The Rape Fantasy

Hello, everybody. Before we get into this post, I would first like to say that I am very interested in everyone’s opinions. I know this is a sensitive topic but I don’t think it’s been brought up before. I wish this wouldn’t offend anyone, but I’m not going to get my hopes up. I worry that I will be attacked for what I’m about to bring up. This subject may cause triggers, so I urge you to read with discretion.
One of the foremost causes of the feminist movement deals with female sexuality and its place in society. It’s not uncommon for females in Western society to be sexualized in ways that leave them victimized or brutalized. Women in this society are encouraged to be the “chased” instead of “chasing”. They’re objectified and suffer horrendous violent acts – particularly rape.
The issue I would like to address ties in closely with victimized sexuality. I would like to discuss the “rape fantasy”.
Rape fantasy is fairly popular. It can be seen in milder forms in romance novels and movies, for instance, but is usually portrayed as when a woman previously unwilling is grabbed and kissed, etc, until she gives in and even enjoys the intercourse.
A very important thing to note is that rape and rape fantasy are significantly different in that a woman engaging in a rape fantasy is consenting. She has agreed to act out a scenario that simulates rape but is not actually being forced. She has a safeword or a hand gesture that immediately guarantees the end of the sexual role play, but if it is not obeyed, it is rape. Ideally, her partner and she have discussed all aspects of the scenario, including do’s and don’ts and are both aware of the terms.
But the issue lies in the inherent violence of such an interaction. It is essentially a subset of BDSM (bondage/discipline, sadism/masochism), which means that it is about an exchange of power, and it makes me wonder:
Is BDSM naturally misogynistic? Does it only serve to reinforce gender roles? (Even in the cases of dominatrixes?) Are couples that engage in BDSM and rape fantasies violent or unhealthy, even if they don’t hit or verbally abuse each other outside of their designated BDSM scenarios?
And what does this mean for the female’s sexuality? Is she backtracking, so to speak, by reverting to archaic ideas of violent, sexual, male dominance? Can she actually enjoy and want to engage in such a role or does the context of her society make that an impossibility?
In defense of women who enjoy rape fantasies, I would like to quote (rather than discuss because I would rather not turn this into an essay) an article by Sharon Lamb entitled “The “right” sexuality for girls”. In it, she discusses female sexuality and desire, and there are a few points that I feel relate to this subject. The first is:
“In the useful essay “Objectification,” the philosopher Martha C. Nussbaum describes several forms of objectification. She notes that it is possible in an equitable relationship for one person to sexually objectify another without being exploitative or demeaning. She suggests that longing to be admired, wanted, and looked at as an object of desire is part of human nature, and it is possible to admire, want, and look fairly. In a just society, all people — male and female; heterosexual, gay, bisexual, transgender — should be able to have a sexual life in which they are both subjects and objects of desire, without exploitation.”
The key idea here is that it is possible to be objectified without being exploited.

The second quote:
“To experience desire and sexual pleasure, on the other hand, seems to counter objectification. To desire involves being a subject rather than an object, and it requires a sturdy self that feels entitled and can stand up to the harmful effects of sexual violence and life in a society that seems to tolerate such violence.”
What I understand from this quote is that by desiring, wanting and being actively engaged in sex, one is dispelling the harmful possibilities of sex. It is integral for there to be a back and forth, a discussion of pleasure and pleasuring, for this to be achieved by means that are agreed to by all parties.
If this is true, then a rape fantasy acted out by two people who agree, enjoy and desire the scenario and each other is as healthy as vanilla sex. That though the role play suggests an inequality in power, the power is actually equally shared by all involved as long as acting out the fantasy doesn’t degenerate into a violent reality of rape.
And so if a woman is consenting and enjoying the rape fantasy, is she being exploited? Certainly she’s being objectified, but I feel that it is impossible to have sex and not be objectified, no matter what gender you are, no matter how vanilla or kinky your sex may be.
My stance is that rape fantasy is not rape and is not exploitation, but an exploration of sexuality that perhaps not everyone is willing or wishing to engage in. I find that it objectifies both roles – the dominant and the submissive – but that both experience pleasure and are thus active members of a sexual act. Playing out such a fantasy and any BDSM scenario requires an exorbitant amount of trust and rule-following to prevent it from turning into actual violence or rape.
So what do you all think?

Disclaimer: This post was written by a Feministing Community user and does not necessarily reflect the views of any Feministing columnist, editor, or executive director.

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