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How do you know if your fantasies or kinks are healthy?

Nov 30, 2022

How do you know if your fantasies or kinks are healthy? 

So this is a super timely question because there’s a whole lot of debate on Twitter right now about – well, in articles about incest fantasies or the different kinds of writings that may happen on a website like AO3.

So AO3 is a fan fiction website that also has a lot of sexually explicit content, some of which includes things that are illegal or that people may find really off-putting or disgusting or wrong.

So there are fan fics about bestiality.

There are fan fics about underage including very under aged people.

There are fan fics about things like snuff. 

So there’s a bunch of stuff on there.

It is luckily, mostly highly tagged and very searchable.

And a lot of people feel like if something would be wrong in the real world, you should never think about or fantasize about it or enjoy reading smutty porn about it because that is – that means you would do those things in the real world or are condoning them in the real world. 

An interesting hot take that I saw on Twitter today was that there was an article that came out that was talking about House of the Dragon that was like maybe incest fantasies are super hot.

And this person was like, “You only think it’s hot because the people are hot. You don’t think that the horror or incest people are hot so you don’t think that incest is a turn-on. So it’s not the incest that’s a turn-on. It’s the people.” 

And like look, isn’t that true with anything?

I’m super into fucking.

If the show is showing people fucking in a way that is intended to be horrifying rather than arousing, most likely, they are going to make casting selections, lighting selections, angle selections, pacing selections, all sorts of things that evoke the feeling they are aiming for which is horror or disgust rather than the feeling that I might feel about sex in other ways. 

The thing is, fantasies and kinks can be healthy or unhealthy, and that has almost nothing to do with the actual content of those fantasies or kinks.

There is a ton of research that shows that people being into these edgier, more taboo fantasies does not in any way translate to them doing those things in the real world.

So people who like reading bestiality porn don’t actually fuck animals.

People who love reading incest porn aren’t fucking their relatives.

People who enjoy reading underage porn, they are not having sex with people who are under age. 

And there’s also a debate about like is it OK to fantasize about these things if they are wrong in the real world because like aren’t you creating harm?

And the answer is no, you’re not.

These people don’t exist.

The fantasy people you’re reading about, they don’t exist.

No children were harmed in the making of this erotica. 

I think that the thing to ask yourself about whether it is healthy is more about your engagement with it and relationship to it and about how that relates to your behavior in the real world.

So like if you really love reading underage porn and the more you read it, the more you feel tempted to do something inappropriate with someone who is under aged, that’s probably not a healthy kink for you to be exploring in that way.

That’s probably something that is a problem and that you might need support around. 

If however, you like reading some underage porn sometimes but you have no desire to do anything with an actual under aged person, it’s a fantasy.

It’s a kink.

Our brains are messy places. 

The thing is, when we start trying to police the fantasies or the kinks that people get to have, we start getting into thought crime.

And conservatives love to talk about thought crime as a thing that liberals are always policing, and like it’s a lie, right?

You can’t trust fascists.

They lie all the time. 

And I think that sometimes those of us who are leftists who are very progressive, who are working are really hard on creating worlds founded on justice and accountability and equity, sometimes we end up taking things to a place that is like so far beyond what it needs to be.

Someone enjoying reading a story that has something in it that would be not OK in the real world is not the same thing as that actually harming people in the real world. 

The kinks that we are into are often about things that we find repulsive or reprehensible because for the majority of us, particularly in these cultures of the United States, Canada, England, like a lot of Western cultures, almost all of us, our introduction to sex is tied up with shame.

We are told our bodies are shameful.

We are told our desire is shameful.

And so, it would make sense that things that bring up those disgust, repulsion, discomfort, shame feelings might also bring up sexy feelings for us because for us, since our childhood, sex has been associated with shame.

And the more that you pair those things, the more they are going to fire together in both directions. 

In addition, the thing about taboo fantasies and kinks is that they are like sex roller coasters.

When we go on a roller coaster, the reason a roller coaster is fun is because it feels like you could die but you are not going to.

It activates all of the parts of your brain and your body that responds to threat in a way that is safe for you to engage in. 

Kinks and fantasies do the same thing in the realm of sexuality, sensuality, engaging with our bodies.

They take these things that are forbidden, scary, taboo, shameful, that bring up these strong reactions in us and give us a safe container in which to explore them and face them and dance with them and play with them. 

As long as the way that you are interacting with these fantasies and kinks is not creating harm in the real world, there is nothing necessarily unhealthy about it.

If however, your relationship to those is starting to cause harm to yourself or other people or other living entities then that’s something worth looking into and getting support around.

And if you are noticing that there is a potentially relationship with your fantasies or kinks, I strongly recommend finding a sex positive therapist to work with around it. 

The reason being, sometimes what is happening there is something that requires a therapy level of support and if you go to a regular mainstream therapist who is not sex positive, who does not have radical ethics, you can get yourself into a lot of trouble very quickly by talking about these taboo fantasies that you are engaging with. 

So again, the health here is not necessarily about the content of the fantasy or kink.

There are very few fantasies or kinks that the content on their own is necessarily unhealthy for you to be into or engaging with. 

The unhealthy part is how is translating to your life?

Is it that you engage in it so much that it’s making it hard for you to do other things?

That’s a problem. 

Is it that engaging with it in a fantasy realm makes you want to do it in real life?

And that would harm people.

That’s a problem. 

So just check in about what is the way this impacts the real world because in fantasy and kink land, it’s really hard for that to be a problem.

The stuff that happens in our brains – our brains are messy, chaotic places.

We love to think of them as these like beautiful, smooth, perfect machines, but they are not.

They are not at all.

They are fucking disasters and they are far more in common with the internet as that actually functions than they do the kind of thing we imagined.

The internet is basically a series of things held together by band-aids on band-aids on band-aids that are constantly being patched in an emergency way by people who didn’t build it and hate the way that it was built but cannot actually completely change it. 

That is kind of how our brains are.

They are full of chaos and muck and mystery and they are garbage fires some of the time.

So just because something is half for you in your brain does not mean that you are a bad person or that it is unhealthy.

It means that brains are messy and weird and sometimes we are super into fantasies that we are super against in real life, and that is totally normal and OK. 

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