The Kinky Female Mind: Why Women Fantasize About Rape and BDSM

The Kinky Female Mind: Why Women Fantasize About Rape and BDSM

Why desire and power intertwine in most women?s sexual fantasies

Rape fantasies and kink in women.Image by M C from Pixabay

??I imagine I?ve been brought to some warehouse, or place like that, against my will. I?m stripped naked and the only thing I?m allowed to wear is a black silk mask. This is because whatever powerful person has brought me there does not want the men ? yes, always more than one in this fantasy ? for whom he has procured me, to know who I am. In this way, though he?s brought me there against my will, he somehow wants to protect me too? That?s because they?re so hot with desire for me that they can barely control themselves.? ? Nancy Friday

Some years ago, I told a lover about one of my favorite sexual fantasies: a tawdry mental idyll starring me as a prostitute servicing multiple johns. He seemed more than a little perplexed that someone with my feminist politics was having such thoughts, ?But you would never do that!?, he earnestly exclaimed.

My boyfriend wasn?t very educated about sexuality and didn?t understand that we don?t always want to do what we fantasize about. However, after pondering the idea for a minute, he told me that we could role-play if I wanted to.

So, things went way better for me than for My Secret Garden author, Nancy Friday. When she told a lover one of her surefire panty soakers (a fantasy where she was fucked silly by a stranger at a football game), he got up and left the room.

In the early 1970s, long before the stilted prose of 50 Shades of Grey, Friday?s book was one of the first to explore female sexual fantasies.

And explore it did ? fantasies of everything from rape to incest to public sex. The book was a scandalous best-seller, and the cat was out of the bag.

Women have dirty minds too.

The Dirty Female Mind

This would come as no surprise to social psychologist Justin Lehmiller who spent two years surveying 4,000 adults on the content of their erotic reveries. In his comprehensive book on sexual fantasies, ?Tell Me What You Want? he found that men and women fantasize about the same outrageous and taboo things ? just not to the same degree. Certain acts and behaviors showed up more in women?s fantasies than men?s and vice versa.

The most common gender differences that Lehmiller found were:

  1. Women star in their fantasies: Women aren?t as likely to have a specific person in mind. Nor, do they elaborate on the physical details of their mental paramour. In female sexual fantasies, ladies star. While men are more likely to focus on a certain person(s) and to imagine themselves acting on the object of their desire.
  2. Emotion-based: Women have slightly more emotion-based and settings themed sexual fantasies than men.
  3. Lesbian fantasies: Lehmiller found that women were more likely to have same-sex fantasies than men, regardless of sexual orientation. He attributed this difference to women?s greater ?sexual flexibility? (the tendency of women to both fantasize about and engage more often in same-sex activities than men).
  4. BDSM fantasies: The real surprise was just how kinky women are. Women have vastly more power-driven BDSM themed erotic fantasies than men. We are twice as likely to have bondage fantasies, four times as likely to have masochism fantasies, and 17% more likely to have sadism fantasies!

Power Dynamics

Just why the dirty female mind takes such a kinky slant is probably due to a combination of anatomy, evolution, and culture.

Most heterosexuals define ?sex? (which FYI could be socially constructed in a variety of ways) as ?intercourse?. For a female to take a male into her body puts her at risk for physical injury, pregnancy, STDs, and sometimes just a bad memory of a guy who thought her clitoris was in her anus (it happens).

Do this with the wrong guy, and things could go really wrong really quick, as many women can attest (just ask the woman who told me about the clit in the butt dude). Intercourse is a vulnerable act for a female and is made even more so by cultural norms that truncate female power.

Pair anatomical vulnerability and gender norms that put the male in charge of running the sexual show and it?s not surprising that women often associate sex with power dynamics.

This brings us to one of the most popular females fantasies?

Rape Fantasies

Of course, the ultimate power fantasy is rape, which is an extremely common one among women. Around 62% of women report having one at some point in time. Just why women fantasize about an act that most of us would find extremely traumatic were it to take place has perplexed and fascinated researchers for years.

Now, as many sex experts point out, most women aren?t fantasizing about being hurt or injured. Realistic images of violent rape aren?t spank bank for the majority of women.

The ?rape? fantasy of the average woman is primarily about aggressive seduction and has its roots in cultural norms. Women are socialized to experience our sexuality second-hand and feel desire by being desired.

So, in a typical rape fantasy, the fantasizer is overpowered by a studly man who can?t control his desire for her because she?s so smokin? hot.

Women with forced sex fantasies often have rich fantasy lives replete with many sizzling storylines, ranging from the romantic to the tender to the taboo. Far from being an indicator of pathology, it?s more likely an indicator of sexual satisfaction and an uncensored imagination.

And the tougher the broad the more likely she is to be drawn to rape themes. According to Hawley and Hensley?s research on female fantasies, dominant, high self-esteem women had more rape fantasies and were more attracted to dominant men than their meeker sisters. As the researchers noted in their study of 355 women:

?If such fantasies reflect a masochistic desire for pain and humiliation perpetrated by a misogynistic and brutal aggressor (e.g., Baumeister, 1989), then the dominant woman should not entertain these fantasies because doing so would strip her of her power. If these fantasies instead reflect a passionate exchange with a powerful, resource-holding, and attentive suitor, then through them the dominant woman could reinforce her high standing in the group and her favorable opinion of herself.?

It should be pointed out that there is a huge difference between sexual fantasies and sexual wishes. Though Lehmiller spent a good bit of time in his book discussing how to make your fondest fantasy a reality, many women don?t want to act out their rape fantasies.

When a Rape Fantasy Is NOT a Sexual Fantasy

Not all rape fantasies are meant to be sexual turn-ons. Sometimes, they?re a way to deal with trauma. One 2009 study separated rape fantasies into three separate categories 1. erotic 2. aversive, and 3. erotic-aversive.

