Should I Be Concerned About My Rape Fantasies?

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, Fifty Shades novels? 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). Those in the kink community can certainly find new people they don’t know very well to dominate them after references have been  exchanged and boundaries clearly established, but there’s something nice about playing out a ravishment fantasy with someone you can go finish binging the latest Netflix series with on the couch.

The only thing you two have to work out is a safeword, like all responsible kinksters do: 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

This post has been updated.


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  1. 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.

  2. I discovered Judith Krantz novels as a Catholic school teenager. It was an experience, to say the least.

  3. 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 fun..it 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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. 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.

  7. blackfeminista,

    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?

  8. There is nothing sexy and desirable about rape. Rape is not SEX and it is never consensual. This is the root of rape myths that permeates our culture, legitimizes violence against women, and pacifies a society against taking the issue seriously.

    PLEASE conduct this conversation in a more responsible manner and do not conflate an act of violence (which rape is) with healthy sexual desire. Perpetrators of rape do NOT ask victims for “safe words”. Rape victims do not engage in “cuddle and aftercare” following the assault.

    Fantasies, role-play, wild sex–yes, I’m all for that and that is the appropriate language for what is being presented here in this blog.

    But rape, absolutely NOT.

    Get real.

  9. Janel, I understand where you are coming from. To a large degree D/s fantasies are a part of our sexual orientation, I believe. I had submissive fantasies before I suffered any sort of assault, and they were still there after experiencing something similarly brutal to what you described (now there’s some confusing headfuckery to have to work out of your sex life, let me tell you). although both activities use the word “rape” there is a huge world of difference between a rape fantasy between caring, consensual partners and an actual rape–and not just on the top’s end, which you obviously grasped, but also in the desires and experiences of the bottom.

    on a lighter note: my favorite safeword is “Ruth Bader Ginsburg”

  10. Just one note from the world of BDSM. I’ve found that a lot of players use “yellow” and “red” instead of “funny word” option. The reason is that sometimes you want someone to ramp down but not stop–and a safeword means game over, we’re done.

    For example, my boyfriend and I really enjoy rape-play (we even took a class in it! I love San Francisco). Recently, he had me tied in a position that was starting to hurt my shoulder (of course I’d been fighting, kicking, and screaming while he tied me up, so I probably wrenched my own shoulder. We always say that if someone’s not bleeding when we’re done, it wasn’t a party!). I called yellow, he untied me, but kept slapping me, verbally abusing me, and doing all that other fun stuff. If I’d called “red” it would have meant stop, cuddling, and aftercare. All good stuff, of course, but I wasn’t ready for it yet.

  11. Personally, I think it’s just f*@!#ed. But that’s just me. I realize it’s ‘safe’ and with consent, yet, I can’t seem to wrap my mind around that fantasy. Maybe i’m impartial… after being brutally raped for 5 hours, I don’t know. I wish I had a word such as “babyfishmouth” that would have made it end (one way or another). Call me a pessimist, I don’t think that – that pr#%k would have stopped! 2 those of U who have and/or act on this fantasy Be Safe. (and i’m honestly not being judjmental, I personally, don’t understand).

  12. I really relate to this question. I have some fantasies about being submissive, but I’m a feminist. My last guy was into it and before things went sour we had some fun with role playing. Want to do it again. Glad to know that others agree that I can be an enlightened feminist, yet enjoy playing around with my sex life, too. Realizing more and more that I’m not alone in my feminist dilemmas- entire books and research projects are devoted to answering these types of questions. I think there’s no shame in kinky sex as long as it’s done with a safe, trustworthy partner.

  13. I remember when you two called out the babyfishmouth as tired and dull in a post a while ago. Seeing it pop up again as a safe word gave me a good chuckle, because to me it is *totally* unsexy and would stop the action right quick!

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