When A Rape Fantasy Isn’t
Today, the Frisky's Anouk Collins wrote about her rape. In the story, Collins detailed how, after a fight, her boyfriend, Jacob, forced himself on her without her consent. "As he crawled on top of me, I rather sternly informed him that I didn’t want to have sex with him," she wrote. "To my horror, he got a menacing look on his face and ignored my protests." When "it was over," Collins attempted to engage with her boyfriend about what had just happened. "Horrified at the suggestion that he’d misread my signals and overtaken me, Jacob began to lash out," she wrote. "He insisted that I was to blame."
In most cases, a confession of past sexual assault would elicit both sympathy and outrage from readers. A few of Collins' readers did express such sympathy—for her boyfriend. "The way you manipulated your boyfriend into your own self destructive behavior and then victimized yourself by his actions says a lot about your character," wrote one commenter. "I can't believe you posted that article under your real name."
Why wasn't Collins afforded the respect deserving of a victim of sexual assault?
Because Collins has rape fantasies. Weeks before the assault occurred, she began exploring them with her boyfriend. "Jacob and I had only been dating about a month and a half when I intimated that I had a rape fantasy," she writes. "I was relieved and excited when he told me he would be into trying it out. From there, the content of our emails, texts and video chats became decidedly faux-rapey, as I told him how I wanted him to hold me down, force my legs apart and screw me even as I begged him to stop. It was foreplay, and it got me incredibly hot."
But Collins' rape fantasy was just that—fantasy. "In my mind, it was still very much in the realm of fantasy, and I was secure in knowing that if and when I decided to take things to the next level—i.e., act out the fantasy—the inevitable and, for me, dreaded conversation involving safe words and boundaries."
Collins and her boyfriend were at the very beginning of exploring her kink, and as the word suggests, kinks can be fucking complicated. They take time. Exploring rape fantasies with her boyfriend got Collins hot. But taking those fantasies one step further—discussing, planning, and scheduling a rape fantasy—totally freaked her out. Actually fulfilling the fantasy—laying powerless on the bed as her boyfriend forced himself on her—absolutely horrified her.
Collins' mixed feelings about her fantasies are perfectly normal. Sometimes fantasy is just fantasy: People watch pornography featuring men and women they'd never actually want to fuck, think about sexual experiments they'd never want to bring into their own relationship, and talk to their partners about sex acts they may never decide to live out.
But the real problem with Collins' boyfriend's presumptuous "fantasy" rape wasn't that it came too soon—it was that it was planned and carried out by him alone, with no collaboration, discussion, or consultation with his "fantasy" rape victim. That ain't a fantasy—that's rape. A typical rape fetishist isn't into rape fantasies because she likes being raped (by definition, that's impossible). She isn't even into rape fantasies because she simply likes being dominated, abused, silenced, and blamed. She's into rape fantasies because they offer a chance to flip the script of domination, abuse, and silencing. Rape fantasies turn a normally horrific encounter into a sexual experience that the fantasy "victim" can control and orchestrate herself. She's into rape fantasies because they allow her to convert her fears and weaknesses into sexual power.
Collins' boyfriend robbed her of that power. She writes: "The problem, of course, was that since we’d never discussed it, his decision to enact it without any prior dialogue, without my consent, robbed me of the control that would’ve made it a rape fantasy rather than an out-and-out rape." Expressing a desire to have sex sometime in the future doesn't mean you have to give it up whenever and however your partner wants it. And expressing a rape fantasy does not give anyone the right to rape you.
The incident between Collins and her boyfriend was, in part, a result of an "unfortunate miscommunication." It was, in part, a result of the couple's failure to discuss boundaries and expectations at an earlier stage. But it was also a result of Collins' boyfriend laying claim to her body without bothering to ascertain her consent. Isn't that what rape is?
Obviously, this sexual assault is complicated. Most acquaintance rapes are. At this point, we all know how to knock down all the common excuses for non-consensual sex: It is still rape if you are married. It is still rape if he's your boyfriend. It is still rape if you've consented to sex with him before. It is still rape if you've expressed interest in having sex with him in the past. It is still rape if you're not a virgin. It's time to add another: It is still rape if you've had rape fantasies.