This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
number 783016864] Publisher Routledge Informa Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registered office: Mortimer House, 3741 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK
Journal of Sex Research
Publication details, including instructions for authors and subscription information: http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/title~content=t775653667
Women's Erotic Rape Fantasies: An Evaluation of Theory and Research
Joseph W. Critellia; Jenny M. Bivonaa a University of North Texas,
To cite this Article Critelli, Joseph W. and Bivona, Jenny M.(2008) 'Women's Erotic Rape Fantasies: An Evaluation of
Theory and Research', Journal of Sex Research, 45: 1, 57 — 70 To link to this Article: DOI: 10.1080/00224490701808191 URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00224490701808191
PLEASE SCROLL DOWN FOR ARTICLE
Full terms and conditions of use: http://www.informaworld.com/terms-and-conditions-of-access.pdf This article may be used for research, teaching and private study purposes. Any substantial or systematic reproduction, re-distribution, re-selling, loan or sub-licensing, systematic supply or distribution in any form to anyone is expressly forbidden. The publisher does not give any warranty express or implied or make any representation that the contents will be complete or accurate or up to date. The accuracy of any instructions, formulae and drug doses should be independently verified with primary sources. The publisher shall not be liable for any loss, actions, claims, proceedings, demand or costs or damages whatsoever or howsoever caused arising directly or indirectly in connection with or arising out of the use of this material.
45(1).O. psychoanalytic (Deutsch. both as fantasy and in actuality. 1975. They may deal with actual past experiences. and predispositions more clearly than does overt behavior (Ellis & Symons. openness to sexuality. but. As Hazen (1983) articulated.1080/00224490701808191 Women’s Erotic Rape Fantasies: An Evaluation of Theory and Research Joseph W. As sexual fantasies are relatively unconstrained by social consequences. USA. Critelli and Jenny M. Bivona University of North Texas This article is the first systematic review of the research literature on women’s rape fantasies. In contrast. 57–70. For example. the major theories of women’s rape fantasies are evaluated both rationally and empirically. Current research indicates that between 31% and 57% of women have fantasies in which they are forced into sex against their will. the area that almost certainly has posed the greatest conceptual challenge for researchers is that of ‘‘rape fantasies. but they may not want to engage in actual infidelity because of negative consequences to the marriage. which suggests that there is something wrong with the women who have them. male rape culture. Denton. TX 76205-1280. The true mystery is why anyone does’’ (p. the existence of these fantasies. and this might encourage male sexual aggression. Although many researchers have argued against such an interpretation. For example. or other weaknesses in the explanations given. Erotic rape fantasies are paradoxical: they do not appear to make sense. purely imagined experiences. sexual blame avoidance.’’ Women’s rape fantasies exist as a psychological enigma. 1944. 1933=1965) and some feminist positions (Brownmiller.edu unpleasant consequences. Greater awareness that some women have erotic rape fantasies could reinforce the myth that women want to be forced into sex. motives. Russell. they are not well understood. Why would a person have an erotic and pleasurable fantasy about an event that. Downloaded By: [Canadian Research Knowledge Network] At: 04:24 9 September 2010 Sexual fantasies or daydreams can range from brief thoughts or images to stories with detailed plotlines. 1944. women may want to be raped (Deutsch. along with the belief that fantasies often operate in terms of wish fulfillment. University of North Texas. LLC ISSN: 0022-4499 print=1559-8519 online DOI: 10. 23). And although fantasies about unpleasant events. an affair would be exciting. Psychology Department. they may reveal underlying psychological processes. ambiguities. the investigation of fantasy may provide unique contributions to the field. This article evaluates theory and research. 1990). allows a possible interpretation that. These theories explain rape fantasies in terms of masochism. in real life. 2008 Copyright # Taylor & Francis Group. For some. Maslow. In contrast. rape fantasies differ in key respects. largely because of gaps. 1942). sympathetic physiological activation. their positions have not been entirely convincing. one could fantasize an extramarital affair. rape would be avoided not only because of Correspondence should be addressed to Joseph W. Critelli. fantasies of forced sex are often exciting. P. Although women’s rape fantasies have been a subject of formal study since the 1940s. . would be abhorrent and traumatic? In this article. Box 311280. such as a feared performance evaluation. and adversary transformation. Freud. or a mixture of both (Leitenberg & Henning. and for 9% to 17% of women these are a frequent or favorite fantasy experience. In the realm of sexual fantasies. biological predisposition to surrender. 1995). more importantly. 1982). are not rare. E-mail: critelli@unt. 1980) have maintained that rape fantasies are masochistic and pathological. In addition. because the experience of the rape itself would be abhorrent. and sexually arousing (Kanin. and begins the task of theoretical integration to arrive at a more complete and internally consistent explanation for why many women engage in erotic rape fantasies. sexual desirability.JOURNAL OF SEX RESEARCH. pleasurable. One reason why these fantasies are not well understood is that the study of women’s rape fantasies may have been systematically avoided by some researchers and theorists. Although people often daydream about events that they do not want to happen. makes provisional judgments as to which theories appear to be most viable. ‘‘It does not seem normal that a person should want to imagine rape. at some level. Methodological critiques and programs for future research are presented throughout. these fantasies are not pleasurable. Although psychology has emphasized the study of overt behavior.
which are later rated for presence of forced sex. Thus the fantasy logs provide valuable . in the long term. Just as important. an avoidance of this topic sends the false and disturbing message that there is something shameful about women’s sexuality. coercive sex. One purpose of the present analysis is to develop a more integrated. It can be argued that. and identify which lines of explanation appear to be rationally sound and empirically viable. We will review more than 30 years of research on rape fantasies. perpetuates ignorance. sexual assault. All used convenience samples. diminishes societal well-being. Individuals may have had rape fantasies but do not consider them to be favorite fantasies or they may be reluctant or embarrassed to write out a detailed description of a rape fantasy. daydream. All sources identified in these searches and their references were examined for possible inclusion. many rape fantasies involve sexual activities that take place consistent with the will and desire of the fantasizer. Although men also have rape fantasies (Leitenberg & Henning. Several methodological concerns place limits on the conclusions that can be reached from these data. so conclusions as to possible effects of sexual orientation cannot be reached at this time. The present analysis covers women’s waking. and. 1999). avoiding an area of study that is difficult to understand and perhaps uncomfortable to discuss blocks the growth of knowledge. and nonconsent. Early researchers acknowledged the importance of female erotic rape fantasies. or researchers simply may have come to a temporary impasse. and others ask subjects to write out their favorite sexual fantasies. rape. as a major fantasy theme for women. with each of these combined with fantasy. nearly all studies have failed to distinguish between the rape fantasies of heterosexuals and those of lesbians. We will evaluate existing theories of rape fantasy. or incapacitation through. Thus we would argue that. In addition. This reduction may have to do with the previously noted social reservations attached to this topic. At the rational level the focus will be on whether the theory makes sense. and important as a scientific enigma whose solution can lead to a deeper understanding of female sexuality. to coerce a woman into sexual activity against her will. But the reduction has not come about because researchers have arrived at a consensus as to the meaning and function of rape fantasies. seven from the noncollege community and 13 from college students. threat of force. an implicit consent has been given and these fantasies might be viewed as ritual displays of male dominance and female surrender (Fisher. 2002). and these are rape fantasies. and imagery. erotic rape fantasies. Twenty studies were identified. and contextual explanation of the phenomenon of rape fantasies so that individuals can better understand why the speculation that women want to be raped is in error. forced sex. although final judgments are not yet possible. Defining Rape Fantasies For the purposes of the present review. Thus rape fantasies contain three key elements: force. and research activity in this area increased vigorously between the 1970s and 1980s. Key questions will guide the analyses: How many women engage in fantasies of forced sex? Are there personality differences between women who have rape fantasies and those who do not? And what function do these fantasies serve? Finally.CRITELLI AND BIVONA As pioneering sex researcher Alfred Kinsey and colleagues (1953) forcefully argued. Do its conceptual strands fit together in a logical and internally consistent manner? Which aspects of rape fantasy does the theory address and which aspects go unexplained? At the empirical level the focus will be on how consistent the theory is with data obtained by third-person and self-observations. From the viewpoint of the fantasizer. Downloaded By: [Canadian Research Knowledge Network] At: 04:24 9 September 2010 The Prevalence of Women’s Rape Fantasies A thorough review of the literature on women’s fantasies of forced sex was conducted. Some measures ask for a direct self-report of whether the individual has ever had rape fantasies. The key words. this is the time for taking stock and preparing the way for future developments in an area that is important in its own right. and submission. that is. included the following: sex. seek out other theories that can be applied to this phenomenon. comprehensive. This activity. Key word searches were carried out on PsychInfo and EBSCOhost. has since diminished. any attempt to make final judgments as to the validity of the various theories of rape fantasy would be premature. Because individuals exert control over the contents of their own fantasies. the term ‘‘rape fantasy’’ will follow legal definitions of rape and sexual assault (Corpus Juris Secundum. for example. despite this research. This term will refer to women’s fantasies that involve the use of physical force. even though these activities are against the will of her self-character in the fantasy. these should be considered a separate phenomenon and they will not be 58 considered here. 1995). there is nonconsent. however. force. sex. Table 1 displays the empirical studies that have reported either the prevalence (percent of women) or frequency of women’s rape fantasies. against the will of the character she identifies with in the fantasy. we will begin the process of integrating the lines of explanation into a more complete understanding of women’s rape fantasies. From the point of view of the self-character. sleep or intoxication. along with a methodological evaluation of the quality and credibility of these data. along with truncated versions thereof.