Erotic Rape Fantasies

Erotic rape fantasies are the stuff that romance novels are made of and follow a standard plot-line: Dreamy stud undone by lust pursues reluctant heroine. She resists (sort of), he persists (definitely), then takes her in a heated frenzy (no animals were harmed in the making of this fantasy).

When the dust has settled and cats have come out of hiding, they?re both smiling.

These kinds of forced sex scenarios were characterized by high female arousal, little violence, and fake initial resistance. Many women starred their partner, ex-partner, or someone they knew as the perp/rapist.

Aversive Rape Fantasies

Aversive rape fantasies were rare in the study and shouldn?t properly be classified as ?sexual fantasies? since most women were NOT aroused by them. They were characterized by genuine non-consent and often aggression at the hands of a faceless stranger, or a relative. Most women experienced feelings of guilt and shame over these thoughts and a sizable proportion of the women in the study who reported them had a sexual abuse history. The researchers theorized that:

?Aversive rape fantasies appear to operate as attempts to deal with the fear of actual rape by gaining some sense of control over rape situations and rehearsing how one might deal with actual rape.?

Erotic-Aversive Rape Fantasies

These fantasies were a paradox ? a mixed bag of fear and arousal. Most of them starred a partner or an ex of the fantasizer. They contained elements of non-consent that both aroused and disturbed. The researchers didn?t give an explanation as to why some women have these daydreams, but I imagine it might be for the same reasons aversive fantasies exist ? as a way to deal with trauma and fear.

Many women have experienced sexual abuse at the hands of someone who they once trusted, and fantasies are often our minds way of processing disturbing emotions, pain, and trauma.

Plus, anxiety and sexual arousal can be uneasy bed-mates as I?ve gone into before in my article on the psychology of the erotic mind. Autonomic nervous system arousal underlies both fear and sexual excitement, and our minds can confuse the two since they are physiologically identical states. Fear can be a turn-on under the right circumstances.

Abject terror can even create ?fear goggles? in some cases.

In social psychology, we call this the misattribution of arousal theory. To give you a practical example, if you?re looking to get laid it?s better to take your date somewhere exciting like a scary movie, out bungee jumping, or nowadays just out of the house ? anywhere that that gets the nervous system all revved up, s(he) will ?misattribute? the excitement to you and think you?re hot stuff.

Making Peace With Your Id

As a feminist, I?ve often struggled with my wayward sexual mind and its tendency to freak me the fuck out. I know I?m not alone with this. According to Lehmiller, many people are ashamed of their sexual fantasies and unnecessarily worried that there?s something wrong with them. He believes that most of us are perfectly normal.

But your sexual fantasies do offer a counterbalance to where you restrict yourself in your life and this can be unnerving.

For instance, Lehmiller discovered that conservatives, those bastions of family values who argue for abstinence-based sex-ed and premarital chastity, were the ones most likely to fantasize about swinging and orgies. Meanwhile, liberals, the champions of both social equality and gun control, love them some BDSM!

Does this mean we?re all hypocrites?

I don?t think so. The erotic mind is a lawless place, a cesspool, and sometimes a trickster that loves to play right where you are the most stuck, hurt, rigid, or neurotic.

As humans, we crave psychological wholeness, but most of us are taught to repress large parts of ourselves ? our anger, our pain, our sexuality, our need for power, and our need to lose it.

Show me an uptight control freak, and I?ll show you someone who?s id serves up bondage fantasies as a way to balance the equation.

Our fantasies allow us the opportunity to experience wholeness if we are willing to accept the parts of ourselves that we have disowned.

The Role of Culture

At the same time, it?s impossible to ignore how cultural forces shape the erotic female mind. The power dynamics present in women?s fantasies don?t originate in a social vacuum. They also occur because rape is glamorized and often minimized in the mass media.

Women are constantly presented with images that turn us into objects to be manipulated and dominated. We internalize these images of objectification and come to view ourselves as sexual objects rather than sexual subjects.

I admit to having mixed feelings about this whole issue. A lot of women have these kinds of fantasies (me included) and for some of us, that?s a problem.

Culture plays a role in what we are turned on by, and our culture sends pretty fucked up messages about female sexuality.

On the dance floor, in the boardroom, and in the bedroom women still run into a glass ceiling that limits female power. Gender norms continue to train women to associate sex with passivity and submission.

We grow blind to cultural norms because we see, or rather don?t see them every day. In a study examining subliminal word processing, women were found to unconsciously associate sex with submission in a word assortment task.

The researchers found that this association had a detrimental impact on female sexuality, reducing both female sexual agency and the ability to experience orgasm.

Culture trains people to have sex on autopilot. And many women mindlessly follow a default program that is male designed for male pleasure. Within this system, our pleasure is optional.

Sometimes, so is our consent.

In conclusion, most of us don?t have a lot of conscious control over what turns us on, since our sexual blueprint starts forming when we are in diapers. That is why efforts to force people to change their sexual inclinations aren?t very successful. Usually, it?s easier to expand on what works and find new turn-ons than it is to get rid of our old fantasies completely.

Our hottest fantasies are a Pandora?s box of our early experiences, cultural quirks, inexpressible longings, and our own neurosis. They are shaped by factors both within and outside of our control.

Women?s sexual fantasies aren?t very different from men?s. They are complex, dirty, sexy, romantic, loving, weird, and kinky? exactly like women themselves ? a messy paradox.

Everything in the world is about sex except sex. Sex is about power. ? Oscar Wilde

About the Author:

Kaye Smith Ph.D. is a social psychologist, life coach, sex educator, and fine art photographer. She is also a crazy cat lady who drinks too much tea. Check her out at https://kayesmithphd.com/

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