Friday, May 13, 2011


I am white, and my partner is black. She introduced me to verbal fantasies that were based on racial role-playing and power games. At first this seemed very forbidden, and I got off on it. But the language and the fantasies keep getting more extreme. Now it's no longer erotic. In fact, I feel turned off and insulted. I understand that racism does terrible damage to people of color. But putting me down won't solve the problem. I told her I want to take a break from this kind of sex, and she has accused me of ignoring her needs. I want to be a good partner, but having the person I love speak so harshly to me all the time is taking a toll on my self-esteem. She says that is nothing compared to what she and her people have survived, and implies I am weak and selfish. Everything I say to her gets twisted around until it looks like I am a privileged little snot trying to spoil her liberating fun.



You have told your partner what you want, and she has refused to consider your request. This is worrisome. If this is the only sexual fantasy that she finds exciting, it may be time for you to move on. By ignoring your protests and ridiculing you, she is undermining your control over your own life. Cross-racial fantasies qualify as emotional edge play. There is a high potential for people to be hurt and their trust in one another damaged. Whenever sex gets edgy, consent becomes very important. And she no longer has yours. What does that say to you about her values? Is your pleasure important to her? Does she care about what you do or don't like sexually? Is she criticizing and attacking you in other areas of the relationship? Do you think that being with her is making your life better and increasing your happiness, or is it making you feel worse about yourself and less empowered?

As a white person who is trying to be conscious of racism, you are at a disadvantage here, if you don't hold her to the same standards that you would hold yourself. If she is an unscrupulous person, you are not safe with her. Black or white, the bottom line is that nobody has a right to pressure or coerce you into a sexual fantasy that makes you feel worse about yourself. You don't need to play with erotic humiliation in order to be in a relationship with a person of color. Many would instead find such play quite offensive.

I usually recommend couples counseling, but in this case, I am dubious. Somebody this manipulative might not enter that process with good intentions. When a person's energy or self-worth is being drained, it can sometimes be important to get away from the source of the damage before you become too weak to leave. 

There may be factors here that make you want to stay, information you did not disclose in your e-mail. So you are the only one who can really decide whether to try to salvage things. Just remember that you have a right to feel good about yourself and your sexual expression. Power games are like any other kind of sex—they ought to make you feel wonderful instead of depressed. If you come out of a BDSM scene or vanilla sex feeling despondent and angry, something went wrong. A loving, concerned partner would want to talk about this, comfort you, and make sure it didn't happen again. Continuing to do the same thing over and over will not make it get better.


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