**DISCLAIMER** Content Warning: Those who find discussions of rape and sexual assault triggering, I advise you to please not read any further.
You don’t need me to tell you that rape is a serious matter. The sad truth is one in three women has been, or will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime – according to the WHO. But with discussions of it everywhere, and the sadly very present fear a lot of women (and some men) carry with them as they just try and go about their day-to-day, what about what goes on in our head?
What Is A Rape Fantasy? (Shorthand)
There’s a wide range of sexual fantasies people have, ranging from entirely unrealistic to applicable to real life, sex with a warewolf through to banging on a plane. But the fantasy of being raped, also known as nonconsent and forced sex fantasies, is common. But this common fantasy is one that few of us feel comfortable sharing. It puts people on edge and makes us feel a bit wrong. Controversial in nature — and they can include fantasies about rape or sexual violence.
And it’s incredibly important to note that while rape fantasies are common, this does not mean that women secretly wants to be raped. There is a huge difference between acted out role-play, imagined scenarios, and real-life experiences. No one asks to be raped, no one deserves to be raped, and how common forced sex fantasies are in no way justifies unwanted sexual contact of any nature.
Role-playing or acting out with a partner a rape fantasy is a BDSM practice. It involves someone taking a dominant role, and the other, the submissive role. Not all sexual fantasies involve BDSM.
The Rape Fantasy Explained
Psychologists use to believed that dreams and fantasies were subconscious wishes, therefore, women who had rape fantasies actually wanted to be coerced into sex. That view has been thoroughly debunked. Fantasies don’t necessarily reflect wishes.
For those in long-term relationships, often, one of the most common fantasies is sex with someone else – even when the daydreamer is happy in the relationship and has no real desire to jump into another bed. Fantasies are just that – a fantasy.
According to Psychology Today, todays psychologists suggest that women’s rape fantasies have three main possible explanations:
Sexual blame avoidance: This explanation recognises that womens erotic desires may trigger feelings of guilt and shame. How can a woman endure avant garde sexual fantasies without developing those feelings? By fantasising about being forced. That way women aren’t responsible for sex and need not feel distressed about it. It was forced. It wasn’t my fault.
Sexual desirability: This reflects the need to be so desired that the man quite literally can’t contain themselves. This sort of fantasy is often reflected with an attraction to the man, and once resisted at first turns into enjoyment, which real life rape definitely does not. The sexual-desirability explanation says that women have rape fantasies to bolster feelings of seductiveness and desirability. I’m so hot. I drive men crazy.
Sexual openness: This explanation says that women who enjoy sex and accept their enjoyment without anxiety, guilt, or shame feel sufficiently free to play with erotic scenarios beyond the boundaries of what they’d ever want to experience in real life. It’s fantasy. I’m free to fantasize anything.
Clinical psychologist, Dr Michael Yates explains to Metro that,
“Rape fantasies allow women to reduce distress associated with sex, as they are not responsible for what occurs, therefore have less need to feel guilt or shame about acting upon their own sexual desires or feelings. In our minds, it’s not us doing it, it’s all the other person, meaning we don’t have to feel guilty or dirty. This explains why most rape fantasies don’t tend to be extremely violent, and why the women I asked reported resisting at first before having an enjoyable experience (which real-life rape is definitely not).”
Grazia Daily speak to sex psychologist Dr Frederick Toates, who wrote How Sexual Desire Works: The Enigmatic Urge.
Grazia asked, “Are some women even turned on by rape fantasies simply because they’re not meant to have them?”
Dr. Toates answered, “What is a transgression is attractive, for men and women. People find illicit things attractive and that could be an added component in women finding rape fantasies a turn-on.”
Grazia also asked, “Is it likely that women who have rape fantasies have been assaulted or raped before?”
To which Dr. Toates states, “Sometimes if you’re in a traumatic situation you go back to recreate it, but whether women go back to re-run the situation and re-calibrate it to be desirable is yet to be reported.”
Paradoxically to what you may think, most women think that rape fantasies made them feel in control. A main thing to remember about a fantasy is that even though in the fantasy you experience a loss of control, in actual fact one is totally in control.
