D is for Dubcon, R is for…

It literally has taken me two three years to publish this post. Every few months I review it, consider publishing, and then shelve it again. I ask myself why? I write about all kinds of really personal things without any compunction, but this post is somehow different. I’m so nervous about it, please be gentle.

I entertain fantasies of wanting to be forced to have sex.

Let that sink in for a moment. It’s a lot to unpack.

A word springs immediately to the tip of the tongue: rape. I agree, that’s the fantasy in a nutshell, and yet that doesn’t really capture what’s going on. Rape is a brutal act of aggression. It is unwanted, undeserved, and leaves permanent scars. That’s certainly not the fantasy. It’s not a turn-on.

I entertain fantasies of wanting to be forced to have sex.

Wanting to be forced. Both of those words paradoxically denote choice and its lack: voluntary and involuntary movement toward a thing.

An Example Fantasy (triggery):


He pinned me, my face pressed against the wall. I felt his bulge against my ass, jeans and skirt separating us.

“I know you want it,” he said.

“No,” I whispered desperately. He could sense my uncertainty and fear. It fed him.

His right hand wrapped around my throat while his left groped my breast through my blouse, tearing at the placket, sending buttons skittering on the ground like candy. He ripped my bra aside and squeezed my bare breast possessively. His palm was dry, rough. He pinched my nipple hard enough to make me scream softly.

“You can tell me how much you liked it when I’m done fucking you,” he said.

“No,” I gasped.

He was an awful man. Not even handsome. More like a beast, a villain, a savage. He was the last man on earth I wanted inside of me yet I felt a horrible thrill as he tugged down my panties and unzipped his jeans. I hated him, but the hate burned hot enough that it transmuted to lust. I had every reason to fight, but instead I felt a depraved need to be taken by my enemy.

He spit on his cock and lifted my skirt. The spit was unnecessary. I was embarrassed at the way my body responded.

“So wet already,” he growled. “You’re a horny little cunt, aren’t you?”

My thighs shook but I didn’t resist him. Horrible, unwanted arousal flooded my belly, heavier than guilt and twice as strong. His fat, hot tip nudged between my folds as he sought to invade my temple of flesh. I fought the urge to tilt my hips, to press him into me. No, if he was going to have me I would do nothing to help him. It was my last, stubborn refusal.

“No,” I whispered. But it was a lie. I was a horny little cunt and my pussy was gushing for this predator to bend me to his tyrannous will.


Aroused Horror

I wrote that passage with a sort of aroused horror. I’m repelled and attracted to it simultaneously. I honestly like the bad feelings it gives me, and they are accompanied by definite quickening. Lust, fear. My pussy gets wet, I tingle, I breathe faster. I hate it and love it. The awful paradox is in the wanting the bad thing, the bad feeling. Loathing it and loving it are somehow melded in a vicious alchemy of lust. The bad becomes essential to the good.

In the fantasy, my character tells him no, which in real life is the only thing that matters. (Consent is paramount!) The fantasy has already skewed into uncomfortable territory for most of us, myself included. Yet she feels “a depraved need to be taken by her enemy.” She hates herself for wanting this, but on some level she does want this man. Since this is fiction, her true motivations and desires are bared to us. Her consent, while dubious, is available to the reader. At some level there is still a mutual exchange of pleasure: him to take her forcefully, her to enjoy being dominated in this way. This “consent” lets me enjoy the fantasy, even though I am objectively opposed to its content.

I’m ashamed of these fantasies. I’m a feminist, a modern woman. The fantasy throws up all kinds of red flags for me and yet it viscerally does it for me. Rather than feeling ashamed, I’ve decided to expose these feelings and give them an airing-out.

Not Alone

I know that I’m not alone in these fantasies. This post was originally inspired by Miss Pippa Minty and I’ve had it in the hopper for years, afraid to publish it. Ms. Minty wrote:

My weirdest submissive fantasy is one where I essentially get raped. Well, there’s not even really an “essentially” about it. It’s just a rape. That I would get raped. In the fantasy, I want a rape that’s rough and violent – almost à la Game of Thrones. However, I want none of the emotional trauma that goes with it. I think this is what makes this fantasy so weird… I want to be raped. But I don’t. Because rape implies lack of consent and emotional scars that I do not want to have to deal with… It’s fucking bizarre and I’m not really sure how to explain myself.

Her description totally resonates with me, especially the cognitive dissonance. It’s fucking bizarre and I’m not really sure how to explain myself. That’s more or less exactly how I feel as well.

