Welmer

Exploring the East, Revisiting the West

Welmer header image 2

Women’s Rape Fantasies: The Deepest Taboo

September 2nd, 2009 · 38 Comments

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.

Tags: Health/Science · Men

38 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Elusive Wapiti // Sep 2, 2009 at 4:22 pm

    A good post Welmer.

    “…acting on a deep-seated insecurity about his relationship to the women in his life…”

    I think this is right on. Even in the presence of a patriarchy that reinforces a man’s tie to his children, rape is right next to infidelity as threatening a man’s legitimate tie to his kids.

    I also submit that by disinvesting men in the protection of his wife/gf/daughter’s purity, women do themselves a disfavor by making rape only a crime that exists in statute law. In other words, only by the leave of the State is rape a crime.

    Rape is not and has not been universally a crime in all cultures at all times. Some pagan cultures used rape as a way to worship their gods. Abrahamic religions are somewhat unusual in their universal condemnation of rape.

    “…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.”

    It may also be a function of a cognitive dissonance within those women. “Good” feminist girls should not want to be dominated, to be pacified, to be taken. Yet when they get carried away in the moment, they surrender to their emotions and the initation of a man, they must find someone to blame for their psychic discomfort the morning after. And sa-prize! The whipping boy is a man.

    I also note that Ensler was not taken to task for her depiction of a rape of a 13 yo girl by a twenty-something woman. It was a good rape. Which suggests to me that rape may be a lot like sexual harassment…behavior that may be “right” if it comes from the right kind of person, but criminally wrong if it comes from the incorrect or undesirable kind of person.

  • 2 Bhetti // Sep 2, 2009 at 5:30 pm

    Example of women having conflicts about their sexuality:
    http://ask.metafilter.com/124300/Dom-in-life-sub-in-bed

    That’s just one.
    I see this too often.

  • 3 novaseeker // Sep 2, 2009 at 5:40 pm

    Yep.

    Bhetti, in my experience, married and otherwise, feminism almost always ends at the bedroom door.

    So you end up with really fucked up relationships: equalism expected in the domestic sphere, dominance expected in the bedroom sphere, and women blinking as if this is not contradictory, or bitching that they can’t find a lifestyle-equalist/bedroom-dom man. Pfft.

  • 4 Elusive Wapiti // Sep 2, 2009 at 5:50 pm

    Have a gander at the comments to the link Bhetti provided.

  • 5 novaseeker // Sep 2, 2009 at 5:54 pm

    Yep the comments are the signs of the end of our civilization.

  • 6 Tupac Chopra // Sep 2, 2009 at 8:30 pm

    I believe, as with other notables in the seduction community, that women are fundamentally schizophrenic by nature.

    The first mistake we men made was in ever considering women moral agents comparable to men.

    They get to “play act” *as if* it were so, but it’s just a superficial dance, a second rate facsimile…

  • 7 Warren // Sep 2, 2009 at 8:41 pm

    “Abrahamic religions are somewhat unusual in their universal condemnation of rape.”

    Apparently you haven’t read the Old Testament.

    Judaism is all in favor of rape, so long as it’s Jewish men raping non-Jewish women.

    http://www.evilbible.com/Rape.htm

    Check out Jabesh-gilead , the Midianites, the whole book of Judges, and Zechariah — then read Deuteronomy.

  • 8 Welmer // Sep 2, 2009 at 10:45 pm

    Sorry, Warren, I’m not too shocked by those passages. The Bible is not meant to be read like a British tabloid.

    As for the Jewish rape angle, you’ll have to think about when the relevant books were written. Well before 300 BC for the most part.

    Then, let’s take some European pagan practices into account. Fortunately, we have some good documentation from the Romans. I seem to remember a certain sack of Judea by Titus Flavius Vespasianus. Some coins were minted commemorating the Roman victory that portrayed a bound Jew and his weeping wife, under a caption that read “IVDEA CAPTA“.

    Somehow, I doubt these women were all appointed to positions as consular interns.

    Condemning the ancient Hebrews on the basis of contemporary “morality” is laughable. I hope you can do better next time.

    I will say, however, that the one man who successfully did challenge their morals – in the 1st century AD no less – inspires deep humility in me.

