Perhaps nothing illustrates our society’s blindness concerning the true nature of female sexuality as clearly as the widely held belief that rape is anathema to female desire. If my suspicions are correct, this fiction is likely tied to the same paternalist sub-theology that is responsible for feminism, the family law industrial complex, and widespread, legalized discrimination against men. However, before I get into any speculation here, let’s take a look at the evidence.
Matthew Hutson, writing for Psychology Today, raises the question “Why Do Women Have Erotic Rape Fantasies?” To prove that they do in fact have these fantasies, he points to studies and statistics, including the following:
A recent analysis of 20 studies over the last 30 years indicates that between 31% and 57% of women have rape fantasies, and these fantasies are frequent or preferred in 9% to 17% of women. Considering that many people are ashamed to report rape fantasies, these stats are most likely lowball figures.
If Hutson’s inference is correct, more than half of women likely have fantasies of being raped, and in perhaps up to one in four women these are their preferred and most common fantasies. Other studies are referenced in the article as well, if you care to research them yourself.
Although not a scientific study, I also found the following quote particularly revealing:
In one survey of romance novels (which tend to be written by and for women), the lead female character was raped in 54%.
If anything caters to tawdry female fantasies, it is romance novels (as well as soaps and dramas). 54% is no coincidence here. Furthermore, Whiskey remarked in one of the comments on my “Mad Men = Female Porn” post that “Mad Men had a couple of rape scenes where the bad boyfriends rape the women the they love.”
So, it being established that rape fantasies are a core component of female sexuality, Hutson goes on to explore why this might be the case. He offers up a number of potential explanations, including, among others, sexual blame avoidance, “male rape culture”, and biological predisposition to surrender. While I reject outright the “male rape culture” explanation (I will explain why shortly), sexual blame avoidance makes some sense, and probably is more relevant to American culture in particular, but I think the biological predisposition to surrender is the most likely explanation.
Suggesting that some “male rape culture” that makes rape normative exists in America is ridiculous on its face. For one thing, rape was originally treated as a crime against men first, and society second. In Deuteronomy, for example, the rapist is punished mainly for his transgression against the husband if the woman is married, and against the father if she is not. This concept continued to be reflected in criminal law until quite recently, when the state took on the role of the father, and then finally the husband as well. In fact, the spate of Mexican rapes of young women and girls that accompanied mass immigration over the last fifteen years or so was in part the result of a cultural misunderstanding. In the old Catholic tradition, which still has considerable influence in Mexico, rape was not considered much worse than fornication (which was a big no-no), and could in many cases be expiated by marrying the victim — this is why the victims of these rapes were almost exclusively unmarried young women; raping a married woman is seen as a far more heinous crime in that particular culture. Rather than a cultivating a “rape culture,” what we see men doing in societies around the world is criminalizing and discouraging rape because it is contrary to their interests.
As the authority of the state has increased over all Americans, we still see the same principle of rape being a crime against more than simply the female victim, but the offense against the husband or father is no longer relevant — instead it is the jealous state (paternal authority) that is now the aggrieved party. So morally speaking (from the feminist point of view), there is little difference between now and then, but practically speaking the scope of prosecution has widened considerably. Given these circumstances, any suggestion that there is a “culture of rape” in America is absolutely ridiculous.
Because rape is a very primal threat to men, acting on a deep-seated insecurity about his relationship to the women in his life, it is likely that the taboo against acknowledging this aspect of female sexuality is rooted in men’s desire to have a more comfortable and less stressful view of the women upon which they have invested so much of their emotional well-being. It is little different from the husband who sees his wife as a “good girl,” only to find out the truth the hard way when she commits some sexual indiscretion.
Despite the comfort that this taboo may bring to some, I would argue that it is a dangerous thing to deny the truth of human nature — even sexuality. Not only does this blind men and keep them from gaining a deeper understanding of the women around them, it also leads women to feel confused and ashamed about feelings and desires that they apparently have little control over. It is possible that the high rate of false rape accusations and obsession over the subject in America is in fact a result of confused, repressed feelings, which lead some mentally disordered women to project their fantasies onto innocent men.
We have to accept that there are dark, uncomfortable aspects to both male and female sexuality, and that neither gender in particular is any more guilty than the other. In fact, neither is guilty at all; we are sexual beings equipped with emotions and desires that, although often mysterious, serve a greater purpose than our rational minds can comprehend.