I first started fantasizing about rape and its ilk after reading Nancy Friday’s My Secret Garden as a teen. Here’s an excerpt from The Atlantic, describing the fantasy:

The book’s most disturbing fantasy was written by an acquaintance of Friday’s named Johanna. While Johanna was living in Mexico City, a stranger entered her house and raped her at knife point.

Her sexual fantasy is the memory of the assault. “You could say that my inner sexual life still revolves around the rape,” she admits, and then goes on to describe the incident in obviously well-rehearsed detail.

I closed my eyes and tried to think of how terrified I was, how much I hated him. But I felt myself becoming more and more excited. I closed my eyes and tried to turn from side to side, as if trying to get away from his tongue, but it was also to have that tongue touch different sides of me, inside. Once I opened my eyes. All I could see was the dark top of his head, his hair, and the hand holding the knife just beside me. Then I closed my eyes again and I suddenly couldn’t help it, I pulled his head right into me, pulled his tongue right into me as high as possible, and then I came, over and over again.

That did it for me as a teenager, and it has remained in my fantasy rotation for twenty-five years in myriad permutations.

Rape is a very common sexual fantasy for women. In lists of common fantasies, it’s almost always listed. In this Business Insider poll, 28.9% of women report fantasies of being forced to have sex. (Why Business Insider is publishing sex surveys, idk, lol). Check the click-baity articles from Cosmo, et cetera and you’ll notice that some form of this fantasy is usually (euphemistically) listed. “What’s strange is how the female rape fantasy has remained largely underground, even though it’s a fairly standard daydream,” writes Natasha Vargas-Cooper, mentioning My Secret Garden. “The dewy flower on the thick paperback’s cover gave way to fantasies about being fucked by strangers, dominated by a group of black men, some incest play, and—most radically—at least five different rape scenarios.”

Cited on Rape in Romance:

In 2008, psychologists Joseph W. Critelli and Jenny M. Bivona… attempted to account for the “psychological enigma” of erotic rape fantasy. Though most women (99% in one study) do not want to be raped in reality, many do fantasize about it, and find such fantasies sexually stimulating. The statistics from twenty scientific studies (dating from 1974 to 2006) suggest that such fantasies are not rare, isolated incidents; between 31% to 57% of women surveyed reported experiencing erotic fantasies described as “rape” or “overpowered or forced” to engage in sex. Though rape fantasies were not the most common type of fantasy reported, the theme did show a median ranking in the top ten (of five to 34 topics, depending on the study). For women who did report fantasizing about rape, the theme was cited in the top 3 of the most frequently experienced fantasies. Fascinatingly, though one might expect the prevalence of rape fantasies to have changed over time, just as awareness of rape and depictions of rape in film, television, and fiction have changed, the prevalence of rape fantasies appear to have been relatively stable over the last four decades.

Cognitive Dissonance

I hesistate to call what I fantasize about “rape”. Rape is terrible, a soul-robbing act of violence. I would never wish it on my worst enemy, much less myself. The very term “rape fantasy” makes many women (and men) squeamish, and for good reason. Instead, we’ve euphemized the term for erotica: noncon, dubcon, force fantasy, forced seduction, consensual non-consent and so forth.

Despite the re-branding, the fantasy is pretty elemental. He (almost always he) forces me to have sex through physical or psychological means. If I offer consent, it’s under coercion or reluctantly. I do not have control of the experience. I may feel negative emotions as part of the fantasy: humiliation, reluctance, shame, fear, maybe even disgust. I also experience simultaneous enjoyment and arousal, often from the very fact that I’m being dominated, used or humiliated. Emotional conflict or cognitive dissonance is a key element, both wanting and not wanting the sex. I am left with no emotional or physical scars, just sometimes a haunting feeling that something has happened.

This fantasy sends all the wrong signals, and I risk trivializing real trauma with my zero-consequence version. But here’s the thing: it’s a fantasy. Nobody gets hurt. There are literally no victims of the stuff that happens in my imagination. I liken it to watching a war movie: I wouldn’t want to be there in real life, but it’s a pretty exciting way to spend two hours on the couch.

I do worry a bit about putting these fantasies out into the world. Consent is at the core of sexuality. Consent implies a mutuality of pleasure, in which all partners help one another fulfill their sexual and emotional needs. Unlike consensual fantasies, the rape fantasy must never cross into reality — as I ardently hope that war and crime, idealized in media, also do not become reality. I trust that my readers, baptized in literature, will understand that this is how fiction works.

What I find paradoxically fascinating about my own rape fantasy is that it’s fundamentally consensual. I am, after all, choosing to engage in this fantasy for my own pleasure. It is something I’m inflicting upon myself, so that I can feel something I want to feel. In fact, I have all of the control in my own fantasy of non-control. This is the essential difference between a dream and a nightmare, fantasy and reality.

