Thursday, July 18, 2019

Que Sera, Sera...

This will be brief, I hope.  I'm thinking through a post on another larger subject and don't know when I'll feel ready to start writing it.  For now, then...

This week Dan Savage answered a question from from a man who's erotically excited by being cuckolded, and wondered why that should be.  The answer, with expert input, was a lot of admittedly unfounded speculation, but I was intrigued by Dan's closing remarks:
The erotic power of doing something that seems antithetical to the heteronormative and/or vanilla-normative expectations heaped on us by culture, religion, family, etc. should never be underestimated. While not everyone is turned on by the thought of transgressing against sexual or social norms, a significant percentage is. So long as our normative-busting transgressive turn-ons can be realized with other consenting adults, we should worry less about the “why” and more about the “when,” “where,” and “how.” (Now, in private, and safely!)
A few weeks ago, Dan fretted about white people who "fetishized" people of different "races."
It’s a good idea to ask ourselves whether our “types” are actually ours and not just assigned to us by conventional standards of beauty (white, slim, young) or a thoughtless/fetishizing reaction to those standards (a desire to transgress with nonwhite, larger, or older folks).
The new column raises some interesting questions about these strictures.  Suppose someone is turned on by a person of different skin color because it's transgressive.  In the real world, it's impossible to know that for sure anyway, but it seems likely to me that the erotic power of transgression also holds with "interracial" liaisons, even with same-sex eroticism. (For that matter, dating people outside one's comfort zone as a conscious strategy to broaden one's horizons is a kind of fetishization too, but it's likely to be anti-erotic in practice.)  I'm not sure it's necessary, or ethical, to inform a potential partner for a transient encounter that one is turned on by the prospect of transgressing against sexual or social norms with him or her; but then, he or she might just reply brightly, "Oh, that's okay!  I feel the same way about you!  Now quit talking and let's start transgressing."

But once again what I see here is Dan's own confusion about erotic ethics and values.  Is erotic transgression okay or not?  It seems that he draws the line at gender- or "race"- related transgressiveness, like many other people who fantasize that there is some pure, untainted erotic feeling that has nothing to do with real bodies.  I suspect that this fantasy -- or should I call it a fetish? -- is most common among people with very limited erotic experience, but the worldly Dan Savage really should know better.