Dear Tell All: I consider myself a tolerant person, and I'm no prude about sex. It's not that easy to shock me. But my husband and I are friends with a local couple who've begun talking to us about their kinky sex lives, and I find myself feeling like a repressed 1950s suburban wife. This stuff really does shock me.
Did I say "talk about their kinky sex lives"? I meant to say "brag about their kinky sex lives." Ever since they read those 50 Shades of Grey novels, they've decided that bondage and sadomasochism are perfectly nice topics to discuss at dinner. They share stories about their sex play and the creepy equipment they use. I find the idea of simulated violence grotesque, and I can't imagine that anybody would consider it arousing.
My husband feels the same way, but we both keep our mouths shut. I guess we don't want to seem rude...but isn't it rude of them to subject us to these intimate details? I feel so embarrassed that it's hard to imagine they can't see it in my face.
Tell All, can't we admit that it's sick to get sexually stimulated by hurting other people, or by being hurt yourself? If people must indulge in these kinds of activities, isn't it a bad sign that the topic is edging into the mainstream?
Dear Valerie: I'm reluctant to make judgments about legal, consensual sex, as long as it's safe for the participants. If that's what your neighbors are into, that's what they're into, and who are we to say they shouldn't enjoy it? I also have no trouble with the idea that it's becoming easier to discuss kinky sex in polite society. In my view, openness about sexuality is always better than secrets and shame.
On the other hand, boorishness is boorishness, no matter what the subject. Given that they haven't noticed your embarrassment, you need to tell them gently that you'd prefer to change the subject. I'd suggest telling them sternly if I weren't afraid that you'd accidentally turn them on.
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