Perversion, Possession, Or Just Normal?

Posted: July 23, 2012

Editor’s note (updated):

It has been brought to our attention by some readers that they feel this post, which refers to research on the existence of rape and possession fantasies among women is not an appropriate topic to discuss on Women’s Web. While I personally do not believe that referring to fantasies is unsuitable for a public forum (so long as we are clear that these are fantasies and not meant to justify any kind of action), there appears to be a danger of people reading an analysis of such fantasy and believing that it justifies rape or other forms of violence against women.

Hence I am placing this note here to alert potential readers that this can be a disturbing topic and not one that everyone may be comfortable reading. I would also like to reiterate that the author in no way condones any sort of violence against women by talking about research on the existence of such fantasies. 

“I can see that the first emotion that flares up in men (when they hear about rape)…is moral outrage. Now this may sound noble, but just wait until I reveal the sinister cause for this…The truth is, its jealousy masquerading as moral outrage! This is especially true of Indian Society, which is still heavily sexually repressed. Sex is still taboo, and most Indian men just don’t get good quality sexual fulfillment. Men feel jealous of rapists; because they got sex outright without having to go through the tedious channels of courtship that most of us have to go through. They “Cut the line”! “Bastards!” they say…We envy the guy who got a 20 something woman into his car and had his way with her for 3 hours…”

The above lines are from this blog I read while surfing the Web. I tried to understand the psychology of the person who wrote them (he has given a disclaimer that he himself won’t rape a woman) and tried to figure out the underlying causes of violence against women- are they fantasy based, or are they a result of the patriarchal need to ‘control’ women? (Am I being rather far-fetched here?)

Sudhir Kakar and Katharina Kakar, in their brilliant book The Indians- Portrait of a People (Viking/Penguin, 2007) talk of the ‘possession fantasy’. They say,

“Without imagined violence…many men fail to be gripped by powerful sexual excitement. Aggressiveness towards the woman is as much a factor in their potency as their love feelings. One of their major fantasies is of taking by force that which is not easily given.”

rape fantasies in womenThe authors go on to say that a variant of this ‘possession fantasy’ is found in classical Sanskrit love poetry,

”where the woman trembles in a state of diffuse bodily excitement as if timorously anticipating a sadistic attack, her terror a source of excitement for both herself and her would-be assailant.”

Here I have moved into the realm of such fantasies that women might have. According to an article in Psychology Today, from 1973 through 2008, nine surveys of women’s rape fantasies show that about four in 10 women admit having them (31 to 57 percent), and that the actual prevalence of rape fantasies is probably higher because women may not feel comfortable admitting them.

The author of the above article in Psychology Today asks,

“What do rape fantasies mean? In my opinion, they are no different from any other fantasies. They are neither wrong nor perverted. They imply nothing about one’s mental health or real-life sexual inclinations. They just happen, to somewhere around half of women. If you have such fantasies and feel bad about them, I can’t tell you how to feel. But I can assure you that you are not alone. Rape or near-rape fantasies are surprisingly common. What do you think?”

Disclaimer: This post is meant to be an analysis of rape fantasies and responses to rape – not in any way a condoning of sexual assault on any person.

Pic credit: CapCat Ragu (Used under a Creative Commons license)

I am a former bureaucrat, and have worked a lot on gender issues, disaster management

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  1. You are brave 😉 !!!
    I just wanted to share the experience of a malayalam movie, 22 Female Kottayam. The movie was advertised as a feminist movie. The story revolves around a nurse being raped twice and how she takes revenge on all those involved in the crime. The rape scene was shown in slow motion. A male friend of mine opines that showing a rape in slow motion was like choreographing rape. He could not understand how the movie could talk about feminism at the same time.He was disgusted. I had not recognized it then, but I think, I get it now.

    • Thanks Preethi, this is not bravery at all, I’m just trying to bring our sexuality out of the closet. And I am so glad you get what I am trying to convey.

  2. You have disappointed me this time, sir.! Nevertheless, your views are your own just like mine are my own.! No comments for this one article of yours.!

    • Rinzu, I am disappointed in you!! I have not offered a single opinion in this post, and Aparna had warned me people might misunderstand what I am trying to convey. Isn’t it time we came to terms with ourselves as sexual beings? Fantasies are not wrong, crime is.

  3. I think one reason women might have rape or near-rape fantasies is because they are afraid to admit their sexual desires even to themselves. So, even in their fantasies, they imagine being forced into the act to maintain their “good girl” image in their own minds. I would have loved to read your own opinion on the two matters you have raised in your post but maybe not airing them was wise on your part. Not everyone can take it the way it should be taken.

