With 50 Shades of Grey titillating women across the country and making serious bank, this is a good time to explore just what women love so much about fantasies that involve humiliation, submission, exploitation and the promise of violent enforcement. Being hand-cuffed to a bed, gagged and whipped with a riding crop by a man who overpowers her in every way seems the very opposite of the empowered, confident, voracious women who stride through feminist media, and yet the pull of these hapless, helpless creatures is strong indeed. Women love rape fantasies. Here’s why:
1. She bears no responsibility
Sexually promiscuous women with appetites for variety and bedposts notched down to matchsticks are generally known in the popular vernacular as “sluts.” That may not be fair, but it’s the truth. We may have come a long way, baby, but we haven’t come so far that a woman with a triple digit number is going to be admired in any way, unless she happens to be a porn star who specializes in running trains. Personally, I’m not convinced this is misogyny, but rather our human inclination towards pair bonding. There is a stereotype, alive and well, that men will have sex with anything and have no standards when it comes to their own promiscuity, or at the very least, very different standards, but this is simply not true. Men, as much as women, are not entirely comfortable with sluts, whether the slut is the person standing beside them or the person in the mirror.
Rape fantasies get to side-step all these complicated “how many dicks are too many dicks” questions by removing consent from the equation. No one in their right mind, surely, would count a rapist among a woman’s numbers. She was taken. She cannot be held responsible. She’s not a slut! She’s a victim.
A victim of sweet, responsibility free rape.
2. She gets to be the object of mad desire
This segues nicely into the second reason women love rape fantasies. Rape narratives generally feature conventionally beautiful women with decidedly feminine features and qualities, but if the average reader is just the average woman, the beauty and femininity target is likely being missed by a country mile. No matter. Rapists are so overwhelmed by their physical need for the heroine, they are willing to risk everything to have the object of their desire. They are weak with wanting and express that weakness, perversely, by taking her with force.
The whole concept of rape culture, in my opinion, plays directly into this trope. Genuinely believing that we live in a rape culture, where rape is common, sanctioned and dismissed is to live in a world filled with men who are so overwhelmed with sexual desire for women, they will take them by force. Even if rape is conceptualized as being about power and not sex, the desire to overpower is still omnipresent. He wants you, one way or another. Of course, if rape really was about power, one would expect a lot of grannies and pre-teens to be getting raped, since they are much easier to overpower, but rape seems to be confined to women between the ages of 18 and 29. Those being prime reproductive years is purely coincidence?
No matter how you slice it, rape culture allows women to imagine every man is a rapist. Every man wants her. Every man will do the unthinkable just to have her.
Pretty sweet, as far as fantasies go.
3. Turnabout is fair play
When men are conceptualized as rapists who treat women like personal property, to use and abuse as they please, it becomes that much easier to justify treating men in the exact same manner. The heroes of romantic or erotic novels like 50 Shades of Grey are hardly ever homeless drug addicts with acne and missing limbs. Heroes tend to come in a one-size-fits all variety. They are almost universally tall, broad-shouldered, narrow-waisted, with rippling biceps, a full head of hair and an even fuller bank account. If women in romance novels are reduced to fuck-toys, men are reduced to wallets.
Interestingly enough, real life standards for what constitutes the “ideal woman” have changed dramatically as women’s social roles have changed. From the hourglass curves of Marilyn Monroe to the asexual slenderness of Twiggy to the bootyliciousness of Nicky Minaj, the ideal woman has transformed with the times. The ideal man has not. Women’s gender roles have undergone dramatic changes, men’s have not. The ideal man in 2015 hasn’t changed since Paleolithic artists created the Lascaux paintings. Men are meant to be tall, strong and rich. They are meant to serve and protect women.
Rape fantasies make it okay for women to hold men to such grossly exploitative and unfair standards, while demanding their own roles be dissipated to the point of being unrecognizable.
They’re rapists for heaven’s sake! They deserve what they get.
4. Rape fantasies justify violence against men
In an era where acknowledging any inherent differences between men and women, particularly differences that might work to suggest men are superior in some respects, is tantamount to heresy, many women harbor latent malice towards men. This is because women are not stupid. It will take a lot of feminist Kool-aid before women will uncritically, and unapologetically decree that men and women are exactly equal in every regard. Even the most devoted practitioner of the “gender as a social performance” school of thought cannot fully suppress the awareness that men tend to be bigger, stronger and have more body hair than women. Testosterone whispers across the cultural landscape despite the best efforts of gender feminists to stamp it out. Women aren’t landing rockets on comets. Men are. That’s because of shirts, of course.
Many women resent men. They resent them for being stronger, more ambitious, for working harder and longer and doing virtually all the necessary work of survival. It’s truly sad that a group of disgruntled, disenfranchised feminists in the 70s took their jealousy of men and made it into a religion, simultaneously guaranteeing the unhappiness of generations and implicitly agreeing that men are better. Women may not design, build, manufacture and maintain waste water management facilities, but we do our bit to help civilization along: we have children. The uncritical acceptance of men’s standards of living and being and doing has been the most harmful legacy of feminism, in my opinion. A woman born with a burning desire to turn raw sewage into potable water should absolutely be free to do that. She should be cheered from the rooftops and so should every man who desires the same. Clean drinking water is important. But most women don’t want to do that. We want to have families and care for them. Opting out, going home, baking cookies and babbling with babies is the new American Dream for working mothers.
Most of them can’t opt out, and it makes them angry. That expresses itself in romance novels as violence against men. When the rich, tall, broad shouldered man overcome with lust approaches the heroine, she is the one who uses blood-letting force. She will bite, scratch, kick, clamor and claw her way out of his grips. It never works, but she is left with the pleasure of watching his blood drip while he uses just enough force to subdue her.
There are not many rape fantasies that involve true, brutal violence against women. It’s usually just a matter of pinning her down, while she fights back with full force, drawing blood. And deep satisfaction.
5. Women don’t need to play the victim
Feminists absolutely love the victim narrative. Women are always and only victims. Helpless, harmless innocents who play no part whatsoever in their own victimization. Real women are not entirely comfortable with the whole victim narrative because it is a denial of agency and responsibility, and even though the rape fantasy has denial of responsibility at its heart, in real life, most women understand that women cannot be both perpetual victims and responsible adults. If we are to be at all times shielded, protected and guided, we become little more than children. Most women reject this.
Rape fantasies walk a perfect line between adulthood and perpetual childhood. Most novels that feature rape fantasies will never, ever depict the same heroine dragging her mattress around campus, whoring for attention and sympathy from anyone passing by. Women raped by their fantasy lovers do not go to rape crisis centers, do not call 911 and will rarely, if ever, even tell a close friend what happened.
Because what happened wasn’t rape.
It was sex. Responsibility free sex, fired by his overwhelming desire, backed up with his hot body and gold Amex, in which she got to beat the shit out of him and never feel hard done by.