Fantasy / Rape

Freaked out by Fantasy

Hey friends. I’m in Africa for a couple weeks, so this is a classic column that initially ran in 2008.

Questions? Comments? Violent reactions? Email or tweet @timaree_leigh See more at and

Question to the Sexpert:

“You said something a couple weeks agoabout faux rape fantasies. It was just in passing, in the middle of your response about a woman who had a guy try to go in the backdoor without asking. But it really struck a chord with me. I find myself thinking about being raped sometimes during sex and it really turns me on. But I feel really bad afterwards because I think I must be fucked up. I’ve never been raped in real life that I remember. Is it normal to fantasize about being raped? Does it mean I was raped as a child and repressed it?”


grabAs much as it may be distasteful to say so, and as much as many people will not understand, I can reassure you that your fantasy is not only common, but actually one of the most frequently reported secret sexual fantasies of women.

For whatever reason (and a variety abound), women who take every precaution to prevent a sexual assault in real life because they don’t literally want to be raped, get off on the idea of a sexy stranger taking complete control over them.

The most important thing that I can interject at this point is while a woman or man may have dreams about being grabbed by a stranger in a van or surprised by an intruder with more on his mind than stealing the TV, it does not actually mean those people want to be sexually assaulted, have ever been assaulted before (although they may have) or would be undamaged by an actual attack. That, ladies and gentlemen, is what makes something fantasy and not an actual game plan.

Some common theories about why this fantasy is so appealing to so many:

1). Power and dominance. What is happening in these fantasies varies greatly depending on the person. There may be anything from gentle molestation by a stranger on a crowded subway to violent, degrading forced acts, depending on the whims of the thinker. But the common theme is loss of power and control.

We know that power (ever have a partner dress up in a uniform, perhaps?), taking advantage of authority positions (naughty school teacher, anyone?) and control (handcuffs, maybe) are incredibly well known and influential sexual motivators. For every person who gets red hot from thinking about dominating someone, there is often another who wants to be dominated. And sometimes, the more independent and powerful a person is in real life, the more they enjoy getting a break and playing submissive. It lets them, in many ways, be lazy and just sit back and enjoy while their partner has to come up with all the ideas.

2) Have you seen the cover of a romance novel lately? Women get sold the notion of a sexual “ravaging” being a good way for a romantic night to turn out. It’s wild, animalistic and spontaneous, three things often sorely lacking from the bedrooms of many women. Perhaps their own schema for a time when buckwild nasty hard fucking is in a messed up situation like an assault.

3) Sex guilt. Let’s suppose you grew up in a culture that told women they were not allowed to be sexual, that good girls don’t want sex and that the best thing for young ladies to learn in sex ed is about refusal skills. Hey, guess what? You do live in that culture and many women’s sexual desires are repressed, pushed down and ignored out of social desires to be “good.” But those sex drives do not go away. They just come back in another form, where the hot, raging action happens and the sweet young lady can’t say no, therefore it’s not her fault, therefore she can’t be held accountable for the sexual response of her body.

Pretty messed up, right? We have actually managed to convince some people that their innate desires are so wrong that the only way they know how to express their fantasies without being overwhelmed by guilt is to take away consent from the equation.

4) Wanting to be wanted. One thing that I’ve found universally gets strippers more tips and partners to orgasms faster: looking like you’re really into it. You see a dancer who appears to love her work and looks like she’s working herself up over the idea of performing, she will almost invariably score more lapdances than the lady who communicates to everyone nonverbally that she’s only here to pay off bills.

Generally, we want to be wanted and want our partners to be so overcome by desire for us that they cannot control themselves. Taking that need to the nth degree, you’ll get folks who are turned on by the idea that someone is so overpowered by attraction that they can’t hold back.

5) Learned response. Unfortunately, real life un-fantasy sexual assault happens. Because our bodies are not always in line with our brains, sometimes victims of assault have the sexual responses of arousal and orgasm during an assault. And sometimes survivors come to associate sex and assault as being closely related afterwards, triggering intense feelings of guilt and anguish because it may feel like they somehow wanted the attack or deserved it. These folks often have the hardest time dealing with why they have rape fantasies because the actual event was so negative for them, yet they can’t help but responds to the thoughts.

There are even more potential explanations for your interest, and maybe all or none of them apply to you. The thing to keep in mind is that your fantasies are ok (even if actions are not necessarily ok) and that if you choose to play act out some of them in real life that you are likely to be met with some skepticism by partners and will definitely want a safe word to keep the scene from getting out of control. But it’s also ok if ideas just stay in your head. As long as you feel ok about it, it’s ok.

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