’’ favorite sexual fantasies. Mean age: 21. N ¼ 1.’’ Not in 10 most frequent of 34. American. during sexual activities victim of aggression.’’ 13th most frequent=12th most prevalent of 31. Heterosexuals: 2nd most frequent sexual fantasy of 5. Hariton & Singer (1974) Sue (1979) Downloaded By: [Canadian Research Knowledge Network] At: 04:24 9 September 2010 Masters & Johnson (1979) College sample.’’ Homosexuals: Most frequent sexual fantasy of 5. 76% Jewish.044. N ¼ 166 Checklist of sexual ‘‘Overpowered by 16% listed as one of 5 sexually experienced fantasies. Mean age: 19. did 57% have had rape fantasy. forced to surrender most frequent of 34 sexually against sexual fantasies. your will.RAPE FANTASIES Table 1. (1984) Mean age: 22. an acquaintance. Mean age: 27. (exact item not listed). ‘‘often. Responses mailed in. 29% have had (daydreams) about being aversive rape fantasies. Knafo & Jaffe College sample. Checklist of sexual fantasies ‘‘I imagine that I am being 49% have had fantasy.’’ Face-to-face interviews. Study How Common are Women’s Rape Fantasies? Sample Measure(s) Wording of Rape Fantasy Measure Prevalence/Frequency of Rape Fantasies Community sample. Price. Kanin (1982) College sample. women. N ¼ 30. sexually against fantasies. forced to surrender frequent of 34 sexual 31 homosexual). sexually active women. N ¼ 64 Checklist of sexual ‘‘Being overpowered or Heterosexuals: 7th most & Hillman (1985) (33 heterosexual. Community sample. Homosexuals: Age: 18–44. N ¼ 67 Checklist of sexual fantasies ‘‘Overpowered=raped’’ during sexual activity. to surrender. and Switzerland. 100% during masturbation. 93% single. Checklist of sexual fantasies ‘‘Scene in which you are the 42% have had the fantasy. Beech. and when not engaging in sexual frequent of 21. Crepault. Checklist of sexual fantasies ‘‘I imagine that I am being Intercourse: Most frequent overpowered or forced sexual fantasy of 21. frequent of 21. thoughts where you put yourself in the place of a woman being raped so that you were able to visualize the rape situation and the rapist?’’ African Americans: 2nd Checklist of sexual ‘‘Being overpowered or Price & Miller College sample. Davidson (1985) College sample. N ¼ 66 Porto.’’ frequent of 34 sexual fantasies. Allensworth. 62% (1984) Caucasian. Community sample. overpowered or forced have as recurring fantasy. Nonsexual behavior: 5th most behavior. Age: 20–40. France. N ¼ 141. N ¼ 60 (30 heterosexual. sexual relationship. 30 homosexual) Age not reported.’’ 33% have the fantasy ‘‘occasionally. N ¼ 116 sexually active women. Abraham. Mean age: Caucasians: 9th most 21.’’ Second most frequent sexual fantasy of 15. College sample. Community sample. Checklist of sexual fantasies ‘‘Being forced or 36% have had fantasy. overpowered into a most prevalent of 13. Aversive rape fantasies: did you ever have 4 times per year. you ever have fantasies fantasies. 71% married. Volunteers were author acquaintances=referrals.’’ 19% of those who have fantasy during masturbated have had masturbation. Hunt (1974) Community sample. & Vaughan (1980) (Continued ) 59 . & Couture partnered women from (1977) Quebec. married women.’’ Masturbation: 4th most American Jews. Talbot. N ¼ 203. 70% single. your will. fantasy. 29% have had erotic rape not reported. to surrender. Age Solitary rape fantasy item. 14% during intercourse. ‘‘Since college entrance. 4th during intercourse. ‘‘Forced sexual encounters.’’ 9% have the fantasy with partner. N ¼ 73. 38% African fantasies. Solitary item on rape ‘‘Being forced to have sex. Age: 75% 25–77. fantasies. intercourse. 29% have had fantasy. Volunteered to be observed having sex. raped? More specifically. Median age: 32.
’’ Checklist of sexual fantasies. Downloaded By: [Canadian Research Knowledge Network] At: 04:24 9 September 2010 Person. these would give an appearance of conclusiveness that would . As the number of studies involved with each of the specific comparisons employed below is six or fewer and these studies typically vary in methodology. when participants are asked directly if they have had rape fantasies. 22% have had fantasy within the last 3 months. N ¼ 136 single women. whether it reflects an age-related decrease in rape fantasies. Mean age: 25. Mean age: 22 Describe favorite sexual fantasy. Checklist of sexual fantasies. Davidson & Hoffman (1986) College sample.’’ Fantasy log for 3 sexual fantasies. Checklist of sexual fantasies. as Hunt suggested that women over 35 showed unusually low prevalence rates. 7th most preferred of 49. Kessler. In addition. Study Continued Sample Measure(s) Wording of Rape Fantasy Measure ‘‘Overpowered by acquaintance and forced to sexually surrender. 33% have had the fantasy. 9% included stranger as one of 5 favorite. and nonsexual activity.CRITELLI AND BIVONA Table 1. Wilson (1987) Pelletier & Herold (1988) Community sample. & Salvadori (1989) Gold & Clegg (1990) College sample. sexual activities with a partner. Checklist of sexual fantasies. whereas stand-alone items may be more likely to reflect either erotic or aversive rape fantasies. & Vaughan. Goldberg. 1974) yielded an unusually low prevalence: 19% of the women who had masturbated reported having rape fantasies during masturbation. intercourse. Checklist of sexual fantasies. ‘‘I imagine I am being overpowered or forced to surrender. 26% wrote sexual fantasy with at least some use of force. Balzano. Lockerd (1998) Median age: 20. perhaps. this study 60 included a number of older women. Kling. 10% have fantasy once a month or more. The term ‘‘context’’ will refer to what activity the individual was engaging in during the rape fantasy. Another study (Talbot. 31% have had the fantasy. Ages not reported. 72% single. In the following discussion. 1980) used a sample of author acquaintances and their referrals.’’ Shulman & Horne (2006) Internet survey.’’ ‘‘Being forced to submit. Experiment 2: 9% wrote sexual fantasy with at least some use of force. Mean age: 28 fantasies. 18% have had the fantasy. 13% included ‘‘rape=force’’ content in favorite sexual fantasy. results based on stand-alone measures will be identified explicitly. such as masturbation. 55% have had the fantasy. the item used may either appear on its own or as part of a checklist of sexual fantasies. ‘‘Forced sex with a male. such as weighted means and confidence intervals. Experiment 1: 17% wrote sexual fantasy with at least some use of force. 20% had fantasy in the last 3 months. Myers. Mean age: 28 College sample. College sample. Rank 5 favorite sexual fantasies of 49. 36% have had the fantasy. Knapke. N ¼ 106. 12% wrote fantasy involving force. Without a replication of this finding. N ¼ 212 Checklist of sexual married students. N=A N=A Hsu. which has been the most common procedure. ‘‘Scene in which you have the impression of being raped. findings from these two studies appear in Table 1 but will not be included in summary statistics. ‘‘Being forced to submit. In addition. 51% have had the fantasy. & Stamey (1991) College samples. College sample. Fantasy log for 3 frequent sexual fantasies. Beech. Age: 80% 20–26. When asked as part of a checklist. it would not be meaningful to report aggregated indexes. M ¼ 3 times=month. Experiment 1: N ¼ 94. Diefenbach. N ¼ 261. making these data nearly uninterpretable. Fantasy log for 3 favorite sexual fantasies. N ¼ 77. 8th most prevalent sexual fantasy of 16. Terestman.’’ ‘‘Overpowered by stranger and forced to sexually surrender. Because of these special methodological concerns.’’ evidence but they can offer only lower-bound estimates of prevalence. Age not reported. One study (Hunt.’’ ‘‘rape=force’’ Prevalence/Frequency of Rape Fantasies 15% included acquaintance as one of 5 favorite. 14th most preferred of 49. & Elias (1994) Strassberg & College sample. 80% single. this may guide individuals to respond in terms of fantasies that are more erotic in nature. it is unclear whether this indicates that women typically do not engage in rape fantasies during masturbation or.’’ ‘‘Forced sex with more than one male. Experiment 2: N ¼ 87. N ¼ 137. N ¼ 58. N ¼ 409 Readers of British daily newspaper. Gold. Median age: 26.
