“Being sexuoerotically turned on only by a partner who has a predatory history of outrages perpetrated on others.”
John Money, Lovemaps
One of my earliest crushes was Bill Sikes in Oliver! The wife-beating, alcoholic brute (played by Oliver Reed) might seem like an unusual choice, but there was something six year old me found attractive about him. He wasn’t the only fictional criminal that got my pre-adolescent heart pumping. I preferred Bluto/Brutus to Popeye and pretty much every Batman villain to Batman.
Oliver Reed as Bill Sikes
As I got older, my asexual childhood crushes developed a sexual component. I don’t think I recognised the twinges I got from watching fictional murderers as sexual until I was in my early 20s but they were definitely there.
My sexuality is heavily based around degradation, pain and fear, so it is hardly surprising fictional murderers and abusers press my buttons, but why do those things turn me on and what if real life crimes also elicit a response?
I don’t think I will ever fully understand why I have sexual tastes that deviate so far from the norm, but I’ve spent a long time thinking about it. It could be a case of misattribution of the increased heart rate and blood pressure that comes with fear as arousal. It could be taking the bad boy archetype to its extreme. Perhaps growing up around domestic abuse inextricably linked violence with romantic and sexual relationships. Maybe teenage experiences of sexual assault and rape created an association that runs so deep it is impossible to break. Whatever that cause, as long as my sexual tastes don’t harm anyone, does it really matter?
Real life criminals
Being attracted to Dexter or Johnny in Naked doesn’t offend most people. Getting aroused by Saw or Texas Chainsaw Massacre is undeniably fucked up, but it’s fiction (and I’m not the only one. See ‘Recreational Terror’ by Cristina Pinedo). Finding real life criminals or crimes arousing is a much more uncomfortable situation and one I’ve long debated whether to confess to.
Over the years there have been numerous accounts of crimes that I have found arousing. It is always the details of the crimes that turn me on rather than the criminals themselves. I think the first time I felt a sexual response to real murder was watching the film ‘Dahmer’. It was a fictionalised account, but this man still killed and sexually assaulted multiple men and boys. I felt a huge amount of guilt and internal conflict, but reconciled it by focusing on the fact it was a film that I had the response to.
This fictionalisation of serial killers and dissociation of murderers from their crimes begins long before a biopic is made. Serial killers become characters and their crimes become half myth. They are given names such as “The Toy Box Killer”, “The Night Stalker”, “The Killer Clown”, “The Milwaukee Cannibal” and “The Muswell Hill Murderer”. Their victims become nothing more than numbers. Perhaps we fictionalise them, and subsequently occasionally sexualise them, because it is easier to pretend they are a character than to accept that such frightening and dangerous people are living among us.
Am I a Hybristophiliac?
The short answer is no. I am not attracted to men who commit extreme violent crimes. You won’t find me marrying a death row inmate or dating rapists. When I watch documentaries about serial killers I am disgusted by the criminals and feel empathy for the victims and their families. I am as repulsed by the reality of their crimes as any other person. It is the fantasy, and specifically me placing myself in the victim role, that pushes my buttons.
My sexual response to crimes comes from a different paraphilia. I am an autassassinophiliac. I am aroused by the risk of being killed. This does not mean I actually want to be killed, I just find the risk (or the fantasy of the risk) incredibly arousing. When someone runs a knife over my body and says “Don’t fucking move”, my heart rate quickens. When someone is choking me, the flash of fear that they won’t release me from their grip is an intense high. The panic as I struggle against strong arms holding my head under water turns me on in a way a sensual fuck will never be able to.
A fantasy is no more dangerous than a dream. We don’t choose what gives us a sexual response, and sometimes the things that do are disturbing. We can, however, choose to take a close look at what is behind our arousal and find ways of satiating our kinks without hurting ourselves or others.