My friend told me that his date had a rape fetish, only she didn’t technically say it to his face but had answered ‘yes’ on the dating website where it had asked if she had a rape fetish.

Thing is, he said, I don’t have a problem with a rape fetish, provided it’s not getting shit on or excessively painful or damaging or whatever. People are free to have whatever fetishes they care to. It was the knowing it, he said, that was the issue. That he knew she had a rape fetish even before he had a proper idea of what she looked like. How are you supposed to authentically get to know a person if you have a major detail like that in your head? This is what he was thinking about the entire time. She was talking about her hobbies, dislikes and likes, and he keeps thinking the whole time, well, if you have a rape fetish, is it possible to have other hobbies?

Having a fetish isn’t necessarily the same as a verdict, I said. A fetish doesn’t necessarily define your whole life. I bet he knew people with plenty weirder fetishes.

Of course, he never brought up the subject during the date, which was their only one, by the way. Knowing that someone has a rape fetish is the kind of personal detail only offered in absolute confidence, maybe after a night of intimacy, when you’re feeling close to the other person, maybe considering dating them long term. At least that was his thinking. Or maybe it’s even more sacred than that, the rape fetish. Maybe you tell your partner after six months or a year. When you’re safe enough in their company that perhaps you could see that person indulging it with you.

But on the other hand, I said, you could definitely see someone admitting to their rape fetish on the website to attract like-minded people. To weed out the people who might be totally grossed out.
I buy that, he said. But the rape fetish wasn’t the only problem.

It was their only date because he was for sure positive no question that her grandparents had been Nazis in the War. He assured me that if it came down to it, the rape fetish alone wouldn’t have been a complete deal-breaker.

The whole thing reminded me of that Kundera story about the young lovers who go on a road trip and decide to play escort. The girl pretends to be a prostitute and the guy pretends to pick her up, only they become their roles so wholly that it fucks their relationship up big time, with her transforming into this femme fatale seductress and him an asshole, though he kind of was already an asshole to begin with. The point is, the playacting becomes real to the point that when they revert back to normal, the guy can’t see her for anything other than a jaded person of loose morals even though she’s really this sweet, naïve person underneath.

I wondered out loud to my friend about the staging of a rape fetish, if something similar could happen, the two people becoming the violator and victim. He said he wasn’t sure, though we both agreed that it was a possibility given the right type of people involved.

I told my friend that something similar once happened to me in a previous relationship, only it was me indulging the fetish, and that the fetish did, in a way, get out of hand, but not in the way he might think. It’s a very strange story, I warned him, which only made him sit forward with attention.

Before I began, I asked him if it was fair not to date someone because of what their grandparents did. I said, isn’t that kind of like how Hitler felt?

He would never be able to stop thinking about it, he said.

I told him that that was his problem. That maybe he should see a shrink.

So says the son of one, said my friend.

Anyway, I dated, briefly, a man who had a thing for Nazis, only he didn’t know it until we watched Schindler’s List one night on a lost bet and he couldn’t help seeing himself as an SS officer, what with his non-Jewish European complexion and decent organizing habits.

When he playfully called me a Jew and ordered me to the bedroom, I made like a death march to get a rise out of him. I really did like him.

Other than the satisfaction of bringing about someone else’s satisfaction, I didn’t really get anything out of it. After I explained this to my friend, I wondered whether that was true, whether there was a part of me that did, in fact, enjoy the debasement and whether I was ashamed to admit as much.

My friend just told me to get on with the story.

The guy I dated gave me commands all night. He made me take my clothes off and stand in a cold shower. He buzzed my hair till there was nothing but stubble. He drew numbers on my forearm with a ballpoint pen which drew blood and he explored me in a way that felt scientific.

I agreed to see him for a while, though I did not typically sleep with men. He bought a Nazi costume after calling all of the fringe boutiques in Manhattan and showed up at my door one night wearing it in good posture. I was disappointed that my doorman would let a Nazi into the building.

When we had sex that night, I felt like apologizing to him. The truth is, I once visited Europe simply to cry in concentration camps.

Eventually he got bored of me, got tired of dressing as a Nazi and parading me around my flat and humiliating me. The more we met, the more unfulfilled he became, as the constant satisfying of his desire to degrade me only served to deepen the chasms within him. He had played all of the games he wanted, and now he wanted something else.

But for my part, I said to my friend, who signaled for the check but assured me that he had been listening, I got out of it exactly what I had hoped.

Photo by Jason Pratt

Zachary C. Solomon
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