1989. she feels or expresses nonconsent and presents minimal resistance. which may have primed participants to report more fearful or aversive fantasies. context. For absolute frequencies of rape fantasies. Kanin stated that some women have rape fantasies that are exclusively sexual and erotic. prevalence rates for rape fantasies appear to have been relatively stable over the past 4 decades. the above estimates are fairly consistent. Myers. there is no standardization across studies in their checklists of sexual fantasies. relative prevalence indicates that rape fantasies are not the most common sexual fantasies. With regard to relative frequency for those who do have rape fantasies. Key comparisons were made regarding type of sample. Balzano. 1994. studies from the 1980 s show prevalence rates ranging from 31% to 57%. as 21% of his participants classified their fantasies as reflecting a combination of sexual excitement and fear=terror. Shulman and Horne (2006). with these estimates ranging from 31% to 57%. however. he asked a solitary question rather than embedding the rape item within a checklist of sexual fantasies. respectively) have estimated the percentage of women who have had rape fantasies within the last 3 months as 20% and 22%. An inspection of prevalence across decades reveals that studies published in the 1970s show prevalence rates ranging from 36% to 49%. he overpowers her and takes her sexually. with a median of 14%. while student samples ranged from 31% to 57%. these may be underestimates. and these females estimated that their rape fantasies occurred an average of three times a month with a median of once a month. Terestman. Goldberg. As awareness of rape as a social problem and depictions of rape in the popular culture have increased over the past 40 years (Bevacqua. Hsu et al. Community and student samples would be expected to differ somewhat on age. estimates of ever having rape fantasies with context unspecified show a range of 31% to 57%. context does not appear to be a major factor. with lists differing considerably in number of fantasy items included. and perhaps on socioeconomic status (SES). Erotic and Aversive Rape Fantasies Kanin (1982) has presented the most detailed content analysis of rape fantasies. research (Gold. and 54% of fantasies that were characterized as exclusively fearful contained male rapists who were described as physically attractive. Table 1 indicates that estimates of how many women have had rape fantasies are comparable for the community and student samples. studies from the 1990 s show prevalence rates ranging from 36% to 55%. guilty. With the possible exception of rape fantasy during masturbation. Claims have been made within the academic and popular cultures that rape fantasies reflect personal and societal pathology (e. while those using the more explicit wording of ‘‘rape’’ ranged from 34% to 57%. In these fantasies. 1999). Strassberg and Lockerd (1998) found that 55% of females have had rape fantasies. educational level. 1991) has found that women who wrote fantasies of forced sex also rated themselves as more frightened. Overall. while estimates for rape fantasies during intercourse or other sexual activities are comparable. Kanin made the interpretation that these were not true rape fantasies. These estimates range from 9% to 17%.’’ Participants themselves 61 . & Stamey.. but they do show a median ranking in the top 10. With the exception of those by Strassberg and Lockerd (1998). Unfortunately. In addition. they show a median ranking within the three most frequently experienced sexual fantasies. in an Internet survey. with a median of 42%. We will. Downloaded By: [Canadian Research Knowledge Network] At: 04:24 9 September 2010 Two ways of considering rape fantasies are to assess their relative prevalence and relative frequency of occurrence as compared with other sexual fantasies. Table 1 shows that there are eight known estimates of the percentage of women for whom rape fantasies are frequently recurring or preferred sexual fantasies. and disgusted after writing the fantasy than did women who did not write about forced sex. 1975). This conclusion may be somewhat misleading. & Salvadori. Despite the increased prominence of rape themes in popular culture. ranging from five items to 34 items. estimates have varied.’’ and he called these ‘‘seduction fantasies. there are nine reports of the percentage of women who have had rape fantasies. Community estimates ranged from 31% to 49%. In estimating prevalence of rape fantasies.g. and the study from the 2000s shows a 34% rate. erotic rape fantasies contain low to moderate levels of fear with no realistic violence. it is possible that this has affected the prevalence of rape fantasies. For example. characterize the distribution of scores so that their practical and theoretical implications can be determined. 2000). With this caution in mind. that the described resistance amounted to a ‘‘token no. reported that 10% of women have rape fantasies that occur once a month or more. women typically are approached aggressively by a dominant and attractive male who is overcome with desire for her. Sentiments such as these suggest that many women may be ashamed of having rape fantasies.. Two studies (Person. ranging from 36% to 49%. With regard to context. According to Kanin. The wording of the rape fantasy item did not appear to affect results. and he used unusually direct and explicit wording (see Table 1). while other women have rape fantasies that are exclusively fearful and aversive. Brownmiller. these may be underestimates. As with the prevalence findings.RAPE FANTASIES not be justified by the data (Wilkinson & Task Force on Statistical Inference. Estimates were evenly distributed. Studies that used a variation of ‘‘overpowered or forced’’ showed a range of 31% to 55%. and item wording.
