Social Question

Mama_Cakes's avatar

(NSFW) What do you think of this theory about common female sexual fantasies?

Asked by Mama_Cakes (10276points) February 17th, 2012

It is commonly known that a large percentage of women fantasize about being raped or sexually dominated in some way. Link
Is it likely that this is a remnant of animalistic biology? Prior to the existence of civilized society, the female of the species would be much more likely to be taken sexually by force and the male more likely to be forcing himself upon her. Is there some biological or evolutionary motive for women to be aroused by the idea of rape? (I am not suggesting that they actually want to be raped and I am also aware that this is not so simple or true for everyone). And likewise, is there a biological or evolutionary motive for men to be aroused by the idea of being sexually dominant?

This question came up after reading the “rape” scene from The Fountainhead. It’s very clear in that story that the female character wanted to be raped by that particular man. Although, it’s not a comfortable or popular idea to suggest that a woman might want that in any instance.

What do you think?

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44 Answers

laureth's avatar

Traditionally, sexually active women (or women who want sex, really) have been frowned upon, or worse. I’ve understood the rape fantasy (but not real rape!) to be a way to sort of justify having sexual desire. By this, I mean that if you’re “not in control,” you’re technically still a “good girl,” whatever is happening is not something you “could have stopped.” Not that you would have wanted to, you see.

This is not to be confused with actual rape, which you cannot stop but also DO NOT WANT. Big difference.

HungryGuy's avatar

I’m a writer of erotic horror stories. I’ve been contacted by a great many women over the years who harbor such fantasies.

Coloma's avatar

Being “taken” in a modestly “forceful” way, by a male exhibiting extreme desire is not even close to the act of violent rape and potential physical harm. Of course a woman wants a man to behave as a man, but not a psychopath. Every woman enjoys feeling her femininity, being picked up and tossed on the bed, ravished, but not beaten, humiliated and hurt. If that’s the case then one is crossing the border into sadomasichistic fetish, not my cuo o’ tea, but yes, I don’t want to be with a guy that is fragile. I want to be the more “fragile” one.

Imadethisupwithnoforethought's avatar

I think along lines similar to those described by @laureth, although I am not a female and have to guess at some of this. I think it is all psychological, and not biological.

Regardless of the speculation I have heard from sketchy evolutionary biologists and pick up artists, the truth is, women pick the alpha male in any tribe. It is always the strongest man who is also kind. Unkind men are extremely vulnerable to being killed in their sleep by a female they have raped who knows how to pick up a rock.

JLeslie's avatar

I think probably women like to feel irresistable, and the fantasy of a man having to have her gets wrongy spinned into him forcing himself, but is not the same.

Any fantasy I would have in my head about being overtaken by a man would be by a man I wanted to be with, not against my will. It would be him taking the lead, but I would not be afraid or fighting back, so it isn’t rape.

I think it is likely socialization is the reason we have these types of thoughts.

Mama_Cakes's avatar

@JLeslie For those who actually answered the question that was asked, thank-you. This was my partner’s question and she typed it up. She wants to respond to a few of you and will in a bit.

Pandora's avatar

I think people confuse the word rape with seduction. Rape involves violence where in the end the victim feels violated and defeated. Not satisfied in the least. Most women dream of this seduction where they are enticed to overcome their scruples and not feel ashamed for living out their deep sexual and sometimes animalistic desires.
As to it having to do with apes. Don’t know if that is the case or maybe its just a strong desire in animals to mate. Dreams often have more to do with what you may be thinking of before you go to bed. Although I don’t think people go to bed wanting to dream about sex, it may just be that hormones raging may be the culprit behind the dream. A person gets horny and a wild dream fills the ticket.

Mama_Cakes's avatar

Please keep in mind that we’re talking about rape fantasy, not an actual desire to be raped.

Pandora's avatar

@Mama_Cakes Understood that. I just object to the idea of a rape fantasy. People call it that but I think most of the time its about a seduction fantasy. People just hear the word forced when discribing the act and lump it to be rape, when its more about seduction. As for actually dreaming of rape. Yes that does happen but in those cases I think that has more to do with feeling helpless and trapped. Not a fantasy. More of a nightmare.

Mama_Cakes's avatar

@Coloma You’re not getting it (according to Nikki). She wants to respond to you, and will tomorrow. Right now, she is sleeping on the couch.

Coloma's avatar

@Mama_Cakes Then lump me into @Pandora ‘s response. To be more succinct…I too, don’t believe that most women mean “rape” in the truest sense, when using the term “rape fantasy”. No need to have your friend respond, I’m movin’ on…just not that important to me, thanks. :-)

Aethelflaed's avatar

Eh. In general, I’m not a huge fan of evo-psych; I have some epistemological issues with it. So, maybe, but I personally wouldn’t use it as a theory until all the others had been exhausted.

