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The Meaning of Forceful Submission Fantasy in Late Adolescence ( or, Why It’s O.K. To Dig Vampires ) Patricia H. Hawley & Justin T. Lynn Department of Psychology, The University of Kansas & Department of Psychology, Cal State University Northridge. INTRODUCTION
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(or, Why It’s O.K. To Dig Vampires)
Patricia H. Hawley & Justin T. Lynn
Department of Psychology, The University of Kansas & Department of Psychology, Cal State University Northridge
With a wink, romance novels are often referred to as bodice rippers, presumably because they long have taken place in historical settings, and their spicy cover art often portrays the hunky hero dominating the heroin in period clothing.
The scenario: The heroin is ardently pursued by a ruggedly handsome man who can be cruel, but nonetheless loves her. At first she eschews his advances. But he is so overwhelmed by his sexual hunger that he forcefully takes her. Try as she might, resistance is futile. Etc.
Recent approaches have referred to these interludes or private narratives as ‘rape fantasies’ because they technically meet the modern legal criteria of rape; explicit consent for penetration is not given (Bivona & Critelli, 2009). We prefer the terms ‘forceful submission fantasies’ (FSFs) because the fantasist generally is not (though there are exceptions) construing the fantasy as coercive sexual violation as in the reality of rape (Bond & Mosher, 1986).
The early literature on forceful submission fantasies assumed underlying pathological masochistic tendencies (e.g., Deutsch, 1944; Freud, 1908/1962). In the 70’s and 80’s, attention shifted to sex guilt and denial of responsibility for sex (e.g., Knafo & Jaffe, 1984; Moreault & Follingstad, 1978). More recently, some have suggested that women have eroticized submission whereas men have eroticized dominance (Zurbriggen & Yost, 2004). In parallel, a significant literature has emerged seeking to de-pathologize even extreme forms of masochism involving pain and humiliation (Weinberg, 2006). Interestingly, early on Judith Hariton (1973) argued that SFSs actually empower the fantasist because the self is construed as overwhelmingly alluring. This view confronting masochism-esque explanations garnered virtually no serious attention outside our own efforts (Hawley & Hensley, 2009). Still, there is considerable disagreement about the fantasies’ underlying meaning; the nature of the topic has led some authors to point out that the issue is controversial enough to warrant side-stepping (Critelli & Bivona, 2008).
The touchy nature of the subject is at least in part due to the fact that the literature (except for hardcore BDSM) has focused almost exclusively on women, leading the field to ponder,Why do women do this?
Dear Penthouse Letters,
Yesterday I innocently got on an elevator with two women.
You wouldn’t believe what happened next…
Hawley and Hensley (2009) explored the power exchange of FSF in a methodologically novel way. Instead of using checklists (including oft used items such as, “You are being raped by a man”, You are being humiliated by a partner”, ”You are being forced against your will anally/orally/vaginally”, “You are being overpowered”) or analyzing personal fantasy logs, we created a FSF vignette inspired by the romance literature (Joy, 1998).
He held her hand and led her into the bedroom. She
strolled in surveying it as she went, and tried not to betray
…. He captured her in his hypnotic gaze, his eyes sensual
and disarming…"I haven't been able to take my eyes off
of you all night," he murmured lustily….
Her breathing quickened as she attempted to draw away,
but he grasped her arm like a vice. She tried to pull back,
but it was too late. He would consume her…His mouth
advanced firmly to claim hers…
"W-what are you doing?" she stammered.
"What am I doing?" he whispered huskily. "I'm taking what I've wanted all night..."
"Please," she whispered, but could find no other words.
"Tell me to stop," he growled, "and I will.“…
In one swift movement, he took her with a powerful stroke….
Importantly, we explored the preferences of both men and women.
The conditions are ordered in terms of the impact on women and men respectively. That is, for women, the removal of the clear-mindedness of the fantasy object (i.e., implying that he was inebriated) reduced the appeal of the vignette for her the most. Removal of force had the least impact on her preference. Men were most affected by the removal of sexual elements. Males were least impacted by the removal of force and romance/passion.