1994). Gold & Clegg. parents offer their daughters the reward of being loved and cared for: ‘‘In this renunciation the aggressive forces that are not actively spent must find an outlet. and some stand on stronger ground than do others. Certainly. In these fantasies. Several studies using more conventional methodologies have suggested that a small proportion of rape fantasies are aversive (Maltz. Hsu and colleagues (1994) found that 8% of women in a sample of college students had fantasies of being sexually degraded.. 1982. including those of some women who were sexually abused as children (Gold. 117). because girls are physically weaker and more in need of protection than are boys. Wilson. Kanin.CRITELLI AND BIVONA Downloaded By: [Canadian Research Knowledge Network] At: 04:24 9 September 2010 characterized these as rape situations. and little or no sexual arousal. and it is unlikely that all women have rape fantasies for the same reason. In particular. Bond and Mosher (1986) presented women with either realistic depictions of rape containing pain and suffering or with depictions containing minimal discomfort and found reported sexual arousal to be much higher in the latter. unattractive. while the victim is fighting to keep the aggressor from achieving penetration’’ (Kanin.. and a stranger. and his methods were unique and may have primed participants to recall aversive fantasies. movements toward independence from the parents and the expression of natural aggressive impulses are more strongly inhibited in girls than they are in boys. their unconscious desire for suffering and pain. clearly state that they do not want to be raped in reality. and the self-character in these fantasies showed nonconsent. Gold et al. a theory may provide a valid explanation for one component of rape fantasies. As no evidence was presented that the self-character’s nonconsent was insincere. in actual rapes minimal resistance and female sexual arousal do sometimes occur (Duddle. Kanin found that women with aversive rape fantasies were more apprehensive about actual rape and more likely to have dreams of rape than were other women. Gagnon. and 5% had fantasies of being whipped or beaten by a partner. 1995). Gold. et al.. 1995). These fantasies contain coercive and painful violence. 1990. and these will be the focus of the present investigation. 1982). No other studies have classified rape fantasies in this way. Michael. 1991. On the other hand. women appeared to be deriving sexual pleasure from the pain and suffering of rape. 1944. and their occurrence would not render the encounter a seduction rather than a rape. It is unlikely that one of these theories is right and all the others are misguided. a theory should explain why many women actively engage in rape fantasy for their own enjoyment and erotic arousal when their dominant reaction to actual rape is one of repugnance. 251). are not more likely than other women to have rape fantasies (Gold et al. At the same time. the male is more likely to be older. An acceptable explanation should address the three defining features of erotic rape fantasy: sex. p. 1991). and female nonconsent. Deutsch speculated that. and considerable evidence supports the demonstrated fact that they would be repulsed and traumatized by actual rape (Bond & Mosher. 1991. p. i. 1986. 1990. and he found no evidence for masochism. It appears that most of the current research deals with erotic rape fantasies. which states that rape fantasies are an expression of women’s innate masochism. so that various theories would need to be combined and integrated to approach a comprehensive understanding. however. Each of the major theories will be examined and evaluated in an attempt to develop a clearer and more comprehensive understanding of why some women have rape fantasies. it is clear that some of these theories are incompatible with one 62 . 1991. Most women.. To help induce this renunciation of independence and aggression. and Current Explanations for Rape Fantasies Researchers and clinicians have created a number of theories for explaining rape fantasies. Estimates are that between 5% and 10% of the general population has engaged in some form of sexual masochism and that these acts generally are consensual. And as a large majority of women have consensual sexual fantasies (Leitenberg & Henning. Women who have been raped as adults. pleasurable. throwing to the ground. another. suggesting that these fantasies are not reexperiences of past adult sexual aggression. the label of ‘‘seduction’’ does not seem justified.e. 1991). use of force to obtain sex. and they do this by endowing the passive state of being loved with a masochistic character’’ (Deutsch. Kanin (1982) examined women’s written descriptions of rape fantasies specifically to determine if. ripping off clothing. however. it should explain why women engage in rape fantasies when they could just as easily initiate a consensual fantasy. Instead. The empirical evidence does not support masochism as a general explanation of rape fantasies. over 99% by one assessment (Laumann. Aversive rape fantasies come closer to representing realistic rape. Resnick & Acierno. in the fantasy. Masochism The earliest major theory of rape fantasy is a psychoanalytic position developed by Deutsch (1944). Kanin (1982) found that 29% of his subjects reported having aversive rape fantasies. A typical scenario for an aversive fantasy would consist of an assailant ‘‘grabbing. 1985). & Michaels. 1987). Johnson. 1997. The more aversive rape fantasies may operate as attempts to deal with the fear of actual rape by gaining some sense of control over rape situations and rehearsing how one might deal with actual rape (Gold & Clegg.
and therefore enhance sexual gratification as compared with engaging in a fantasy of consensual sex. It is possible. 1944. and conformist. This theory suggests that. across nearly all cultures. and they had difficulty with orgasm and sexual arousal. found that having rape fantasies during intercourse correlated with marital contentment and erotic arousal leading to orgasm. and depression. As might be expected. Wilson. however. but not with the frequency of those in the first group.RAPE FANTASIES nonpathological (Baumeister & Butler. the evidence for the sexual blame avoidance theory is not strong. independent. in a sample of college women. remains untested.’’ ‘‘easy. Other research on rape fantasy and personality suggests that sexual blame avoidance may be applicable for some women. Strassberg & Lockerd. reduce guilt and shame. cabin. and nonconformist. Overall. ‘‘I imagine I am having sex in a secluded setting (island. unobtrusive. some research (Gosselin.’’ ‘‘tramp. In support of the theory. with the majority of research at odds with blame avoidance. it does not seem likely that they are using the rape fantasies to escape blame for expressing their sexuality.’’ and ‘‘slut’’ have been used to control and restrict women’s sexual behavior and. so she cannot be blamed for what happens. 2006). Thus studies that have provided the most direct tests of the sexual blame avoidance theory. This group engaged in rape fantasies. 1974). Hariton (1976). it is 63 Downloaded By: [Canadian Research Knowledge Network] At: 04:24 9 September 2010 . other research has found that women who had rape fantasies scored lower than other women on sex guilt (Shulman & Horne. In direct opposition to blame avoidance.. these findings suggest that masochism may play a role in the rape fantasies of a small proportion of females. in further qualitative analyses. often leading to orgasm. These women were characterized as dependent. A third group was brought up in a background of sexual repression. Thus the precondition for this theory is sound. Hollender. suggesting that they were not sexually repressed. some studies have found that rape fantasies were more likely in women with high sex guilt (Moreault & Follingstad. suggested that there may be two different types of women who have rape fantasies and a third type that does not have any sexual fantasies during intercourse. Knafo & Jaffe. such as ‘‘loose. It has been well documented that. The high variety group showed an active. 1977. One study found no relationship between rape fantasies and sex guilt (Pelletier & Herold. anxiety. women who are high in sex guilt.’’ while 55% have had rape fantasies. conditions that make sexual taboos more salient also may increase the likelihood of rape fantasies. and women who have negative attitudes toward sexual stimuli would be more likely than other women to engage in rape fantasies. 1975). engaging in premarital and extramarital sex. Deutsch. Strassberg and Lockerd (1998). Shulman & Horne. & Barrett. According to this explanation. but these women reported no fantasies at all during intercourse. Hariton and Singer (1974). controlled.). Researchers have inferred from this theory that women who are raised in sexually repressive environments. a sexual fantasy of their own in which they participate or seek out consensual sex may arouse anticipations of self-blame and feelings of guilt. By having the fantasy take the form of rape. 2002.’’ These women described their rape fantasies as highly erotic. 1998) and they scored higher than other women on positive attitudes toward sexual stimuli (Gold et al. 2000. Baumeister & Twenge. 1978) and in women who were reared in sexually repressive families (Hariton & Singer. however. which would inhibit sexual gratification. Sexual Blame Avoidance The most frequently cited explanation for why some women have rape fantasies is that these fantasies allow women to avoid blame or responsibility for expressing their sexuality (Crepault et al. in a community sample of married women. reported having rape fantasies during intercourse ‘‘very often. The use of force combined with her own nonconsent allows her to avoid blame. 1988). As the same women are experiencing both consensual and rape fantasies. 1970. 1984). For example. etc. Hariton’s (1976) second group experienced a wide variety of sexual fantasies during intercourse. serious. Women in this category reported having positive relationships with their husbands and being relatively passive during intercourse. inquisitive. An issue that has not been discussed in this literature is that nearly all individuals who have rape fantasies also engage in consensual sexual fantasies. 1997). Brownmiller. female sexuality has been actively suppressed (Allgeier & Allgeier. that rape fantasies are situationally triggered. that is. Powerful labels. aggressive. taken as a whole. Taken together. the woman is forced to do something she does not want to do. 1991) indicates that women who engage in masochistic sex are more likely than other women to fantasize about being forced to do something sexual. exploratory approach to sex. 1991. by extension. comprising 14% of their sample. The first type. This high-variety group was described as impulsive. Nearly all women who have rape fantasies also have consensual fantasies. 2006. do not support it as a general explanation for rape fantasies.. Deutsch’s theory of the origin of female masochism. for some women. or insufficiently reticent with regard to sex. Based on Hariton’s (1976) analysis. Studies have produced conflicting evidence. overly sexual. found that 97% had experienced the fantasy. including rape fantasies. their sexual feelings. but it would be premature to conclude that this theory is not helpful for understanding rape fantasies. women have been socialized as to the importance of not being perceived as promiscuous.
