; because he cheated on me numerous times and he was clinically addicted to porn. In this first marriage, I refused any type of sex beyond missionary style, because a) our religion forbids the placement of sperm anyplace besides the vagina and b) my husband treated me like crap and having sex was like someone going to the bathroom on me. My second marriage is AWESOME. My husband *loves* me passionately: physically and emotionally. We have all kinds of sex: oral, vaginal, and anal, with occasional rimming and spanking. I do these things because I love my husband and I love pleasuring him- but there are aspects of our lovemaking I feel uneasy about. My husband asks occasionally for me to shave my pubic hair. Or he'll ask me to spit on his dick when giving him oral. He gets off on lots of gratuitous moaning. He likes this "porn-aesthetic" and I just divorced my ex-husband because he was addicted to porn. If I broached this issue with my husband he would immediately back off because he's a sensitive guy. I don't have anyone within my community to discuss it. What's the best way to handle this? I want to be desired for who I am rather than how much I can act like a porn star.

- Not a Porn Star Wannabe

Aretha: Okay, wow. This is messy. She says herself that if she talked to her husband about it, he would back off. So what's the problem?

Susie: I agree. Putting the hot buttons aside…if he listens to her and loves her, then anything is up for discussion. That's what intimacy is about. Wouldn't she want him to confide in her, if he was feeling this alienated?

Aretha: She doesn't say that the sex is amazing with her husband-I don't hear her saying anything about enjoying herself.

Susie: Yeah, I noticed that, too. She performs all this wild sex because she loves him and wants to make him happy… but that's not the same thing as knowing your own happy place. It's an untenable situation.

Aretha: She says she wants to be loved for who she is… so who is she? She needs to figure out what she wants in the bedroom. She doesn't want to feel like she's a porn star- what does she want to feel like?

Susie: I don't buy the "porn addiction" meme- but whatever the problem was with her last husband, she was neglected. Lied to. That's enough anguish right there.

Aretha: Okay, NPSW, so now you're with a new guy who gives you lots of attention. You love being cherished by him. His desire for you is all you ever dreamed. But you're not getting the sex you want, and you don't like what you've been doing sexually for him. HOW DID THIS NOT COME UP BEFORE YOU TIED THE KNOT?

Susie: I blame your tight-knit conservative religion.

Aretha: You throw in a lot about your religion… but it doesn't seem like your current husband takes the "sperm-only-in-the-vagina" thing very seriously- and neither do you, since you're going along with it. You just have to talk to him. You have to. The longer you wait with these things, the worse it is. He won't like hearing that you've been turned off by what he likes. Too bad. He needs to hear it now, because he won't change all on his own.

Susie: I'm just speculating, but if you don't have orgasms with him, it's time to ‘fess up. Cut the "performance" crap. Have you been uninhibited and come, with anybody? What was your sex life like before your turn in faith? What's your solo sex life like? Is it good? Would you take a chance to try something authentic with him? What WOULD make you moan, for real?

Aretha: And if you can't bring yourself to break the ice, I'd suggest NOT looking for your next boyfriend in a conservative little religion group.

Susie: It's a proven recipe for marital sexual disaster. Just ask…. Your local GOP fellowship. I think you know what I'm talking about, or you wouldn't be here at Jezebel.