Sex Talk:

April 29, 2005

Volume 33,
Issue 17

Sat, Feb 27, 2016


by Simon Shepard
Speaking of Taboos
Most of us - unless we were raised by very permissive hippies - grew up with a long laundry list of “thou shalt not”’s. And few areas of life carry more taboos than what happens below the belt.

Some prohibitions make good sense: Thou shalt not cross against the light and get smooshed in the street, for example. And some sex taboos are reasonable, too, whether from a legal, moral, or medical point of view. “Thou shalt not insert a light bulb up your ass” is an admonition most of us can agree with.

But then there are the taboos based on squeamishness, partisan morality, or outright homophobia. Some prohibitions are based on pseudoscience; it was once thought that excessive masturbation caused insanity. (And don’t you wish you’d been asked to supervise the lab tests?) Others are rooted in sheer “I don’t like it, so it’s wrong” cussedness. And some taboos have dire results.

“My mom was a fundamentalist, very sex-negative,” says a Gay boy in his 20s. “To this day, I have such hang-ups over sex that I usually have to get stoned or wired to let myself enjoy it.”

Of course, one of the easiest ways to make something more attractive is to forbid it - just ask Adam and Eve. And all those homophobes railing against the temptation of queer sex inadvertently testify to its allure.

The less vanilla among us get hard-ons at the thought of transgressive sex, naughtiness that breaks a taboo or two. That’s not to say that anything goes; it doesn’t and it shouldn’t. But there’s a big difference between barebacking at a gang-bang and getting spanked while dressed in drag.

Taboo-breaking is easiest if you can find a trustworthy partner in carnal crime, and a setting where you won’t get in trouble. As much fun as it might be to fuck in your boss’s office, you really should make sure the door is locked first.

Role-playing scenes often trade in taboos, allowing us the tang of the forbidden without the downside. There are good reasons why incest is forbidden - not only the inbreeding thing, but the unequal power structures of the family unit. But pretending to be a teenage son sucking off his dad? It may be nasty, but to some of us, it sure is hot.

If you’re taking someone somewhere deep, communication - before, during, and after - is not only considerate, but can forestall post-scene problems. Even the most carefully planned scenes, though, can have heavy-duty dimensions. “I did a really brutal father/son spanking scene with a guy who’d told me his actual father had been physically abusive,” recalls an SM top. “He’d suggested it, and it was fully pre-negotiated. But frankly, the intensity of the actual scene made me feel a bit morally queasy, like I shouldn’t have been playing with such volatile emotions.”

Since plain old cocksucking is forbidden in some quarters, most Gay guys are taboo-breakers from the get-go. But some fellas don’t stray from vanilla, while others are the “I’ll try anything once” sort for whom sexual adventure is a way of life. Some of us get kinkier as we mature. Others are wild kids who grow chastened in middle age. But whatever transgressive shit you do - from water sports to whipping - sober reflection and sane guidelines will help keep you safe, both physically and psychically.

Done wisely and well, breaking a taboo or two can be refreshing fun. It can even deepen the bond between partners. So when you come across a “thou shalt not,” you might well ask “Why not?” Just don’t forget to look both ways before crossing to the taboo side.

Simon Sheppard is the author of In Deep: Erotic Stories and Kinkorama: Dispatches from the Front Lines of Perversion, and can be reached at Visit Simon at

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