Sexuality in Conversation

From Closet Fetish to White House Scandal

Before Trump even stepped foot inside the Oval Office, people were engulfed in the explosive—and still not entirely verified—dossier, which alleged that the then-civilian real estate mogul hired Russian prostitutes to urinate all over a bed rumored to have once been slept in by Barack and Michelle Obama. Now, with the recent James Comey interview in which he hinted the pee tapes were real, the rumor has reached urban legend status with tape-truthers even naming themselves “peelievers.” One of the most polarizing figures of our time seems to have an equally divisive sex life.

The following year after the pee tape rumor initially broke hasn’t been any less salacious, as details from two former alleged affairs—one with adult entertainer Stormy Daniels, and another with former Playboy bunny Karen McDougal—surfaced. Nearly every talking head under the sun latched onto the news, and why wouldn’t they? This was grade-A gossip. The now-president allegedly asked Daniels to spank him with a magazine featuring a cover photo of himself with his children and told her that she reminded him of his daughter. From what we know, his encounter with Daniels wasn’t the first time he’s made uncomfortable comments about Ivanka’s appearance.

But in the ongoing media frenzy groups of people are being lumped in with and shamed alongside the president, particularly sex workers, pee play fetishists and incest fetishists.

According to Ken Melvoin-Berg, co-creator and host of the American Sex podcast and producer on Showtime’s Sex with Sunny Megatron, piss play comes in various forms. Some like to drink it (undinism), some like to watch it (urolagnia), and some get off by being peed on or peeing on others. For him, the fetish’s initial appeal was all about dominance. “There’s nothing more dominant and primal than marking your territory,” he says. While he acknowledged that the fetish remains taboo, Melvoin-Berg hopes that people can recognize that practices aren’t necessarily “bad” just because they don’t participate in them.

“There’s a great saying in the BDSM community: I don’t want to ‘yuck’ your ‘yum,’” says Melvoin-Berg, who said he’s “both a giver and a receiver of pee play.” Though he can understand why it can be “hard to relate to people why [pee play] could even be fun,” he can’t help but take issue with people who are shaming “pee play because of its association with President Trump.” “I don’t think this was a sexual fetish of Trump’s at all…So, to lump something that I like to do with something that he doesn’t even want to do and then make it [out to be] a shameful act is ridiculous,” he says, adding that he believed the intent was to do something “degrading to the Obamas.”
I hope that someday people will see people with fetishes as imaginative instead of freakish.
According to Dr. Zhana Vrangalova, an adjunct professor of human sexuality at NYU, people can be attracted to certain fetishes for a variety of reasons—conditioning, early-age experiences, basic personality traits (extroversion, introversion)—but that for the most part, people want to experience what’s considered “taboo.” “There’s other elements of things that are taboo, that are supposed to be dirty, that are supposed to be wrong,” says Dr. Vrangalova. “Some of us more on the high end of sensation-seeking and rebelliousness are drawn towards them.”

The overall thrill from doing something taboo can help explain why so many people are watching incest—otherwise referred to as “step-related” and “fauxcest” —porn. According to 2017 PornHub data, “stepmom,” “stepsister” and “mom” were all featured in the top 10 most-searched terms. Despite its popularity, performers in the genre feel its shame too often.

“I hope that someday people will see people with fetishes as imaginative instead of freakish,” says MissaX, a performer whose work appears on and “Niche fetishes are the future of porn because the customers are the [ones who pay] in a sea of stolen and free porn. I got into fauxcest work by accepting on custom-paid videos, and I found that fauxcest was the genre that re-sold the most, and taboo being the genre that I most enjoyed producing, so I stuck to it.”

Though some people really do have incestuous tendencies or feelings, fetish film producer and adult performer Meana Wolf says that the genre also allows viewers to experience more creative story lines, ultimately giving them “a deeper emotional connection” with the content. “In porn, incest fantasies allow us to act on complex emotions without consequence,” says Wolf. “It’s not enough in a porno for two people to be labeled ‘daddy’ and ‘daughter,’ and then watch them have sex. There needs to be some kind of pinnacle moment where the characters take it to the next level and become sexually intimate. Blackmail, coercion, comfort, curiosity, romance, shame, guilt, playfulness, jealousy, fear of abandonment and, most importantly, love, are all themes that are commonly invoked in the fetish.”

If no one’s getting hurt, why do we care so much what gets them off? The answer to that question could be vastly different depending on whose sex life is in question. “As long as something is done consensually among people who are old enough to make those kinds of decisions, and in a state of mind that they’re able to make those kinds of decisions, I don’t have a problem with people doing anything behind closed doors,” says Dr. Vrangolva. “I don’t think we should be shaming Trump or anyone else for doing those kinds of things.”
If no one’s getting hurt, why do we care so much what gets them off? 
Having someone pee on a bed because it turns you on? You do you! But, (allegedly) having people pee on a bed because you have a history of being racist and disrespectful to the former First Family is, to quote Hillary Clinton, “deplorable.” The intention, rather than the act itself, should be our primary focus.

The same goes for Trump’s alleged affairs. Paying for or eliciting sex from someone other than your partner is not in itself a crime, depending on the state. What’s questionable is parading around as a moral authority and enacting policies that directly hurt the very women you invite over to watch Shark Week.

In his first year in office, Trump axed key parts of the Affordable Care Act, making it harder for some women to access birth control or afford health insurance. He suspended a rule intended to promote income equality, passed a tax plan that hurts working-class families and single mothers, and appointed people who are intent on stripping women’s reproductive rights and targeting the LGBTQ community to positions of power. It wasn’t until February that Trump’s administration confirmed he’d fully fund the Violence Against Woman Act. However, he still hasn’t nominated anyone to fill the most pivotal role as director. He’s also staffed, defended and campaigned for alleged predators and abusers such as former Senate candidate Roy Moore and former White House aide Rob Porter.

He, of course, is not much better. Trump has bragged about sexually assaulting women on tape, and more than 17 women have accused him personally of sexual misconduct. It’s beyond time for Trump to reflect on his own actions and hypocritical policy decisions. If he wants people to stop speculating about his sex life, he should lead by example and stay the hell out of theirs.

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