Note: I originally posted this on my blog February 2009. I’ve had a few requests since then to re-post it but I only just found it today, sorry for the wait.
As promised, here is my revised “rape fantasy” blog. The initial blog I wrote was a three page paper for my Violence and Aggression class. The article I reviewed was called “Women’s Erotic Rape Fantasies: An Evaluation of Theory and Research” put out by the Journal of Sex Research in 2008.
Because I think a lot of you may be intrigued by this topic I decided to rewrite it with more information and more points. I also realize since it’s going to be a lot of information it may be difficult to stay interested so I’m going to number my points and try to keep it short.
As a note, I obviously believe that rape is wrong, and disgusting. As I’ll mention a few times throughout the post, I personally believe that they should not be called rape fantasies. It gives a bad name to an otherwise potentially enjoyable fantasy for many people. Here we go.
1. What is rape?
Rape is unwanted sexual intrusion. Rape is physical force, threat of force, or incapacitation (for example: sleep, intoxication) to coerce someone into sexual activity. Since rape is overwhelmingly committed against females, the length of this post will refer to women. Keep mind however that there is no stereotype as to who a rapist can be. It can be someone you know, it can be a friend, it can even be your spouse.
2. What is a rape fantasy?
Just in case you didn’t know, a fantasy comes from the imagination and is unrestricted by reality. At least, that’s what Princeton says. But I believe it. The problem with the rape fantasy is that people hear the word rape and are in disbelief that anyone could desire such a thing. We’ll get to that part later.
A rape fantasy is basically a fantasy of control, and there are two basic kinds that I want to focus on.
A) Erotic Rape Fantasies
According to a study done in the 80s, Erotic Rape Fantasies low levels of fear and no realistic violence. An example of an Erotic Rape Fantasy:
A handsome cable man greets you at the door, he says something suave. You protest. No! I could never! He grabs you by the waist and kisses you. No! I can’t! I’m married! He sweeps you off your feet and takes you to the bedroom. I can’t do this! I don’t want to! You kiss back. This is wrong! You continue to kiss.
Remember the cable guy, I’ll mention him again in the third section coming up.
B) Averse Rape Fantasies
Then, there are the Averse Rape Fantasies. The ARF is more realistic in what you think of in terms of real rape, but is still far from actual rape. The Averse Rape Fantasy will have more of an aspect of domination towards it. It may contain aggression and will likely have a darker overtone to it than the former fantasy. For example:
You’re walking through the alley at night when a man confronts you. He’s absolutely hideous and he demands your wallet. You refuse. The man then decides to take sex in place of the wallet. She will say no, but gain sexual pleasure out of the encounter.
It’s easy to look at that situation and see it as entirely wrong. How could she get pleasure out of that situation? Remember this guy as well, because I’ll talk about him later too. The point is, though, that throughout these entire fantasy she IS giving consent. The point of a fantasy is, that you are not actually losing control of the situation. You are getting the sensation that you’ve lost control. She was never in any danger.
Any rape fantasy contains three aspects. Sex, nonconsent, and force.
3. Why do people have these fantasies?
There are quite a few theories, all of which any of us should be able to relate to or at least understand.
Masochism deals with the desire for suffering and pain, but don’t stop reading there. This theory as you may have guessed tends to ride with the Aversion Rape Fantasy. The fantasy that tends to involve more aggression. A study done in the 80’s by Bond and Mosher showed that when given two rape fantasies (one involving pain, and one involving minimal discomfort) the arousal level went up when there was only minimal discomfort. That would show that if masochism is a reason some people enjoy the rape fantasy, it’s not a very large percentage of them. Also, in a different study, over 99% of the people interviewed said they would not want to be raped in real life. They reported that they felt rape was a repulsive and traumitizing experience.
B) Sexual Blame Avoidance
Another popular theory for the rape fantasy is that women want to be “taken” as so they can enjoy sex but not feel the guilt of expressing their sexuality. This theory stems from a long history of sexual repression, in a society that doesn’t allow women to enjoy sex. The idea is that if the sex is forced from her, she cannot be blamed for it.
C) Openness to Sexual Experience
This is the opposite of Sexual Blame Avoidance. Basically, this persons sexuality is so open that they are advancing to new fantasies, and trying new things. Researchers saw that as womens sexual experiences grew, so did their fantasies. I could see this theory stemming to either Aversion Rape Fantasy or the Erotic Rape Fantasy. It would really depend on the individuals personal preference, I imagine.
