Tag: rape fantasy

Is It Okay To Write Fantasies About Rape?

The short answer is “Yes.” But there are some important details to consider.

There’s a general distaste for rape fantasy because there is a very reasonable general distaste for rape. Rape is one of the most horrible things that a person can experience, so it’s only natural that there’s a strong social condemnation of not only rape, but of anything that is seen to encourage rape. This is all perfectly reasonable, except that we don’t always agree as a society on what kinds of things–stories in particular–encourage rape.

Rape fantasy as a rule does not, because people in general can tell the difference between fantasy and reality. Also because most rape fantasy stories I’ve seen, read, heard, had, or written, have as a context that the rapist is a Bad Guy, and that rape is a Bad Thing.

When dealing with people who cannot tell the difference between fantasy and reality, almost anything can be used as some sort of justification for almost anything. John Hinckley Jr. used the movie “Taxi Driver” to justify shooting the President of the United States, for example. Mark David Chapman used “The Catcher In The Rye” to justify assassinating John Lennon. Neither of these crimes, nor many like them, were reasonably or logically inspired by the original source material–the crimes were the products of deranged minds, and the source material could have been anything.

On the other hand, the movie “Clockwork Orange” may have inspired several rapes. In one case, a 17 year-old girl was gang-raped by a group of perps who were (as in the film) singing “Singing In The Rain.” I tend to think that that group of perps would have been rapists in any case, and the movie only directed slightly how their crime manifested–they’d have still been rapists, but they might not have been singing rapists. Normal people who watched that film were not inspired to go out and commit crimes based on it. Still, there’s an important difference between this crime and the above crimes by other works: glorification.

The movie “Taxi Driver” doesn’t glorify the main character’s attempted assassination of a politician. The main character is clearly intended to be lonely, pathetic, and misguided. “Taxi Driver” wasn’t filmed in such a way that viewers would or should come out of the theater thinking that the assassination would have been a good deed. “Catcher In The Rye” does not–to the best of my knowledge–even have murder or assassination as a plot point, let alone glorify it in any way.

“Clockwork Orange,” on the other hand… well, the main character is not clearly the villain of the story. He’s charming, charismatic, and sympathetic in places. He’s the kind of character that people might want to identify with on many levels, and the rape scene itself was a mixture that contained more comedy than horror, downplaying the effects of the rape, up-playing the coolness factors of the perpetrator. I don’t think it’s necessarily true that the movie created rapists where none would have otherwise existed, but I do think that it’s treading along an edge that makes me uncomfortable, because rape shouldn’t be glorified.

You may be asking yourself why writing ANY kind of rape fantasy is okay, and the answer is that writing fantasy is by default okay and natural, including fantasies about crime and violence. If reading or watching a story about murder, rape, robbery, theft, and so forth, was truly harmful to society, then every society would be constantly harmed by the vast majority of the stories we tell. But that doesn’t seem to be the case.

We can watch horror movies without committing murder, usually because we know the difference between fantasy and reality, and also because the stories are usually told in such a way that it’s clear who the villains are, and that their deeds are vile. Even in cases where there is some sympathy for the monster/killer/villain, the stories aren’t a glorification of them or their deeds. In cases where they are, those stories are again treading on ground that I’d rather they avoided.
Same with crime stories, for that matter, although for some reason bank robbers, kidnappers, and so forth are much more likely to be glorified than movie monsters/murderers.

The only other times/ways I can think of (other than rape glorification fantasies) where it is NOT okay to write rape fantasy are:

When You Don’t Know You’re Doing It

Unfortunately, many authors–even or especially famous authors–have written rape scenes that are seemingly intended to be something else. One example that comes to mind is the sex scene in Ayn Rand’s novel The Fountainhead, where the protagonist Howard Roark sneaks into Dominique’s bedroom at night, pins her wrists, physically overpowers her in spite of her fighting back, and has rough sex with her. It’s all meant to be okay, because a) Roark could tell just by looking at her that she really wanted him to do it, b) even though she said No, she meant Yes, and he could just tell, c) she enjoyed it, d) she entered into a romantic relationship with him afterward, and e) all the usual things that rapists think or say to justify their actions. As a rape fantasy scene it’s not bad… but it does glorify the act of rape, and justifies it, and the author seems to be oblivious that this wasn’t just rough, hot sex.
There are also countless other novels where the author seems to be trying to write a passionate love scene, but instead depicts a rape, sometimes a quite brutal one. Writers can mistake “lack of consent” for “passion,” but they’re not the same thing. When you write a sex scene, check it for consent. Consent doesn’t have to be verbal; it just has to be clear enough that the characters involved, along with any witnesses, would be able to tell that everybody was having fun. If/When you write a rape scene, make sure that not only do YOU know what you’re writing, but that the reader knows that you know it as well.

