|by Sal Seeley|
|The Secret Lives of Clowns
Ever since I was a child, I've been afraid of clowns. A couple of months ago, I was talking to some new friends about my fears and I explained to them how I felt about clowns. Later that night, they invited me back to their house. When they answered their door, a clown that was built like a brick house opened the door and invited me in! Normally, I would have run away, but this was not your ordinary clown. Let's just say, I put on a red nose and learned some new some circus tricks that evening. What is it that makes something sexy for some and a nightmare for others? Our brain.
The brain's our most important erotic zoneit controls everything. Most of us have discovered that no matter how hard we try, if our head isn't into it, our body won't respond.
For many people, sexual fantasies play an important role in sexual motivation and help define our erotic personality. A sexual fantasy provides us with a "map of desire" that gives our imagination a starting point.
Sexual fantasies also provide an important escape valve, permitting us to keep our public behavior within acceptable social limits, while at the same time, allowing us to express our desires and psychologically engage in behaviors we may not actually want to do. They also provide us the chance to explore a different side of ourselves. Maybe you're a powerful person with many responsibilities. You might enjoy letting go of all that power in a fantasy and exploring the more passive or submissive side of yourself. Conversely, you might be a very quiet type; but in your fantasies, you can explore being the strong superhero.
Recognizing the power of fantasy, some groups have attempted to control our thoughts by teaching us that just thinking about something is the same as doing it. This is not just erroneous, but can suppress creativity and create discomfort with our sexual thoughts.
In fact, there are two kinds of sexual fantasies: rehearsal fantasies, in which we "audition" a new sexual behavior, person or situation; and impossible fantasies, those which are either physically impossible or emotionally impossible (something you definitely would never want to actually do). Impossible fantasies can create discomfort, because sometimes we're not sure what they represent. To fantasize something doesn't necessarily mean you want to actually do it. You might want to keep some fantasies special and private, while others you might want to share with a partner.
Generally, the hottest fantasies are the ones that are most forbidden. I have talked to a lot of guys who have bare backing fantasies. We might never want to actually try this, but in fantasy we can give ourselves permission to step outside the boundaries of our everyday lives and explore. This is another form of safer sex.
So don't be afraid to face your fears through your fantasies. It might be the safest thing you've ever done.
Sal Seeley is Program Director of CAMPsafe, an HIV/AIDS program funded through a contract with the Delaware Division of Public Health. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
LETTERS From CAMP Rehoboth, Vol. 18, No. 03 April 04, 2008