Those of you who don’t already know her owe it to yourselves to get acquainted with the work of Greta Christina, who is (among other admirable things) both an impressive blogger on sex and atheism and politics and also the editor of Best Erotic Comics 2008 and Best Erotic Comics 2009.

In a repost this week of a post that originally appeared on Blowfish Blog, Greta Christina made an unusual confession:

I seem to be incapable of having sex fantasies that are implausible.

By this she does not mean a disinterest in supernatural or sci-fci fantasies (although she does not seem to have much interest in these either). What she means is that she has trouble with fantasies that lack a high degree of psychological realism. She wants fantasies with rich backstories and then for the characters in the fantasies to do the sort of things that characters like that could then be expected to do. For example:

If I’m trying to have a fantasy about someone I know, and in real life that someone is in a monogamous relationship, I first have to come up with an excuse for why it’s ethically okay. The couple is experimenting with non-monogamy, or the other partner is watching, or they’ve given their blessing as a one-time birthday dispensation, or something.

Greta Christina’s concern with doing right extends not just to waking fantasy but even to dreams.

I’m even like this in my sex dreams. More than once, I’ve had dreams in which I almost have sex with someone I shouldn’t… but we decide it’s a bad idea, and don’t. (And then I wake up, totally frustrated with myself, going, “It was a dream! Nobody would have gotten hurt! I could have done it, and enjoyed it, and not had any reason to feel guilty!”)

When you have this going on in the blessed morality-free zone of human experience, you know something interesting is going on.

Greta Christina’s commentary is further intriguing to me, because I seem to live in some ways at the opposite pole, fantasy-wise. I have a pretty strong positive attraction to sci-fi-ish fantasies, as perhaps readers of my posts here at ErosBlog might have noticed.

But in terms of the main thing that Greta Christina has noted about herself, I seem more driven by unusual and unlikely psychologies rather than plausible ones. It seems like my imagination, like Greta Christina’s, enjoys rich backstories. But unlike Greta Christina’s, it enjoys people acting strangely. That is, having some situation so bizarre that 99 out of 100 people (say) would be running for the exits and dialing 9-1-1, they instead decide to jump in with both feet and explore the erotic possibilities created by the situation. (What sort of situation Faustus, you ask? Well, all good things to those who wait, and not for much longer, I hope.) I would call the psychologies of such people unusual rather than impossible, because I suspect there are people in the world who really would jump in the not-quite-perfected matter transporter or whatever given the chance, but they are rare. It’s the brave and splendid “yes” that’s the turn-on pivots off.

So we’re very different, Greta Christina and I? Perhaps and perhaps not. Another of my pleasures this week was reading the recipients of the 2009 Sexies, that is, the Sex Positive Journalism awards. (Hat tip to Andrew Sullivan.) Tied for first place in the “Opinion” category is Michael Bader’s The Great Porn Misunderstanding, which argues inter alia that we (Bader generally writes “men,” but I suspect his point generalizes) carry a concern for not causing harm to others over from our real lives into our fantasy lives and that satisfying this concern is a ncecessary component for having satisfying fantasies: if you’re worried about hurting someone, then you can’t relax, you can’t let yourself go, you can’t enjoy. Bader is specifically writing about what he calls “gonzo porn:”

In the overwhelming majority of pornographic sex…the women come to enjoy it. If they aren’t, themselves, actively, insisting on it, they eventually appear to get aroused. In other words, they’re invariably depicted as enjoying their so-called degradation. Everyone is turned on. Everyone. Based on my own clinical experience and on a review of the research, if the actresses were to respond on film realistically — say, by screaming in pain, sobbing, dissociating into grim and vacant fugue states — the overwhelming majority of men would get turned off, lose their erections, and change the channel. The male viewer does not, in fact, want these women to be demeaned and hurt; unconsciously, he wants them to be happy.

But that point might also generalize into strategies for fantasy. Now of course there are different strategies for dealing with a concern of not causing harm to others. And perhaps what Greta Christina and I are doing are variants of the same thing. She build her backstories and her fantasies such that the characters in them are happy to be doing what they’re doing. And so do I, often. It’s just that I try to reach then same end by giving my characters unusual imagined psychologies. The point of unity is “everyone happy.”

I admit this is speculative, but it’s the best I’ve come up so far. What think you, gentle readers?