    As for the underlying cause for violence against women – I think it is a combination of both – the patriarchal need to control women and a need to fulfill a fantasy that has been fed to men via our media. Also, the belief that they (whoever “they” are) are the only upholders of moral values and thus it is their right and responsibility to bring everyone in line with the socially acceptable limits. Their “my way or the highway” mentality makes them intolerant to any other view on matters of morality.

    • Thanks Cee, you have put it very well indeed!

      Where my opinions are concerned, as you’ve said, things might not be taken in the context that they are meant. If sexuality can be discussed, it would be one step forward towards opening up our minds in the rather closed society we live in.

  4. I agree with CEE above. At the root is the fact that sex is still such a taboo in India, and that is what makes people fantasize about it. It’s like the kid who is told not to eat too many chocolates, which makes him all the more eager to eat them. Only in case if rape, the crime is more hideous.

    • Thanks Arunima. Fantasies per se are not something to be shy of, but if they are a cause of sexual crime that’s when we should worry.

    • I would say fantasies are normal for men or women – even those who are not sexually repressed. Acting out on those fantasies between two consenting adults is ok too. But, like you said, when fantasies result in crimes, it becomes a serious matter. Even in that situation, more than the fantasies, it is the mentality of the person carrying them out which needs serious attention.

    • Absolutely, Cee, that is what I am trying to say all along. In fact, I will try and put up a post later on the psychology behind fantasies- both sexual and non-sexual.

  5. But putting every woman in the same shoe isn’t fair.! This is just a research and you and me might be knowing that a research is a sample population and not the entire populations.! I don’t theorize with the studies in the research.! As a researcher, perhaps I would like to shun the report evenhandedly. A study that happened in some part of the the western mainland like the USA or the U.K can’t be used to justify an Indian woman’s fantasies. While I don’t deny women in India not having them, but then please do not mislead the India that is already going nowhere to some dreaded hell with posts like these.! I find it too irrelevant in the context of a whole female populations in India.! A few cases of study and a few research reports can’t account for the mind of the entire female population of the world or India.!

    • Rinzu, I am not justifying anything. Fantasies are fantasies, and to each his/her own! And I must point out here, even if every man and woman in India has sexual fantasies, so what?

  6. Some correction with population there.! And not populations.! Typos to be precise.!

  7. I don’t know.! A study on a limited population doesnt respresent the whole of the world’s population.! Absurd I say.!

  8. I believe such posts are nothing but a guise to justify rape so that men in general don’t feel bad about committing it. When you write such a post even if you are analysing it and taking about research…using a sample population, you are trying to generalise things.
    I wonder how men in prison feel when they are raped by other men or by using foreign objects? Do they still have rape or near rape fantasies?

  9. Thanks Lazy Pineapple for adding more strength to my protest to this post.!

  10. I have read this post three times now, in an attempt to understand how it can be anything other than a justification for rape.

    What exactly are you trying to say? Does the fact that men have fantasies mean that they must be acted upon? Or in the case of women do their fantasies mean that men need to fulfill them? How nice of the men to be so ‘considerate’? Women in many parts of the world have ‘fantasies’ about being educated, empowered, given equal opportunities in decision making, or something as simple as being given a helping hand at home. How come I don’t see men rushing to fulfill these fantasies?
    I am surprised that you have been allowed to post this on Women’s Web.

    • Janaki Nagaraj -

      I second you Corinne. Generalizing is absolutely absurd. I think we have come of age regarding sex in India…it is only some factions who glorify it and say it is a taboo while there are really none.

    • This is a most absurd post. I agree with Corinne and Janaki. Words fail me to express my absolute disgust.

  11. Thanks you ladies.! i appreciate the support.! Maybe most women on WW had not read this absurdity.! thanks again.!

  12. Instead of doing an analysis of rape fantasies and responses to rape, it would have been better had you tried to talk about how the rapists should be punished and how stricter laws should be made to prevent these incidents from happening.
    I second Corinne in wondering about this post on Women’s web.

  13. What sort of twisted logic is this ?
    Can someone please explain to me how a woman can fantasize of rape? Does the writer fantasize about a slow and extremely painful death? And does he enjoy that fantasy?
    Frankly as a woman the only thing I fantasize about is a society free from women related crimes. I don’t see this fantasy coming true any time soon !

  14. In an attempt to understand people’s behavior, we go to psychology ~ and rationalize everything.

    Rape is never justified ~ nor the fantasies nor anything that is involved in it.

    This post is not very helpful at all and has a tendency to encourage such perverted thoughts.