  • 9 Savvy // Sep 2, 2009 at 11:40 pm

    I thought you found the short story I recommended, but that one was joking about it with a woman ended up taking pity on the man and making him chicken soup thought he showed up to rape her. In fact, in that story, not one of the wmen gets raped.

    Some of us have *no* such fantasies and think it’s really sick.

  • 10 Justin // Sep 3, 2009 at 12:04 am

    Great post, very insightful.

    As for the comment thread… So, where’s all the discussion about “beta males” who are doms in the bedroom? Can’t have one without the other, right?

    So, if this “bifurcation theory” is correct, and socially dominant/sexually submissive is one pole, then the woman who is happy being a stay at home wife/mom is far more likely to be sexually dominant?

    Is this why so many hard working husband/providers find their sex life so boring?

    Meanwhile, the unemployed artist/musician, bumming off his lawyer gf, is having a grand old time smacking his bitch up?

  • 11 August 2009 Hater of the Month « In Mala Fide // Sep 3, 2009 at 3:03 am

    [...] so STUPID? The sex that is apparently more civilized than men is the sex that has members that fantasize about being raped, members who get hot and dripping for men who beat them, members who are sexually attracted to [...]

  • 12 Ovid // Sep 3, 2009 at 9:21 am

    Here’s an interesting take on this topic:

    http://members.iinet.net.au/~tramont/protruth/secrets.html

  • 13 whiskey // Sep 3, 2009 at 11:41 am

    I’ll note this rape fantasy extended to “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” where “bad boyfriend” Vampire Spike rapes Buffy, written by Marti Noxon who based it on so she says, her own life. Later Buffy falls in love with the rapist and has consensual sex with him off-screen. Series star Gellar HATED that arc but could not get it killed, not just Noxon but series creator/exec producer Whedon loved the storyline too.

    The problem is not the urges. Everyone has their own dark ones, it is that women are not taught, consistently, to suppress bad urges and moderate good ones, so they think with their heads not their groins. All, really, that is required to “fix” this is that women become aware of this tendency and suppress the urge if it occurs as destructive as gorging on ice cream for months.

  • 14 Bitchslap of the day « In Mala Fide // Sep 3, 2009 at 12:02 pm

    [...] of the day Posted on September 3, 2009 by Ferdinand Bardamu Tupac Chopra commenting at Welmer’s: I believe, as with other notables in the seduction community, that women are fundamentally [...]

  • 15 Alkibiades // Sep 3, 2009 at 2:22 pm

    After one read through ‘My Secret Garden’ by Nancy Friday none of your well written post is surprising. Just further confirmation.

  • 16 Welmer // Sep 3, 2009 at 2:30 pm

    whiskey

    The problem is not the urges. Everyone has their own dark ones, it is that women are not taught, consistently, to suppress bad urges and moderate good ones, so they think with their heads not their groins. All, really, that is required to “fix” this is that women become aware of this tendency and suppress the urge if it occurs as destructive as gorging on ice cream for months.

    Agreed. But men should know of these urges as well. We’ve really got to stop fooling ourselves about women.

    I’m starting to doubt whether most women can be trusted to moderate their behavior without male authority to guide them.

  • 17 Lukobe // Sep 3, 2009 at 4:05 pm

    I’ve tried to stay out of this thread so far, but have to jump in now. Do you think most men can be trusted to moderate their behavior without some sort of female influence?

  • 18 Welmer // Sep 3, 2009 at 5:59 pm

    Lukobe, given that the source of so much male misbehavior is female influence, and that this has traditionally been kept in check by other males’ influence, I don’t know exactly how that should be answered.

    Perhaps it is simply the provenance of men to govern both men and women.

    Maybe men can more effectively govern men by better governing women. In fact, I think that is the best answer. The men in power today have failed miserably in their duty to govern women.

  • 19 Lukobe // Sep 3, 2009 at 7:00 pm

    I’m just thinking of mothers here. I’m not even going to touch the phrase “[men's] duty to govern women” :)

  • 20 Welmer // Sep 3, 2009 at 7:04 pm

    Oh give me a break, Lukobe!

    A Confucian woman would understand exactly what I meant there, and you know it well.

