Rough sex: ‘Sexual desire is complex, often teeming with obstacles, power differentials and ambivalence’, writes Dr. Kate Lister
A study in 2009 found 62 per cent of the women participating had sexual fantasies in which they are forced into having sex against their will. These statistics can make for uncomfortable reading, particularly in the wake of the #MeToo movement and the numerous sexual assault scandals that have dominated recent headlines.
But, in order to understand ourselves, we must go to where it is uncomfortable. Why are some women regularly fantasizing about being forced into having sex?
I have never thought that ‘rape’ is an appropriate description of this type of fantasy. Rape by its very definition is non-consensual, while a sexual fantasy, no matter how violent it may be, is always under the direction and control of the person having it. Rape is a deeply traumatic, often life-threatening, profound violation of a person’s being. It is a terrifying experience precisely because it is not consented to and the victim is disempowered. But, a fantasy is always a safe place, always under your own control and always being consented to. No matter how extensive your cast list may be, how dramatic the set, or how bizarre the plot, it is impossible not to consent to your own fantasy.
So, the first thing that needs to be established is that these are not fantasies about rape, they are about submission and domination. Nor do they mean anyone who has them wants to be raped.