It is possible that those who are high on sex guilt do not differ from those who are low on sex guilt in frequency of rape fantasies. breaking core expectations of civil decency in order to have her (Hariton. The openness theory avoids and thus fails to explain the most central. previous research may have used an inappropriate metric to test this theory. Pelletier & Herold. Kanin (1982) suggests that such a fantasy not only enhances the female’s selfesteem. 1995.. In other words. 413). The openness explanation for why women have rape fantasies may complement Hariton’s (1976) descriptive system. Moreault & Follingstad. Although the openness theory does appear to describe the rape fantasies of many women. however. Kanin. Strassberg & Lockerd. including rape fantasies. aggressive. 1988. Thus individuals with high sex guilt may show a higher proportion of rape to nonrape sexual fantasies than those who are low in sex guilt. this does not appear to be the case. Those who had rape fantasies also scored higher in sexual experience. Women often mention ‘‘feeling desired’’ by a partner as an excitatory factor in sex (Graham. But her research also suggests that if the level of sexual repression is too high. Pelletier and Herold (1988) found that women who had experienced a greater variety of sex acts and those who had more sexual partners had a greater variety of sexual fantasies. 1991. Gold and colleagues (1991) had college females write out their three most frequently occurring sexual fantasies. women who had written fantasies that included forced sex were more sexually experienced in terms of number of partners and variety of sexual acts. Instead of being driven by repressed sexuality. does not appear to match the Gold and colleagues (1991) openness pattern of those who wrote out frequently occurring fantasies that involved rape.CRITELLI AND BIVONA Downloaded By: [Canadian Research Knowledge Network] At: 04:24 9 September 2010 possible that blame avoidance will have validity for women who use rape fantasies very often. 1991. does the diversity of fantasies come from women having fantasies about their actual experiences? With regard to rape fantasies. it may be deficient in explaining why women would choose to include force in their fantasies. . this theory states that rape fantasies may just be part of a woman’s generally open and accepting attitude toward sex (Gold et al. For example. but when they do have a sexual fantasy. 1982). This creates a problem for a strong interpretation of the blame avoidance theory. with rape being only one of their many sexual fantasies. Desirability Another explanation for women’s use of rape fantasy considers its implications for a woman’s sense of sexual attractiveness and desirability. Openness to Sexual Experience In direct contrast to sexual blame avoidance is the openness to sexual experience theory. 1990. The connection between experience and fantasy has not yet been elaborated on in this theory. & McBride. had more nonforce sexual fantasies. Researchers concluded that women who have fantasies of forced sex are interested in a range of sexual stimuli and activities. 2004). and exploratory in their approach to sex. Gold & Clegg. paradoxical aspects of rape fantasy. Pelletier & Herold. 1998). independent. and were more likely than other women to have rape fantasies. there may be a shutdown of all sexual fantasies during intercourse. fantasized more often about sex. Hariton’s group that reported frequent rape fantasies on a checklist. and showed more positive feelings and expectations toward sexual stimuli than did other women. the rape becomes a testament to her sexual power. In a second sample. Kanin. and if force is chosen. In this way. seductive. Research that employs both checklist and fantasy log methodologies may be able to clarify this issue. The researchers interpreted this to mean that as women have more sexual experiences. and desirable that the man loses control. it may be more likely to involve forced sex than would the fantasies of those with low sex guilt. Strassberg and Lockerd (1998) found that college women who had rape fantasies and those who included forced sex in their written fantasies scored lower on sex guilt than did other females. This theory is more descriptive than explanatory. 1973. Those who wrote a fantasy that included forced sexual activity also had written fantasies with more themes of group sex and sex with strangers. since its prediction of sex guilt leading to rape fantasy goes against this general restriction on sexual fantasies for those with high sex guilt. and they had more positive feelings toward sexual stimuli. What it does is to identify a pattern of empirical findings and describe what appear to be their direct implications. positive. These women were described as impulsive. The essential idea here is that the rape fantasy portrays the woman as so attractive. 1978. as women with rape fantasies are not more likely than other women to have experienced actual rape (Gold et al. Knafo & Jaffe. These women had also read more soft-core pornography and had seen more pornographic movies than those who 64 did not include forced sex in their written fantasies. Milhausen. Recall that one of the types of women that Hariton identified had a wide variety in their fantasies. and relatively guilt-free expression of one’s sexuality’’ (p. unrestrictive.. 1982. The authors concluded that rape fantasies seem to be ‘‘just one more expression of a generally open. why the self character in these fantasies experiences nonconsent. but also generates excitement as she feels the extent of the man’s desire. Sanders.. 1984). 1988). Heiman et al. Studies have found that women with high sex guilt have fewer sexual fantasies in general (Leitenberg & Henning. their diversity of fantasies also increases. 1976. nonconformist.
‘‘the rape fantasy exists in women as a man-made iceberg’’ that can and should be destroyed by feminism (p. for copulation to take place. several studies indicate that roughly 10%–20% of men also have fantasies of being forced into sex (Hunt. birds. Person et al. the prevalence of rape fantasies has been stable. especially since gender roles have changed considerably over the past 40 years (New Strategist Editors. Strassberg and Lockerd (1998) found the following themes to be similar in prevalence to rape fantasies: ‘‘I imagine myself delighting many men.RAPE FANTASIES Downloaded By: [Canadian Research Knowledge Network] At: 04:24 9 September 2010 Zurbriggen and Yost (2004) found that fantasies with forced sex were no more likely than other fantasies to include descriptions of the male’s sexual desire. This large proportion of men in a submissive role to women is not consistent with the view of a monolithic male culture that forces ideas of rape onto women. 1999). Fisher maintains. Sympathetic Activation Although theory and research on sympathetic physiological activation have not previously been linked to 65 . . however. while women’s attractiveness to men is predicated on showing vulnerability and playing the victim. Helen Fisher (1999) suggests that females may have a natural desire to surrender to a selected. but there are other fantasy themes that also.’’ and ‘‘I pretend that I am another irresistibly sexy female. 1974. as indicated previously. and sometimes physically subdue the female (Fisher. To the contrary. As the fantasy theme of perpetrating rape on women is not a dominant male fantasy (Leitenberg & Henning. and since a sizable minority of men themselves have fantasies of being forced into sex by women. that the human desire to surrender is not a desire for actual rape. humans may also have a corresponding tendency to portray this ritual in fantasy. it would be premature to attempt an evaluation of the relative contributions of cultural and biological explanations of rape fantasy. Both rape and any desire for rape by nonselected males would reduce women’s reproductive success. Biological Predisposition to Surrender In contrast to Brownmiller’s cultural explanation for women’s rape fantasies. and perhaps more directly. dominant male. dominant. . If so. There is no research that directly tests this theory. She maintained that. At the present time. In contrast to Brownmiller’s position. Brownmiller observed that American culture is saturated with fantasies of men as the conquering sexual hero and sexual aggressor. 2006) has found that women who espouse feminist beliefs are just as likely to have fantasies of forced sex as are other women. She argued that. those who are more insecure about their desirability have these fantasies with greater frequency. In addition. It is of considerable importance. and that these predispositions originate from primitive brain regions that have evolved to insure successful mating in reptiles. In her view. research (Shulman & Horne. 1979). rape almost certainly would have reduced the reproductive success of ancestral human females by making them vulnerable to impregnation by men with inferior genes. and mammals. among women who do have rape fantasies. and the biological predisposition to surrender has not been directly tested. pursue. focus on the woman’s desirability. to find their sexuality within the context of male [desires]’’ (p. the fantasies they do have are a product of male conditioning. Male Rape Culture Brownmiller (1975) argued that women’s rape fantasies are a pathological manifestation of male-dominated culture. 1999). It seems likely that desirability contributes to the occurrence of rape fantasies. much of their long-term reproductive success would have been determined by the selection of strong. it seems unlikely that men would be the source for women’s fantasies of forced sex. the culture is permeated with depictions of men as conquering sexual heroes and women as vulnerable sex objects. 2006) while. healthy mates who could pass on some of these advantageous traits to her children (Fisher. rape fantasies are ‘‘a pitiful effort on the part of young girls . Because women’s total reproductive output as measured by number of children is relatively restricted. 325). 1995). this theory suggests that underlying biological factors play a role in the attractiveness of rape as a fantasy theme for women. Researchers might investigate. but several studies do have implications for its validity. it does not seem likely that this theory plays a major role in explaining female rape fantasies. There is currently no evolutionary basis for thinking that women would have a natural predisposition to seek rape. whether women who are most insecure about their attractiveness to men are more likely than others to have rape fantasies or whether. Although inconsistent with one implication of desirability theory. and one way of developing a fantasy storyline is to combine these depictions into a theme of rape. 322). the male must present a display of dominance. Certainly.’’ Desirability theory could be tested by determining whether women who have rape fantasies are also more likely than other women to have other desirability fantasies. however. Eibl-Eibesfeldt (1989) explains that the reciprocal display of male dominance=female surrender is a basic pattern in the animal world. for example. Currently. Sue. For example.. In a number of species. 1989. as women have not been given the opportunity to explore and create their own sexual fantasies. this study does not provide a direct enough test of the theory to place it in jeopardy. to determine whether women’s erotic rape fantasies are arbitrary cultural artifacts or whether they have biological roots.
