A rape fantasy or a ravishment is a sexual fantasy involving imagining or pretending being coerced or coercing another into sexual activity. In sexual role-play it involves acting out roles of coercive sex. One form of sexual roleplaying is the rape fantasy, also called ravishment or forced sex roleplay. Ravishment has become a more preferred term in BDSM circles, as it makes a distinction between consensual role play and non-consensual assault. Though consensuality is an important component of sexual roleplay, the illusion of non-consensuality (i.e., rape) is important to maintaining the fantasy. Crossing the line may constitute an assault and result in arrest and conviction.
Rape fantasy role-playing has become a hot topic with the unexpected popularity of E.L. James’s Fifty Shades trilogy, as well as all the subsequent articles explaining and judging this popularity. When first hit with the notion that someone actually thinks about having forced sex, what comes to mind is, “Why would you fantasize about something so repugnant and possibly life-threatening?” It’s a touchy subject that requires some careful consideration.
Some women and men feel that even entertaining thoughts of a rape fantasy is wrong and they are twisted for even thinking of it. Personally, I don’t like the term “rape fantasy.” Rape, in the eyes of the law, is forced non-consensual sexual contact. The key word being non-consensual. In rape fantasy role playing, the acts are 100% consensual. You and your partner are just pretending to the non-consenting.
What’s the appeal, you ask? I think it’s the taboo factor. Women are often taught that sex is dirty. Women shouldn’t demand sex, initiate sex, or even want sex. When we first start to date, how often do most wait a suitable time frame or until we are in “love” before taking that next step? How many times have we read a book with a woman engaging in sexual relationships right after meeting a man, with more then one man, or engaging and enjoying kinky sex and in the back of our mind we think, “slut?” I’m guilty of it.
Lately, however, women have stopped apologising. We like sex and refuse to feel guilty for reading about it, fantasizing about it, having it, and enjoying it. The rape fantasy gives the illusion that the choice is taken from us and therefore we can’t be held responsible for what happens. Yet we are responsible through the act of consent. We control every aspect of it. Fantasies are nothing more than a way to expand our comfort zones, using our imaginations to take us places that we would otherwise never explore in real life. With fantasies, everything is permitted and nothing is denied.
The key here is “consensual.” There is nothing wrong with consensual adults indulging in their sexual fantasies. While I like to read rape fantasy erotica, a man attempting to do this in real life without my permission would not be acceptable. It would not be sexy or arousing because I wouldn’t be in control of my fantasy.
Rape or ravishment fantasies are not a recently discovered trope. The mainstay of many historical romances, recently being referred to as mommy porn or porn for women, revolve around this trope, using it as the baseline in which the hero and heroine find their way to their happily ever after. The common plot is a devastatingly handsome rake becomes so overcome by his attraction to the virgin heroine that he loses all control and takes whatever steps necessary to ensure she becomes his. Though she refuses in the beginning, she will eventually submit; her feelings of anger and hatred morph into desire and eventual fulfillment. The ending gives us a happily married couple for whom the hero is redeemed and the heroine remains unsullied because the choice of sexual congress was take out of her hands. Judith McNaught’s Whitney, My Love and Catherine Coulter’s Devil’s Embrace are prime examples. VC Andrews created a literary empire based on rape, pedophilia, and incest fantasises. There wasn’t a trope she didn’t try, and even made some of her own up.
The difference between those storylines and the emerging ones is many authors are now making sure that BOTH participants know it’s a fantasy in which they are engaging. The trope is not used to gain power, marriage, or a permanent sexual submission. It is simply a form of sexual role play. When the playing is done, so is the fantasy.
One of my favorite books, Cara McKenna’s Willing Victim, is based on a relationship that starts with a rape fantasy. Our heroine Lauren seeks to have a relationship with the hero Flynn. Flynn warns her that his sexual appetites are not for the weak and invites her to watch him and his current partner engage in a fantasy rape role play session and judge for herself if this is something that interests her. It does, and soon Lauren and Flynn embark on a sexual relationship that examines their needing this type of sexual fantasy in an engaging and sexy erotic story. What takes the story beyond a simple erotic is that while their relationship is started because of the rape fantasy, it isn’t defined by it. The fantasy never leaves the bedroom and Flynn remarks in the book that he doesn’t need to engage in this fantasy every time in order to have a fulfilling sexual relationship. It’s just a kink he likes to indulge in.
Shiloh Walker’s Beg Me addresses a BDSM lifestyle between a husband and wife, and what happens when that lifestyle is violated. Tania, our heroine, was viciously raped by a friend after losing her husband and it turns her sexual fantasy into an act of terror. She asks a friend to help her overcome her fear and take back her sexual freedom once and for all.
Prior to the traumatic event, we see Tania and her husband in a solid established relationship—and they also happen to engage in rape fantasy. When that fantasy is violated, becoming a real act of rape and destroying the nature of the fantasy for the heroine, we watch as she struggles to get back to the place before sex was used as a weapon against her. Beg Me is an emotional story that addresses a painful subject with dignity. Both of these books take the sexual rape fantasy and incorporate them into storylines where the fantasy is revealed and acted on by two consenting adults.
As Fifty Shades’s popularity grows, some will cheer its emergence as popular fiction and others will bemoan that women are degrading themselves by reading and/or engaging in it. Either way, I can’t say if rape fantasies are right or wrong. I can’t tell you reading them is right or wrong. That is an individual choice that needs to be made by you. What I can say is you don’t not need to feel ashamed and you’re not alone.