This has elicited a couple of different reactions from readers. The primary one has been, essentially, “YES! Please destroy me!” There’s been a resounding chorus of this reaction, both in the comments and in private e-mails. Alas, almost all from women in other countries.
A second reaction has been a sort of cautious, “Well, yes, but….” The words I chose – “harm,” “destroy,” have a viciousness to them, a violence. And several readers were caught up in the danger attendant to those concepts. And let me just say this, if it wasn’t clear, if it isn’t clear: I am not a sadist. I am not a sociopath. The only harm I ever hope to inflict is harm that is affirmatively welcomed; the only destruction I hope to do is situational, welcome, perhaps metaphorical. If, on any level, I aspire to the literal forms of those verbs, it’s deep, deep in my unconscious. (And I suspect it is there on some level. Which is why in that post I celebrated my gaining just a little contact with that.)
I didn’t think I needed to say it, but I guess I do: I’m a big believer in consent, in mutuality, in respect. Degradation outside of those contexts, pain, force, power, is repulsive to me. I’m not a rapist, not an abuser.
I’ve spent my adult life trying to access, and to reconcile, the deeply internal sense of aggression necessary to fuck well and properly with the far more conscious (and even occasionally impotence-rendering) sense of abiding respect for the women with whom I’m fortunate enough to explore sexually. Sometimes, I think this doesn’t serve me so well sexually.
This was my point.