We have a right to our fantasies, especially the dark ones. We need to experience the dark side of life from the safety of our own imaginations. We understand that bad things do happen to people and this evokes emotions (terror, thrill, disgust, relief) in us. Sometimes we want to feel these bad emotions and be excited by them, like when watching a horror movie. I think many people like to have their nerves pricked, to feel something beyond the pale of the mundane. Few things make us feel more alive than the fear and danger of that dark alley of the mind.

Quotes

Anonymous quoted on Thought Catalog:

I would never tell my boyfriend this because it’s so uncomfortable, but sometimes when I’m touching myself I think about him taking me by force. Like if I said no and he kept going any way because he’s so confident that I want him and find him sexy. It would be really fun to role play, but I couldn’t handle my embarrassment if he thought I was a freak for getting off on what is for many a very tragic thing.

That Wilder Girl writes:

A confession that I fantasize about rape would give all kinds of fodder to the alt-right. Most people wouldn’t understand… I’ve fantasized about rape since puberty, but the past decade or so I’ve gotten really good at it.

From Tess Mackenzie: Confession and also triggery (site now offline):

This is really, really wrong, but I’m going to write it down anyway. Sometimes I want to pretend to be passed out and have people fuck me… And yes, I know exactly what this is, and how terrible it is, and how awful it would be if it actually happened. And yet, I masturbate about it all the same. And get excited by the idea of it. And once I was really tempted to ask someone to act it out with me as a game, although in the end I was too scared to ask, or even mention it, because of what they’d probably think.

From Talking About the R Word:

Why is rape… so prevalent for the first several years in romance novels? And why was it presented as something heroes were allowed to do and get away with, oftentimes without so much as an apology?

…Several people have suggested that the fictional rape scenario allowed the heroines to enjoy sexual pleasure while still maintaining their moral purity. Nice girls don’t seek sexual pleasure. But if the sexual pleasure was forced on them… well, that’s a different matter, isn’t it?

…There’s the fact that domination fantasies in general, and rape fantasies in particular, can be very potent, and these books seem to tap into something primal for a lot of women.

…The seeds of turn-ons, kinks and fetishes are oftentimes buried deeply, and the roots can be tangled.

From Psychology Today:

Some women have fantasies of being forced into sex. At first glance, rape fantasies make no sense. Why fantasize about something that in real life would be traumatic, repugnant, and life-threatening?

But on closer examination, such fantasies are not unusual. Many men daydream about getting the girl by rescuing her from a dangerous situation–without the slightest wish to confront armed thugs, or be trapped in a fire on the 23rd floor.

Fantasies allow us to “experience” the outer limits of our imaginations safely, with no risk–and for some people, that includes fantasies of coerced sex. In fantasy everything is permitted and nothing is wrong.

15 thoughts on “D is for Dubcon, R is for…

    • I believe there’s absolutely something very primal about this fantasy, and a defense mechanism might make sense. But if that’s true, is it different because it’s related to sex (which is complicated)? Because there are lots of things to be afraid of and I don’t similarly imagine them, usually. But is fantasy a method of processing things that I don’t understand about myself, but feel anyway? Absolutely!

      Thanks so much for your thoughtful comment.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. My theory is that it allows women to escape the guilt of having sex. Catholic women make up a fairly large portion of the female population in a lot of the world. The church constantly teaches them that sex is dirty and you never have sex to enjoy it but only to make babies.

    So when a woman has sex, in the back of her mind she’s telling herself that this is wrong, even if she doesn’t realize it and wants sex. So by being fantasy raped, she can enjoy the sex without guilt as it’s not like she has any choice in the matter. After all, he’s so much bigger and stronger that resistance is futile.

    I know several women (at least that I’ve noticed) who you can feel a definite reaction when you do something that triggers the rape fantasy. Pinning the woman’s hands down on the bed beside her will often cause an instant reaction and you can feel them getting wetter, more animated when they start thinking about being forced to have sex.

    Most women like to be spanked during sex and I don’t think men in general do. Spanking can easily morph into beating a woman so she doesn’t resist being “raped.” Why do some women like gangbangs, is this not a “civilized” version of the attacking army raping all the women.

    That’s my take on the whole thing, what do you think?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think this is really close to how it feels for me, the sex-without-guilt thing, except that I really never internalized much of that. To me it feels a lot like my instinct is to run and let the caveman chase me down, grab my hair, and mate with me. So more like the primal theory and less of the Catholic schoolgirl theory. I have more to say, but I’ve also got work, and I can’t write about noncon gangbang fantasies and have a coherent thought at work (I’m already a bit too warm under the collar). I’ll respond more thoughtfully later.