A study evaluating rape fantasies containing 355 female undergraduate participants, revealed that, 52% had fantasised about being forced by a man and 17% had fantasised about being forced by a woman. 32% fantasised about being raped by a man meanwhile 9% fantasised about being raped by a woman. 28% had fantasised about forced oral from a man whilst 9% fantasised about forced oral by a woman, and 16% fantasised about forced anal and 24% fantasised about being forced while incapacitated (drunk/ under the influence).
Forced and raped weren’t explicitly explained, it was up to the participant to interpret the phrases in their own way. Hence why results for “rape” are a lot less than “forced” due to the shame that comes with confessing you’ve fantasised about something that’s so horrific. The participants were considerably more likely to fantasize being “forced” than “raped,” presumably because “rape” carries more connotations of violence and harm.
15% of the study participants reported being sexual assault survivors. The research found no correlation between real-life rape and whether participants had fantasised about rape.
Among respondents who admitted fantasies of being forced by men, 33% had them less than once a year, 26% admitted to a few times a year, 20% claimed once a month, 11% weekly, and 9% had them at least four times a week.
Among the 71 participants who reported fantasies of being forced by women, 50 said they were heterosexual. The most sexually anxious, guilty, and repressed women had the fewest rape fantasies. However, it was proven that the most sexually open and self-accepting women had the most rape fantasies. The women who considered themselves attractive also had frequent rape fantasies. This is probably to do with the desire aspect – being so attractive a man can’t control himself.
You’re Not Wrong or F*cked Up, You are NORMAL
You’re scared of looking different. Even worse, you worry about what would happen if you actually did get raped, and it came out that you fantasized about it on a regular basis. You can learn a lot about yourself by exploring your darkest, most taboo sexual desires. Despite what your parents taught you, it’s healthy.
Rape fantasies and role play are paragons of consent. No matter how dark or violent, they revolve around clear communication and mutual respect. People with a healthy sexuality understand how a foundation of consent supports any moment like that.
People who are open sexually fantasize about hundreds of things that they know can never happen in life. A rape fantasy can never violate your consent. When you’re inside your head, you control everything that happens.
Too often, we dismiss what we don’t understand about sex. Including our own desires and identities. Don’t be scared of what you want. Find a safe way to learn more about it. You can find dozens of communities where people embrace each other’s ‘devious’ and ‘perverted’ sexualities. No matter what you’re into, you’re not alone.
Exploring Your Fantasy
The key to enjoying rape fantasy is safety. The first thing one must do is to discuss their fantasies with their partner(s). What would you like to be done? It is completely acceptable to want some kind of physical element, i.e. hair pulling, choking, being called names. Talk it out with your partner(s) beforehand, be clear about what you are ok with and what you do not want, and establish a safe word that would indicate when the acting out of the fantasy would stop. Click on my BDSM and Safe Practice article to explore further on bringing your fantasies to life. To read more on Consent click here.
There is no bad sexual fantasy. It is only important that if a fantasy is acted out, it is fully consensual and it happens safely.
Fantasies are FANTASIES.
Men and especially women feel ashamed because they know on an intellectual level that rape is bad and should not be tolerated. They do not understand how they can find such a situation erotic.
It is completely acceptable that someone who identifies as a feminist has a rape fantasy. The fantasy does not delegitimise one’s politics. Feminism is as much about exploring and accepting oneself as it is about ending patriarchy and the discrimination that comes with it.
The fantasiser finds the man or woman raping them to be terribly attractive, and there is no disgust or repulsion in the mix. There is usually no arousal happening in real-life situations when a woman is being forced into sex, making actual rape incredibly different than what’s happening in our heads. There is an eroticism present in fantasies that simply doesn’t exist when rape happens out in the real world.
But know that if you’re having rape fantasies, there’s nothing ‘wrong’ with you, you’re not a ‘bad feminist’. and it doesn’t mean you’d actually like to be raped in real life. Fantasies are just that — fantasies.
In fantasy, everything is permitted and nothing is wrong. Not everyone accepts this, but as sexual openness increases, so does willingness to daydream about sexual scenarios one would never really want to experience. Women who have rape fantasies don’t want to be sexually assaulted. They feel comfortable with their own sexuality and are happy to embrace their erotic fantasies—wherever they may lead.