The power of fantasy lies in the capacity to explore, without restriction, the inner recesses and outer limits of our psyche. For many, it is enough to have the imaginary encounter, and it need never be breathed to another soul. For others, the desire to explore the fantasy takes hold and pushes us to seek like-minded explorers with whom we can share our innermost desires. In our everyday lives we are limited by morality, legality and prevailing social mores, but we are free to dive into rich and florid — or even lurid — fantasies safely in our minds.
For those who have explicit fantasies that seem outside of the sexual “norm,” there can be a great deal of shame and guilt associated with the exploration of these themes, even in the privacy of one’s own thoughts. Some shun these desires as “deviant” and seek to banish them. For others, the drive to manifest the fantasy is irresistible. The longing for validation can motivate people to overcome strict upbringings, banish guilt and shame, and find camaraderie. It can push them to find or create space where those desires won’t be judged, but instead shared. It can be an incredible relief to know you’re not “the only one” with your particular “kink.”
With negotiation and consent, it can be healthy to discuss and explore explicit fantasies that seem outside of the sexual norm.
Many people find such a safe space in an online community where all the participants share fantasies of extreme sexual adventure. The communities should be all about consent: all parties consent to be a part of the conversation, and, if there is any thought that the secret desire should manifest, consent must be explicit, ongoing and mutual.
Fantasizing is healthy. Talking about fantasies with others can be healthy. Negotiating and fulfilling fantasies with consenting parties can be healthy. None of this should be illegal. But planning to fulfill your fantasy upon an unwitting stranger without his or her consent has no place in the practice of consensual BDSM. Objectifying other human beings – making them the fodder for your fantasies – is not necessarily a violation of consent. However, if the fantasy is to manifest, mutual consent, negotiation and personal safety are of paramount importance.
Manifesting an “edgy” fantasy is something that is negotiated and proceeds only if all parties involved actively consent to participate. In the BDSM realm, the gray area between fantasy and reality is full of negotiation: mutual expression of desire, consent, agreements to terms of safety, arrangements for after-care, etc. For instance, if I have a fantasy of being overpowered and ravaged, it absolutely does not mean that I have a desire to be abducted and sexually assaulted by a stranger. That fantasy might simply be a daydream I use to explore my own private pleasure. And yes, I may even choose to explore it with another consenting partner. However, transparency in motive and careful negotiation of how to bring the fantasy to fruition is absolutely necessary.
By seeking out like-minded people online and offline, you increase the opportunity to bring a secret desire to reality – blissful, risky, exhilarating and healthy reality.
Mollena Williams, an alternative sexuality educator and blogger, is a co-author of “Playing Well With Others: Your Field Guide to Discovering, Exploring and Navigating the Kink, Leather and BDSM Communities.”