      Thanks for reading and your thoughtful comment, Larry!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. The word rape is drenched in negative connotation. Forced sex is more appropriate but many just jump to the term rape when hearing that as well.
    This is where consensual role play is handy. I was reading your fantasy thinking – as long as there is a safe word I’m good with it. That may detract a bit from the edginess of it but there is minimal chance of the emotional scarring 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

      • If we’re talking about fiction, I think it’s possible to have a story that looks really non-consensual as it’s unfolding, but at the end you learn it’s a couple playing a game. This usually works for me, but it’s gimmicky.

        For me, part of the thrill is imagining that it’s happening in the story for real.

        For actual couples role-playing this way, those boundaries need to be established. My husband tends to be naturally submissive, but he knows I like both sides and we’ve played at this a bit, but I don’t like it as well as the stories. And he’s just too nice to be a convincing sexual villain. I’d rather just have him tie me up, pin me down, or punish me, and get my kicks without the storyline.

        Like

    • In real sexual situations, consent is absolutely essential. In fantasy, the lines blur. I would argue that in my example, it’s clear to the reader that she wants it, despite her protests. But that is COMPLETELY FUCKED UP in real life, and totally unacceptable, and is used as an excuse for rape, which isn’t excusable.

      But in fiction, it gets me off. That’s just something I’ve had to learn to accept about myself. But it just as easily turns me off if there isn’t something redeeming, if it’s just pain and there’s no pleasure for her/me. The not wanting is part of the wanting. Which is complicated.

      I agree with you about the euphemisms like “forced sex fantasy”. I’ve chatted with a few other erotica authors about this, and several of them share these fantasies, but they refuse to use the term “rape fantasy” — because it’s honestly terrible, right? Using a different term let’s us separate real from fantasy. After all, this sex only happens in the minds of the reader! But I mostly stick to the taboo term, because it feels more honest to me.

      Most of my fantasies of this nature are probably best described as dubcon, though.

      Liked by 2 people

      • I know what you’re saying and I acknowledge the difficulty in describing the right/wrong part of it.
        You did a thorough job and I’m ok with your post… for what that is worth. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    • I had a girl friend who had a “rape” fantasy and we tried to role play it but it didn’t work. I was afraid of hurting her and she continued to be reminded that it was actually me – her boyfriend – doing the rough sex. There is a difference between what we fantasize and what we really want to experience. Simple to state but worth keeping in mind. Fantasy is fantasy and it is OK to share it realizing that it may not be something we ever want to actually experience. I am fascinated with the concept of male chastity and can get off on the idea but would never actually give up my freedom to have release.

      Liked by 2 people

      • It’s amazing how common this fantasy is, although I guess there are lots of taboo sex fantasies that are also really common. Forbidden sex is a powerful thing for lots of us, I guess.

        “There is a difference between what we fantasize and what we really want to experience.” YES!

        I love the comparison of male chastity. That example resonates with me.

        Thanks so much for reading and commenting.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. My First – the one who took my virginity – used to call it “violently seduced.”

    (teasingly confident)”Do you want me to violently seduce you, Brightly?”
    (tiny whispery voice) “yes”

    So we’d try, and it wouldn’t work, because we both knew I wanted it. In fact, virtually everything we did was all about what I wanted. Ironically enough.

    Two years later I meet The One and we elope… and we play, and it’s often fun, but it’s never that. Until, after 30 years we find a sex act – actually a kinda blah vanilla one you’ve probably seen in mainstream porn – that I really didn’t want to do. And, to be clear, not remotely violent.

    And for the first time in my life, I got through more than 2 seconds of sex-i-didnt-want without finding myself wanting it instead, in fact all the way through it. There were some creepy frissons of pleasure, plenty of the kind of intensity I get from receiving pain, but that switch in my head that always flipped me over to ‘willing’ every time I’d tried for the fantasy before never tripped.
    It was disturbing and elating and we’ll likely never do it again, but I’m so glad we did.

    But, again, non-consent, sure, but not violence. I wasn’t injured – worst case if we’d done it wrong itdve hurt a lot, but no ER visit or anything.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for reading and the thoughtful comment. Pleasure, wanting, and not-wanting intermingle in surprising ways. Can something be unpleasant and pleasurable at the same time? I think yes, and many times so in fantasy/fiction/imagination.

      Very insightful! I’d love to read a longer post from you about that experience (I would happily host it as a guest post here). Let me know if you ever write one.

      Like

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