  • 21 al // Sep 3, 2009 at 8:00 pm

    I think that rape fantasy is less violent and more complex than often rape itself can be; when discussing with friends the rape fantasy is usually presented in terms of:
    a. someone who really overwhelms you (controls, but doesn’t cause real pain) and takes choice away
    b. this lack of choice partially lets the lady renounce all social constraints concerning her sexuality
    c. the thrill of dominance and submitting to it
    d. minus true brutality

    I think these fantasies, though, while scary don’t involve a strong element of painful/scarring violence. (I’m thinking of some of the reports of rape you read about at the ICTR, ICTY, ICC, etc.).

    Now, I don’t really know where along the violence spectrum historical rape falls, but my instinct (based on nothing) is less brutal/disfiguring violence (aka penis usage, not bayonet usage). I would assume ability to deal with the less violent scenario is built into women, biologically, because of the reality of historical rape; it occurred, perhaps often, and a child resulting wasn’t easily aborted. I don’t know what my point is, except maybe to excuse the rape fantasy? Or to suggest we distinguish along the spectrum, aka fantasy is likely more akin to “date rape” than usage of bayonets, and thus to dial down the suggestion that women lurv the beating/violent/thuggery best.

    ***

    There is much discussion of horror/threat of rape for men in this, but not so much for women. Actual rape may not be as horrific as movies/whispers/tv tells me (thankfully I’ve never experienced it), I suspect it’s also not a reality of a few painful thrusts and then my body flows like a river in excitement!
    The concept that raping a woman is harder on her male ‘owner’ (father or husband) than her seems to reduce a woman’s value merely to her reproductive value, not her. I kind of understand it for a husband, with wanting to know paternity, but significantly less so for fathers.
    Not to mention that it just feels anathema to me.
    ***

    According to some paper I read (don’t remember, too lazy to look, feminist) prior to the early 90s or so publishers required romance novels to have at least once “coercion” scene, usually the first. It was considered requisite to demonstrate/prove virility/masculinity/alphaness of the male. Normally this occurred around initial meeting and she eventually won his heart by being a.beyond sexable, b. feisty, c. very sweet.
    Recently published romance novels tend to have male leads who take women to ecstasy before an encounter that includes intercourse. There is still some element of ‘overwhelming’ her, taking choice away, but because he is such a modern marvel this involves her pleasure, and not his. Not first time, at least, and not until after there is some demonstration of value/love/future from him to her.

    I don’t know if this is a reflection of what women think they want, or publishers have decided. I think the number of “erotic” books that have the more violent alpha male confronting the female character has increased though. (she is, of course, equally tough and violent.) In some ways, it seems the market has split more clearly, btw the ‘romance’ novels and the ‘erotic’ or ‘urban fantasy’ novels.

  • 22 Look what I got here « Seasons of Tumult and Discord // Sep 3, 2009 at 10:09 pm

    [...] willing to admit.  If you haven’t checked it out, Welmer has a good post up on women’s rape fantasies. 1. She always needs to have an emotional connection for [...]

  • 23 Welmer // Sep 4, 2009 at 1:14 am

    al

    I think that rape fantasy is less violent and more complex than often rape itself can be

    That’s a given, Al, but the modern definition of rape has expanded to include even less violent and coercive sex than your typical rape fantasy, I’d wager.

    For example: “I changed my mind while we were having sex, and he didn’t stop when I told him to” = rape.

    Is this the typical rape fantasy? I doubt it, but then, not being female, I’ve never fantasized about being raped myself (and I’ve never been able to read a romance novel), so I wouldn’t really know.

  • 24 Warren // Sep 4, 2009 at 3:30 am

    ” Condemning the ancient Hebrews on the basis of contemporary “morality” is laughable.”

    That’s a good use of the Straw man fallacy. I made no reference to modern morality. Nor did I condemn Hebrew rape – I condemned ignorance. In your case, Welmer, there is a great deal of ignorance to be condemned.

  • 25 Dave // Sep 5, 2009 at 3:14 am

    Why is a dude writing about women’s fantasies? It just seems silly. You’re article is male through and through, Hence the Jewish and Christian references. Not everyone buys into this whole “Man Knows Best” bullshit. Life itself is Female. Mother Nature, Mother Earth, the cycles of the moon…..etc. Rape in reality and rape in fantasy are two different things. Ultimately, the woman has control of the fantasy; not thte other way around.

