Scrolling through Twitter, I’m met with the video of a beautiful guy. He’s manspreading. And also asleep. A hand comes into frame and makes its way up his shorts. Admittedly, it’s quite hot. However, I know it isn’t real because the ‘sleeping’ guy isn’t an oscar-worthy actor, and it’s posted to his own account.

Even so, in today’s age I wondered if my arousal was problematic.

Just recently the revelations surrounding Armie Hammer and his disturbing cannibalistic fantasies sparked a debate as to whether dark desires can ever really remain harmless.

A number of women came forward to speak about how Hammer messaged them voicing his lust for sucking their blood, eating their ribs, and in one case, actually carving his initial into her crotch.

But if both parties are consenting – without guises, or pressure – is there an issue? Or is the ideas that are being perpetuated?

At the same time, adult content creators have been pushing boundaries on their platforms, especially when it comes to their relatives. At least two creators have made nude shower videos alongside their fathers, while others have recruited their brothers.

While its fair to say that nothing explicitly sexual occurred between any of them, but rather they are monetizing the fantasy, is incestuous role-play a deeper issue than it appears?

These are just a couple of examples where fantasies are generally accepted within the adult industry. “Forced” fetishes (which seemingly stop just short of rape, if not tip-toe over that line) and ‘sleeping’-style molestation are two others. And while it goes without saying that real-life rape is a horrific and traumatising experience that nobody should ever have to experience; it would be incorrect to say that fantasies of rape (not the act itself) do exist.

In fact, part of the turn-on can be that both parties are in fact consenting, but are acting otherwise.

This can be a difficult thing to understand for most people, especially those that have experienced sexual assault of any kind.

Those that are sexually aroused by the idea, or indeed produce the content for their fans or via mainstream studios, would argue that they have no intention of ever engaging in rape in real-life, or touching somebody while they were asleep. But is it that cut and dry?

Firstly, even the existence of these videos on porn sites can be triggering for those who have trauma tied to real-life experiences. Secondly, just because something is an innocent fantasy for one person, doesn’t mean it is for the next.

One person may absorb the video, get-off, and forget it moments later, while for other more perturbed minds, it’s merely a stepping stone to something more serious.

I don’t have the answers, but am rather exploring questions that I find thought-provoking. For example; would it be right for platforms to start banning this content? Or is it the individual’s responsibility to understand the difference between reality and fantasy?

Is it only a problem when they’re acted on? Or are their mere existence enough?

Words: Anthony Gilét