  15. I second Corinne here; I agree everyone has the right to dream and fantasize but that does not mean it is at the cost of other person’s pain or trauma. And when has a study mean the basis of judging everyone around us.

    This is actually make rape seem so glorifying!!

  16. Fantasies eh? Lemme see, half the women dream of a prince coming on a white horse. I don’t see men rushing towards the stables? So many of us, me included, dream of being whisked to an exotic destination and being serenaded by a real charmer…..Eh….never mind. Let me see how many times have I dreamt of being forcefully subjected to a man’s advances and have him whisper ‘sweet nothings’ in my ear, while he hurriedly works to get his ‘passion’ in sync with my objection into a wonderful courtroom climax……..gee…..none….damn….I must be twisted.

    Yes fantasies are as real as we want to them to be. Studies of a handful section, don’t hold true for the larger populace. And for you to assume, we need to come out of the closet and announce to the world we have ‘Rape fantasies’……. Hmmmm…one question…….what do the ladies in your family have to say to this? Do they concur with the studies….just asking. Coz for someone of your stature, I’m sure you’d have checked facts closer to home before dashing out a reprimanding note to us lesser mortals. Please do take this personally, coz I genuinely have.

  17. Thanks Blogwatig.! When it will pinch, it will hurt.! I was feeling too appreciated retorting to this filth.! You have added muscle here.! 🙂

  18. Sorry that isnt appreciated but incapicated.!

  19. Was sent a link to this somewhat strange post by a friend. Do some women have rape fantasies? Yes. (and not just because of this 1 study quoted here, plenty of research has examined the subject). Not just rape fantasies, fantasies of all sort exist. Why for e.g. do some people find pleasure in pain? (S&M)

    Is it an invitation to rape or a justification for rape? Certainly not, and I don’t think that’s what the writer is saying either.

    However, I think he could have made that clearer – else, there is a risk of people linking the two and claiming that rape fantasies justify rape.

  20. Pingback: Stop Raping With Your Words - Everyday Gyaan

  21. The author of this post has put in a perspective… and it needs to be accepted as one. Perspectives can be debated but generally never castigated and thrown away. We actually lose when we throw away a thought, however rabid it might seem at a point of time.

    • Perspectives can be read and respected as the authors’ own. What I see here is trying to hide behind other bloggers’ thoughts and random surveys. Put your own thoughts mister , ask women on the web about their fantasies and let us analyse what women want. Although I do not think any of us would like to talk to a cowardly person like the author of this post …where all will his mindset lead him after reading our fantasies a scary thought in itself.
      PS-The day I fantasise about being raped,I will book an appointment with a psychoanalyst.

  22. Do you fantasize about someone strangling you to slow death? No? Really, are you sure? I guess you are not admitting it, for some worldly fears.

    First of all, It is highly irresponsible for a forum called “Women’s Web” to publish this crap. No woman could have written an article of this kind. It is men who rape, and some other men who go to such extent to even try to justify the rapists with such a conviction.

    If I may ask, please re-think on what facts your post is based? Facts and researches carried on in the Wild Wild West? And you go to the extent of generalizing it for the entire woman-kind? Every 20 minutes, a rape happens in India, and you believe, women fantasize it. Mister, we don’t fantasize being raped, but we are always apprehensive of our surroundings and men ,like you around us, for we don’t know what their motives are.

  23. I am a regular reader of Womens web but i must say i am disgusted with this post. This is twisted logic. I cant believe editor has allowed this to be published

  24. This is a dangerous post! Our movies have already put stupid ideas into our men’s minds that by harassing a woman on the street and by generally behaving unruly, they will win the girl at the end. We see re-plays of this nonsense daily on the roads, and the extreme reactions by surprised “suitors” (acid attacks etc.).

    Posts of this kind may just put the idea into a looking-for-any-excuse kind of a man to commit rape. It is very easy for such an excuse-seeking man to conveniently think “she wants it” or even “she asked for it.” And dear editor, such a man might not want to make a distinction between mere “fantasies” and “guidelines for action.”

    Moreover, these kind of fantasies belong to the realm of Bondage Sex – it cannot be termed fantasies of “rape.” Rape, apart from the physical abuse, is an action which ANNIHILATES a woman’s sense of self-esteem and therefore strips her of the dignity of a human being, making her feel like an object to be used brutally and then discarded. Let’s not forget that ultimately, Rape is about Power and Control over another person. No self-respecting woman, and surely not the readership of sites like Womensweb, can ever find pleasure in such a thing, even in their fantasies.

    Not something expected from Womensweb, which has stood for all that is powerful, distinct, intelligent, and unservile in “Woman.”

  25. Pingback: Stop Raping With Your Words! - Everyday Gyaan

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