 

When It Comes Without Warning:
The sex (rape) scene in The Fountainhead also kind of comes out of the blue. This is supposed to be a philosophical novel about an architect, not a bodice-ripper. There’s nothing really in the book before that point that indicates to the reader what’s going to happen, and that kind of thing can put a lot of readers off. Especially if the reader has been the victim of sexual violence in the past.

Think of it a bit like killing a dog. It’s not something that you want to spring on readers without warning, if only because you’ll lose a lot of readers that way. If you’re writing rape fantasy, the idea will usually be to arouse your readers. That takes a certain kind of audience, and they usually like to know what they’re getting into. If you write in genres where sexual violence is common enough that it won’t shock your audience, something like Beast Porn, Bodice-Rippers, Splatterpunk, or fantasy BDSM stuff like Rice’s Sleeping Beauty Quartet, then you (and your readers) are probably safe.
If you’re writing conventional Romance, Erotica, realistic BDSM stories, and so forth, then you might consider including a Trigger Warning at the start of the work, or telegraphing to the reader PLENTY of advance warning.

Is It Okay To Fantasize About Rape?

The short answer is “Yes.” If that’s good enough for you, skip to the next blog post! (or go read an earlier post)

The long answer is still “Yes.” See below.

Fantasy is by default okay and natural, including fantasies about crime and violence. People fantasize about all kinds of things, for all kinds of reasons. What happens in our imaginations really isn’t anybody’s business other than ourselves, and it doesn’t affect anybody other than ourselves.

When it comes to sexual rape fantasies, there are reasons why they exist. We live in a society where we’re taught that sex is shameful, particularly for women. We’re taught that we’re bad people if we want to have sex, but biologically we are (most of us, anyway) driven to have sex, and to want sexual experiences. Rape fantasies allow people to conjure scenarios where we can participate in all the “depraved” things that we’d like to do, or–more to the point–that we’d like to fantasize about doing–while avoiding the negative feelings associated with our own lusts.

A person might want to fantasize about having rough sex with a group of strangers, about the pure, faceless physical act of it. The simplest scenario where they can indulge in that fantasy would generally involve being taken against their will. This would help them avoid not only guilt for their own general lust, but for any number of details in the scene that they might otherwise avoid envisioning, and/or might mentally punish themselves for.

This kind of fantasy does not mean that the person having the fantasy wants to be raped in real life, no more than an idle fantasy about being pursued by a serial killer, or a fantasy about being in a war, or a fantasy about a zombie apocalypse, means that the person having that fantasy would wish to be involved in such things in life.

Most sexual fantasies people have are used to get us off, and we don’t entirely have control over what scenarios push our buttons. Fantasizing about different things, rape included, can help us figure out what our turn ons are, and it can help us learn more about our own sexuality.

People fantasize about rape for many reasons. The escape from shame mentioned above is one possible reason, but for other people the reason might be because shame itself is one of their buttons, one of the things that inexplicably turns them on. They might enjoy fantasies about being beaten, humiliated, and forced… and that fantasy might not have anything to do with what they’d like in real life. Or maybe it does; there’s nothing wrong with that either.

Another thing about rape fantasy is that it’s easy. Different people have different thresholds when it comes to suspension of disbelief, and that includes sexual fantasies. Some people may not find fantasies of love & courtship, or hooking up at a bar, or any number of other common plots to be plausible or simple enough when they’re trying to just rub one out.

Fantasizing about being raped cuts to the chase: You’re there, the other person (or people) are there, and they’re doing things to you. You don’t have to worry about whether they’ll call you after. You don’t have to worry about whether they find you attractive. You don’t have to worry anything other than the sex, and you don’t have to worry about any kinky implications of anything that they do to you because this fantasy is about not being in control.

It’s about being relieved of responsibility, anxiety, and every other concern other than sex.

Rape fantasy allows people to bypass many, most, or all of their mental blocks when it comes to sexual fantasy, and it allows them to just enjoy the ride–something that is the exact opposite of actual rape, which can create obstacles between the victim and sexual enjoyment. This might be one reason why many victims of real-world rape indulge in rape fantasy: the trauma from their attack may create mental blocks that can only be effectively overcome by this kind of fantasy. They may have feelings of shame. They may have feelings of being damaged. They may have feelings that nobody good would want them. This kind of fantasy can provide a necessary sexual outlet that bypasses all those things and more.

There’s also a legitimacy to rewriting our own emotional stories, to dealing with traumatic events by imagining variations of those events that take out the sting through repetition and reframing. People can take traumatic events, and imagine those events in different ways that remove the negative experiences and replace them with positive associations. A person who has been raped can fantasize about being forced into sex under different circumstances, and in that fantasy retain complete control over everything that happens. They can replace powerlessness and suffering with fantasies of those things, with mute echoes that–like all fantasies–dull the bad parts and highlight (or in this case create) the good parts.

There’s nothing wrong with having rape fantasies, and there are many good reasons why people have them.