In a culture where polyamory is part of the national vocabulary, sex parties are no longer shocking, and Rihanna is singing about S&M on the radio airwaves, it would seem that kink has finally gone mainstream.
Still, there are some things that are still taboo—at least until you peek into women’s panties.
Psychological Science published the results of a study that explored men’s and women’s sexual response to various stimuli. By the conclusion of the study, it was determined that men’s genital arousal occurred in response to a very limited number of sexual stimuli while, in contrast, women’s genital arousal occurred in response to a much wider range of sexual stimuli, including imagery involving violence and non-consensual sex.
In other words, female subjects were turned on—at least in their nether regions—by depictions of rape. (Men, on the flipside, responded almost exclusively to the consensual scenarios.)
The word rape is garnering a lot of attention lately. More people are discussing what exactly constitutes a rape and more women are coming forward to share their (horrifying) stories of abuse (like this one). So while there can obviously be a huge disconnect between how horny a woman feels and how wet her naughty bits become, the results of this study nevertheless beg the question:
Are rape fantasies natural? If so, how many women are having them… and why?
According to YourTango Expert, sexologist and relationship coach Veronica Monet, rape fantasies are more common than you think… depending upon how you define rape.
“Some of the things we consider rape today were considered normal a couple hundred years ago,” says Monet, making mention of hair-pulling cavemen and moving on to the bodice-ripping rape scenes romanticized in romance novels and movies today. “Some of this has been in the culture for a long time, and women have sort of absorbed that. Now, it’s a common fantasy to want to be pushed up against the wall, and have a kiss forced upon you.”
Moushumi Ghose, YourTango Expert, sex educator, and a licensed marriage and family therapist, agrees. “By nature,” she says, “women seek to be protected and cared for and, in a sense, a rape fantasy is a desire not just to be dominated but also to be able to completely surrender.”
But, Monet asks, where does one draw the line between a sexually aggressive male who knows exactly when and where a woman wants to be taken, and a male who perpetrates rape?
Monet herself has a unique perspective on the rape fantasy. She was raped twice and, later in life, engaged in rape fantasies with her husband. It may seem odd, but Monet is particularly eloquent when it comes to the stark differences between rape fantasy and an actual rape.
When speaking about her own rape, the difference is clear.
“There’s nothing sexy about it,” she says. As for the fantasies, “When you’re engaging in a fantasy, you’re running the entire show. You are 100 percent in control of every minute detail. It was very hot and exciting for me. My husband tied me to a chair, ripped my clothes off, forced me to suck his cock and fingered me. I had a huge orgasm.”
Ghose adds, “Rape fantasies are not about violence. They are about relinquishing control, and being able to completely surrender.”
So how does one approach a partner when they have a particularly unusual fantasy?
“If it’s pushing their icky button,” says Monet, “it would be really great for them to enlarge their vision of what’s normal and what’s OK. Help them do research online about your particular fetish or interest, so that they can see how common it is. This normalizes and humanizes it.”
After that, if your partner is willing to explore this fantasy with you, what’s most important is planning—in detail—every aspect of your fantasy as it will play out in the bedroom. Decide upon a safe word, such as “yellow” for “slow down” or “red” for “stop.”
Make sure—especially if you’re a survivor of rape or abuse—that no aspect of this fantasy will be triggering for you.
“The receiver needs to indicate what is OK and what is not OK,” says Ghose. “Above all, communication is key. Telling your partner what you like, and what makes you comfortable and uncomfortable, can make a rape fantasy enjoyable and worthwhile.”
But what about those who insist that fantasies about non-consensual sex indicate an implicit approval of rape?
“That view is absolutely incorrect,” says Ghose. “Rape fantasies do not condone or allow violence. It has more to do with surrender, the ability to let oneself go completely in a safe and comfortable space. Arousal and climax are a delicate balance of anxiety and relaxation. Being preoccupied and fearful for your life does not stimulate anyone.”
“It’s certainly not true to me amongst the people I know,” adds Monet. “I admire how expertly they (the S&M community) do boundaries. Draw up contracts and negotiate every detail of the relationship. They understand the difference between consensual and non-consensual.”
At the conclusion of our chat, Monet lays it out simple: “Rape is doing something against somebody’s will. One is consensual and one is not. The end.”