Dear Em & Lo,
I’m writing to ask you about your opinion of rape fantasies. I’ve been in a serious and loving relationship with my boyfriend for almost four years now. It’s a very egalitarian, loving, supportive and comfortable relationship. Yet both my boyfriend and I immensely enjoy acting out rape fantasies. We enjoy having other kinds of sex too, certainly. But we seem to return (consistently and pretty often) to this type of sex — and I’m always the one being dominated. My boyfriend is sensitive to how I’m feeling and I never feel unsafe, but these sessions always leave each of us at least a little scraped or bruised. Recently, right after one of these sessions, we talked about them and wondered what it meant that we both liked them so much. I’m a very strong and feminist woman. He’s a very kind and feminist man. So, what do you think? Do these sessions reveal that we actually have a few things we need to work out? Or, are they just another healthy/possible form of sexual expression?
— The Reluctant Sub
Are you kidding? You guys sound like you have the perfect relationship: you’re communicative with each other, supportive of one another, and comfortable enough together to act out your fantasies (many people get all giggly and self-conscious at the thought of role-playing). You even have the same fantasy — can you imagine the tragic Romeo-and-Juliet-ish nature of a relationship between a foot fetishist and someone who hated their own feet?
Domination and submission fantasies are extremely common (hello, Judith Krantz novels?). And they aren’t automatically indicative of past abuse or some issue that needs to be worked out. Remember, what you two are doing isn’t actually rape: you are in control of the situation and you’re being dominated by someone you want to be ravished by, by someone you’ve given consent to. We’ve said it before, we’ll say it again: Just because you like to be tied up, spanked, and called “bitch,” doesn’t mean you’re a bad feminist. And you both sound very self-aware and conscientious; in other words, not in need of therapy.
These types of D/s fantasies (as they say in the biz) can just be fun/creative/intense ways to add spice to a sexual relationship, especially long-term ones. After all, playing around with power dynamics in the bedroom can be heavy stuff (as you’ve discovered), so you need to do it with someone who has your best interests at heart, someone you can be open and honest with, someone you trust completely (i.e. playing out a rape fantasy on a blind date = really bad idea).
The only thing you two have to work out is a safeword: a signal that either of you can use in the heat of the moment that means “stop” or at least “time out,” just in case things get too uncomfortable, either physically or mentally. Don’t make it “stop” or “no,” because when you’re acting out a scenario — and you are acting — you want to be able to use words that heighten the drama. So go with something like “Taco” (like they did for the “Blair Witch Project”) or our fave, “babyfishmouth.”
Finally, a little bruise here or there is okay: a bit of safely inflicted pain can feel kinda good when you’re in a heightened state of arousal (as anyone who’s been spanked on the tush during sex can attest). Just be careful not to get too much into character: you certainly don’t want to end up with a broken wrist and he certainly doesn’t need kicked-in nuts.
Have fun and be safe,
Em & Lo