Question to the Sexpert:
I am a woman in her late 20s with what I believe to be a healthy sexual appetite. I am, however, slightly concerned over some of my fantasies, and I’m wondering if you could shed some light on them.
For the last few years I’ve been frequenting an erotic website popular for its erotic literature. I am definitely turned on by reading porn, but in the last year or so I’ve found myself really enjoying and fantasizing the stories about rape and incest, especially the more violent stories. I also tend to enjoy the lesbian stories, but more so when there is a degree of force. I don’t ever feel the need to be dominated or to be dominant in my own sex life, which is active with one male partner whom I love and who is somewhat aware of my fantasies. I do, however, feel somewhat ashamed of these fantasies as I am completely against rape or forced sex of any sort. I also do not feel compelled to role-play these fantasies with my partner, as I am quite content to keeping them for “me time”. I’ve scoured the Internet and found a term called paraphilia, but it makes me feel like I am a pervert. Is there something wrong with me?
What you describe is one of the most common fantasies women have and most certainly not a paraphilia. And even if you did have a paraphilia, it wouldn’t be like finding out you had an incurable disease; it would simply mean that you had a specific thing that was intensely arousing for you. And as long as you weren’t having to call out of work three times a week so that you could masturbate furiously to porn or using your life savings to live out your fantasies, then it’s really just a quirk, not a problem.
Sexual interests and paraphilias are both really only a problem when they:
- involve non-consensual partners (and your fantasies are not real people, they’re people in your head, and you’re consenting)
- endanger you by exposing you to STIs, violence, legal trouble or other risks
- make it difficult to have healthy, reciprocal relationships with other humans
- cause unwanted disruptions in your life, work or finances
- cause stress and anxiety because of their unwanted nature
So it sounds like your situation is closest to the last one, because you expressed feeling ashamed and concerned. But even then, I don’t think this is on par with many paraphilias I’ve seen where individuals are compelled to engage in a routine act of sexual release that they find abhorrent, sinful or disgusting and they’re unable to stop but hate themselves for doing it. And that doesn’t sound remotely like what’s going on with you.
Instead, what you describe is being aroused by ideas that happen in your own head that clash with your ideas about how life should be. And that’s really what fantasy is about: enjoying the world that does not exist. We have the amazing gift of imagination that allows us to envision things however we want and reap the rewards of and pleasures of that without any of the work of making it happen or the guilt for the repercussions. That’s what daydreaming and fantasy are FOR.
Many, many women report having fantasies about forcible rape: either thinking about it happening to them or being the rapist (possibly male) or just observing it happening. This has absolutely nothing to do with wanting such an event to occur in real life or with one’s feminist belief system. It has to do with ceding power, taking power, relinquishing responsibility for sexual modesty. In a rape fantasy the victim is absolved of all sins of sexual desire: she is not at all culpable for her involvement. And that is a pretty intoxicating idea to someone who may, at times, feel sexual guilt. If you were raised in a religious household, for instance, you may periodically have to fight back indoctrination in your subconscious about not being slutty, not WANTING to fornicate.
Or maybe you just like the disproportionate power dynamic. That is also an element of incest. Really, it’s what makes incest unethical: that someone on whom you rely for your most basic needs might manipulate and use you for their own pleasures. And that power dynamic takes away the ability to consent.
Both of these fantasies are also taboo: things that few people believe are acceptable practices but things that happen frequently. And as for being into lesbian stuff: who isn’t? Even self-identified heterosexual women are commonly turned on by lesbian scenes because of the sensuality and nudity. And hilariously, most women vaginally lubricate to any sexual imagery, regardless of orientation, and they don’t even notice it.
It’s not important that you understand the root of your arousal: this isn’t psychoanalysis. What’s important is that you stop judging yourself. There is no Thought Police and no actual people are being harmed by your fantasies.
So just chill, enjoy your fantasies. Be glad you have a vivid imagination in which you can create.