Romance novels are structured erotic fantasies that individuals intentionally expose themselves to. A growing body of evidence indicates that anxiety. Palace and Gorzalka (1990) found that. In essence. In addition. as compared to those with neutral preexposure. this fantasy is often experienced as part of consensual sex with a chosen. female subjects with anxiety pre-exposure showed enhanced rate and magnitude of genital arousal (vaginal blood volume).CRITELLI AND BIVONA rape fantasies. According to Salmon and Symons (2003). sexually bold. As previously discussed (Kanin. they are men with the physical and temperamental qualities of warriors. Yerkes & Dodson. are erotic love stories written almost exclusively by women for a female audience. In the case of aversive rape fantasies. 1908). can enhance sexual response. Viewing the same scene. fear. where the Downloaded By: [Canadian Research Knowledge Network] At: 04:24 9 September 2010 . attractive partner. which prepares the way for genital arousal and vaginal lubrication. This carries over to romance fiction. the woman may experience some anticipational anxiety. heart rate. Campbell. 1983). Sakheim. 1972). 410). and it is not uncommon for these novels to include themes of rape. tension. such as fear or anger. along with images of struggling against the assailant. this enhanced sympathetic responsivity may activate specific genital responses’’ (Palace & Gorzalka. One review of historical romance novels found that 54% included the rape of the lead female character (Thurston. There are systematic differences in the ways that men and women view sexual interactions. Recent work on the physiology of sexual arousal suggests that the interaction of both sympathetic and parasympathetic systems is crucial for women’s sexual response (Motofei & Rowland. both consensual and forced. and anger. When men view explicit sexual activity. such as physical exercise. When sexual cues are provided. a meta-analysis (Foster. Considerable research indicates that. during erotic rape fantasies women typically envision an attractive male overcome with passion who uses mild to moderate force to overcome her nonconsent. 1995). According to research on sympathetic activation. Hazen (1983) notes that. this literature makes an important contribution to understanding how rape fantasies might function. he may also be cruel. 1974) and threat of electric shock (Barlow. and dangerous. muscular. for example. which activate sympathetic arousal. during an erotic video. In other words. Gorry (1999). As a start. masculine. and anger. researchers could determine whether rape fantasies are effective in producing sympathetic activation. increased blood pressure. Sexual fantasies are selfgenerated erotic stories often intentionally initiated to provide enjoyment and sexual arousal. No research has tested the sympathetic activation theory with reference to rape fantasies. In a related line of research. increases attraction to an attractive individual in the situation and decreases attraction to an unattractive person. high levels are often disruptive (Anderson. During the fantasy. In a rape fantasy women create an imaginary scenario and they participate in the fantasy through the rape experience of their self character. this theory provides a physiological basis for understanding how rape fantasies can enhance sexual experience. 2005). romance heroes are not gentle and sensitive. Palace and Gorzalka (1990) state that anxiety may enhance sexual arousal through the direct instigation of sympathetic activation (i. and secreting epinephrine to increase metabolism. 1982). Hazen’s (1983) analysis of rape in romance novels also functions as a theory of women’s erotic rape fantasies. both romance novels and rape fantasies are created works of fiction. 66 whereas moderate levels of stimulus intensity may facilitate a response. although the hero in romance novels must be handsome. the woman in the scene often functions as a sexual object and he imagines taking her out of the scene and having sex with her. 1990. Research also should determine whether erotic rape fantasies during intercourse result in enhanced attraction to an actual partner. They explained that an anxiety-evoking stimulus ‘‘provides a jump start or preparedness for sexual arousal. found that these men are strong. respiration. Leitenberg & Henning. dilating pupils to facilitate vision. 1990. Adversary Transformation Romance novels. constricting peripheral arteries to supply more blood to the muscles and brain. fear. 2003). men typically see themselves as doers and women see themselves as the ones to whom sexual acts are done (Ellis & Symons. which account for 40% of mass paperback sales in the United States (Salmon & Symons. Some of the fear-inducing stimuli that have been used include crossing an unstable bridge (Dutton & Aron. In sexual fantasies.. women identify with the lead female character and vicariously experience her rape. whether the source is aversive. Sympathetic activation enhances ‘‘fight or flight’’ reactions by. Witcher. The level of violence used is typically minimal. 1990. but its empirical support in related areas is promising. such a fantasy would be expected to increase sexual arousal and to increase sexual attraction to an actual partner. in a content analysis of male romance heroes. resulting in little pain. & Beck. 1987).e. the presence of an unattractive fantasy rapist and the level of violence employed may produce reactions of disgust rather than erotic arousal. p. In particular. women typically imagine themselves as the object of male passion rather than focusing on the male and expressing her passion for him (Money & Ehrhardt. and muscle tension). In a romance novel that includes rape. & Green. typically for emotional satisfaction and sexual arousal. 1998) concluded that sympathetic physiological activation. or nonaversive.
Adversary transformation provides a fresh view of what may transpire in rape fantasies. 1983). there is often a violent confrontation with a dominant. 1991. these are most likely underestimates. sexually aggressive adversary who appears to be evil. as women who have erotic rape fantasies are not more likely than other women to be rape victims (Gold et al. seduce him into falling in love with her. Researchers could investigate the attitude of the rapist toward the self character at the end of the fantasy. The more erotic fantasies typically involve an attractive. explanations given for why so many women would have erotic fantasies about rape often have been conceptually deficient. More aversive fantasies typically involve a threatening. nonconsensual forced sex. Viewing rape fantasies with a simplistic model of wish fulfillment assumes that what is important is what the fantasy reveals about real-life desires. when the actual experience of such an encounter would be traumatic and repugnant. and the evidence does not support masochism theory for the vast majority of women. In addition. and passion in reallife relationships. Fantasies are powerful emotional experiences in their own right. and transform his apparent evil and cruelty into something more socially acceptable without diminishing his masculinity. male who uses more violent levels of force to rape or attempt to rape a female who shows strong nonconsent and active resistance.RAPE FANTASIES Downloaded By: [Canadian Research Knowledge Network] At: 04:24 9 September 2010 focus is on the heroine’s subjective experience of the male’s passion for her and sometimes of her pain from male abuse. often unattractive. which heightens the emotional intensity of the story (Hazen. as a fantasy event. Erotic rape fantasies are not realistic depictions of actual rape. but it is yet to be empirically tested. and penetrate a woman despite her nonconsent. In erotic rape fantasies.. with from 9% to 17% reporting that rape fantasies are either a frequent occurrence or a favorite fantasy. Some have mentioned that rape fantasies are not all that popular. In romance novels the narrative structure allows the fantasy to continue to completion in marriage. have him voluntarily make a lifetime commitment to her. Has he been won over and transformed? For rape fantasies that occur during intercourse. and it shows a close fit to sympathetic activation theory. 1982). Gold & Clegg. Erotic Rape Fantasies and Wish Fulfillment The erotic rape fantasy exists as a psychological enigma: many females actively engage in an erotic and pleasurable fantasy of an encounter that satisfies the technical definition of rape. It also assumes that rape. as each woman makes numerous decisions on a 67 Conclusion The Context for Understanding Rape Fantasies Current research indicates that from 31% to 57% of women have had rape fantasies. Hazen argues that the romance novel presents the heroine with an exciting challenge. but they do not answer the question of why women would want to have fantasies that depict their own rape. in the female imagination. If having rape fantasies revealed a motive for actual rape. does this mean that many women want to be raped in real life? Some early theories conjoined the notions of fantasy wish fulfillment and female masochism to answer this question in the affirmative. biological predisposition and sympathetic activation theories suggest that what is ‘‘wished for’’ in real life is surrender to a powerful and attractive selected male and a sense of danger. The challenge for the heroine is to conquer his heart. These assumptions may lead to a misinterpretation of rape fantasies. At the same time. rape is used as an effective means of creating excitement and dramatic tension. It is generally compatible with each of the other theories except for masochism and male rape culture. In male fiction. and they play a major role in the fantasy lives of one or two women in 10. dominant male who is overcome by passion and uses mild to moderate force to overpower . they are among the most popular. and that women can control their fantasies but they cannot control actual rape. that the fantasies are not very realistic. Because rape fantasies are perceived as socially unacceptable or potentially embarrassing. simplistic wish fulfillment is not supported empirically. Although rape fantasies are not the most prevalent or most frequent sexual fantasies. research could determine whether there is any linkage between the partner and the fantasy rapist. Hazen argues that. Nearly all current researchers disagree with this position. possibly with the majority of women who have experienced rape fantasies having primarily one type or the other. and there is currently no good basis for estimating proportions of rape fantasies that are more erotic or more aversive. The content of rape fantasies appears to vary along a continuum. For example. shattered purity through violent sex is a primordial danger whose tension creates a powerful story. Kanin. that is. In romance novels. In romance novels. corresponds in toto to actual rape. the challenge takes the form of a violent confrontation with an evil adversary. Most research has involved erotic rape fantasies. 1990. the notion of conquering the heart of the rapist may be implicit. These points are well taken. excitement. and the aspects of rape fantasy that do apply to wish fulfillment may involve an aspect or component of fantasized rape rather than a desire for actual rape. one would expect at least a moderately strong relationship between fantasy rape and actual rape. Because fantasies often involve a wish fulfillment.
