I'm still on vacation—week two—but the "Savage Love Letter of the Day" must go on. Subbing for me this week...

Daniel Bergner writes for the New York Times Magazine and is the award-winning author of four books of non-fiction, including The Other Side of Desire, a terrific book about kinks, kinksters, and the kinks in being human. His latest book is What Do Women Want?, which Salon said "should be read by every woman on earth" and called "a must-read for any person with even a remote erotic interest in the female gender," and which the Atlantic said "shatters many of our most cherished myths about sexuality." Check out Daniel's new TEDxEast talk about women and desire. Daniel will be answering your questions all week. And while Daniel has been a guest on the "Savage Lovecast," he's new so… take it easy on him in the comments, okay? –Dan

I came out as gay during my marriage (I'm a woman, don't like the word "lesbian," personal preference), about 5 yrs ago. We're divorced now. I haven't dated in all these years for a lot of reasons, but am wanting to start.
The thing is, I started on craigslist in the w4w section, looking for a hook-up, nsa, fwb type situation. I very quickly moved to the m4w section, looking for pegging fantasies. I found a guy who wants to. I told him I would like to go to his apt, bend him over, fuck him, and then leave. He was super excited by this. As was I.
In working up the courage to even respond to his ad and actually email/text a total stranger that I'm wet and masturbating, I thought of asking for my own fantasy. I would like intruder sex with a stranger. I asked if we could first "meet," without meeting- go to a coffee shop, sit across the room from each other, see that we're both real people, text and flirt during. If that goes well I wanted him to come to my place, I'd leave the door unlocked, and he would come in, fuck me, and then leave.

He had to mull it over and said no, it was too intense for him. Which is fine. There is one other guy I wrote and am waiting for a reply, who is into ALL kinks. Because I feel he's more open my fantasy of this has turned into him "stalking" me on that first meeting, IF I gave the greenlight. He'd follow me to my car, follow me home, wait 5-10 min, come in, we'd struggle some, and he'd fuck me.

I don't consider this a rape fantasy, which might just seem like semantics. I've been raped and it was the worst experience of my life. I never, ever want to be raped. What this is, is consensual sex. I don't want to meet directly because I want him to remain a stranger, but a safe and respectful stranger. I have a safe word.
I've got lots of hang-ups around sex, but I want to make my own choices and feel it will be empowering. I also want to be safe. I want to have a couple friends know that I'm doing this, so I can text them before and after, tell them location, etc, so someone knows. I also would like to discuss this with my therapist, who I've been seeing for years. Because I was sexually abused, including my father, my cousin, and my mom's boyfriend, I'm worried that I'm doing this as some sort of PTSD building mastery issue. I feel so hung up by fear of being raped, all the time, that it has restricted my ability to enjoy much of anything. Maybe in doing this I can face that fear, go through the fear instead of it controlling me. I'm afraid to talk to anyone because I know they've been so concerned for me and don't want to see me get hurt any more than I already have.

It's also super hot and I'm completely turned on by it. I am NOT turned on by rape. I want to make that clear to anyone who might get stuck on that.

I also do want to be in relationships with women, get married, be committed, etc. But I feel like I won't be able to get there until I actualize some of these fantasies with dudes, maybe in part because men in general have always scared me.

My questions: How can I do this safely? Am I setting myself up to be re-traumatized? Is this healthy for me? Am
I still a gay girl if I want to, for right now, fulfill some kinky fantasies with men? Is this even possible to fulfill? When that one guy said no I suddenly felt so much shame and was sort of crushed- my own issue for sure; I wouldn't want anyone to do it if they were uncomfortable.

Not Wanting to be Raped

My response after the jump...

So: you haven’t talked to your therapist about this but you’re reaching out over an immeasurable distance for advice online; you’re declaring yourself a gay woman but you’re starting your new, post-divorce erotic life by craving and hunting for faceless sex with men; you’d like that sex to commence with a “meeting” which is a non-meeting, involving only texting across a room; and you want to be stalked, roughed up a bit, and fucked by an intruder in a way that bears only a minimal (and constructive) relationship to your having been raped and, before that, sexually abused as a kid by a small assault squad of family members. Since your letter is full of paradox, can I tell you something paradoxical? Your fantasies are utterly hot and are absolutely nothing to be ashamed of, but they scream out: slow down and seek serious counsel!

Do you see the pattern I’m pointing out, Ms. Not? That everything you want, everything you long or lust for, is at the same time somehow avoided or semi-denied? And it’s not that you’re unwise about yourself. You do draw connections. Father-cousin-mom’s boyfriend performed some work on the core of your psyche, where eros lives, and probably laid down some of the wiring for your current yearnings. This does not mean your fantasies are weird (rape fantasies—I’m going to call them that, even if you don’t—are among the most common sexual scenarios women imagine while masturbating or while having sex, to quicken the route to orgasm), but it does mean you’ve got some deeper thinking to do before you go out and take real risks in enacting your dreams. Because what I’m sensing, as your substitute therapist, your non-therapist, the person you’re writing to instead of talking with the professional you sit face-to-face with every week (and as the columnist who, coincidentally, is not even the man you wrote to but is merely someone who shares Dan Savage’s first name)—what I’m sensing is searing heat, a swirl of confusion, and a deluded hope that you can reliably control the forces you’re about to unleash. “I have a safe word.” No, Not, you don’t, not necessarily—words aren’t necessarily going to be heeded by total strangers you’ve only glimpsed and texted and asked to get rough with you.

And here I am sounding like a prude, a killjoy. Dear readers, and dear Not, I’m not. I’m pretty sure you can pull off some version of what you wish, with a measure of safety—when you’re thinking a little more clearly. I’m all for seizing ecstasy in the present while exorcising the horrors of your past. I’m just saying, Know thyself a tad better before courting chaos by carrying out your fantasy in reality. When you’re thinking more clearly, you’ll be a better judge of the right not-rapist, one who’ll respect your script.

As for your question, “Am I still a gay girl?”—let go of the categories. Our human complexity outdoes the divides. If you’re turned on by both genders—and almost every bit of research I’ve encountered over the last eight years of writing about desire suggests that women often are—count yourself lucky. Your options are enviably wide.