I don’t think there’s one reason women have rape fantasies. But, my personal theory (for many women, but not all) is that rape is a fundamental part of our lives, a basic fear in our society. Because you are always in control of fantasies (or somewhat more accurately, there’s no one else who can have control over your fantasies, or anyone else who can take the control away from you), that having those rape fantasies is a way of taking control of that loss of control, of being violated without really being violated, of creating an inversion of actual power. So, it’s a way of confronting, dealing with, and eventually taking power over a suffering that most women eventually come face-to-face with (either from being actually raped, or knowing someone who was, or just being surrounded with it from messages from the media); a way of taking on rape on your own terms.

@Mama_Cakes I have not read the rape scene in Rand – is it stand-alone, or do I have to read the whole book to get the gist and complexities? Is it dub-con? Dub-con done “right” or “wrong”?

Mama_Cakes's avatar

@Aethelflaed I read Nikki your response, and she muttered something half asleep. She then said out loud ‘that is a good question’, but, she said that she will ask it tomorrow when she’s more awake. She wants to word it properly.

JLeslie's avatar

I’m confused, are you saying I didn’t answer the question, because I basically am saying I don’t think most women have “rape” fantasies, but rather fantasies of being overpowered by someone they desire?

nikipedia's avatar

I think women have rape fantasies for the same reason that people ride roller coasters and watch horror movies. Being terrified in a safe environment where the bad thing can’t actually happen is exciting and rewarding.

Mama_Cakes's avatar

Why don’t men have them, then (for the most part)?

Kardamom's avatar

I don’t think most women have rape fantasies. I sure as heck don’t and I don’t recall any of my friends describing anything like that. The whole idea of being forced doesn’t sit well with me. My fantasies, and those of my friends that are willing to share, usually involve romance, and simply having the man that we desire, fall in love with us. My fantasies, if you want to call them that, are more of the Cinderella or Getting Lucky variety. I guess I can’t relate to the whole being forced scenario, whether you want to call it a “rape fantasy” or “seduction.” I suspect me and my close female friends must be in the minority.

Keep_on_running's avatar

@Kardamom I don’t ever remember fantasizing about rape either. It’s hard for me to even write such a sentence :/ I don’t think we’re the minority though. I’ve obviously thought about it objectively, like right now, but actually dreaming up a scenario and receiving gratification or enjoyment from it, never.

JLeslie's avatar

I actually was thinking like @nikipedia before coming back to thos Q. Some people enjoy being scared. I hate it. I think their brains are wired differently. I hate scary movies, I don’t desire to bungee jump, or drive fast around a racetrack, and I simply don’t want that sort of adrenaline rush, maybe some women get some sort of brain chemical thrill?

I also can’t think of one friend who talked about fantasizing about being raped. What studies say this? I would be interested in the stats? Did Shere Hite investigate it? I don’t remember if it was in her work.

I think human beings are built to enjoy sex. Back in early human days I bet the majority of sex was consensual. I think religion and mores developed later about restricting our physical desires. It probably varies of course, in some primitive cultures we see men being very aggressive sexually, and in others sex is very mutual. We still see that now, I wonder what exactly causes men in a culture to be one way or the other,

SpatzieLover's avatar

What do I think of the theory? eh. I think rape fantasies are a form of safe thrill seeking behavior.

I, like others above me have said, am not wired this way

Pandora's avatar

There can be several reasons why men don’t dream of rape/seduction fantasy.
1. Men still are not that comfortable about speaking about their feelings and much less about dreams unless they are about something innocuous.
2.Like I mentioned before, rape is more of a nightmare of feeling helpless and having things go out of control. Men don’t feel like they are seen as men unless they appear fearless. So this doesn’t fit into their comfort wheel.
3. Some men may feel it says they have a secret desire to be submissive or that it means they are weak and helpless.
4. If its not a rape and a seduction, well than they don’t even recognize it as rape. They may say they were seduced. Even if telling their friends, they will embellish the story to say that the woman was some famous star rather than admit that they dreamt about plain Jane down the street.
My point is I do think men dream of seduction but they would hardly admit it to their friends. Why do you think hookers get men with weird fantasies. Because they fear that society will judge them so they pay someone to live out their fantasy and keep it their dirty little secret.
Do men dream of seduction. Yeah, or you wouldn’t have the porno industry play that out a lot. Do they dream of getting rape. No, not really. Not in the truest sense of the word of rape.