  • 26 Kavi // Sep 5, 2009 at 2:51 pm

    My brain read this article with a constant background noise of “Thoughts become things” music playing.

    While the ending of comment drawing clear distinction of fantasy vs reality is accurate, how do you define fantasies that border on losing your control over situation vs reality that you lose control.

  • 27 Welmer // Sep 5, 2009 at 3:42 pm

    Kavi

    My brain read this article with a constant background noise of “Thoughts become things” music playing.

    That’s the general principle behind the Orwellian concept of “crimethink.”

    While the ending of comment drawing clear distinction of fantasy vs reality is accurate, how do you define fantasies that border on losing your control over situation vs reality that you lose control.

    Well, if I’m reading your question correctly, it’s pretty simple: the one happens in your mind, and the other happens in reality.

    But if you mean within actual sexual encounters, I suppose the line can become mentally blurred for women who have strong rape ideation. This is why I think it’s important for men to know that women do have these fantasies; they could find themselves unintentionally playing a role that simultaneously fulfills a woman’s fantasies and puts them in danger of prosecution. People vs. Jovanovic is an extreme example of this.

    Incidentally, I’m pretty sure this is why traditional law limited prosecution of rape to well-defined circumstances.

  • 28 al // Sep 5, 2009 at 8:09 pm

    That’s a given, Al, but the modern definition of rape has expanded to include even less violent and coercive sex than your typical rape fantasy, I’d wager.

    Forgive me in that I’m thinking off cuff, but I think that is somewhat the point.
    Modern day ‘consent’ and thus ‘rape’ has gotten muddied. Therefore, when we talk about women and their rape fantasies, it’s not so clear under what conceptualization of rape we’re operating. relativist, if you will.
    Women’s ‘fantasies’ presumably, are those of the more mild version of rape, by which I mean less physical manifestations of violence. Under a more traditional definition, this fantasy can be renamed to something else.
    I don’t think I’m being clear, and probably so damn blatantly obvious as to asham all my professors, but … what we call rape fantasy may perhaps be better termed dominance fantasy, or some such.

    however, while I agree indications are that definitions and prosecutions of rape are out of hand, I don’t think rape should be restricted to the bayonet esque version. I do think, though, that there is a danger to slinging around the concept of the ‘rape fantasy’ when rape encompasses so much more … as much as I think there is a HUGE danger is treating female morning-after-remorse as rape.

  • 29 Savvy // Sep 6, 2009 at 3:08 am

    al–I think there is a HUGE danger is treating female morning-after-remorse as rape.

    If you follow what defines consent, then you will not have that problem. Drunkeness means that the woman is not able to give consent. Ask your partner if they feel comfortable with what is going on–if they yes, and are in their right minds (not high or drunk), you have consent. If they say no even in jest, STOP.

  • 30 Gideon Star // Sep 9, 2009 at 8:46 am

    “Ask your partner if they feel comfortable with what is going on–if they yes, and are in their right minds (not high or drunk), you have consent. If they say no even in jest, STOP.”

    WEIRD. What if BOTH the man and the woman are intoxicated and NEITHER “ask” the other – they just screw. Does that mean they “raped” each other? In almost ALL of these situations, EVEN IF the man is also intoxicated the man is expected to somehow shoulder more of the responsibility for , well, basically everything. Sorry, but we are ALL still responsible for our actions when intoxicated. Only if the woman is unconscious would what you say hold true. She still has the responsibility to clearly tell the man NO and attempt to extricate herself from the situation. DUH! Simply “asking” may not be good enough anyway. After all her inhibitions were down due to the alcohol. Maybe a written consent form?

  • 31 Todd White // Sep 9, 2009 at 8:39 pm

    Welmer:

    Your article is a good start to a very interesting subject that deserves close attention.

    However, one thing that stood out to me: You talk a lot about “rape fantasies,” but you don’t explain WHO is doing the rape in those fantasies.

