The Sexist

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.

  • http://genderbitch.wordpress.com/ recursiveparadox

    Some rape fantasies also arise from the attempts to overcome sexual repression, being able to simulate not having control helps to assuage sexual guilt created by our slut shaming culture and allows someone to enjoy sex without mood killing feelings of shame.

    But yeah, actually engaging in a rape simulation has to be done with safewords, a way out and with both people's knowledge. Surprising your g/f with a rape simulation makes it no longer a simulation if she doesn't want it. He was way in the wrong. Way way in the wrong.

  • http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/blogs/sexist Amanda Hess

    Agreed. Kinks arise for a variety of reasons, and I didn't mean to be essentialist about it. But yeah, that's why you talk, ask, discuss, etc. instead of assume ... and rape someone.

    Also good reading: this week's Savage Love has an interesting discussion about kink as a psychological process.

  • Quinn

    This is sick. Seriously. Why do people post so much information about their lives on the internet? But that is besides the point. I'm sorry for what happened to Anouk - regardless of whether her boyfriend was raping her or acting out a fantasy role he thought she would enjoy based on previous conversations. I think that when one person introduces rape fantasies they need to also, in the SAME conversation, establish boundaries, safe words, expectations, etc. Otherwise on any particular occasion, one person thinks they're being a good bf/gf by "surprising" the other person with a fantasy enactment, and the other person ends up being traumatized as Anouk was. I don't know what her bf's intentions were. And I'm not judging Anouk. If I were in her shoes, I'd get the police involved.

  • http://genderbitch.wordpress.com/ recursiveparadox

    @Quinn:

    Just wanna say that there is such a thing as unintentional rape.

    You can rape someone without intending to do so. This is because rape is defined by the lack of consent of and harm to the victim and not by the perpetrator's intent.

    Can't even imagine how awful that must be, realizing that one raped and harmed someone one loves due to one's own kink incompetence. :( The guilt must be intense.

  • kza

    Well it seems like her boyfriend put the guilt on her. That is not how I would have would react. I would have at least gave her a "my bad".

  • Emily H.

    Well said, Amanda. Expressing a taboo fantasy like this doesn't give the boyfriend the excuse that "well, I thought you'd like it." Anyone who had any idea what they're doing would know that acting out this type of role-play would involve prior consent and a safeword. You wouldn't just spring it on someone, especially not after a fight. She didn't confuse or mislead the boyfriend; he chose to take advantage.

    "Actually fulfilling the fantasy—laying powerless on the bed as her boyfriend forced himself on her—absolutely horrified her." I would argue that "actually fulfilling the fantasy" for a woman like this would involve a safe, consensual role-play, not a real rape -- since, as you point out, a key ingredient of the fantasy is that the "victim" invents the script and keeps control.

    I read The Frisky sometimes, and think it's brave of Collins to write honestly about this. It sucks that readers are blaming her.

  • kristen

    Eek only some readers blamed her! I read The Frisky all the time and I comment frequently. Many readers and other frisky contributors commented supporting Anouk for telling her story. I think the most important lesson from her experience could be the importance of talking about sexual fantasies, experiences, wishes, and boundaries. It was "her bad" that she didn't fully explain and "his bad" that he sprung the experience on her. I think in a way, no one is to blame here because no one had all the information at the time.

  • J

    Looks like we need a new term. Just as not all killings are murder (there's voluntary manslaughter, involuntary manslaughter, etc.), perhaps not all unwelcome sexual encounters should be termed rape.

    I think if we had a better word for what happened, there wouldn't be such a violent divide over the boyfriend. If you insist that what happened was "rape", then he's a "rapist" -- but that word has some pretty horrible associations which are not really fair to him.

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  • http://rapeliza.com/ rapeliza

    Her rape story horrible ( i am rape victim too..

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