Dear Dan: I’m a straight guy in my early 30s with an amazing girlfriend of two years. A few months ago, I felt open enough to share my taboo fantasy: father/daughter incest. My GF, to my delight, not only understands the fantasy but enjoys participating in it! Quickly: I have ZERO interest in this kind of thing actually happening. I understand the kind of damage that sexual abuse can do and has done to many, many women, and I would never pursue something like this in real life. Now the problem: We’ve added the “wrinkle” of me talking to another man on the phone while my GF fellates me. The man — a stranger, someone we found online — has been led to believe that I am being fellated by my daughter while we speak. Of course, he can hear the noises associated with said activity while he and I are talking. We do not in any way lead these guys to believe that they have a chance to meet us. We want to enjoy our sexual fantasies, but we worry that we could be inadvertently encouraging someone to make their fantasies a reality. Any advice?
—No Acronym Seems To Yodel
Dear NASTY: The incest fetishists you meet in chat rooms and get on the phone? For all they know, you could be alone in a room stirring a jar of mayonnaise with a slotted spoon. And for all you know, NASTY, the incest fetishists you’re meeting in chat rooms could be police officers looking to bust men who are actually raping their daughters. Just sayin’.
As for your problem, NASTY, most people with incest fantasies insist that they’re not turned on by the idea of having sex with their actual parents, siblings or children. Incest scenarios turn them on abstractly, but they have ZERO interest in their own siblings or parents or children specifically. That can’t be true for all incest fetishists — statistically speaking — but any incest fetishists who’re turned on by the thought of actually fucking their sibs/parents/children would have a motive and/or the good sense to lie.
But let’s set your specific fantasy aside for the moment — which is an upsetting one for most people to contemplate (because ick), particularly those who were sexually abused by family members (because rape) — and focus on the underlying question: Does exploring something taboo through fantasy make someone likelier to go and do that thing in real life?
The evidence we’ve got about porn points to no.
“Perhaps the most serious accusation against pornography is that it incites sexual aggression,” Melinda Wenner Moyer wrote in the July 2011 issue of Scientific American (“The Sunny Side of Smut”). “But not only do rape statistics suggest otherwise, some experts believe the consumption of pornography may actually reduce the desire to rape by offering a safe, private outlet for deviant sexual desires.”
What you’re producing for the men you get on the phone is a kind of pornography, NASTY, and Moyer demonstrates that the wider availability of Internet pornography has correlated strongly with falling rates of sexual violence — and incest between an adult and a minor is sexual violence.
“Within the U.S., the states with the least Internet access between 1980 and 2000 — and therefore the least access to Internet pornography — experienced a 53 percent increase in rape incidence, whereas the states with the most access experienced a 27 percent drop in the number of reported rapes, according to a paper published in 2006 by Anthony D’Amato, a law professor at Northwestern University,” Moyer writes. “It is important to note that these associations are just that — associations. They do not prove that pornography is the cause of the observed crime reductions. Nevertheless, the trends ‘just don’t fit with the theory that rape and sexual assault are in part influenced by pornography,’ [Professor Christopher J.] Ferguson [of Texas A&M] explains. ‘At this point, I think we can say the evidence just isn’t there, and it is time to retire this belief.’”
The complicating factor here, of course, is that you’re leading these men to believe that you’re actually doing it, i.e., the noises they’re hearing are your daughter blowing you and not you stirring a jar of mayo. So will the men you talk to want to rape their daughters in real life because you’ve led them to believe that you’re raping your daughter? Hard to say … and even harder to get data on. But the people doing taboo shit in porn are actually doing it, and the data suggests that watching others do it, i.e., living vicariously through porn performers (who are sometimes faking it, but still), leads to fewer people acting on taboo desires in real life, not more.
On this week’s Savage Lovecast, Dan talks with a former stripper about her lurking shame. Also, hear an interview with Daniel Bergner, author of the book What Do Women Want?, about what women want, all at savagelovecast.com.
Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, and follow Dan on Twitter @fakedansavage.