    I would wager that in the overwhelming majority of cases, the rapist is their husband, boyfriend, a guy they have a crush on, or some archetype of the “perfect guy.” In other words, women fantasize about being raped – but only by a guy who they would normally – in real life – have sex with.

    This is an important distinction. If we assume that women want to be raped by “anyone, anytime,” then women do seem depraved, and the casual attitude found by many men toward raping women (especially in foreign countries, as you mentioned) might be understandable. But if the situation is the way *I see it,* raping a woman you don’t know or hardly know is a hideous crime of the first order.

    If anyone has any facts to either back me up, or disprove my theory, let me know.

  • 32 Welmer // Sep 9, 2009 at 9:01 pm

    I hope you’re correct, Todd, but I don’t really know. Female sexuality is mysterious to me, and I can only speculate. I think this should be studied some more, but only insofar as it contributes to building a more functional society.

  • 33 codebuster // Sep 10, 2009 at 4:49 am

    Todd, so many men say stuff along these lines, as you put it “raping a woman you don’t know or hardly know is a hideous crime of the first order.” You know what that’s going to do, don’t you? It will make it even MORE forbidden, more of a secret, drive it more underground, making it more of a secret thrill unlike any other, and therefore more impossible to extract the truth. “Addictive” is a word that one woman confided to a couple of us at a dinner to allude to her secret longings, but she sensibly stopped short of explaining further. We didn’t press her on the topic.

    A question… can we really accept that masculine perversions arise in a vacuum? Has it not occurred to anyone that the masculine perversions that are so routinely mocked have their feminine counterpoint?

    It is my belief that some of the most valuable secrets of the universe might begin to unveil themselves once we crack this code.

  • 34 Todd White // Sep 10, 2009 at 3:48 pm

    Codebuster: I have no idea what you’re talking about. Either you have no point or you didn’t express your point clearly enough.

  • 35 codebuster // Sep 10, 2009 at 7:10 pm

    Perhaps I have been discussing and writing about these things for so long, that what seems obvious to me may not appear so to others. Two main points at issue here:

    1) If a culture denies the deeper aspects of reality (e.g., female sexuality), then its women may develop personalities that are highly sterile and materialistic, and likely to be in denial about the more primal aspects of their nature – they will actually BELIEVE in their higher moral virtue. But it is a brittle, fragile morality that splinters into pieces in certain situations, and that denied primal beast can unexpectedly come to the fore, beyond a woman’s control. But as for that minority of women who do not subscribe to such a morality and who do step over the line, they flip to the opposite extreme/ behaviour/ psychology, perhaps nymphomania. I’ve travelled to enough countries to observe patterns in how this duality evolves, in all its shades of grey. The bottom line, if you deny something primal, it leaps back at you tenfold.

    2) Nothing in a culture materializes magically from a vacuum. If there is something culturally unsavoury about men, then as sure as the laws of mathematics and physics, there will be something equally as unsavoury about that culture’s women. It’s as reliable as a mathematical formula.

  • 36 codebuster // Sep 10, 2009 at 7:24 pm

    … er, meaning, of course, that you have to allow for women having depraved fantasizes that imagine rape with strangers. Would this diminish your view of women, or would it raise it? After all, if women have their own real issues of depravity, morals and courage to deal with, does this not raise their value as human beings, and not merely 2-dimensional cut-out barbie dolls for ther entertainment of men?

  • 37 al // Sep 15, 2009 at 2:41 pm

    savvy,
    capacity goes both ways; definitions of rape normally have an intent or reckless element. If both partners are drunk, both are incapacitated, and yet your formulation could remove the requirement of mens rea and convict the man.

    consent, incapacity, and mens rea are not as simple and bright line as you’re implying. If it was these cases wouldn’t give such fits to jurors.

  • 38 becky // Sep 17, 2009 at 1:35 pm

    I guess you can look at any misdeed or inapropriate behavior towards the “receiver” as warranted. We have to be careful, it sounds as though this can be some sort of patriatical rationilization. There is a difference between fantasy and reality. What we invision as appealing doesn’t always taste good in the real world and some of us KNOW this. Thus why it is a fantasy.. Or maybe this is simply a projection made unto women so that rape can just be a part on ones place- acceptance and submision. Context people.

Leave a Comment