I’ve dreamt of getting stabbed, being punched, falling off a building or a cliff, and of being raped. None of them would I label as a fantasy. Nightmare yes.
I’ve dreamt of seductions as well. Yes, those where fantasies. Even though I would ever want to do some of the things in real life, I had a sense of excitement in the dreams. No fear. In real life those fantasies would become fearful because I know awake it would be something I really don’t want to do.

JLeslie's avatar

Wait, are we talking dreams or fantasies? Even so I have never had a rape dream, I have certainly had violent dreams. But, fantasy means something totally different to me than dream.

Kardamom's avatar

@JLeslie I too have had some horrific dreams, mostly apocolyptic in nature, but never, ever not even once have I had any kind of rape “fantasy” dream. I have had dreams where some horrible person was trying to kill me, but never anything that involved anything remotely violently sexual. My intimate dreams usually involve someone that I already know, and they’re either sweet or bittersweet, but I’ve never had any kind of dream (or desire to have that type of dream) that involved rape, or fantasy rape, or seduction by force. Mostly it’s just dreams about peope (the current man, or previous relationships) I already love/ed and either I get lucky or I don’t : ( The idea of rape, or even “rape fantasies” horrfies me. I know at least a couple of women that have been actually raped and so the idea of rape, real or not is repulsive to me. It is not romantic.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@JLeslie No, conscious fantasies.

@Kardamom You might be surprised at the number of women who have been raped themselves and have rape fantasies. It’s not something a person can have only by being total ignorant of the matter.

JLeslie's avatar

@Aethelflaed Ok, I just was checking after reading @Pandora‘s answer.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@JLeslie Well, I can’t speak for @Pandora.. But on the psychologytoday link, fantasies.

Kardamom's avatar

@Aethelflaed I’m sure you are right, but it sickens me and makes me want to cry.

JLeslie's avatar

@Kardamom Well, dreams of rape are very different than fantasies, you can’t fault someone for having a dream. Or, do you mean you find it odd for someone to enjoy a rape dream? That would be odd to me too.

Pandora's avatar

@Aethelflaed @JLeslie @Kardamom I don’t think people actually have rape dreams. I believe them to be rape nightmares, and even in those, you start the dream with being violent and know where the nightmare is headed. Like falling off a cliff. Most people dream of falling and can even remember seeing the floor coming up, but they wake before they hit. You unconcious mind even defends itself. It will still let you know of the horrors that was about to happen by hinting at it without really going through the whole thing. Even then sometimes you see the dream sometimes happen as if viewing it happening to someone else.
At least in my case. The few times I’ve ever dreamt of it, it wasn’t a fantasy, didn’t feel eroticly pleasureable at all, and my mind only indicated what may have happened. Like when you watch a rape scene on a cop show on tv. You can still feel sorrow, or fear for the victim without seeing all the gory details. In my case I know it comes from feeling helpless in a situation. Speaking as someone who was nearly raped by a stranger and almost date raped twice, It is not a secret desire in the least. I do know what if feels like to feel completely trapped by an animal. Its nothing you ever secretly desire.

JLeslie's avatar

So, basically none of us can fathom a rape fantasy. So who are these women supposedly having such fantasies?

laureth's avatar

I fathomed it up there in the first comment.

nikipedia's avatar

I fathom it. I know a number of women who are turned on by it.

JLeslie's avatar

@laureth @nikipedia I guess. But, those woman do want the sex, does any rape victim want the sex? It becomes consentual if they want it, which flies in the face of the definition of rape. But, I see how a woman who is never allowed to think she desires sex might use a rape fantasy to somehow be ok psychologically with the feelings.

nikipedia's avatar

@JLeslie, there is a big difference between a rape fantasy and actual rape. I think rape fantasies are under the larger umbrella of BDSM sex.

I am going to stand by my horror movie analogy. No one actually wants to see someone get murdered or tortured; in fact, if that happened in real life it would be traumatizing. But in horror movies, when we see that, we get to active the part of our brain that responds to the excitement of it without having to be traumatized.

JLeslie's avatar

@nikipedia Here’s what I wonder, the person who likes horror flicks, do they identify with the people at all in the movie? Or, are they just watching? In the fantasy rape it is happening to them. But, I agree, some people get off on being afraid.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@JLeslie So who are these women supposedly having such fantasies? Hi, I’m Aethelflaed, nice to meet you. I have also known tons and tons of women who have rape fantasies, and a quick spin on any smutty fanfic site (fanfic being written overwhelmingly by women) will show just how common this particular fantasy is.

