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Women’s rape fantasies

I read an article today called Women’s Sexual Fantasies – the Latest Scientific Research, which describes the results of a research study on 355 young women.

52% of the women had fantasies about forced sex by a man: 32% had fantasies about being raped by a man: 28% – forced oral sex by a man: 16% – forced anal sex: 24% – incapacitated: 17% – forced sex by a woman: 9% – raped by a woman: 9% – forced oral sex by a woman. Overall, 62% reported having had at least one of these fantasies.

Initially, I was reading this with a sort of detached curiosity. Rape fantasies are, after all, one of those fantasies I don’t really have; I’d much rather think about spanking. I understand they’re quite common, though. Gosh, isn’t sexuality interesting? Then I read that paragraph there and remembered that anal rape counts too. Which happens to feature in $mumble of my fantasies. So… yeah. Turns out this study relates directly to me after all.

Kinky fantasies at indie BDSM site Nimue’s World

When these female fantasies are erotic in character, the male protagonist is always described as highly attractive or otherwise desirable.

Always? Always? That’s a very dangerous word to use when talking about sexual desire. In fact if I ever write a word processing app for sex journalism, typing in ‘always’ will trigger red lights and loud klaxon noises, along with ‘should’ and ‘normal’.

In my anal rape fantasies the protagonists are as objectified as I am: I’m an anonymous arse and they’re an anonymous cock, most of the time. Sometimes they have a role, like “lord of castle” or “john” but mostly they are ciphers. Inasmuch as I imagine them at all, I do not imagine them as appealing. I’m not attracted to them. That’s why they have to force their cock into my arse rather than being welcomed there with lube and a smile.

I doubt I’m alone in this, but even if it’s just me that “always” is still flawed.

Oh, and – “When these female fantasies are erotic in character”. What does that mean anyway? What else might they be?

A previous common psychological theory as to why women should fantasise about rape or forced sex was termed ‘sexual blame avoidance’. [...] The results of this study found no support for this theory.

This is very interesting! I’ve often heard the sexual blame avoidance theory used to legitimise rape fantasies. Which sounds good, but it can come across as a bit like: Well you see in patriarchy women aren’t allowed to want consensual sex in a healthy way, they’re socialised to feel shame about their natural desires, so the poor dears have to fantasise about sex at one remove, d’you see, as if it wasn’t them who wanted it at all. The implication of course being that if you remove the shame culture, rape fantasies will just evaporate. But it’s really not as simple as that.

Over recent decades changes in attitudes to sex means the stress for women of being viewed as overly sexual has disappeared.

Sorry, this is a bit of a tangent but – that’s a bit glib, isn’t it? By all means, I am prepared to accept the evidence that most rape fantasies aren’t about avoiding internalised slut-shaming, but please don’t blithely claim that slut-shaming no longer happens. Women are judged for being sexual all the time: in rape cases, when standing up for abortion rights, or exercising their bodily autonomy or applying for jobs or meeting your mum or a million other situations. Don’t tell me the stress for women of being viewed as sexual has disappeared.

Anyway.

In direct contrast to ‘sexual blame avoidance’, is the ‘openness to sexual experience’ theory. [...] Women who reported being less repressed about sex were more likely to have rape fantasies, but were also more open to fantasy in general, more likely to have consensual fantasies, and more likely to report a higher level of arousal to rape fantasies.

I like this theory! It fits my personal experience and also anecdata. I wonder though, is this a cause, or a correlation? I’m not sure “is open about sex” precedes “has rape fantasies”: a lot of us had to become open and accepting and informed about sex precisely because we had kinky fantasies long before we were ever educated about sexual desire.

Interestingly, the women who reported having frequent rape fantasies were also likely to report having fantasies about “overpowering or forcing a man to surrender sexually against his will.”

Equal rights win! Ah, this makes me happy: for once a public discussion of female kinky fantasies doesn’t only discuss submission. This suggests that your 62% figure represents a more general interest in power play and kink, including switches, rather than being a useful indicator of how many women are sexually submissive.

Why are we still asking why humans have these fantasies, by the way? This isn’t the 19th century. We don’t need to try to explain kink as if we were all born healthy and vanilla and then somewhere in our murky childhoods Something Went Wrong. A path to accepting your kinky fantasies doesn’t need to start with identifying your ‘route’. Some people are just kinky. Get over it.

Fantasising about being a stripper also predicted a tendency to fantasise about rape. Another intriguing result is women who report rape fantasies were more likely to have high self-esteem.

On the first point, that makes sense I guess: as fantasies they’re both about objectification, sexual performance, sexual theatre. The second point is totally fascinating (oh how much I want there to be a correlation between women who have rape fantasies and women who have high self esteem!) but, it’s worth noting, not reliable: it might simply be that women with high self-esteem are more likely to report rape fantasies than have them.

Having fantasies about things we would never endorse or choose to do in reality, are not necessarily signs of psychological disturbance.

Orly? Amazing! Still, nice to see it acknowledged I guess.

I will also state for the record that “endorsing” consensual power/pain play and choosing to act out kinky fantasies consensually in reality isn’t a sign of psychological disturbance either, thankyou.

In fact, according to this research, women who have rape fantasies also tend to have more positive attitudes toward sex, high self esteem, and more frequent consensual sexual fantasies.

Because those things make rape fantasies okay?

