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.
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.
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.
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.
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.