JLeslie's avatar

@Aethelflaed I am not making any judgment about women who do if it came across that way? How do the women explain why it excites them? We are all guessing here why, but it seems to me even @laureth and @nikipedia, even though they stated they can understand why, don’t actually have the fantasies themselves I don’t think.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@JLeslie I think the thing is, we don’t really have huge explanations for why we like what we like in bed, period. We don’t really know that much about what makes a person think anal sex is the hottest thing ever, or why some people have a feet fetish, or why some people want their lover to eat sushi off them, or why certain people prefer their lover’s lingerie to be in cutout eyelet teddy form instead of lacy babydoll form. So, it’s not really like you get to stuff that makes people squick out and pathologize and demonize (not you, but tons and tons of people) and suddenly have tons of research, because people are even less willing to fund those projects.

Theory-wise, I have heard @laureth‘s idea, and I’m sure there are some women out there who do it for that reason. But, for me, it’s largely unsatisfying, because it sort of seems to say that once a woman is more sexually empowered, the fantasy would leave. But then there’s this really huge amount of women reading and writing rape fantasy erotic online (so, usually at least somewhat sexually empowered – ok enough with being sexual to actively pursue their sexuality), so it fails to explain all these other women. I posited an idea here on what drives other women, which is an extension of the idea that masochism is a way to take control of and deal with everyday suffering. I’ve also heard the theory that, really, it’s just like how some people like pralines ‘n cream ice cream, and others prefer rocky road, but it’s failed to strike a real chord with me (though, I never cease to admire that particular theorist’s ability to put people in their place…).

JLeslie's avatar

@Aethelflaed I actually think what fettishes someone has or the fantasies we have typically can be traced back to some sort of event, or something we saw at a young age. I know that what I prefer sexually traces back to some of my first sexual experiences.

I also know that men who watch porn all the time, like to ejaculate on women, seem more obsessed with the visual during sex, and think every sexual encounter should involve blowjobs, and if they watch porn with anal sex they want to have anal sex. And, I do think it is the porn that triggers the fettish or desire in those cases, not the other way around. They get more obsessed with certain acts as they watch the images over and over again. I am not talking about a curiosity about different sex acts, but fettish or obsession to the point that it is hard for the person to feel very aroused without it, or at minimum pursue the act with regularity.

JLeslie's avatar

@Aethelflaed I don’t think the rape fantasies gives women a feeling of power over their fear of rape. I think it more likely might be women who are tired of making decisions in their daily life, and seek someone too take control, relieve them of responsibility maybe. Which kind of fits into @laureth idea still. But, I don’t have those fantasies, so what do I know.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@JLeslie I’m not saying that it would work for all women. But, yeah, you don’t have any rape fantasies, so of course it wouldn’t feel empowering to you. But many women, many rape victims, do feel it’s empowering to them, and they know better than anyone else what’s in their head.

And, I don’t agree with the porn thing. It doesn’t explain why young people seek out the porn they do, before they’ve consumed enough porn for it to have any effect, nor does it explain how anyone who doesn’t consume porn (perhaps because they don’t have access to it, like much of the world doesn’t) could have preferences. Mostly, though, because it totally removes agency from the viewer in a way that we don’t from all other media.

JLeslie's avatar

@Aethelflaed I guess I don’t get why it feels empowering? I believe you, or them, because if that is their experience I don’t question it.

About the porn, I am not saying everyone who enjoys porn is screwed up. I have no problem with some porn, I think it can be very erotic, but for some it becomes addictive, not just a way to enhance sex, and some people, I would say mostly men, become very needy of sex acts to be like the movies, and cannot just be with their lover, in the moment, and have satisfying sex. I think it happens more often than people realize.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

Fact from fiction, truth from diction. I do not think it is a theory at all. I think it is a truth that many avoid or deny is true. I am sure rape fantasies are as common as house flies. I was reading a novel and the female character in it wanted to have an affair with a man she knew from her past, and during a secret lunch expressed that every woman had at least one rape fantasy. Then at his prompting she gave him details on how it would go down. I am sure there are many thoughts and/or reasons behind it; wanting to be rescued, wanting to do something kinky and feeling detached from it because she would be made to do it by the rapist and not by her own desire, being not in control, that they are in a position of authority and being violated is a change, etc. It is no different than other fantasies people have but don’t admit, such as going into a mall, work place, etc armed to the teeth and mowing people down with a machine gun, or some other weapon (usually after having a bad day), pulling off the heist of the century, like the Crown Jewels, blocks of money bricks from Fort Knox, pulling a D.B. Cooper and getting away Scot free, committing the perfect murder, etc. People will rarely sit around and expound on their fantasy like that because people are so quick to link the fantasy to the person, that if they fantasize about murder they must be dangerous. Again, not a theory but a thought as common with women as there are ants in a pasture.

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