Dear Gigi,

My girlfriend of a year or so has repeatedly asked that we act out rape fantasies. She wants to get tied up, really hit and insists on getting slapped during sex. While I could concede to her slapping request, anything beyond that is too bitter a pill.

I’ve also got this tiny aching fear that she will call the cops on me one day when I’ve been forced to slap/beat/tie her up and I’ll get carted off. Now I know it’s wrong of me to think like that. Or is it? What do you think. Is it normal to have a fantasy like this? Am I being irrational in my fear?

Kind Regards,

V, 31

Hi V,

Thanks so much for writing in. I totally understand what you’re going through. Sometimes a partner wants to try something sexually that is so outside of the box and so beyond what we’ve been taught is “normal” or “healthy,” that we don’t even know how to process it.

Believe it or not, I get asked this exact question a lot. I know given the current political and social climate, discussing rape as a part of sexual fantasy may feel a bit tone deaf. That being said, rape fantasy is so common. In fact, it was a main point of discussion during my monthly Facebook Live stream: The Pussy Power Hour. I also spoke at length about fantasy and why we have fantasies about rape on an episode of the Sexology podcast – I’m linking and embedding both resources so you can check them out if you’d like.

Let’s talk a little about how “normal” a certain kind of fantasy may be. There is no “normal” when it comes to sexual turn ons. If something turns you on sexually and is not harming another person in any way, it’s OK to think about it. A fantasy is a game, it’s a sexual illusion. The human mind is a miraculous thing, capable of imagining all sorts of fucked up stuff.

We live in a sexually repressive society. We’re fed messages of abstinence-only and sex is bad and what feels good is not good for you all the time. Because of this onslaught of wrongness surrounding sex, we begin to sexualize what is taboo. Sex is taboo, something we cannot have open conversations about. Therefore, we’re left with our imaginations. The more society tells you you’re not supposed to want or like something, the more you want it. Minds are funny that way.

Now, let’s narrow in on rape fantasy, specifically. A rape fantasy is not ACTUAL rape. This is an important point here. Rape is when a person is sexually forced against their will and their consent is stripped away from them. It is a traumatic, violent, violating, criminal act that no one should ever be subjected to.

Perhaps we should rename rape fantasy to something a little more culturally sensitive, but the fact remains that people do have this fantasy and often wish to pursue it. A rape FANTASY is a deeply communicated, well-planned, CONSENSUAL role play scene. It is not about being violated or put in actual harm, it’s the illusion of that scenario. It’s about having our control taken away from us, in a controlled way. In order to play out a rape fantasy, there is no actual rape taking place. Why we have these fantasies is varied, but it doesn’t mean we want to be RAPED in a literal sense; it means we want to be “ravaged” in a negotiated setting. This means having safe words, knowing exactly when and how things are going to go down, and regular check-ins to make sure everyone is comfortable.

In your particular case, V, sometimes we have to be as good at receiving the information as we are at giving it. Occasionally our partner may ask for something extreme, that we become afraid. Your fear that your partner would call the police is inside of your head. It isn’t unjustified to be nervous. It is a terrifying prospect that one might hurt someone they love and get punished for it. Playing out any form of sexual role play takes trust. Empathy is key here. You and your partner need to have a thorough, honest conversation about this and your boundaries.

Remember, you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do. You never have to engage in an act of any kind. Look at the use of the word “FORCE” in your letter. If you do not find your girlfriend’s fantasy in any way sexually appealing, you do not have to do it.

Yes, trying new things in bed is exciting and I always love to encourage people to explore outside of the box — but if a rape fantasy is NOT something you’re interested in doing, you don’t have to. There should never be an instance where one partner is doing something they feel uncomfortable with to please their partner. That isn’t good sex, that’s coercive. This needs to be something you both want to try in order for it to be positive.

Might I suggest an alternative to the full throttle scene your girlfriend is picturing? Instead of this intense rape fantasy wherein you tie her up and hit her (per her request), perhaps you can tone it down and set a scene that explores the themes of ravaging and dominance, without the violence.

Here are a few suggestions to make it FUN for both of you: Stick to spanking over slapping. Spanking can be very erotic and invoke the same adrenaline rush that a face slap might. Face slapping, while perfectly normal for consenting adults, is a extreme way to begin. Once you’ve eased into spanking, you may graduate to a place of comfort where you could explore slapping. Be sure you read up on how to slap someone without causing physical harm. This means holding your other hand on their opposite cheek to absorb the shock.

As opposed to tying her up, stick to velcro restraints. Sex toys make sex better for everyone. A newbie to some light BDSM shouldn’t be hogtying anyone with shoelaces or duct tape. Buy some basic handcuffs that are secured with velcro. Use a simple shirt as a blindfold.

I hope these suggestions help you on your way to a more fulfilling sex life. I completely understand the hesitancy. This is new sexual terrain and that can jigger all kinds of anxieties loose.

Start small. Always openly communicate about what is or isn’t working for you. Remember that sex should be fun, never terrifying.

XOXO,

Gigi

Gigi Engle is a feminist writer, sex educator, and speaker. A book with St. Martins Press is forthcoming.

For a chance to be featured on YSPSA’s original sex advice column, email your question to advice@yspsa.org. No topic is off limits.