Help! Jury Duty Has Ruined My Fantasy of Rough Sex.

Advice on manners and morals.
Jan. 9 2014 6:00 AM

Of Human Bondage

Jury duty ruined my fantasy of rough sex.

Emily Yoffe.
Emily Yoffe

Photo by Teresa Castracane.

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Dear Prudence,
I am a woman who has always liked the fantasy of rough, forceful sex. It's not the only thing I think about when aroused, but occasionally the fantasy crossed my mind. I know that some might find it repugnant, but one doesn't choose these things. The problem is that this week I served on jury duty of a trial of sexual assault. Not for one moment did I find the evidence enticing. But it has begun to enter my thoughts at home. I find I cannot engage in any type of sex without thinking about the trial and what the victim was forced to do. I’m now having trouble climaxing. Will this go away? I am fine moving on from the rough sex fantasy but what do I replace it with?

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—Jury Duty

Dear Duty,
It’s unfortunate that your fantasy confronted reality in all its brutal ugliness. First of all, accept that having to sit in a jury box and see both victim and perpetrator and hear the details of a sexual assault would temporarily cool the ardor of just about any decent person. Keep in mind that the trial did not enlighten you to the fact that women are victims of sexual crimes. But this reality is separate from your own thoughts of sexual domination. Be comforted that it’s a common female fantasy—The Story of O was the Fifty Shades of Grey of its day. I once read a psychology book that described the case of a young black woman who could get aroused only while engaged in bondage. She felt oppressed by this, and also guilty because she believed her desires dishonored her ancestors who had been put into bondage against their will. She spent years in therapy trying to extinguish this aspect of her sexuality, to no avail. A new therapist helped her reframe her fetish. She came to see it as a way of connecting with her history. She decided that she would celebrate that as a black woman she was now free to choose when and how she was dominated. In your situation, you must give yourself time to process what you went through. Acknowledge the testimony was painful, and that it’s normal to feel disturbed by it. Understand that the stories you make up are entirely different from an actual sexual assault. In your case, no one is being hurt, and you control everything. As humans we have a vast imaginative capacity, and the movies we create in our heads are private and personal works of art. You don’t have to replace your go-to fantasy. Delight in the fact that you are a woman who has a rich, complex, and satisfying erotic life.

—Prudie

Dear Prudence: Office Going Down the Tubes

Dear Prudence,
I am a twentysomething who has been working for a nonprofit less than a year. In my very small department, there is a large disparity in age between myself and most of my colleagues, save for one. “Mary” has been working for the organization for five years and is considered a star. She’s just a few years older than I am. She is constantly praised for her helpfulness. Recently, I was given project work with her. Unfortunately it has not been the learning experience I had hoped for. Small oversights are treated as if I am lacking in general common sense. She rolls her eyes and speaks to me in a patronizing manner. Finally, she came over to my desk, asked me to open up one of the documents I had been working on, leaned over and proceeded to ask me condescending questions like, "When you look at this, does something look wrong?" She then made me play a game of "try and find the mistake." I was so upset by the tone and the manner in which she spoke to me, I had to fight back tears. I know I come off as rather meek, but I'm not sure if this is why she takes liberties with me. I have a lot of work left to do with her, and I'm dreading it. It reminds me of being bullied in high school. Am I being overly sensitive? Should I talk to my boss? Should I address the issue with her directly? If so, how?

—Intimidated

Dear Intimidated,
First of all, review the things you might have done that have Mary rolling her eyes and talking to you as if you’re an idiot. Maybe they’re the kind of mistakes that you should have caught and she’s frustrated you don’t have the necessary attention to detail. It could also be that Mary has long enjoyed being the office’s young star, and she’s not interested in sharing the attention. Whatever the case, Mary is presenting you with a useful life challenge, even if it doesn’t feel that way now. Let’s say Mary is finding flaws in your work. Sit down with her and tell her that you appreciate her superior knowledge about your workplace, and that you want to do a great job. Explain that the way you learn best is to have problems pointed out early and directly. Practice this conversation with a friend playing Mary or do it in front of a mirror. When you talk to her, you want to be confident and nondefensive, especially if your normal demeanor is meek and tearful. If after that she starts the “Where’s Waldo” game, calmly look at her and say, “Mary, please point out the error so that I can fix it and avoid repeating it.” Don’t go to your boss and say, “Mary makes me feel like I’m back in high school being bullied!” Because then you’ll make everyone think that emotionally you never really left.

—Prudie

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