It is important for researchers to be aware of each theory’s strengths and limitations. because of women’s inherent fear of actual rape. Desirability theory does appear to explain one of the contributing factors in rape fantasies. openness. research should be expanded to include rape fantasies of lesbian and bisexual women to determine Downloaded By: [Canadian Research Knowledge Network] At: 04:24 9 September 2010 . however. such that support for one would tend to disconfirm the other. but the details of this position have not yet 68 been elaborated. and desirability theories. In particular. but they also seem to fit together and complement one another. sympathetic activation does not compete with the other seven theories. An integration of biological predisposition.CRITELLI AND BIVONA daily basis that easily could increase the likelihood of actual rape. Rape fantasies. Sympathetic activation operates at a different. by itself. In this sense. and this theory has not been tested in the domain of rape fantasy. has not been tested empirically. In this way. How do these theories relate to one another? Six of the theories are psychosocial in nature. however. The remaining seven theories potentially compete with one another. Adversary transformation provides a perspective for understanding how. Adversary transformation suggests that in rape fantasies. if that were desired. blame avoidance and openness. Methodology and Future Research Future research should explore the generalizability of prevalence estimates across demographic characteristics such as age. it is deficient in explaining why they have these fantasies. To the extent that one of these components makes a greater contribution to rape fantasies. in a fantasy. valid. but. These theories are not only mutually compatible. rape in a female fantasy would be similar to a male fantasy of physical conflict with an evil foe. but it may apply to women who have rape fantasies with high frequency. Theories of Erotic Rape Fantasy Current theories of rape fantasy represent researchers’ best attempts at answering the question of why many women would want to engage in erotic rape fantasies. Consensual fantasies of sex with a special partner or sex in a romantic setting also are effective for many women. sympathetic activation. Openness appears to describe women who report having occasional rape fantasies. are certainly not the only mechanisms for generating a sense of sexual excitement. as will be illustrated in this section. functions as a powerful means for producing the danger and excitement that gives the fantasy sexual and emotional impact. blame avoidance and openness each may apply to different types of women. but it has not yet been tested’ on rape fantasies. with the importance of this factor as yet undetermined. Eight major theories have been identified. Laying the physiological groundwork for explaining how the experience of a negative event can enhance a positive emotional experience is a pivotal step forward in making sense of rape fantasies. internally consistent explanation. pervasive media depictions of males as conquering heroes and women as vulnerable sex objects may influence the prevalence of women’s rape fantasies. For example. incompatible theories may identify separate components of a broader model of rape fantasies. physiological level of analysis. and biological predisposition could be classified with these six. Which women show a particular attraction to rape fantasies may be determined by some combination of the blame avoidance. and adversary transformation should be explored. In this sense. Sympathetic physiological activation provides an explanation for the biological basis on which a fantasy about an aversive event. and it could potentially complement one or more of the psychosocial theories by providing the physiological grounding for its psychosocial effect. Adversary transformation. ethnicity. At the same time. theories that provide a general explanation for why a rape fantasy could be erotically effective may be complemented by theories that explain why some women may respond more strongly than others to erotic rape fantasies. Similarly. current evidence does not support masochism theory as a general explanation of rape fantasies. the idea of rape. Biological predisposition theory seems promising. and male rape culture and biological predisposition. and cultural and biological factors each could operate as separate. the idea of rape could operate as a means to an end rather than as an end in itself. Other theories appear to be logically inconsistent with each other. Biological theory sets the stage by identifying ritualistic displays of male dominance and female surrender as important parts of the courtship ritual in many species. Combinations that show incompatibilities include masochism and openness. but competing influences on rape fantasies. such as rape. as its main implications are behavioral. and sexual orientation. The display of male dominance may function as a way for females to assess genetic quality and the ability to protect. In our judgment. but some theories overlap or show compatibilities such that they could be combined into a broader. despite being developed in widely different contexts. Although male rape culture generally is not supported by current evidence. but both components may be needed for a comprehensive understanding. sexual blame avoidance is not supported as a general explanation. the other components would have less of the phenomenon left to explain. can lead to heightened sexual arousal and possible increased attraction to an actual partner. This theory has strong support with regard to fear and anxiety manipulations. Sympathetic activation provides the physiological basis for understanding how fantasies that generate feelings of fear and anger may enhance sexual arousal.
Witcher. as Hariton’s (1976) analysis suggests that this distinction may be important. L. Emotional sequelae of sexual assault. Freud. The personality and sexual preferences of sadomasochistic women. K. C. D. Sexual masochism. This would allow researchers to make more effective comparisons across studies. O’Donohue (Eds. S. 464–473. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine.. Women’s fantasies during sexual intercourse: Normative and theoretical implications. B. & Mosher.’’ scales of absolute frequency should be employed. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 17. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology. Strachey. Items are needed to discriminate among types of force. Two studies of females’ sexual force fantasies. Sex differences in sexual fantasy: An evolutionary psychological approach. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.. J. 6. L. (1999). (1998). Future research also should focus on samples from cultures that are both more androcentric and more egalitarian than that of the United States. Sexual interactions (5th ed. Davidson. 11–15. 12. New York: Guilford Press.’’ Psychological Bulletin. or other variables. K. If supported. whereas those who have them with lower frequency follow the openness theory. Trans. Barlow. Journal of Sex Research. Gorry. Porto.. R. K. D. later rated for force and nonconsent. (1990). E. Downloaded By: [Canadian Research Knowledge Network] At: 04:24 9 September 2010 69 . Most measures include only one item for measuring rape fantasies.. In R. Gold. 162–183. 86–101. S. Review of General Psychology. (2002). C. R. Wheeler (Eds. & Clegg. The first sex. 15–26.). 75–82. E. & Aron. J. New introductory lectures on psychoanalysis (J. (2004). Fisher. 184–205. K. Laws & W.. Psychology Today (British ed. Leaving home for romance: Tourist women’s adventures abroad. S. Some evidence for heightened sexual attraction under conditions of high anxiety. & Singer. 33. Sakheim. Norton. Crepault. 527–555. 42. J. should be compared with retrospective checklists as a way of determining the accuracy of the retrospective measures. Human ethology. 166–203. (1983). (1977). L. M. 510–517. (2000). (1991).RAPE FANTASIES differences in context. Work is needed on the content validity of sexual fantasy measures so that some level of standardization can be achieved. We encourage those with an interest in rape fantasies and in their implications for understanding female sexuality to go forward in testing these theories. R. (1999). sincere and token nonconsent. C. Rape on the public agenda: Feminism and the politics of sexual assault. and erotic and aversive rape fantasies. 92. Duddle. Journal of Sex Research. M. R.. Paul. (1985). 313–322. G. 34. S. Bond. several show promise in contributing to a comprehensive understanding. Against our will: Men. New York: Plenum Press. (1976). J. (1986). In D. Milhausen. These would reduce error variance attributable to individual differences in the interpretation of nonspecific descriptive labels. 