[content warning: literally this whole post is about getting off on the idea of raping people]

So, you get off on thoughts of raping people.

You probably feel guilty. You might worry that you might do something violent in real life. You might even hate yourself.

Those thoughts are normal. If there’s someone who fantasizes about raping people and hasn’t had occasional feelings of guilt and self-hate, I’m not sure if I’ve met them. Whenever I’ve talked about my kinks with people, the discussion has been punctuated with “I’m a sick bastard” and “I’m trash” and “I’m so going to hell”– not in a self-hatey kind of way, but in a “yep, this is fucked up” sort of way.

And if you think about it, having those feelings should reassure you. It means that, despite your fantasies, your moral compass is functioning perfectly! You don’t want to rape anybody. You are horrified by the idea that any part of you wants to rape someone. That horror at the idea of actually raping someone is your best protection.

Being a noncon fetishist is also tremendously lonely. People talk a lot about why people with fantasies of being raped enjoy it, but no one talks about people with fantasies of raping. A lot of times the discussion bottoms out at “I like it because my partner likes it!” and “I don’t enjoy nonconsent, I enjoy my partner willingly handing over power.” And that makes sense: who wants to admit that they get wet when they think about raping people?

But I want to say that there is nothing wrong with having sexual fantasies about raping people.

Rape is wrong because it hurts actual, real, existing people who have thoughts and emotions and preferences. Rape fantasies only hurt the imaginary, fictional people inside your own head. Imaginary, fictional people inside your own head cannot suffer. They do not have qualia. They are not morally relevant.

Having rape fantasies does not mean you are going to inevitably become a rapist. Most people with fantasies about raping people that I’ve interacted with have been, if anything, more conscientious about consent than people without those fantasies. And there are a fair number of rapists who aren’t turned on by rape at all: they just don’t understand why someone not wanting sex means they shouldn’t have sex with them.

Rape is a choice. If you don’t make that choice, you aren’t a rapist– no matter what you think about when you jack off.

I think we should follow the wise rule of the Hydra Trash Meme: “thou shalt not judge the trashiness of thy neighbor’s kinks unless thy neighbor is trying to pass off their rotting banana peels and half-eaten pizza crusts as a healthy romantic dinner for two.” It’s okay to get off on the idea of holding a guy down and fucking him because you can tell he secretly wants it, as long as in real life you are aware that if his mouth says “no” his eyes don’t get input. It’s okay to get wet thinking about fucking a passed-out girl, as long as in reality you put her to bed and cover her with a blanket. It’s okay to fantasize about violently raping someone, as long as you know it is just a fantasy.

I think that understanding that on a fundamental level is why most people with sexual fantasies about raping people, including myself, have an instinctive revulsion to the idea of raping someone in the real world. We might be turned on by it, but in real life it hurts people! Why would we want to hurt people?

So let’s talk about living ethically with our kinks. A lot of people are going to be upset by our fetishes, many of them survivors of the things we fantasize about, many of them not. I think this is perfectly fine, and it is wrong to talk about rape fantasies in detail without giving people a way to easily avoid the conversation. (For instance: provide content warnings on the Internet; in in-person conversations, check that everyone in the conversation is okay.) If someone has made it clear they don’t want to talk about it, don’t fucking talk about it. I think people shouldn’t go out of their way to be dicks to us, but they don’t have to be comfortable with us. As long as we go our separate ways, it’s fine.

I think it’s important whenever you discuss kinks like this in public to contextualize them the same way I am in this post: this is a fantasy, but in real life it is wrong. This is particularly important for porn: remember that a lot of people get their basic ideas about how sex works from porn. While you might be aware that this is only a fantasy, the fourteen-year-old jacking off to your story might be internalizing “if a man has an erection, he wants sex”. In my experience, fandom takes a really healthy attitude towards this: I remember a lot of discussions about the distinctions between noncon, dubcon, and rape that conclude with “and, of course, outside of fiction, all three of those are just rape.” Of course, fandom obsessively discusses stories (that’s, uh, sort of its defining feature), and I’m not sure how to expand this to porn with less discussion attached.