A sexologist explains why women have rape fantasies
Sexual assault isn’t to blame. This is why
by Leigh Norén
Rape is often traumatic and can lead to many debilitating long term problems, not least to do with sex. As a sexologist specializing in sexual assault, I help people find ways of becoming sexual again – be it with themselves or a partner. Sessions often center on exploring turn-ons, and how sex can be turned into something good. As my clients often have several sexual problems, it’s important to focus on whatever positive expressions of sexuality they may still have, despite their experiences. This is a challenge because sex and sexual assault are both subjects plagued by shame and taboos – being turned on by rape fantasies is definitely one of them.
The thing is though, I hear how rape fantasies can be exciting and fun, even for those who have been raped. It’s not an unhealthy expression of sexuality, and it isn’t necessarily a sign of needing therapy. Still, if the subject makes you uncomfortable, you’re not alone.
Survivors of sexual assault have to put up with many preconceived ideas surrounding their sexuality, like not wanting to have sex again, or sex being a sign of trauma being acted out. Especially for women who have been raped, the combined stigma around women’s sexuality and that of the rape victim’s can be pretty awful to deal with. If you also happen to get hot by the idea of non-consensual acts it doesn’t make things easier. But I want you to know, you have every right to get off to your rape fantasies, despite traumatic experiences.
Liking sex that doesn’t agree with society’s morals has always been considered wrong, and until recently, even seen as a sign of mental illness. And even though BDSM has certainly been brought into the limelight these past few years, in some ways normalizing the lifestyle and sex of kink-practitioners, it’s still seen by many as perverse.
BDSM is really all about fantasy. Charlotta Carlström, a researcher in the BDSM-field, writes that it’s a way of escaping reality for a while, and exploring controversial themes in a controlled setting. One of these themes is rape. For some it’s about using rape fantasies while they rub one out, for others it’s about enacting rape in something BDSM refers to as rape play.
In rape play, people agree upon safe words, gestures or other ways of communicating, if the submissive should want to stop. It’s also not uncommon for people to carefully plan the scenario before engaging in the sex. A good idea is to stage a rape play with someone you trust and, if you’re inexperienced, build up to the fantasy as opposed to diving in head first.
Rape play and rape fantasies involve consent, something that makes them – not rape at all. That being said, it’s still a controversial fantasy. One reason, among many, is because we tend to think it’s caused by sexual abuse. Carlström however, notes that most studies on the subject actually don’t find a correlation between the two. She writes that some researchers even find higher levels of well-being among kink-practitioners, and other studies even speak to the healing and therapeutic properties of BDSM. Overall the research seems to say that rape fantasies most likely are not the result of sexual trauma.
Fantasies are just that – fantasies. We often worry they say something about us and that they have consequences if acted upon. Even if getting turned on by rape play could be seen as a way of reproducing stereotypes and patriarchal ideas, your own sexuality isn’t a playground for politics. I don’t believe one person can be held accountable for reproducing social hierarchies, and what’s more, I don’t think it’s right. We need to move from the shame and stigma surrounding the sexuality of people who have been sexually abused, and look to celebrating it instead, even if it’s reminiscent of the sexual assault you experienced.
Sexual assault can be one of the most horrific traumas there is. Paradoxically, sex can be one of the most powerful ways a person can heal and regain strength and self-confidence. If you fantasize about rape, it’s OK. It is your absolute right. You can trust me – I’m a sexologist.
Related stories recommended by this writer:
● There’s a major rape fantasy sub-culture out there and it’s pretty intense
● Gigi and Bella Hadid’s dad denies model’s claims that he date raped her
● A super simply but extremely detailed guide to anal sex, by normal girls