49–54. Theory. S. A. Research employing daily diaries of sexual fantasies. & Green. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company. physical force and incapacitation. Baumeister.. Dutton.. & Stamey. as these will provide valuable evidence as to the relative biological and cultural contributions to rape fantasies. C. D.. Arousal and the inverted-U hypothesis: A critique of Neiss’s ‘‘reconceptualizing arousal. and the willing victim myth. Personality and Individual Differences. 2(18). & Couture. Boston: Northeastern University Press. and rape. New York: W.). Rather than measuring frequency of rape fantasies with scales that use vague descriptive markers such as ‘‘often’’ or ‘‘occasionally. R. B. (1974). (2000). G. T. Abraham. C. S. Bevacqua. & Symons. 24–32. 84. S. 1). Deviance without pathology. F. & Butler. Archives of Sexual Behavior. K. Journal of Sex Research.. E. P. & Twenge. Journal of American College Health. 107. content. F.. Hariton. P. C. R. Davidson. H. & Ed. R. & Allgeier. Corpus juris secundum (Vol. reality. New York: Aldine de Gruyter. (1944). 2002).). Progress in sexology (pp. D. Campbell. A. & Barrett. J. References Allgeier. Brownmiller.. A number of theories have been created over the past 50 years for making sense out of the phenomenon of rape fantasies. Violence and Victims. 6. B. and suggestions were offered for testing each of these theories. Journal of Abnormal Psychology. New York: Simon & Schuster. H. J. & Beck. Baumeister. & McBride. 267–283).. Gold. 75. (1986). Unpublished doctoral dissertation. J. New York: Grune & Stratton. 228–239). The psychology of women (vol. B. this would bring considerable order to the rape fantasy literature. Theory-driven research focuses investigative efforts on the major questions that require resolution. assessment. Hariton. R. R. M. Anxiety increases sexual arousal. Graham. 56–57.). C. R. D. Sanders. Women’s sexual fantasies. 5. Gold. D. (1965). Although it is no surprise that none of these theories provides a complete answer in itself. Arousal and attraction: Evidence for automatic and controlled processes. B. R. F. Erotic imagery in women. J. women. Sexual fantasies of college students with coercive experiences and coercive attitudes. Eibl-Eibesfeldt. J. It may be useful when testing theories of rape fantasy to consider both the comparison between women who have rape fantasies and those who do not and the comparison between those who have them with high or low frequency. Ellis. (Original work published in 1933). Turning on and turning off: A focus group study of the factors that affect women’s sexual arousal. H. (1974). A. K. W. D. L. (1990). C. (1975). Journal of Interpersonal Violence. & Hoffman. 22. New York: Random House. Sexual deviance. (1989). and treatment (pp. (1991). (1997). Sexual fantasies and sexual satisfaction: An empirical analysis of erotic thought. A. The utilization of sexual fantasies by sexually experienced university students. Wilson. between rape and rough sex. (1991). 96–100. MN: West Group.. such as gender of assailant. Gemme & C.. W. (1990). 27. G. University of California at Santa Barbara. 74. (1991). I. Deutsch. Foster. Gosselin. and this is clearly inadequate. E. St. 22. R. 527–538. Balzano. History of child sexual abuse and adult sexual fantasies. M. S. 26–28. B. A. Researchers should replicate the Hariton (1976) study and determine whether women who have rape fantasies with high frequency follow blame avoidance.). L. 30. Anderson. Cultural suppression of female sexuality. Journal of Sex Education & Therapy. R. A. Guided images of rape: Fantasy.
boy & girl. Guilty or not? A path model of women’s forceful sexual fantasies. M. E. Journal of Research in Personality.. & Gorzalka. 871–877. Journal of Sex Research. N. Pelletier. J. (2006). Goldberg.. Person. Philadelphia: Saunders. 54. Health impact of interpersonal violence 2: Medical and mental health outcomes. (1980). The physiological basis of human sexual arousal: Neuroendocrine sexual asymmetry. evolution. & Herold.). Male-female differences in sexual activity. Sexual fantasizing in males and females. (1908). Knafo. S. E. Pornography and violence: What does the new research say? In L. 459–482. 299–305.. H. (1988). and female sexuality. Archives of Sexual Behavior. (2004). Johnson. Unwanted sexual fantasies. Kinsey.. Heiman. Lederer (Ed. & Henning. 451–462. The relation of strength of stimuli to rapidity of habit-formation. A. D. Beech. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology. & Elias. NJ: Prentice Hall. Psychological Reports. 18. Power. K. Money. 250–256. (1997). Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy. Erotic fantasies of college students during coitus. & LoPiccolo. & Ehrhardt. 18. E. 57. H. (1982). Yerkes. Journal of Sex Research. 288–300. (1989).. (1974). 103–119. Journal of Sex Research. 29. C. Comparison of sexual fantasies of homosexuals and of heterosexuals. Terestman. A. (2005). Female rape fantasies: A victimization study. Journal of Abnormal Psychology. & Jaffe. 4. Force in women’s sexual fantasies. Martin. 187–198. & Miller. E. 15. (1987). Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy. & Task Force on Statistical Inference. Russell. M. American women: Who they are and how they live (3rd ed. D. M. J. M. 65–79. D. B.. & Johnson. (1979). sex guilt. International Journal of Andrology. 46. A. J. If you are raped: What every woman needs to know. 403–411. E. (1995). E. & Follingstad. 1–11.. Ithaca. Sexual fantasies of black and of white college students. (1994). L. Contemporary Sexuality. & Yost. Hunt. E. D. L. & Acierno. Downloaded By: [Canadian Research Knowledge Network] At: 04:24 9 September 2010 70 . Gagnon. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. L. A. D. D. Man & woman. (1979). R. E. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. L. Sexual behavior in the human female. 78–87. Kanin. 114–121. K. D. (1984). Price. Maslow. Zurbriggen.. (1980). (1953). Laumann. A normative appraisal of erotic fantasies in women. Gender differences in sexual behaviors and fantasies in a college population. (1998).. (1999). Thurston. Sexual fantasies of females as a function of sex guilt and experimental response cues. J. 63–70. Montreal: Learning Publications. H. E. H. (2003).CRITELLI AND BIVONA Hazen... J. (1990). 19. Kessler. T. (1970). Leitenberg. S. D. Victimology: An International Journal. H. E. Becoming orgasmic: A sexual growth program for women. Psychological Reports. S. W. 125–127. H. (1995). R. The social organization of sexuality: Sexual practices in the United States. enjoyment and fantasies. D. 81–83. W. The relationship of age. S. O.. J. A. Psychological Bulletin. & Gebhard. Warrior lovers: Erotic fiction. Shulman. 16. Sexual fantasy. Homosexuality in perspective. 27.. Medical Aspects of Human Sexuality. M. 1007–1014. P.. G. L. British Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology.. (1987). Boston: Little. Palace. E. The romance revolution: Erotic novels for women and the quest for a new sexual identity. D. C. Manuscript submitted for publication. C. K. A. S. (1983). C. C. H.. Pomeroy. L. Take back the night: Women on pornography (pp. Strassberg. desire. Allensworth. 7. The enhancing effects of anxiety on arousal in sexually dysfunctional and functional women. 259–294. J. L. A. 403–414. R. G. G. Maltz. Motofei. Journal of Comparative Neurology and Psychology... Chicago: Playboy Press. 54. A. Price. & Company. C. 20. Myers. and pleasure in sexual fantasies. 469–496. D. B.. M. (1985). 28. (1976). (1994). Hollender. & Salvadori. New York: William Morrow. Knapke. 8. Sexual behavior in the 1970s. 99. Moreault. (2006). CT: Yale University Press. W. Englewood Cliffs. K. H. Journal of Social Psychology. Brown. (1984). & Michaels. Self-esteem (dominance-feeling) and sexuality in women. Personality and Individual Differences. B. R. (1985). Wilson. (1978). New Strategist Editors. L. V. New York: Scribner. R. M. P. J. Endless rapture. H. H. & Rowland.. H. & Dodson. 15. Sue. R. & Hillman. NY: New Strategist Publications. Wilkinson. Kling. 594–604. K. Behavioral Medicine. 1385–1393. W. Gender differences in sexual fantasy and behavior in a college population: A ten-year replication. H. American Psychologist. Talbot. & Lockerd. D. 117. Women’s coital fantasies. P. Michael.. 24. (1972). Resnick. S. New Haven. B. Y. Statistical methods in psychology journals: Guidelines and explanations. Chicago: University of Illinois Press. and sexual experience with female sexual fantasies. 41. R. (1942). & Vaughan. M.). & Horne. 218–238). J. Diefenbach. Salmon. S. LoPiccolo. Masters. I. R. 23. Hsu. J. & Symons.
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue reading from where you left off, or restart the preview.