Actually this sentence made me smile. And it was published in a sex research article, as if it was actually true! Not just a lie told by sluts on the internet. Wonders will never cease. Seriously, I hope it gives some bigots pause for thought, and that lots of worried kinky women read it and feel better about themselves.

Fantasy is a deeply problematic area for many people and for psychiatry and psychology – why do some people convert strange ideas into actual deeds – as in the case of Brievik the Norway mass murder scenario – while others just enjoy their vivid, creative and somewhat unusual imaginations without taking action.

…And furthermore, some people enjoy acting out their vivid, creative and somewhat unusual fantasies in reality! With consenting adult companions, in a healthy, vivid and creative way! No, really!

Sadly it seems that this idea still has no airtime. It’s okay to have kinky fantasies, ladies, as long as they stay inside your busy little heads. Don’t try to convert your strange ideas into actual deeds, heavens no. No-one does that. It’s impossible to do ethically because consensual kink doesn’t exist. No: as every reasonable person knows, it’s a lifetime of solitary, unfulfilled fantasising for you, or else mass murder. Nothing in between. CHOOSE. CHOOSE NOW.

Sarcasm aside, I did enjoy the fact that this article was available, and it was pleasing to see some sex research which actually seems to represent reality as I’ve experienced it. It’s good to see it acknowledged that kinky fantasies can be positive and healthy. But it would be nice to read a mainstream article which connected the dots and made the leap to the idea that the consensual practice of kink might also be positive and healthy.

In conclusion, you don’t have to keep your “problematic” fantasies entirely to yourself in order for them, and you, to be acceptable.

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33 Responses to “Women’s rape fantasies”

  1. Indy says:

    The last three paragraphs were my favorite part of this post. I can still remember how, as a young woman, back before the there was an internet and all, I came across an otherwise good book about women and sex that mentioned spanking fantasies. My relief that I wasn’t the only one was palpable. But the author went on to dismiss them as much like rape fantasies– just because you fantasized about them didn’t mean you’d like them.

    I wonder how I would have responded had she mentioned that some people actually do like it in real life. Perhaps not tremendously differently. Around the same time, I read a book by Susie Bright that had a section on pushing one’s boundaries. One of the vignettes there told of a woman who wasn’t ready to try BDSM herself, but who lay underneath another woman as she was whipped. It was the hottest thing I’d ever heard of, but I figured it was for the more sexually adventurous, not for me.

    Oh well, eventually, I figured it out!

    • Pandora says:

      Thankyou, I’m glad you enjoyed it!

      Ah – those heady days when we were so starved for kink that we would quite literally take whatever we could get. I’m glad that you managed to figure it out for yourself!

      I think it’s quite common for people to forget that consensual, negotiated roleplay is possible. If you fantasise about horrible non-consensual things, then obviously you wouldn’t like being grabbed and beaten by someone you didn’t know or like, so clearly you should keep your fantasies in the realm of imagination.

      I think the idea of sexual roleplay is a bit more mainstream these days – it’s certainly the context in which you most often see kink on TV, usually played for laughs. But I don’t see that cultural recognition trickling through to sex/science journalism enough yet.

  2. Tizz says:

    I appreciated your break down.

    I *am* glad that they are talking about this, but seriously, it seems like a lot of research on women’s sexuality is this way. It’s just so shocking! That women want things! Women want things that aren’t necessarily what society says they should want!

    Lord.

    • Pandora says:

      Women wanting things? That are different from things that other women want? It’s just so COMPLICATED! Quick, we must reduce it down to a glib generalisation; if all women want stuff for the same reason it might make a bit more sense.

      To be fair, this reductive attitude is fairly standard across journalism as a whole – it’s hardly limited to sex psychology!

  3. AndrewZealand says:

    Hello Pandora and others
    The part about having rape fantasies to avoid the guilt of consensual sex fantasies….that IS interesting….I’d never considered that before.
    And I can relate my own sexual enjoyment of spanking to this. When I watch or fantasize about a realistic, disciplinary spanking roleplay, I feel less like I’m indulging in pornography and hence I feel more “moral”. (I’m sorry, Pandora and others, I hope I don’t offend by admitting to still feeling shame from viewing pornography).

  4. Kol says:

    Hi,
    As a woman, a fantasist and lover I find the topic of research fascinating.. I am interested, however, in why human beings fantasise, why we act out fantasies (or not), why some people have trouble telling fantasy from reality and most don’t. I am interested in why some things turn me on and others don’t but that my desires are different to other people’s. In short I don’t think that trying to explain differences in fantasies has to mean pathologising some fantasies as ‘broken’. I see no reason to assume that fantasy about rape or control infers abuse or repression any more than it does a chemical reaction or something we haven’t even thought of yet…
    Did the report break down its figures about gender-specific rape by sexual preference? What about trans-identified individuals? I would be interested to find out if there are patterns in who fantasies in f/f rape (which appears significantly less) and are they the same individuals who fantasise about m/f rape?
    So many questions..
    I like the idea that patterns of sex-positivity and high self-esteem lead to better reporting of even extreme fantasies and I hope that studies like this can be encouraging to others.

  5. N. Likes says:

    Yes!

    I’m so in favor of as much talk about fantasies as possible. We ALL think OUR fantasies are beyond the pale, shameful, and anything that helps us ALL realize that a) we all have fantasies, and b) we don’t choose our fantasies is better.

    Thank you.

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