Hey, Faggot:

I’m a “normal” girl, according to most people. Not too bright, not too dull, not too weird, not too mundane, but I have one little problem: since the age of five or six, I’ve had these not-so-normal fantasies. I’ve alternately fantasized that I was being molested by an adult, or I was a child accosting an adult, or an adult molesting a child. Now, I have other fantasies from time to time, but for some reason these are the only ones that can make me come REALLY hard. To the best of my knowledge, I have never been raped, molested, sexually assaulted, or unwillingly accosted in my life, nor have I ever done such a thing to another person. I thought that once I lost my virginity and was having regular sex with only one person, these thoughts would go away. But I’ve been in a steady and wonderful relationship for over a year now, and though “Jack” is a terrific lover, I am still plagued by thoughts of little kids.

This obviously is not normal. Am I doomed to be a dirty baby-fucking pedophile? Do you think I should get a shrink to examine me and my very tiny pocketbook in minute detail? I’m scared that a shrink will say I’m a risk to my kids–when I have them–and take them away as soon as they’re born. Or do you think this is just a classic case of “desire for the forbidden” or “dominance-submission” and that I should just ignore it as long as I never actually DO anything?

This is something that has been on my chest for more years than I want to think about. –Baby Pedophile

Hey, BP:

On your behalf, I contacted a shrink–Laura Keim–who has done absolutely amazing work with the most disturbed young man I have ever known: my glue-sniffin’, pill-poppin’, fact-checkin’ research assistant Kevin. Predictably, Kevin’s shrink suggested you see a shrink. “I would suggest,” Laura suggested, “that this young woman talk to somebody.”

Now, before we get to the meat of your problem, has a shrink ever–ever, ever, ever–suggested that someone just shut up, keep it inside, learn how to hide those feelings, etc? No, it’s always talk, talk, talk. And why do shrinks always say “talk to somebody,” when what they mean is talk to a shrink? The guy sitting next to you on the bus is somebody, I am somebody–but Kevin’s shrink doesn’t mean you should talk to me or scare people on the bus. She wants you to talk to “somebody,” meaning a shrink. Anyway, Kevin’s shrink did have some pretty good reasons why you might want to talk with “somebody” about your problem: “It can be really therapeutic to get this kind of heavy stuff out. Talking about it will lift a burden off your shoulders.” In the interests of protecting your tiny pocketbook, Laura recommends you seek out a therapist who “works on a sliding fee scale. She should be able to find a therapist she can afford.” And you needn’t fear that a therapist will turn you in to the Department of Children and Family Services when you have a kid: “The time to report would be if this person had a child and came in and said, ‘I’m molesting my baby,’ or, ‘I’m beating up my baby.’ Then a therapist is required by law in most places to report the crime.”

On to your problem: Your fantasies are not all that uncommon. As far as I’m concerned, having child molestation fantasies does not make you an evil person–so long as they remain fantasies, so long as you can be satisfied pretending to be a child while having sex with your boyfriend, or vice versa. In the same way that mistresses don’t really have slaves, but only pretend-slaves, you can safely PRETEND to molest “children” in role-play scenarios WITH OTHER ADULTS, scenarios that run the gamut from poopy diapers and baby rattles to naughty Catholic schoolgirls getting spankings.

Laura the shrink disagrees with me, however: “It’s one thing if a fantasy is about adults, but if it’s about kids, even if they’re not there in the room, that concerns me.” Laura worried that you might have trouble “keeping this a fantasy. And if somebody keeps having that fantasy over and over, maybe something else is going on. What does it say about what you’re needing in your life? Nurturance? Feelings of control? Is it about being lonely?”

Or is it about what makes you come really hard? The problem with the “what’s really going on here” approach to taboo desire is that it only deals with half the problem: your molestation fantasies could be about all the things Laura lists and more, but they’re also about what makes you wet. A shrink can help you explore “what’s really going on,” but those explorations are unlikely to erase your fantasies. The tape is still playing in your head. So what do you do with the desires?

“Ultimately, it’s not a very healthy turn-on,” Laura observed, and I agree. But all sorts of people with “unhealthy” turn-ons–incest, murder, torture–can and do safely explore their fantasies through consensual role-playing. Men and women with rape fantasies, for example, are told that it’s OK to act out “rapes” with partners willing to play at rape, willing to pretend. Rape is also wrong, at least as wrong as child molestation–which is itself rape, after all–so it seems inconsistent to tell people it’s OK to play at rape with consenting adult partners, but not OK to play at child molestation with consenting adult partners.

The difference is, of course, kids. Folks fear that by fantasizing about kids, you’re taking your first step onto a slippery slope that leads directly to becoming a dirty baby-fucking pedophile and that we need to be careful not to create more child molesters by giving people like you, people who have not yet slipped their moral moorings, permission to indulge yourself in fantasy. But the slippery slope argument isn’t applied to folks with rape fantasies, even at the risk of “creating rapists.” Deep-seated, long-held fantasies are unlikely to evaporate after talking with a shrink. You may come to understand why you have these fantasies–or create a rationalization that makes some sense to you–but you’ll still have them. The trick with fantasies like yours, dangerous, harmful-if-realized fantasies, is not to ban them (as if a fantasy can be banned or disallowed!) but to create a way of safely and legally exploring them. These desires will probably always turn you on–so it is very important that you get and maintain control over them. Says Laura, “If she can work them through, really understand them and what they mean, she’ll feel better about herself as a person and a potential parent. The people that keep them inside, who deny or bottle these forbidden desires up, are likelier to wind up in a situation where impulse takes over, and they wind up harming someone. If she talks it out, maybe the fantasy will not happen as frequently, or she’ll feel more secure about being able to keep this fantasy a fantasy.”

Send questions to Savage Love, Chicago Reader, 11 E. Illinois, Chicago 60611.