Basically “they want me so much they’ll do anything to have me.” Women desire to be desired, and when a man loses control because of that it can be arousing. Or at least that’s what some researchers believe. Kanin (1982) believes that it enhanses the females self-esteem. It can also establish her sexual power.
E) Male Rape Culture
A lot of people may argue that this is one of the more dominate reasons why the rape fantasy exists, though I don’t agree. The Male Rape Culture theory basically means that women have rape fantasies because we live in a male dominated culture. Full of strong, testosterone heavy men who will take advantage of you. There are no valid studies to really hold this theory up, and the fact that many men also have similar fantasies kind of writes it out.
F) Biological Predisposition to Surrender
As keen as I am to follow the biological aspects of sexuality, this point I too have to disagree with. In 1999 Helen Fisher said that females may have the natural tendancy to surrender to a dominant male. There have been no studies to confirm nor deny this, but it seems as though a stretch.
G) Sympathetic Activation
There is however one biological theory I can agree with, along with a personal testament. For those of you who haven’t taken a biology class or a psychology class, there is something called the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system. This is the part of our body that gives us the “fight or flight” feeling when put into dangerous/scary/anxious situations. Our heart rate goes up, so does respiration.
This theory suggests that when put into a situation where we’ve lost control (such as rape) we have a natural sexual response. We become aroused. In all definition of it, we are technically “aroused”. But I too believe that the sexual arousal is tied to that. As an example, many people enjoy having sex where they know they might get caught. That fear or excitement causes extra arousal. An added sensation. A new height to the experience. That is the main idea.
H) Adversary Transformation
This too is a long stretch for me to believe. Basically, it stems around romance novels. The idea is that women take the men from the books they read (or, whatever) and turn them into their fantasies. The men are generally strong, sometimes cruel, but handsome. Instead of being the women reading the romance novel, wishing that man were hers, she puts the man in her fantasy and makes HIM want HER. It makes sense, on a level, but if it were put into a rape fantasy it would be Erotic Rape at most. And even then, a small percentage of rape fantasies I imagine.
4. Why should it be renamed?
I applaud those of you who have read this far. If you read all of the above, you may agree with me by now that it should be renamed because the rape fantasy is nothing at all like real rape. A rape fantasy consists of two willing, and consenting adults. It is a game of control. It is, for lack of a better word, roleplay. And it is not roleplaying the dangerous and horrible situations that happen all over the world. These are not mockeries of real rapes. They are make believe situations in which we lose power. And for whatever reason people decide it arouses them (as you can see, there are many above) it does NOT make light of the horrible thing that is rape.
5. Why is there such a bad stigma towards the rape fantasy?
When someone outright disagrees with someone they will often not put time into understanding it. They disagree with it, they think it’s wrong, they don’t want to know about it. Perhaps if they were to understand what exactly happened during a “rape” fantasy they would change their mind. And, above all, if the name were changed it would probably not have any stigma attached to it at all.
6. What if I’ve been raped and have the rape fantasy?
It has been written about time and again that women who have been raped can develop a rape fantasy later in life. I have even heard of cases where women are unable to get themselves off to anything besides the fantasy of rape or being controlled. In these situations, there is clearly some sort of mental problem that they haven’t worked out. The situation that they were put into wasn’t fair. They shouldn’t have to put themselves in similar situations. I would imagine it is a sort of coping mechanism. I would suggest anyone who has been through this to seek counseling. If anyone has any information regarding this I didn’t mention, please don’t hesitate to tell me. I don’t think this is really something anyone can know about except the people it happens to.
Another theory (which I didn’t take mention to) is that women use the rape fantasy to prepare themselves for the possibility of being raped in real life. If they feel as though they have control over the situation in a fantasy, it becomes less of a nightmare to them in real life. I don’t think this is a good reason to be having the fantasy, as it takes the rape fantasy from more of a control fantasy to more of a actual rape-fantasy. It’s my opinion that it’s not healthy to combine the ideas of actual rape with the act of sex. Just like I wouldn’t suggest joining together thoughts of murder with sex. They just aren’t things you want to associate.
Thanks for reading, as always please let me know if theres anything else regarding this you want to know.