Dear Em & Lo: Should I Be Concerned About My Rape Fantasies?

rape_of_the_sabine_womenphoto by Laura Cameron

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

Dear TRS,

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

Say Something

12 Comments on "Dear Em & Lo: Should I Be Concerned About My Rape Fantasies?"

2 years 11 months ago

I have to agree with blackfeminista. This is why our society does not take rape seriously..we have this..where people want to pretend to be raped. Raped is not is not something that can be stopped with some colorful word and it leaves scars that are life long. The whole article is disturbing to me. And we need to keep this where it belongs..not as a fantasy but as a crime.

abe l
5 years 6 months ago

Rape is bad. Sex is good. Kinky sex is good. keep it safe. I used red yellow and green. got a couple of yellows but mostly greens. lots of fun.

6 years 6 months ago

By the way- wish we could edit posts! A few spots in my last one make it look like English is my second language :)

6 years 6 months ago

I respect blackfeminista’s point- I just had an argument that was virtually identical with my roommate. Clearly care must be taken when discussion “wild sex” to avoid perpetuating rape culture.

Still, I find posts like hers frustrating. Of course people who have “ravishment fantasies” don’t ACTUALLY want to be raped! But that doesn’t mean that calling those fantasies “rape fantasies” isn’t accurate. Having a fantasy about something doesn’t mean you have to fantasize about every single aspect of the event- just because kids don’t fantasize about losing their privacy to paparazzi doesn’t mean they don’t have fantasies about “movie star”.

Rape is awful in a million ways, but the core feature of rape- what makes it a rape- is unconsenting sex. When two people pretend to engage in unconsenting sex- that’s a rape fantasy!!! It’s too bad that word comes with a lot of cultural and emotional baggage, but it also happens to be descriptively accurate!

There are ways to safely and responsibly discuss dangerous topics. But that’s a separate issue from whether or not those phenomenon are REAL.

Blackfeminista might believe that the best way to deal with a dangerous truth is essentially to censor it (no rape-related talk on the blog, no rape-related ideas in our heads). I disagree and think that responsibly talking about issues is the best long-term way to come to grips both with our sometimes awkward sexualities as well as with crimes against women.

Dave W
6 years 7 months ago


I did a little reading after seeing the other comments, and one website says that the word ‘ravishment’ is preferred by many in the BDSM community. Does that sound appropriate?