Gender differences are found in the differences of visual images, touching, context, personalization, emotion, partner variety, partner response, fantasizer response, and inward versus outward focus.
This study on differences in male‐oriented pornography and female‐oriented romance novels, records of human sexuality, and the ineluctable implications of an evolutionary perspective on our species, all taken together suggest that there are profound sex differences in desire and sexual fantasies, and yes, rape fantasies.
Research has shown that men fantasize about dominance more than women do; they also tend to focus more on the desire and pleasure of their partner. In this research, desire and pleasure were more closely linked in the fantasies of men than in the fantasies of women, for whom the two were distinct constructs. Although fantasies of submission were not associated with problematic attitudes for either gender, men’s fantasies of dominance were associated with greater acceptance of rape myths. For women, greater rape myth acceptance was associated with emotional and romantic fantasy themes.
Around 57% of women have fantasies in which they are forced into sex against their will; with 9% to 17% of these women reporting rape fantasies to be their go-to fantasy experience. Another study done with college students found that 62% of women have had a rape fantasy at some point, which is higher than the previous study done, one year prior. Out of these women who have rape fantasies, they usually have them 4 times a year; though, 14% of the women reportedly have them weekly.
All this said it’s important to note that there is a wide range of variation when it comes to rape fantasies.
One study broke up rape fantasies into 3 conditions; the erotic fantasy of rape, realistic rape with “ambiguous responsibility,” and rape with no ambiguity. This study showed women all three conditions and found that when comparing women in the realistic rape conditions to the erotic fantasy, the women who imagined an “erotic fantasy of ‘rape’ were significantly more sexually aroused and experienced more interest, enjoyment, and pleasure.
“Women who were asked to imagine realistic rape reported significantly more effective disgust, fear, anger, pain, shame, and depression.” They also took into account how these women felt about sex in regards to their guilt after sex. The women who felt more guilty became less aroused across all scenarios and did not find the erotic fantasy of “rape” pleasurable, enjoyable, or interesting. Which makes sense from a sociological point of view, women may enjoy the submissive role, but not a violent fantasy.
We know that fantasies do NOT have to reflect ACTUAL wishes; this makes it interesting to dive into what types of rape people are interested in, and why. One study did just that – when given a list of “forced” sexual experiences, participants were asked to choose which they fantasize about being forced into. The responses?
- Forced by a man: 52%.
- Raped by a man: 32%.
- Forced oral by a man: 28%.
- Forced while incapacitated: 24%.
- Forced by a woman: 17%.
- Forced anal: 16%.
- Raped by a woman: 9%.
- Forced oral by a woman: 9%.
Among the 71 participants who reported fantasies of being forced by women, 50 said they were heterosexual. With most participants admitting to having these types of fantasies once per year at 33% and to 11% having them weekly.
This data leaves us wondering not whether people have these fantasies, but rather, why? Some might speculate that forced sex could be either connected in a positive or negative way to those who are survivors of sexual assault. But the same study found that within the 5% of participants reporting being survivors, they found “no relationship, either direct or inverse, between real-life rape and whether participants had any type of rape fantasy.”
Why? Why Why Why?
We see rape in the media (*ahem* Law and Order: SVU) all of the time. It’s never portrayed in a nice way, but it may still turn you on. If you’re like ‘wtf is going on,’ it’s okay. It doesn’t have to make complete sense to you and you don’t need to be ashamed.
“Erotic rape fantasies are paradoxical: they do not appear to make sense. Why would a person have an erotic and pleasurable fantasy about an event that, in real life, would be abhorrent and traumatic?” asked researchers and we want to know, too! They came up with several theories including correlations to masochism, sexual blame avoidance, openness to sexuality, sexual desirability, male rape culture, biological predisposition to surrender, sympathetic physiological activation, and adversary transformation.
Compelling evidence connects personal traits. People high in sexual openness and followed by sexual desirability reported the highest desire to rape fantasies. Psychology today reports:
The most sexually open and self-accepting women had the most rape fantasies. They also had the most fantasies of consensual sex. And they reported the most arousal from their erotic fantasies.
The women who considered themselves hotties also had frequent rape fantasies. (They were also the most likely to fantasize being strippers.) Women who have rape fantasies don’t want to be sexually assaulted. They feel comfortable with their own sexuality and are happy to embrace their erotic fantasies—wherever they may lead.