Sex & Love / Society & Culture / Staff Picks

Rape Fantasies: No One Fantasizes About Rape

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What does the term ‘rape fantasy’ mean? It is a sexual fantasy which involves one partner being coerced, or coercing another, into sexual activity. This term is often used to explain a particular sexual desire that involves being dominated or dominating another. I have heard women describe how they wouldn’t mind being raped by certain celebrities in specific film scenes, for example, “I wouldn’t mind if Ryan Gosling raped me.” Well, yes, you actually would mind. I cry fowl.

No one wants to be raped. The very fact that someone wants to have sex with another person, celebrity or not, means there is attraction and desire, which could result in consent between both parties. This difference is essential to understand: rape is a sexual act forced upon a partner without consent. If two adults consent, then it isn’t rape. There is a distinct difference between domination & submission fantasies and rape, even extreme fantasies where two partners are role-playing a scenario mimicking rape, as long as there is a consensual agreement.

I firmly believe there is a clear difference between rape fantasy, which implies someone wants to be raped (and the very definition of rape itself makes this impossible) and a domination/submission fantasy.

In 2009, a report was published by Bivona, J. and J. Critelli titled “The Nature of Women’s Rape Fantasies: An Analysis of Prevalence, Frequency, and Contents” in Journal of Sex Research. Sixty-two percent responded that they’d had at least one such “rape” fantasy. However, the responses varied depending on the terminology; for example, when asked about being “overpowered” by a man, fifty-two percent responded positively. On the contrary, when the term ‘rape’ was used, only thirty-two percent responded saying they had the fantasy. Thus, the report proves that terminology used is not just semantic, but powerful.

Why am I being so particular about a phrase? Simply, language makes a world of difference. By promoting the term ‘rape fantasy,’ we are desensitizing what rape actually is. Rape is a non-consensual, forcible act, whether violent or not. It is suggesting that rape is not so bad, that it may actually be desired by women. In essence, it is excusing people who rape, while also taking away the rights and freedoms rape survivors should have, such as freedom of expression, proper medical care, and legal justice. Rape survivors often never report their assault, because they feel as though their families, friends, and authorities will not believe them, and may even ridicule them. By using the term ‘rape fantasy,’ you are perpetuating the idea that rape is not a serious crime, that victims may have actually enjoyed it.

Of course, role-playing and enacting submissive/dominate fantasies are entirely separate from rape fantasies, but still need to be thoroughly discussed and established before attempting to re-create a lusty scenario. Having boundaries and safe words is completely normal, and absolutely necessary, as they can prevent any unintentional harm and miscommunication from occurring.

Let’s stop perpetuating rape culture by using our words better, fiercer, louder.


Joanna C. Valente currently lives in Brooklyn, where she is a part-time mermaid. She received her MFA in poetry writing from Sarah Lawrence College. Some of her words can be found in decomP, Thrush Poetry Journal, La Fovea, The 22 Magazine, and other places. In 2010, she founded Yes, Poetry. Her ghost resides here@joannasaid

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12 thoughts on “Rape Fantasies: No One Fantasizes About Rape

  1. One in three women agreeing even when confronted with the more explicit term of ‘rape’ is fairly significant, in my opinion. Note that I do not condone rape in any way, shape or form. But that stat deserves a bit more attention.

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  4. Fantastic piece! I HATE the way people seem to blur the line between wanting to be dominated and wanting to be raped. It only seems to fuel a culture of abuse against rape victims, especially the ‘She wanted it/was asking for it’ that seems to creep up so much.

  5. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU! Finally! Wanting to be dominated or “taken control of” is not a rape fantasy. I vomit a little in my mouth when they say women fantasize about being raped. Being raped is a horrible, terrifying, and humiliating experience so for the love of all things good, get your phrasing right and stop re-humiliating women who were raped by saying we “fantasize” about it! Thank you for posting!!!

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  7. This implies that attraction or rape equals consent, which is not true.
    Moreover, it ignores (completely) those who have experienced abuse & rape previously and who have therefore been naturalised & taught to desire rape.

    • I’m not sure how it implies that attraction or rape equals consent. To be honest, I’m not clear what that sentence means. Can you rephrase? I stated attraction *could* attribute to consent, not that it automatically means consent. I think that’s common sense. There’s a difference, but I may also be misinterpreting what you are saying. If so, please correct me. In terms of rape, a lack of consent in any form or way usually means someone was forced into having sex.

      Also, how has it ignored those who experienced rape? I was mainly discussing terminology, not the actual experience of rape, and how rape affects those who have been victimized. I do also take offense to this, as I have been raped myself, and I write from my own experience. I don’t pretend that my experience, or ways of dealing with my experience, work for other people, but it’s unfair for you to assume that I have ignored those have experienced it, considering I have.

      I didn’t get into how rape itself can affect one’s sexuality and sexual feelings of attraction, because that wasn’t the focus of the article. The focus of the article is to show how using the term ‘rape fantasy’ may lead to the normalization of what rape is, so if anything, I am being sensitive to rape and how it is perceived in our culture. I just think it may be harmful using a phrase that may allow some people to misinterpret what it means, and belittle the meaning of rape.

      • Apologies, the first sentence was suppose to read: “This implies that attraction or desire equals consent, which is not true.” (Tiredness set in at that point in the day, I think…)

        Your overarching point is “no one fantasises about rape”. This statement ignores those who are normalised to it, for whatever reason, be they previous abuse victims or not. People do fantasise about rape, not just rape play, but rape.

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