Dark alley fantasies

A recent study published in the Journal of Sex Research considered the contents, prevalence, and frequency of a very particular kind of sexual fantasy in women: “rape fantasies.”

As surprising as it may seem, the study’s results indicated that 62 percent of women have these “rape fantasies,” with these varying on a continuum from “completely aversive” to “completely erotic.”

Those labeled as “completely aversive” (9%) would probably fit the general public’s label of “nightmares” rather than that of “fantasies.” The rest were dreams that were, in one way or another, sexually arousing.

“Fantasies that apparently involve rape are not uncommon among women. This study did find a higher prevalence, probably due to their extensive use of prompts [suggestive survey questions]and the fact that some prompts were stated with [careful]wording such as ‘overwhelming’; which is much less emotionally charged than [the word]rape,” UM Professor Franklin Foote, sex therapist, lecturer and licensed psychologist, said.

The study evaluated 355 female undergraduates through fantasy logs, questionnaires, and self-ratings, and found that this high frequency of “rape fantasies” in their findings was probably due to the age bracket of their research.

“Rape fantasies” have always been a tricky issue for researchers given the particular nature of their content. In truth, most of what falls under this category of fantasy is far from corresponding to what we call “rape” in real life.

From what has been the social example in traditional romance novels, the heroine runs away from the hero and tries to avoid his seducing ways until she just cannot resist him any longer.

Pretty much the same has been described by most women who have reported having “rape fantasies.”

“Erotic rape fantasies often included feigned non-consent, low levels of verbal or physical resistance, and … positive emotions for the fantasizer,” according to this study.

“[Erotic rape fantasies] contain minimal to no violence, the perpetrator tends to be overwhelmed by his desire for the target, he typically has no hostile intent but cannot control his need for her, and the victim often resists only because she believes sex is inappropriate in the situation but she really has a great desire for him as well,” Foote said.

“Such fantasies, of course, are very far from what a rape experience is like; the reality of rape is not viewed erotically by women.”

September 9, 2009


Irene Daboin

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