I'm a nice, white, liberal woman dating my first black guy. Everything was going great until I discovered one of his sexual passions. I don't know how to put it, so I'll just be blunt: He wants me to call him "nigger" in bed. Now, I'm a good liberal — I can't say stuff like that! He wants me to play the Southern belle and call him my "farm nigger." I'm speechless and he's pissed off. He says he finally trusted me enough to tell me what he really likes in bed and I reacted with repulsion. What do I do? He's accusing me of being too uptight. Am I? Why should I violate my own social values just so he can get off? How do we get past this?
— Lily White
I know it sounds shocking to you, but he's not asking for anything special in terms of role-play. It's the classic master/slave scenario, only with a sphincter-puckering wrinkle. In every other way, it's garden-variety erotic role-play. He wants to be treated as the property of his mistress. To receive punishment, humiliation and the experience of having no choice but to submit.
Sort of like fighting a Bank of America overdraft fee. He wants an exercise in futility.
Listen, there's something you need to understand. It's a fantasy. He doesn't want it to cross into reality any more than you do. He's not going to invite people over and hang a "whites only" sign over your vanity. He's not going to buy you fitted sheets for an evening rally.
Your reluctance to aid and abet his fantasy is understandable, but your reasons are not. If you think playing a role in a fantasy is a violation of social values, I can't imagine what you thought of Christoph Waltz as the Jew-hunter in Inglourious Basterds. Should he not have taken the role because the character was so reprehensible? Taking your thinking to its logical conclusion, nobody should play Cruella DeVille because it violates their principles against diabolical fashion shows.
Your boyfriend is asking you to step into a character and onto the stage. The playing of that role does not in any way mean that you support, validate or agree with the actions the role demands.
Having said that, it's hard to conceive that shit doesn't come up for an actor playing despicable characters. And that is a good a reason as any not to take on that role. The bottom line is that you have the right to say no to anything that unsettles you.
As a good lover, you also have the obligation to try new things. Sometimes it's hard to see, but there is almost always a middle ground between preserving your rights and furthering your love.
In your case it's this: Scrap the form and go for the substance. You can give him the experience of submission without the racist overtones. Think of the classic master/slave, dominant/submissive role-plays. None require a KKK membership.
Sit down together and create sexual scenarios that give him the power imbalance he craves. It could be the dominance of a prison warden over an inmate. The intimidation of a cop threatening an innocent citizen. Or for a complete loss of power and control, he could play a 401k begging Goldman Sachs for its life.
Now, will that put a stop to your boyfriend's desire for racist dominance? Of course not. That's like saying the vampires of "True Blood" are happy with the artificial blood beverage that keeps them from chomping on human necks.
It's a middle course that works for both parties. More or less. OK, more less than more, but still. Everybody wins. He gets a taste of what he wants and you get a start on what you may not know you like. You wouldn't be the first girlie-girl who ended up loving her inner dominatrix.
Mike "The Sexorcist" Alvear hosts HBO's "The Sex Inspectors," blogs at mikealvear.com and teaches monthly blogging workshops with Hollis Gillespie. Got a burning or a why-is-it-burning question for the Sexorcist? E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.