Nauseated

Friday, March 23, 2012

Question

My girlfriend loves to watch anything to do with vampires. She gets goose bumps when she watches these shows. I sometimes watch a vampire movie with her because I like taking advantage of her arousal later (and being available so she can take advantage of me). But I have to admit I don't get much out of the genre as a form of entertainment. I asked her why vampires were so important to her, and she said it was the ultimate form of romance. I said, “But you wouldn't really want somebody to bite you and drink your blood, would you?” She was quiet for a long time and then said, “Well, maybe ...” Ugh!

 

Why would somebody drink human blood. Wouldn't it make you sick?

Answer

Well, the prospect of vampirism has definitely made one person sick—you! Rather than digging too deeply into the popularity of this fantasy genre, or investigating how mere mortals might enact vampire fantasies, you might be better off if you just continue to acknowledge that your girlfriend has a deep fondness for the predatory undead. Allow her to enjoy those fantasies, partly because you understand that when she is aroused and happy, the benefits are quite real.

Most people have sexual fantasies that do not duplicate their lovers' erotic imaginations. It's a big mistake to allow yourself to be threatened by this fact, and an even bigger one to start demanding that your partner get rid of fantasies that do not win your approval, or insist that he or she respond to your turn-ons exactly the same way that you do. Sexual compatibility is built up from the realm where the two of you have overlapping fantasies and appreciation for various forms of touch or physical stimulation. Censorship causes resentment, and that is a very reliable way to kill desire. So what if she likes things you don't get off on? As long as she also desires you and responds to you, the two of you can be ever so happy.

Of course, because this column is meant to inform everyone who comes to the website, not just answer the individuals who write to me, I am going to try to answer your question—for the benefit of other readers. The old saw “ignorance is bliss” has fallen into widespread disrepute and is, in my humble opinion, under-utilized by those who wish to have long-term, contented partnerships.

Yes, there really are people who use blood as a turn-on. That doesn't necessarily mean that it is consumed. Sometimes the act of drawing blood, handling it, painting it on oneself or others, being able to smell and see it, is enough. Blood is not always drawn so that it can be consumed. Sometimes the real erotic trigger is in the way the blood was drawn. Medical procedures or equipment can be the truly important part of the fantasy, or the handling of sharp objects, or the use of role-playing and bondage.

Any body fluid or waste product seems to lend itself quite well to becoming an erotic trigger. Blood is not a mainstream fetish—indeed, part of its appeal is that it scares most people. Doing something scary can make a few of us feel rather superior and special. And who doesn't want to feel that way?

The problem with consuming blood is that it may contain disease-causing organisms. Being exposed to a sick person's body fluids is the way that most sexually transmitted diseases spread. You don't need to swallow blood or hold it in your mouth to be exposed to a health risk. Allowing it to touch the vaginal lining, the rectum, or an open wound or rash is also dangerous.

Blood-borne diseases include (but are not limited to) syphilis, some forms of hepatitis, HIV (the virus that causes AIDS), genital warts, herpes, etc. Some of these disease causing organisms do not survive very long outside the human body. Some can be killed if the blood is put into high-proof alcohol before being consumed, or frozen or heated. There are disinfectants that can kill some germs, but you probably don't want these chemicals in your mouth or other orifices. Some organisms, such as the hepatitis virus, are extremely hardy. Your own blood poses little or no risk.

Most well-educated adults know all about this, and some of them continue to draw blood and expose themselves to it anyway. The psychological reasons for this are complex. I can describe what many people involved in this activity experience, but there's no way to capture everyone's motivation. Blood symbolizes life. Taking another person's blood can symbolize having a deep form of control over them. It also represents a willingness to nurture or nourish, on the part of the donor, and an exceptional level of trust and vulnerability. By sharing body fluids, people are uniting with one another and becoming of one being. Blood can be drawn as a substitute for doing harm to the donor. Extreme sexual practices stimulate adrenaline and may trigger the same fight or flight reflex that human beings feel when they are in danger. Some of us have associated feelings of anger or panic with the heavy breathing, rapid heartbeat, and performance anxiety of sexuality.

Vampire mythology resonates with other edgy identities. Making art about vampirism is a way to examine addiction, illness, sexual deviance, stigma, the fear of death, hunting for forbidden prey, seeking protection, fantasies about possessing magical powers, or the desire to infuse life with more meaning by seeking out magic or disruption of ordinary reality. Any time there is a taboo, it draws sexual potential and significance like a magnet draws shards of a meteorite. Vampirism also offers rich opportunities for play with costumes and life in another time and place.

If the donor is healthy, the risk of consuming blood is relatively small, as long as one is reasonable about the quantities. It's not a food that we have the enzymes to readily digest. But a sip or two won't necessarily give you a stomach ache or make you throw up. Don't forget that you can accidentally draw an invisible bit of blood during sexual activities that have nothing to do with vampirism. If you bite someone or nip at them, give them a hickey, or go down on a woman around the time when she is menstruating, blood or transparent serum will probably get in your mouth. This is why I encourage all sexually active people to get regular checkups and protect their health.

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